Monday, 27 June 2011
DO AS I SAY – NOT AS I DO!
The straw that finally breaks the
Scrutiny camel’s back?
I am putting up this latest post with some genuine disappointment. For regardless of my long-held concerns I am one of only a small number of politicians still giving considerable time and commitment to the
Scrutiny process. Yet I put the post up as I also believe that it is absolutely crucial the public are informed accurately as to what is going on behind the scenes of our so-called democracy.
As many members of the public are sadly now all too aware possibly the biggest flaw within the current set up of Ministerial government has been the way power has been concentrated in the hands of a minority. This problem has, of course, been further compounded by the unchecked opportunities for megalomania amongst a number of individuals who really should have been more responsible.
Indeed, as can be seen quite clearly in reading my Censure motion on the Chief Minister a small number of individuals on the Executive appear to believe that they are completely unaccountable to both Assembly and the public. Worse – if that is possible – not only do they think that they can do as they wish; they also believe that they can dictate to; ignore or bully into silence any who would dare question; criticise or reach a different conclusion to the Ministerial spin.
These attitudes have already rendered the
Scrutiny function next to impossible. With only 13 States Members now still hanging in there to keep it going many felt that the Executive manoeuvre – aided and abetted by Senators Ben Shenton and Sarah Fergusson – to remove Deputy Mike Higgins from investigating problems at the airport saw us rapidly approaching the last straw.
I’m afraid that what is currently unfolding with the Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian le Marquand – yes, the rumours are true – he is attempting to remove me as Chairman of the
Scrutiny investigation into the process underlying the BDO/Alto review - that final straw has almost certainly been reached. The Executive simply cannot be allowed to dictate what can or cannot be scrutinized; or, indeed, who can or cannot participate.
Completely out of control
Given the stunning allegations drawn from the Home Affairs Minister during my questioning of him in the States last week, incredibly he states his ‘surprise’ that
Scrutiny should even feel the issue worthy of investigation. He then wholly oversteps his authority by wanting my panel to refer it to the Chairman’s Committee.
Not content with this Senator Le Marquand then complains to me that I have excluded Deputy
Jeremy Macon from the review – and worse(?) replaced him with Deputy ! Incredible to say the least and utter hokum. Firstly, Deputy Macon will confirm that with the review likely to eat into the summer recess he opted out of his own volition. Daniel Wimberley
Secondly, upon this decision being advised to us
ALL States Members who could do Scrutiny were e-mailed to register their availability, interest and willingness to give up their time.
Only two responded as being so willing. Deputy
Shona Pitman was obviously going to be a non-starter with me – her husband - chairing the review. The other was Deputy . No rigged selection process to appoint a ‘stooge’. No pre-judged outcomes. No sleight of hand. Just the same transparent process with which we always undertake our Daniel Wimberley Scrutiny.
Yet as if all of this was not enough the Home Affairs Minister further makes the insulting and ridiculous allegation that I cannot be allowed to Chair the investigation because I am ‘conflicted’. Further still, if I refuse to step down he will be left with ‘no option’ but to have the Chairman’s Committee and PPC ‘adjudicate between us’! Given our subsequent conversation a threat if ever I heard one.
The Minister’s justification for this megalomania? The fact that within my Censure motion against the Chief Minister (oddly still not even mentioned in our
Island’s only newspaper!) in one of the thirteen examples of failed leadership I also touch on the subject of current concerns relating to the BDO/Alto review. Do I pre-judge the outcome of the review as the Minister would have as an excuse to remove me?
No. Not at all. In criticising the Chief Minister for failing completely to deal with a Minister who stated he didn’t really want to give information to an official
Scrutiny hearing because he had already promised ‘a scoop’ to a local journalist regarding the suspension of the former Chief Police Officer I mention revelations that the Minister confirmed from his own lips in last week’s States sitting!
This being that content from a confidential and, at that time, uncompleted and unpublished report had apparently been ‘leaked’ to a
journalist. A ‘leak’ the Minister tells us came from one of the police officers who was a central player in the investigation used to undermine the Historic Abuse Inquiry – not least because of the Senior Investigating Officer’s alleged inappropriate interaction with the media! My observations thus far refer to this worrying revelation alone. I cannot obviously know what else may underlie why and how this happened. UK
As I have already pointed out in my reply whilst I have most certainly asked a great many questions on the related – but clearly separate – issue of the suspension of the former Chief Police Officer; and upon analysis of the evidence, like a good number of my colleagues, most definitely come to different conclusions to the Minister the records show I have voiced no opinions or conclusions that would conflict me from the BDO/Alto review.
Democracy or dictatorship?
Am I tempted to say more here? Yes, I certainly am. Yet I will not at this point. I believe Senator Le Marquand’s letter – attached below along with the
Scrutiny review’s Terms of Reference says it all. Complaining that if left in place a panel review might have three out of four (only there?) members who have reached different conclusions on the separate suspension review spells the reality underlying this loud and clear
Attempted bullying? Paranoia? Elitism? Arrogance? Hypocrisy? I will leave readers to make up their own mind on such things. Personally I believe that an attitude of ‘do as I say – not as I do’ is simply not acceptable within a democracy. The Executive – a minority seemingly drunk on power and zero accountability – cannot be allowed to dictate who can or cannot sit on
Scrutiny. Similarly, what subjects they are allowed to scrutinize.
Consequently, I will not be allowing myself to be intimidated into standing down as the Minister so desperately wants. Of course, should I eventually be removed in the same underhand way that Deputy Higgins was all I can say in conclusion is this. Democracy is either upheld by States Members or the best thing that could – and should be done – is to dissolve this Council of Ministers and the Assembly and call a general election immediately. That I’m afraid is the political crossroads that we are now at.
Keep the faith