Public sector incentives

I gave another version of my Trafalgar talk this year, close to the anniversary of the battle. One of the reasons I am interested in it is that it was a moment when the UK public sector in the form of the English Navy excelled itself. It did so to such an extent that Nelson’s flagship is still a commissioned vessel of the modern navy sitting in dry dock at Portsmouth. 200 years on from the battle its strategy and tactics are still analysed by modern naval experts and officers.

The task before Nelson, the other officers and men was formidable. They had to engage a large enemy fleet with little wind to drive them to battle. The enemy allies had 25% more fire power and 22% more battleships than the English force. Confidence, skilled seamanship, faster gunnery and better tactics helped secure them a remarkable victory, with 17 battleships captured, one blown up and four more captured a little later after they fled the battle. It was an important victory at a time when the UK was under severe threat of invasion. All Napoleon wanted his Admirals to do was to hold the English Channel for long enough to get the troop barges across, but they failed to get anywhere near to do the job. Trafalgar set them back again and turned out to be the end of serious invasion threat, though Napoleon did rebuild his navy and did threaten in other ways as the war wore on.

Accounts of how and why they succeeded include mention of several advantages which I will not dwell on here. One feature which gets less mention is that the public sector Navy encouraged a very entrepreneurial and individual approach to leadership. Whilst Captains were paid state employees on a reasonable salary, and whilst their ships were supplied and victualed by the Navy, the Navy also agreed to pay Captains and crews prize money for any captured ship. This  included the money realised from the  sale of any cargo or effects on the ship as well as the value of any warship to the Navy. Captains could plan to get rich if they gained a command that allowed substantial raiding of enemy commerce, and would do well out of a successful battle if they captured and returned enemy ships for use in the Royal Navy. Captains could use some of their own money to enhance the ship and its cargo if they wished. They had flexibility over who joined the crew and how they carried out their orders for a voyage or mission. Crews liked working for Captains who had the Midas touch.

Captains could often be relieved of command and put on half pay, waiting for some suitable new opportunity. It meant there was a keen determination to excel, both to be offered the better and more profitable commands, and to ensure success when opportunity came to take a prize. Some experienced and distinguished Captains wanted to stay as Frigate Captains as these ships were more regularly used as state privateers against enemy commerce. The victors of Trafalgar were given additional prize style money by Parliamentary grant, as a grateful nation was aware that all too  many of their captured prizes were lost in the storm which followed the battle.

It would not be right to re enact the same incentives naval public sector personnel enjoyed in the 1800s to the modern public sector, but it does remind us that personal incentive can lead to innovation, daring and success. There are acceptable ways of reward which can stimulate innovation and sensible risk taking. In this respect the navy of Nelson had much more in common with the first Elizabethans who plundered Spanish commerce from the New World, than with our own second Elizabethan Age.


  1. Lifelogic.
    November 8, 2018

    Indeed competition and innovation are vital everywhere especially in the state sector. So why are May and Hammond so keen on taxing and regulating everything to death?

    Defence procurement recently has been appalling, wasting billions and costing many lives in recent years. Aircraft carriers without aircraft or rather “sitting ducks” that cost billions.

    The only innovation we seem to get from the state sector nowadays is thinking of new ways to over tax, fine, inconvenience or over regulate people or people in businesses to death. Or to start to charge for services that used to be free. State employees still get about 50% more remuneration than the private sector (once pensions are included), take more sick days, work fewer hours and retire earlier. They also produce very little of any real value in return for the nearly 50% of GDP they largely waste.

    We have a massive apartheid in pensions between state and private sector with tax laws that favour the state ones too. May and Hammond seem to want everything to be a dire state monopoly like the death causing NHS.

    1. Hope
      November 8, 2018

      May has a vindictive streak that is not befitting of public office. May’s policies are the cause of the crime epidemic at the moment, she was responsible for Windrush scandal. May blocked the police having a pay rise when it was announced everyone else should. I suggest all firearm officers put down their guns to protect politicians as a protest, it is a voluntary role.

      Nor should her corrupt selection of employing people, once again it demonstrates you cannot believe a word she says. We read Bercow preventing information being released for Vaz to be investigated, the latest Bercow investigation not allowed to find any MP guilty of bullying. What did May say about bullying at Westminster two weeks ago!

      When will you oust this horrible underhand odeous woman from office. She is a traitor to electoral democracy and is definitely acting against our democratic national interest. May has destroyed your party, your only hope of salvation to rebuild for the future is to get rid of her and her likes. Each day you fail to so the longer you will be in the worldiness.

      Cabinet being bumped to accept her national betrayal without being allowed to read and consider it properly! You have to wonder at their cowardice not to oust her.

      1. Steve
        November 8, 2018


        “May has destroyed your party, your only hope of salvation to rebuild for the future is to get rid of her and her likes”

        It’s gone way beyond that now. It doesn’t matter what they do, the electorate will be going for their throats, as it were. The next general election will be one of revenge.

        I know a lot of people who voted leave, and most of them lifelong conservative voters like myself are going to vote Labour, and why not ? after all betrayal is evidently the in thing these days. Play the tories at their own game by betraying THEM.

        “she was responsible for Windrush scandal.”

        Yes indeed. absolutely disgraceful wasn’t it ? …regardless of what one thinks of immigration, It shows perfectly what the woman thinks of fair play.

        “When will you oust this horrible underhand odeous woman from office.”

        Ah well now here’s the thing; they think were dumb enough to be content with her ousting just before the next election, rather than getting rid when WE tell them she must go. She’s useful to pro – EU conservative traitors in that she will screw the country over with BRINO, but a massive liability to stand at the next general election.

        Of course, we’re not supposed to realise this.

