As so many public sector workers take strike action today, we should think hard about the work they do and how we could not function without their generally quietly efficient presence. Sadly, we all too often read in the papers stories down grading their work.
I have one recent and happy story which illustrates the high quality of the public sector in Britain. A day or so ago I had an important visitor due to come for a day of meetings in Brussels. The night before she discovered she had lost her passport.
Not wanting to cancel her meetings, my visitor went to St Pancras for the Eurostar with as much information as she could find – driving licence, Brussels invitation and her Eurostar tickets. After a few questions and a form filled in she was allowed to travel.
Having telephoned the relevant consulate earlier, at the end of the day she went to Brussels Midi station for the return Eurostar and again, although it understandably took a little time, found public servants keen to assist her travel.
This kind of helpful attitude is, I have generally found, the overwhelming norm in our public services. When Conservative ministers attack our public sector workers, it is important to emphasise with examples like this, how if anything they are taken for granted. I am sure most of you will wholeheartedly agree with me, and understand that teachers and front-line civil servants should receive proper remuneration and pensions adequate to provide for their retirement.