“In order to save space the word esquire has not been added to any name, though of course such should be added in every ease when no inconsistent addition is affixed.” – Kelly’s Handbook to the Upper Ten Thousand, 1875

In the ages before universal suffrage, it was assumed that society was run by an aristocracy. There was a certain flexibility in the British version of this. One could rise (within certain limits) – medicine, science and industry allowed commoners to reach the heights of society and government. In the military a small number went from the lowest rank to become high ranking officers. But these were exceptions.

Society, as in many other countries, was ruled by an Upper Ten Thousand – the hereditary aristocracy and their relations. The Squirearchy reigned, where the Vicar was a distant cousin of the Lord of the Manor.

Post 1911 the world was supposed to have changed – the age of Democracy and Merit.

Yet we now have a New Upper The Thousand, as I would term them – the #NU10K (pronounced “New Ten Kay”)

Their characteristics are that

– They inhabit the highest jobs in the land, but not political office
– The earn huge sums, certainly more than the PM
– They are managerial generalists – with little actual expertise in the domains they rule
– They defend their kind to the last
– The consequences of failure, for them, is to be moved to a better job under the most generous terms

Time and again, in scandal after scandal, public and private, we see the same pattern.

– The head of Rotherham’s children’s department moved to Australia, to run education services for the entire State of Victoria. Complete with a reference from her previous employers.
– The Lucy Letby case – senior managers blocked investigations and harassed whistleblowers. They have either retired on magnificent pensions, or moved to better jobs.
– Cressida Dick has supervised scandal after scandal in her career in police management. To be fair, she is just one of the Senior Management Team (SMT) of the police, who seem to require epic failure for promotion. Don’t worry about her resignation/retirement – she has enough non-executive jobs to keep her from needing to claim benefits.

We could be here all day, lengthening that list. Aberfan, The Post Office, The blood transfusion scandal…..

We have exchanged the younger sons of Peers for the graduates of Common Cause. It is hard to see which is dimmer.

The problem is that they have no skill in their jobs (Alison Rose – a banker who couldn’t keep her mouth shut?) and there is no getting rid of them. Fired from one job, they migrate to the next. When forced to retire, they bob to the surface again like unflushed turds – as non-execs, on quango boards or other highly paid sinecures.

This is not a matter of party. The #NU10K come in all political shades – and often no shade at all. If we want to change this country significantly, the Meritless Unaccountables need to be replaced as much as any government.


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