    2. a-tracy
      November 8, 2018

      “State employees still get about 50% more remuneration than the private sector ” unless you work for a housebuilder, who is getting subsidies from taxpayers to build half a million pound box flats to sell youngsters a 25% stake in whilst holding all the cards on that overpriced property, and you take a multi-million pound bonus for this great feat, makes you wonder if he paid his 42% tax on this bonus for the fabulous brainpower to do what John, take advantage of your government?

      1. Lifelogic
        November 9, 2018

        Hardly typical, I said “on average”. I agree that the government tax payer subsidies to house builders were poorly designed and badly implemented as is usual for such government schemes. Just do not take so much tax off people in the first place they they could use it to buy homes themselves or their children. Without all the costly government interference.

    3. Mitchel
      November 8, 2018

      “sitting ducks” or floating pork barrels?!

    4. Hope
      November 8, 2018

      JR, explain to us why Robbins got paid a huge bonus? The deal is very bad by any objective assessment, although May must bear the responsibility for her treacherous behaviour towards her colleagues and being a traitor to the nation and electoral democracy it is a wonder why you and colleagues have not had the moral fortitude to throw her out on her ear. Condoning her appalling behaviour is unforgivable. Your party deserves to be toast.

      Hammond’s taxation is the highest in decades higher than making your pips squeak. Every day we become aware of another tax rise or raid on personal wealth from his last budget while he is content to give away £100 billion to the EU for nothing in Return. You voted for it.

      We learn today May’s latest agreement before cabinet is to have the single market by other names! Whatever she calls it it is still the single market and still the customs union.

      Irrespective of any deal she promotes it is incredulous why your party has not ousted her for her totally unacceptable behaviour.

    5. Alan Jutson
      November 8, 2018


      Interesting statement made by our new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab today on TV.

      Apparently he had not realised how close France was physically to the UK before, or how important the Dover Calais route was for traffic.

      Good grief where has this man been for the last 40 years, did he never look at a Map, has he never been to France.
      It beggars belief that these people hold so called positions of power, and are so unaware of things around them.
      The fact that he actually admitted on screen that he was so unaware, also shows he has no sense of shame.

      Are theses people really going to lead us into a glorious future ?

      1. Alan Jutson
        November 8, 2018

        My wife who tends not to let herself get involved in politics also found it an absolutely staggering admission.

        1. Hooe
          November 8, 2018

          Raab was also responsible for the 70 scare stories to the public and endorses the Chequers sell out. Regarding Calais, he has not that stupid, he is trying to deceive us and scare us. I hope his association dumps him. If they do not the public should dump him at the next election.

          Raab is putting career ambition before national interest and electoral democracy.

      2. Andy
        November 8, 2018

        People who voted for Brexit should be appauled by this. The man in charge of the Brexit department admitting he had no idea about our main trade link. Staggering.

        Still it is in keeping with the incompetence and cluelessness we expect from the Brexiteers. Andrew Bridgen saying he qualified for an Irish passport because he’s English. Nadine Dorries asking what a customs union is nearly 18 months after the referendum. David Davis claiming we’d do trade deals ‘10 times the size of the EU’ within a year – seemingly unaware that’d be more than double the whole global economy. Chris Grayling being unable to name a single EU law to which he actually objected – despite objecting to EU law. Iain Duncan Smith blaming a non-existent presidential election for the Irish border problem. These people are making fools of themselves – and of our country.

        The reality is that our trading arrangements at the moment are fine – and next to nobody who voted for Brexit voted to change them. Brexit voters mostly voted to tackle immigration – so how about we just do that and you all stop screwing up the rest of the country? Remember when it all goes wrong – and it will – you’ll all get hurt too.

        1. libertarian
          November 8, 2018


          Dover is NOT our main trade link. Most trade is via container and Dover has limited capacity for containers. Felixstowe, Southampton , Tilbury, Grangemouth , Port of London, & Grimsby are all bigger . There are more than 90 ports in the UK

          Dover is important for lorry based RoRo traffic but in fact last year it was only the ninth biggest by total tonnage, handling 26.2 million tonnes, which is about 6% of the total amount of freight handled at UK ports.

          As you dont have the remotest clue about business, trade and exports I think I’ll give your advice a miss.

          Every one I know, and I know lots who voted Brexit voted to leave the single market and the customs union, the government repeatedly told us that if we voted leave thats what would happen. We voted leave and it better be implemented .

        2. Edward2
          November 9, 2018

          You need to read the post above by Hooe

        3. Nigel Seymour
          November 9, 2018

          I’m well past worrying about what happens really. I still hope and pray though we still leave on time and the EU continues it’s spiral downwards. The likes of Italy may well be the next country to leave as called by NF. The UK have a GDP of the 19 smallest countries combined (some are really just big towns) so they are desperate to keep us in and keep them afloat. A recent experience left me in no doubt that a good proportion of remainers are indeed a nasty lot. Need to grow up really…

      3. Lifelogic
        November 9, 2018

        That is not actually what he said at all. Fake news.

    6. JohnK
      November 8, 2018

      Can we please drop this nonsense about aircraft carriers without aircraft?

      HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently integrating the first F35B planes. It is a process which will take some years, as F35B numbers increase.

      The real problem is that the Cameron government scrapped our entire Harrier force in 2011. These would have been flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth until the F35B force was ready. The loss of the Harriers saved very little money, and was a huge mistake. However, there was never any plan to build our two new aircraft carriers and not have aircraft for them.

      1. Norman
        November 9, 2018

        Well said – thank you.

      2. Stred
        November 9, 2018

        Each aircraft carrier is capable of carrying 60 aircraft. They will eventually have 20 each. Please explain. They will need protection from missiles launched from 200 miles away. Also underwater attack. Does the navy have enough ships? Is the F35b have range and speed as capable as a catapult launched fighter?

