06 July 2009

Front Line Services

At the risk of sounding like Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, I am astonished at the number of people - from radio and TV announcers, to politicians and people who should know better - who continue to use the expression front line in describing their relationship with the public. Government ministers responsible for children, schools, or social services routinely describe their 'front line services' or people offering 'support' on the 'front line'. The use of this metaphor is doubly telling. They might be accused of ignorance: they are clutching at a journalistic cliche to dramatize their bureaucratic efforts. But even if this is the (only slightly) excusable reason, it does not hide the fact that at a sub-conscious level, it's a dead giveaway that they regard the people who they are supposed to be serving, helping, supporting - as The Enemy.

It's a military metaphor, for goodness' sake! The front line is where one lot of armed men confront another with a view to killing each other. Is this how how our government minister for schools sees the children who are being educated? It would seem so.

What makes this even worse is these ministers, police officers, petty local officials, and government spokespeople are supposed to be SERVANTS of the public. WE are paying THEIR wages, and they are supposed to be acting on OUR behalf.

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