Whistle-blowers? Shoot them.

We seem to be in a blame/denial and now legalistic culture where the whistle-blower is the one who’s lined up to be shot. Can that be right?

An army requires discipline. When the general orders a ‘full advance’ he shouldn’t expect to have to win an Oxford University Debating Society debate on the merits of his tactics before engaging the enemy. Similarly anyone working for a corporation has to respect its trade secrets otherwise with no secrets there’s no business.

If a famous footballer is ‘playing away’ he is behaving outside what we currently regard as ‘decency’ and I can’t see why the law should even countenance a gagging order far less grant one and deny the world the information. Unless of course we want to start saying ‘playing away with a gagging order in place’ is decent? Naming here, presupposes that ‘shaming’ follows, and that is probably current justice for this type of crime.

I keep saying ‘current’. Let’s be honest, society changes. We used to like slavery and built an empire on it. We used to think keeping women from the ballot box meant better government, but now we don’t. We used to all file into church on a Sunday, and now it’s only some of us and it could be at any time at the weekend. So maybe our views on what is a wrong, and whether wrongs should be exposed, will also change over time?

Right now we are in a ‘health and safety’ culture. There is an enforcement authority now where there wasn’t one when engineering projects overstaffed deliberately to allow for the odd fatality. I’m a big fan of Brunel, but has anyone ever done a body count in his wake?

So if we are concerned if our beef contains horse shouldn’t there be a clear and effective channel for anyone who does know something that’s not decent (or in this case honest) to be able to come forward without fear of retribution? How can a hospital’s staff live with itself if it is covering up its inadequacies and attacking those who try to bring the data to the public domain?

Revelations need to be altruistic, not publicity seeking. The channel of the revelation has to be appropriate and in the whistle-blower’s opinion the best route to a fix.

There are real problems. The whistle-blower might not have all the facts and therefore actually wrong. The whistle-blower might not know who best to contact or how. The whistle-blower might (deep down) be doing it for all the personal reasons.

I know, let’s set up a whistle-blowers quango!

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