  2. Lifelogic.
    November 8, 2018

    We also seem to have blatant discrimination in the criminal law (and by some police forces) between negligent state sector workers and negligent private sector ones.

    The police seem more concerned with a pathetic sick video about the Grenville tragedy than they are about all the people (mainly in the state sector) who were responsible for cladding the building in flammable material, the regulation around this and the appalling way the senior fire officers dealt with the incident after it was clearly totally out of control (sending people back and telling them to stay in their flats).

    Or in sending people who ran an Indian Restaurant (and had no intention to injure anyone) to jail for 3 and 2 years for minor negligence that unfortunately resulted in a tragic death. Meanwhile in the NHS they kill thousands through negligence, incompetence and rationing and yet nothing is done (other than to try to cover it all up). If the health ministers and senior NHS management were in the private sector they would surely all be jailed for life.

    Or in covering up the Hillsborough disaster for so many years.

    1. ChrisS
      November 8, 2018

      You can bet that the bosses of(big businesses will not be prosecuted for possible offences ed).

      It’s always easier to target the owners of small businesses in the same way that otherwise law-abiding drivers who pay for maintenance, road tax and insurance are disproportionately targeted for speeding tickets because they are an easy target.

      At the same time the scum that drive around without insurance, tax or an MOT go largely unhindered.

      1. Hope
        November 8, 2018

        The problem with the public sector is that the govt has allowed the ones at the top to be very overpaid as well as having good pensions. This who have proven to have failed in their roles allowed to be employed again by another council etc.

        It was the case the public sector were lower paid but had good pensions. Now it has become grotesque for those in charge. They are overpaid and under talented. Council CEO epitomise overpaid incompetence. MPs another example. The corrupt and double standards of MPs is simply disgusting as law makers and meant to be examples for society. Not fit for purpose. The vast majority are not paid very well, nurses, teachers- only heads.

        1. Edward2
          November 8, 2018

          And if they are real failures they go off to highly paid jobs in the EU
          A rest home for failed national civil servants and politicians rejected by their national electorates.

      2. Turboterrier.
        November 8, 2018

        Chris S
        At the same time the scum that drive around without insurance, tax or an MOT go largely unhindered.

        For the fear of creating another luvvies protest all vehicles proven to be on the road without the above just take them to the nearest crushing machine no excuses or warnings.
        Should also take into account the 100s of farmers abusing the system with their quad bikes and 4×4 pope mobiles mostly run on red diesel.

    2. Richard1
      November 8, 2018

      Both the cases of the unpleasant Grenfell tower effigy and the Indian restaurant seem respectively a waste of time and very unjust. Young people are being murdered on the streets of London almost daily. It is clear the police have lost control at least as regards the drugs laws. The courts for some reason are not gaoling people convicted of carrying knives and even carrying out violent crime. I suggest an emergency suspension of all PC crimes such as being rude to someone on twitter, ‘’homophobia’ or ‘islamophobia’. Just as people can come onto this site and insult people who voted for Brexit with impunity.

      Let the police focus on proper, real crime, and when that’s solved they can go back to investigating PC crimes and chasing dead people for sex offences. It also looks like we needParliament to set minimum punishments so the courts don’t have discretion to let violent criminals off their just punishments.

      1. Gary C
        November 8, 2018


        I agree.

        While the Grenfell tower effigy incident was indeed in bad taste and I feel the idiots involved should be publicly shamed I am astonished they have been arrested.

        Have there been any arrests of those who sanctioned cladding a building in flammable materials against the advice of the manufacturers so they could cut a miniscule amount off the build cost?

        We can now wait for the knock on the door by armed police with Sadiq Khan alongside (wanting a photo opportunity!) for expressing our views.

      2. Lifelogic.
        November 8, 2018

        Indeed long past time for senior police chiefs and the Home Office need to get their priorities right for a change.

  3. Newmania
    November 8, 2018

    One of my sons has “ Horatio” as a second name . I lumbered him with it because he was born during the anniversary of Trafalgar and because it appears in the most misquoted line of Shakespeare “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, -Horatio-: a fellow. of infinite jest,…”. The real words bring the carpe diem sentiment to life don`t you think.
    We visited Portsmouth recently and were able to see the Victory in the foreground with the vast Queen Elizabeth glittering behind it. Quite a sight and I must say the heart did swell with pride.
    The proto Fascist Napoleon was made First Consul for life by a referendum in which 99.76% of voters ratified the new dictatorship.

    Just saying

    1. eeyore
      November 8, 2018

      Incentives can take forms other than cash. What incentivised the wounded sailor at Trafalgar who tossed his amputated leg in the air and cried “God save King George!”? Whatever it was, it worked.

    2. Richard1
      November 8, 2018

      Yes much better to be able to elect the people who make the laws under which you live – and remove them in subsequent elections.

    3. A.Sedgwick
      November 8, 2018

      The Victory is well worth a visit, a real eye opener to the real nature of sea battles then.

    4. libertarian
      November 8, 2018


      Good post, thanks

      Your last line about Napoleon is so true, of course Europe has learned its lesson and now doesn’t even bother to ask the people what they want they just appoint “first consul dictatorships” in the EU empire

      Seriously though i think you need to think about the two examples of dictators being elected by overwhelming demand that you’ve given. In both examples and the Soviet experience ( others around the world too) It happens because the Old Establishment refuse to listen to the people and what they want, its because the old establishment become lazy and corrupt , its because the old establishment control the means of government. Eventually the people get so angry they elect an extreme figure head. Maybe its time to break that cycle and get the establishment to actually listen to the people and to stop trying to override the majority wishes. If they dont of course then the extremists Corbyn and McDonnell will be running the country voted in on a landslide

      1. Steve
        November 8, 2018


        True enough. Though trying to get the government to do as the majority electorate says is utterly pointless. They’re above us, you see.

