The Daily Mail reports that 14 Council officers on Labour-run Lancashire County Council have been suspended for circulating Jewish jokes by email. One issue is whether staff should be allowed to send any jokes to each other. On the whole I think they should in moderation. Good for morale. The key measure is if they perform their work competently. If they are on top of everything and so are bored with nothing to do and thus email jokes to each other it may be an indication of overmanning. But you can hardly blame them.

But then, of course, there is endless difficulty about what content is acceptable. Is swearing? Is an offensive joke? Most jokes are offensive to some extent. In this case it is hard to form an opinion without having seen the jokes. Often rabbis tell excellent Jewish jokes. One assumes these were more offensive but perhaps some were some weren't. There could certainly be problematic disciplinary hearings.

Given how hard it is to sack people on local government for doing a bad job – for idleness, incompetence, persistent absenteeism it sounds to me as though the suspension for emailing was probably excessive. A warning would have seemed more reasonable. But we don't know quite how offensive the jokes are.

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