Danny Alexander and the Jargon of Change Management

Anyone who’s worked in British industry may well recognise the duplicitous tone of Danny Alexander’s “change is good for you” speech on public sector pensions on June 17th. We’ve heard it all before in the decades of evaluations, restructuring, reorganisations and rebrandings by the bean counters.

It’s all about “change” in the pessimistic Dylanesque sense. The times they are indeed changing.

Danny’s the master of blinding them with science, then dividing and conquering. I’ve taken his main points and explained what he really means:

“Pensions are vitally important to all of us, but they are also both complex and long-term.”

– I’m going to blind you with my intellect. You may have trouble following me but don’t worry, I’m right.

“It is unjustifiable that other taxpayers should work longer and pay more tax so public service workers can retire earlier and get more than them.”

– Fight over it amongst yourselves.

“On the one hand, there are those trades Unions who seem to believe that pensions for public service workers should not change, irrespective of the huge economic, demographic and social changes going on around them.”

– Bashing trade unions is fashionable and fun. Join me. It beats discussing the changes going on all round us.

“Of course, it may be that those who oppose change think that they can force the Government to change its mind. This head in the sand approach is a colossal mistake. This Government will reform public service pensions. This is the time to shape that change not to try and block it.”

– You’re backward and you seem to have problems understanding my intellectual arguments but in a nutshell change is all about being first to accept far less.

“The history of reform is littered with examples where people simply deny the facts, deploy their myths and dig their trenches . They may hold out for a little while, but eventually reality bites. And when it does, change is urgent and uncompromising.”

– History is on my side, loser. But I do want to talk about it. Honestly.

“Instead, where people seize the opportunity for change and seize the chance to shape their future, a much better change can happen.”

– Do it my way and it will be less painful for us both.

“Working longer and paying in more may not be what public service workers want to hear, but it is simply a fact of life for every single person in this country, whether you work in the public or private sector.”

– Accept less, the others did. End of argument. I love my job.

“Why should the general taxpayer have to work longer before drawing their pensions, when public service workers don’t? Why should the general taxpayer have to pay taxes supporting public service pensions for workers retiring earlier than them?”

– I’m emphasising division because then you’ll fight amongst yourselves. But don’t get annoyed. It will only hurt you more in the long run.

“It’s unfair.”

– Oh it is. I’m stressing this word “unfair” so you will feel bad. Feel very bad. You’re a victim of unfairness. Not that I’m victimizing you in any way.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/bob%2Bdylan/#share

DA’s full speech is at: http://www.professionalpensions.com/professional-pensions/news/2079939/danny-alexander-public-sector-pensions-speech