        The thing to look forward to now is the next general election, when those who’ve betrayed us can be voted out of existence – permanently.

        I will vote Labour, just out of spite.

        1. libertarian
          November 11, 2018


          Agree, I will be voting Labour too.

    5. Mondeo Man
      November 8, 2018

      Just think how much better off this country would have been had your degree been in something useful like marine engineering.

      Too much maths, I suppose.

      How I LOVE being lectured by middle class boys.

      (Clearly the ‘blue wave’ hit the same problem over the water.)

  4. Dave Andrews
    November 8, 2018

    What you describe is a halfway house between private and public sector business models.
    Might this suggest a different way to run the railways?
    In BR days, individual employees had no motivation because their good work meant no benefit to themselves; it was for the benefit of the state. Today, individual employees have no motivation because their good work means no benefit to themselves; it goes to the railway company shareholders.
    No change there.
    I suggest a cooperative business model where the employees effectively become the shareholders – a bit like John Lewis Partnership. Their good work can then be rewarded and they have no cause to go on strike against the executive they have voted for.

    1. Mark B
      November 8, 2018

      I agree. Same too with water companies

  5. Jim - ex RN
    November 8, 2018

    Having served in the Royal Navy (my first ship was HMS Victory), it’s come as a bit of a shock to realise that I was in the English Navy! Not once was this mentioned in the Inverness recruitment centre!!

    Reply In nelson’s time it was known as both the Royal Navy and the English navy – hence Nelson’s signal “England expects…”

    1. David L
      November 8, 2018

      I suppose a modern take on “England expects…” might read “The UK would prefer that every authorised employee will follow their job description whilst keeping within the recommendations of the relevant Risk Assessment.”

    2. Denis Cooper
      November 8, 2018

      A good question and a good answer … as I recall the Union flag was first devised by James I and VI for use on the ships of his, royal, navy …

      “On 12 April 1606, a new flag to represent this regal union between England and Scotland was specified in a royal decree … for maritime purposes.”

      The Union flag we now know was introduced after 1800 and appeared on our ships at Trafalgar

    3. Anonymous
      November 8, 2018

      Reply to reply. According to yet another TV history program I was watching yesterday the English are a figment of our imagination. We are a nation of immigrants.

      I turned off when the historian said this, “Britain has a history of hostility and violence to newcomers. Clearly *we* have learned nothing.”

      40 stabbings a day in London.

      Clearly *we* have learned nothing.

      1. libertarian
        November 8, 2018


        ““Britain has a history of hostility and violence to newcomers” Well clearly as they were mostly Vikings, Danes and assorted others invading for a bit of rape, pillage and mass murder .

      2. NickC
        November 8, 2018

        Anon, It may not be accurate to call the English “English”, but the genetic make-up of the people of Great Britain is predominantly from the peoples who arrived before GB became an island as the ice sheets retreated around about 10,000 ago.

        According to Steven Oppenheimer the original genetic blueprint is about 70% in SE England rising to about 80% in Scotland and Ireland. Yes, invaders (Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Norsemen, Normans and various minor groups such as Hugenots and Jews) have left a significant mark, but to call England (or Ireland, or Wales or Scotland) a “land of immigrants” is twaddle.

        1. libertarian
          November 8, 2018


          Spot on , the only large genetic difference is Orkney & Shetland which are predominantly Norse genetically

          The inhabitants of the Islands that make up Britain are predominantly all from Ice Age stock, and theres no such thing as Celts, The Romans talked about a tribe they called the Keltoi , they were from the Danube area of Europe . The “Celtic fringe ” was invented in 18th century when a book was published by Edward Lhwyd, a language specialist, pointing out that Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Manx and Cornish were very similar to each other and to the Breton language spoken in France.

    4. Mitchel
      November 8, 2018

      A fair number of Scottish captains were recruited into the Imperial Russian service in the latter half of the 18th century;notably Samuel Grieg(Samuil Karlovich Grieg)who became admiral of the Baltic fleet and was succeeded in this role by his son,Alexei Grieg,whose own son,Samuil Alexeyvich Greig, went onto become the Tsar’s Minister of Finance in the 1870s.Greig senior recruited a number of captains who had been stood down after the English Navy was cut back after the end of the American War of Independence.

      Around the same time another Scot,John Paul Jones,who had been one of the founders of the US navy,finding himself at a loose end when that navy was also stood down also joined the Russian service(as Pavel de Zhones).As an erstwhile enemy he was not popular with the Scottish/English captains of the Baltic fleet and,as rear admiral,was transferred to the Black Sea fleet in time for the Russian assault on the Turkish Fortress of Ochakov.This was the so-called Ochakov incident-Turkey being a notional ally,PM Pitt the Younger was keen to send a fleet to assist the Turks.

      In the event a press campaign by the Russian ambassador,Count Vorontsov,and in parliament by the leader of the opposition,the great orator,Charles James Fox,resulted in Pitt’s humiliation and the fall of Ochakov.Catherine the Great had a bust commissioned of Fox(the first useful idiot?!) which she placed in her library between those of Cicero and Demosthenes(an early example of trolling?!)and,curiously, Vorontsov had/still has a road named after him in St John’s Wood.

      1. Mitchel
        November 8, 2018

        (should read “Greig” throughout!

  6. oldtimer
    November 8, 2018

    I think the Aubrey/Maturin novels by Patrick O’Brian capture the flavour of the life of an adventurous naval officer very well. Not least because they appear to be extremely well researched both about naval actions but also life ashore and natural history as it was understood at the time.

    One huge difference between then and now was in the speed and methods of communication. This required that captains and commanders took on responsibilities and initiatives that I imagine are not possible, nor permitted, in today’s world of micro management from some secure bunker.

  7. Mark B
    November 8, 2018

    Good morning

    It is important to remember that Admiral Lord Nelson had many other famous battles, such as Suez.

    Necessity is the mother of invention. If you can either create or identify a need, you will always find someone somewhere with, or ready to find, a solution. Especially if there is a profit to be made for your efforts.

    The State Sector, especially the higher echelons, have grown fat and lazy on highly unionised, over paid safe jobs. They are the creeping vile on the economic tree. Rather reform is it not better to introduce competition and allow us to opt-out ?

    1. DaveK
      November 8, 2018

      Love the Freudian slip 😉

  8. Lifelogic.
    November 8, 2018

    “Police risk loosing public trust” says the Policing Minister Nick Hurd. Well I think that horse bolted years ago Nick. Have you tried talking to the public just for an hour or two?

    The Today Programme today seems to have “discovered” that men (on average) commute further than women (and especially after they have children). Also that this “might” explain some of the alleged gender pay gap. Well what a huge surprise! Perhaps someone could explain to Theresa May why her expensive and pointless gender pay reporting drivel is completely idiotic. The fact that so few women choose to study Further Maths and Physics a A levels and beyond is rather a factor too. They make different work life balance and career choices on average – it is as simple as that Theresa?

    Then we have Dr Wollaston on the Today Programme wanting an “accept the deal or just remain two way (try again voters) referendum”! Sounds like a very good way to get an appalling deal offered, bury the Tory Party and risk civil unrest.

  9. ML
    November 8, 2018

    State-subsidised pirates persist in some places. One-or-two in the Commons for example.

  10. Duncan
    November 8, 2018

    ‘You can’t touch me I’m part of the union’ should be the motto of the public sector even under the spineless modern day Tory party

    Meanwhile, in the real world, private sector employee are exposed to the full force of the law should they ever stray in whatever way

    Welcome the apartheid in C21st UK

    The unions are back in control as they dictate to the Tories how much money they would like spending on financing their members pay, FS-pensions, early retirement etc etc etc…and all the while, that delicious threat of strike action

    Save the Nelsonesque metaphors for some other times John. Nelson I suspect would have joined UKIP not an empty, vacuous political party like ours

    1. Hope
      November 8, 2018

      The police are focusing on what govt demands of it through HMIC. May has destroyed the police service, no stations, all in offices working on alleged specialist offences like hate crime 8-4 with weekends off. 900 in the met. That is more constables than the number of officers in each of these forces: Dorset, Newport, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, West Mercia etc. Look it up.

      May and Rudd gave up n crime and our safety falling for liberal civil service jumbo jumbo about causes crap. Lord Howard had none of it when he was HS, and he reduced crime by 23 percent.

      1. Hope
        November 8, 2018

        All in offices above shops.

      2. Timaction
        November 8, 2018

        Just remember the Government s priorities! The Foreign Aid budget and thenet EU budgets are both larger than the entire Police budget for England and Wales. Over 20000 Police officer losses in the last 8 years due to cuts. The Government s first duty is to protect its people. Unless you’re the Non Conservative Party

    2. Anonymous
      November 8, 2018

      Not so for new entrants. Have you seen police pay lately ? Particularly compared to the cost of housing (which officers used to get free.)

  11. margaret
    November 8, 2018

    The problem today John is one I heard a couple of weeks ago and it is serious. He pays me so I will do it and what he says.

    I was not brought up in the real world like this.I was employed by the state . It was objective, relied on personal integrity, and was for the people.It was hard work , however we employed our own excellence to achieve the goals mainly set out by our profession.

    Be careful who you give the power to as manipulative people and figures and data which are not truly correlated to reality abound. I gave this example before but I will use it again as I think it exemplifies the attitudes of some employers. When I was sister of a unit in Manchester, as things were changing over to private initiatives, they wanted to get rid of me. A complaint about me was that I was causing upset as 25% of my staff had gone off sick. I had 4 staff and one had gone off with an exacerbation of Rheumatoid Arthritis. One member of staff equated to 25 %. Other staff were bank staff.

    The power should be held by those not interested in taking over control of our country. We desperately need democracy.

  12. Peter
    November 8, 2018

    Whilst the history of the Royal Navyis of interest, it is a bit of a stretch to use elements of that history on improving the current civil service.

    The UK never had a standing army for much of its history . Aristocrats used to provide their own tenants to fight battles. Often such groups bore the name of the aristocrat leading them. I am sure you would not suggest scrapping the army and getting the landed gentry involved in recruiting again. Nor would press ganging the unemployed be seriously considered.

    Naval commanders and pirates at one time had similar backgrounds.

    Too much is made of how private enterprise will improve the civil service. I see little sign of it. Big IT and outsourcing companies got themselves into favoured supplier status with the likes of Francis Maude and it was a licence to print money. Failed IT systems in the NHS and problems with prison outsourcing suggest this was not always of benefit to the nation.

    In Samuel Pepys time there also seemed to be tighter control on the spending for the Navy. Less opportunity for chancers to overcharge.

    1. L Jones
      November 8, 2018

      ‘Press-ganging the unemployed might not be seriously considered’ but the idea of giving some the option of joining some kind of military training establishment in order to ‘earn’ their dole may work. Then some aimless and rudderless young folk might see the attractions of the military life and might join properly, and some could learn the meaning and satisfaction of team work – life skills in other words, that seem to be lacking in their education these days.

      But then that would mean investing something in our own country – and it seems we’re too concerned with investing our hard-earned money in other people’s.

      1. Andy
        November 8, 2018

        ONS figures show that older people are far more likely to be economically inactive than younger people.

        Perhaps we should invest even more of our money further improving the chances of these younger people so they can do more to help themselves in future.

        Instead the majority of our tax is spent subsidising older people who failed to save sufficiently for their old age. They are the ones getting something for nothing.

        1. Edward2
          November 8, 2018

          Wow what a revelation Andy.
          Of course older people are less economically active.
          Many, especially public sector workers, retire these days in their fifties.
          With big paid for private pensions.

        2. L Jones
          November 8, 2018

          ”Failed to save sufficiently for their old age”? Are you serious, Andy? You are the one complaining about ”Baby Boomers” – do you have any idea who they are, what they are, what they did for themselves?

          Do you know from what straitened circumstances many of them came? Do you know how hard they had to work to haul themselves up to a comfortable life for themselves and their children (possibly you or your parents)? Are you REALLY so ignorant? I almost can’t believe it.

          You sound like someone who is bitter because some ”baby boomer” in their own family hasn’t come up with the goods to make your life a bit easier with no effort from you. You sound bitter and disappointed – because of some older person in your family who actually MADE their own way but didn’t made YOU a beneficiary. Do you really think that people in the 60s didn’t pay tax, didn’t help to build our society, or our services through their own efforts, taxed all the way? And, yes, SAVED for their old age. Are YOU doing this, by the way? Or will you walk willingly into that Euthanasia Chamber at the age of 60?

          etc ed

        3. a-tracy
          November 9, 2018

          I can’t wait for you to grow up Andy, my parents were still working at 70 Mum was forcibly retired off with a company restructuring or she’d still be working now and at 75 my father is still part-time working, they both started work at the age of 15. They get a pittance from the State, no pension credits, no benefits other than the State pension they paid into all their working lives (a life during which they never claimed benefits, child-tax credit, working tax-credit, universal credit those things didn’t exist). They produced three children who have all been economically active from the age of 16, always paying our own way, none claiming child tax credits, working tax credits, benefits. They’ve more than covered the tiny State pension that they were told would be better than it actually turned out to be.

          Many of the ‘older people’ you refer to also give free care to their elderly relatives or caring for grand-children so their children can be as you say ‘economically active’

  13. Peter
    November 8, 2018

    From the Maritime Museum in Greenwich

    “Pepys discovered that cheating and theft had ruined standards of supplies and shipbuilding.”

    Plus ca change…..

    “After the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672–74), sailors complained their food was so bad that it included mouldy bread and diseased meat. Pepys met with suppliers and agreed rules about the standard of food to make up crews’ rations.”

    I suggest control and monitoring is better exercised by expert people, who are in post for the duration, rather than blow ins looking for big bonuses and then moving on.

  14. Richard1
    November 8, 2018

    Roger Scruton is an excellent choice to lead the new body ensuring beauty in new buildings. A highly articulate and cerebral conservative who will bring much common sense to the role. No wonder the PC left are up in arms! Under no circs should the govt cave into the twitter mob trying to block him. We need far more Roger Scrutons in these roles to balance the armies of leftists bureaucrats and agitators who have been shoehorned into these quango roles ever since Blair (a process never reversed under Cameron).

  15. Adam
    November 8, 2018

    Leadership combines a strategy of intelligence, organisation & incentives enabling the most effective performers to achieve the finest results.

    1. NickC
      November 8, 2018

      Adam, Leadership is also a sort of service to those being (supposedly) led. Which is why Theresa May is not a leader. She is a “pusher”.

  16. Nig l
    November 8, 2018

    And of course they could be shot for treachery or cowardice. What a delicious thought!

  17. nobonus
    November 8, 2018

    It was a time when ships were made of wood and men were made of steel-

    It was a time when most crew were press ganged or otherwise because of terrible poverty had no choice but to join. It was an awful time- peoples lives counted for nothing.

    What you’re advocating here is the return of ‘prize money’ ie outrageous banker’s bonuses as a reward for taking risks with other peoples money. Could it be that politicians born with the silver spoon might be rewarded now for bringing the whole country down on the rest of us- yes send them to the Lords? or I wonder is it something to do with a Persimmion boss getting 78Million as a pay off?

    No No, I don’t think we really want any of this for our country again..not any more

    So here’s to the return of the ownership of the water utilities and the railways to public ownership. No bonuses for anyone for doing a hard days work- only public service as it should be- decently paid and decently rewarded

    November 8, 2018

    Corbynistas rubbish our history. Oddments rubbish having our Head of State.
    Pragmatically, the engineering infratructure our steel rails and whatnot we sent, even
    balanced the books in cheap tea exploitation.
    Our Head of State according to Labour was not voted into power by a Trades Union Head who got more than 16% of his members votes.They still don’t know who he is and who he thinks he is. Who is he anyway? Can he survive on an “as-and-when-required basis? Not likely! Only enough money to have a seaside paddle at Blackpool Conferences and half a bag of chips to follow.

  19. acorn
    November 8, 2018

    Private sector incentives are a much better exemplar. Persimmon plc for instance. The Board gives the boss an open-ended incentive that nets him £75 million. The media goes ape over greedy boss, who becomes an overnight corporate embarrassment for Persimmon plc. The Board that gave the incentive now has to get rid of the boss to quell the embarrassment.

    1. libertarian
      November 8, 2018


      And THAT is exactly why the free market works. It punishes companies that do totally stupid things

      1. Fuddy Duddy
        November 9, 2018

        libertarian – it’s not stupid for the taxpayer, it must reap millions or am I wrong?

        1. libertarian
          November 11, 2018

          Buddy Duddy

          It certainly doesn’t help tax payers, it helps government revenues to take 45% plus NI though

  20. Oliver
    November 8, 2018

    Excellent, JR – and perfectly illustrative of why the country should be run by someone with a History degree, rather than, say, Geography (advanced colouring in).

    I would refer you to the title of Admiral Sir Henry Leach’s memoirs – “Endure no makeshifts” – a Buchan quote that perfectly describes why the present apparent Brexit proposals are a complete, to quote the US military, cluster****.

  21. Ed Mahony
    November 8, 2018

    My Royal Navy hero is Captain Cook.

    ‘Everyday was Sunday’ under Cook’s flag.’ He was a Christian man. A family man. And benevolent, ‘He was a modest man, and rather bashful; of an agreeable lively conversation, sensible and intelligent. In temper he was somewhat hasty, but of a disposition the most friendly, benevolent and humane.’

    Christianity, family values, patriotism to his country, and work ethic were key to his success. This is what we need to emulate in our country today I believe.

    1. Ed Mahony
      November 8, 2018

      Thanks to this article, now going to get biography on Cook by Richard Hough.

      (Nelson and others also heroes but something special about Captain Cook, i think)

      1. oldtimer
        November 8, 2018

        Hough.s biography is excellent. Cook is a good example of how someone of very humble origins lifted himself by the bootstraps to become of of the most famous mariners and explorers in the world and was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was an outstanding hydrographer, being the first man to chart the complex Newfoundland coastline. These skills played a key role in charting the St Lawrence river before Wolfe.s famous victory over the French in 1759.

        1. Ed Mahony
          November 9, 2018

          Thanks – on my Xmas reading list now ..

  22. Iain Moore
    November 8, 2018

    BP was one of British state’s creation, we had D’Arcy a gold prospector who struck it rich, the Foreign Office wanting secure Persia from Russia and denying them access to a Middle Eastern port (Monroe Doctrine) , and the Admiralty seeking to secure oil supplies for their ships. D’Arcy bought the oil rights with interested oversight from the Admiralty and FCO , when his financial resources were being stretched, and seeking a loan , the Treasury declined to offer any help (though they cashed in when BP was sold) . nevertheless, an intermediary Boverton Redwood , and with support from the FCO and Admiralty brought in Burmah Oil as a partner, and to cut a long story short this created BP.

    We obviously still have the problem of the parsimonious Treasury , but now no longer have any other departments of state who have any faith in the country, so don’t promote any strategic alliances that would build the industries of the future.

    1. Mitchel
      November 9, 2018

      The Monroe Doctrine was a 19th century US edict regarding European activity in the Americas.Might you mean the “Truman Doctrine” which was the US response to the collapse of British power in the aftermath of WWII and the resulting vulnerability of Iran,Turkey & Greece to Soviet influence?

  23. Original Richard
    November 8, 2018

    There is one area of the Civil Service which does not need any incentives.

    That is the implementation of EU directives, rules and regulations.

    Unlike Germany which I read is now the biggest breaker of EU rules, according to new statistics on enforcement actions started by Brussels against member states.

    The UK comes 14th.

  24. Iain Gill
    November 8, 2018

    Giving choice to the end consumer, and ability to move their business elsewhere is also a massive force for the good.

    Lots of the state privatisations produce poor results because the end consumers are still given little or no choice. It is only when end consumers can move their business, and countless such small decisions force the money to follow the consumers, that organisations are forced to be responsive and innovative towards end consumers.

    It also takes a willingness to allow failing organisation units fail and shut, and to allow organisation units which attract more end consumers to use the extra money to provision more capacity.

    These are the things needed to allow the virtuous circle of end consumers forcing provider improvements to improve the world around us.

    And such a dynamic could be used much more.

  25. Denis Cooper
    November 8, 2018

    Since our trade policy has been controlled by the EU we have no longer had the same need for our own navy to protect our trade, and when President Macron says that the EU needs a true European army of course that includes naval and air forces.

    And it is now clear that Theresa May is dead set upon giving in to the wishes of the Irish government and relinquishing any ambition to regain control of our trade policy, despite anything she said in her Lancaster House and other speeches as well as the Tory party manifesto for the last general election.

    Page 15 here:

    “… we will be free to strike our own trade agreements with countries outside the EU.”

    At the top of page 7 of today’s edition of the CityAM newspaper:

    you can see Theresa May being friendly with the Irish premier Leo Varadkar.

    And rightly so, because by adopting such an absurd extreme and intransigent attitude over the border he has helpfully provided her with a pretext for doing what she really wanted to do anyway, namely to keep us under the rules of the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market as far as she could possibly manage.

    And then below that picture there is the headline:

    “Ministers catch glimpse of draft deal with the EU”

    but not including the protocol on Northern Ireland.

    So ministers and their departmental staffs can spend their time and energy bogged down with intricate but on the whole fairly anodyne details of the 95% which has already been provisionally agreed, rather than worrying about the poisonous 5% kernel of national betrayal that Theresa May and Olly Robbins intend to commit.

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 8, 2018

      A compilation of 21 occasions when Theresa May said that we will be leaving the EU Customs Union:

  26. bigneil
    November 8, 2018

    Are parts of our navy still operating as a ferry service across the Med? Very sensible to use our taxes to pay for our Navy to help them across to Europe where they aim to get to the UK, where they will cost yet more of our taxes.

  27. English Pensioner
    November 8, 2018

    These days top public servants get huge bonuses without achieving anything worthwhile. There is plenty of scope for genuine bonuses based on real results, not just ticking boxes. Perhaps the police should get a bonus for each knife crime where someone is caught and sent to prison. It’d soon clear up London’s knife crime problem in spite of the mayor’s generation time scale.

  28. Andy
    November 8, 2018

    Personal incentive is a key motivator for many of us. People do jobs for many reasons and reward is one of them.

    I have no qualms at all in paying public sector workers significant sums where appropriate and where their performance justifies it.

    A good headteacher, for example, can transform a school and massively improve the life chances of its pupils.

    The long term costs benefit to the state of those children being successful is huge. They are more likely to have jobs, pay taxes, look after their health, not cause trouble etc.

    And yet teachers, like most public servants, usually find themselves held to the ‘mustn’t be paid more than the PM’ rubbish. Why? Pay someone what they are worth not what society demands – and that should mean that the best public servants are paid millions.

  29. hellbent
    November 8, 2018

    Listening to DD being interviewed today about the legal! what a chancer..and this coming from the once chief negotiator who was going to play the devil with Barnier but when push came to shove he deserted the ship to save his own skin..please save us from all of this talk of the 19th century..we are living in the ‘now’ and looking to the future

  30. Sakara Gold
    November 8, 2018

    Nelson fought Trafalgar with pressed men. These types had been seized from harbour taverns and were forcibly enlisted, at every opportunity they jumped ship and deserted. The navy was short of men because of the awful conditions under which they served, the poor food, harsh discipline, derisory rates of pay and lack of leave.

    The only people who benefitted from prize money were the officers. The rates were paid a fraction of this and were frequently cheated out of their share by unscrupulous captains.

    Your analogy is interesting, but one sided. Many enlisted men who lost limbs at Trafalgar died in penury. The officers ended up as landed gentry

    Reply Press gangs were bad. Collingwood for example is said not to have used them. Sensible Captains preferred volunteers for obvious reasons. The men did share in the prize money.

  31. Denis Cooper
    November 8, 2018

    “Liam Fox: UK must be able to end backstop”

    Not if the Irish government has anything to do with it; they will never voluntarily agree to any future EU-UK “partnership” treaty unless it replicates the legal effects of the proposed backstop to keep the UK under the economic thumb of the EU.

    Traditionally we could be entering impeachment territory here, except of course that as presently composed the Commons would never send Theresa May for trial by the Lords over this and even if they did the Lords would take her side against the people.

  32. rose
    November 8, 2018

    The other point about this remarkable navy is that it was run without mass immigration and manned by a much smaller less long lived native population.

    1. Ron Olden
      November 8, 2018

      It’s not ‘remarkable that a navy can be manned, when there are vast numbers of poverty stricken men available to be recruited and when refusal to be ‘press ganged’ was punishable by death.

      Seamen were not covered by the Magna Carta and “failure to allow oneself to be pressed” was punishable by hanging – although the punishment became less severe over time.

      The great majority of men ‘pressed’ were taken from merchant ships at sea, especially those homeward bound for Britain.

      This was legal as long as the Navy replaced the man they took, and many Naval captains would take the best seamen, replacing them with malcontents and landsmen from their own ship.

      It was also common for “trusted” volunteers to act as substitutes; they would then desert as soon as the merchant ship docked, and return to their Navy ship.

      When war broke out the Navy would deploy frigates and vessels off the coast to intercept inbound merchantman.

      Reportedly some merchant captains redirected their ships to Irish ports to offload favoured crewmen, before making final land-fall in England.

      In 1740, a merchant ship fired on a cruiser attempting to impress its crew; threats of similar violence to avoid sailors being pressed were supposedly not uncommon, especially with the East India ships whose crews had been away from their families and England for a considerable time.

      In times of an extreme shortage of men, the Navy would “embargo” the coast for a short time; merchantmen had to supply a portion of their crew in exchange for permission to sail.

      Many merchant ships had hiding places constructed where their best crew could hide when approached by a Naval vessel.

      In addition to ‘impressment’, Britain also used the Quota System (or The Quod) from 1795 to 1815, whereby each county was required to supply a certain number of volunteers, based on its population and the number of its seaports.

      Unlike ‘impressment’, the Quota System often resulted in criminals serving on board ships as counties who failed to meet their quota offered prisoners the option of completing their sentence or volunteering.

      Apart from the probably lower quality of recruits taken by this means, another downside of the Quota System was the frequent introduction of disease, especially typhus, to healthy ships.

      As for immigration. Every single person who’s ever been in the Navy was either and immigrant or a descendent of immigrants.

      The British Isles didn’t exist 15,000 years ago, and the land which comprises it now was virtually uninhabited.

      Most of the migrants now here started coming about 2000 years ago. Some, e.g. the Anglo Saxons, Normans, Vikings, other Continental Europeans and Afro Caribbeans etc, more recently than others.

      1. Peter
        November 8, 2018

        “As for immigration. Every single person who’s ever been in the Navy was either and immigrant or a descendent of immigrants.”

        Sounds like Newspeak, as practiced by the BBC who would claim we are all descended from Adam and Eve. Except the BBC ‘don’t do God’.

  33. Ron Olden
    November 8, 2018

    It’s an anathema to public sector management and and all unions (public and private sector), that anyone should be paid by results for anything

    Apparently getting paid by results is ‘divisive’, and means someone is putting ‘profit’ before whatever measly ‘service’ they are providing.

    Yet I don’t see this vast army of low productivity public sector employees working for nothing, spending all their wages and pensions in ‘Not for Profit’ retailers like the Co-op, or confining their TV viewing to ‘Not for Profit’ TV Channels like the BBC.

    Neither do they lend their savings interest free to the Government to ‘invest’ in things like the NHS.

    Only a few weeks ago the Post Unions were moaning that Royal Mail (as it was required by law to do), had issued a profits warning before their members had had a chance to sell the shares they’d been given free, at an even bigger profit, without the unsuspecting buyers finding out things weren’t looking so good.

  34. Steve
    November 8, 2018

    A very well written article Mr Redwood, proving the point that we are indeed the Island Race, as W. Churchill described us.

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