Low Trust In Politicians
Philip Kolvin QC, above, recently wrote that trust in politicians is at a particularly low ebb. We know that the recent cases here in West Lancashire, where two wards have been denied the full service of what council tax pays for, by elected members fully paid for absenteeism, one by admission in London, prove it.
Conservative Cllr. 2017 GE candidate. Charity Trustee. Ex Royal Navy. Blackpool FC season ticket holder
“Recent research by Ipsos Mori had indicated that only 16% of the population generally trust politicians to tell the truth. The picture in the north of England is worse at 11%. [That high?]
“So there’s clearly work to do to generate confidence in local democracy. For the public need to be able to trust those representing them to take decisions unsullied by any reality or perception of personal interest and to behave in the way they can reasonably expect of those in public office.
“But, and there’s always of course a but, there’s a tension between public expectations of probity in those entrusted with public power and the strong wish by those who wield that power to be allowed simply to get on and do their job without undue complexity of regulation. Nor to have to endure nitpicking, malicious or vexatious interference or complaint by those whose motives can often be dubious. Labour, when in office, brought out a revised Model Code of Conduct order in 2007. They offered their revised regime as “clearer, simpler and more proportionate”.
“Many politicians across the board increasingly resented the constrictions of what was widely viewed as a somewhat disproportionate and ‘Stalinist’ regime giving too much power and influence to officers to stifle the local elected politicians’ democratic mandate.
“Former Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles pledged to axe the whole Standards Board regime consisting of a centrally prescribed code of conduct, standards committees with the power to suspend councillors and an unelected central body. For in his view the ‘standards board regime became the problem, not the solution’. This was because allegedly unsubstantiated and petty allegations, often a storm in a teacup, damaged the reputation and standing of local government, as well as wasting taxpayers’ money. The view was that abolishing the regime will restore power to local people.
“Nevertheless, many in local government, both officers and members, believe that in drastically slimming down the regime, the Government managed to throw the standards baby out with the regulatory bathwater. This applies in particular to sanctions. As the Committee on Standards in Public Life has remarked, the only sanctions now available, apart from through the use of a political party’s internal discipline procedures, are censure or criminal prosecution for deliberately withholding or misrepresenting a financial interest. We do not think these are sufficient.
“But things are as they are and that’s the territory to be navigated by local authority councillors, monitoring officers and others responsible for, and subject to, operation of the system, including obligations on accessible treatment of personal interests, bias and predetermination, equality and discrimination and election issues”.
And probity. In planning. In a fair, impartial, and transparent way. In due diligence, as in making a comprehensive appraisal of an asset and evaluate its commercial potential for its owners, such as West Lancashire tax payers, owners of the Beacon Park Golf Course, much of which has been commercially buried under landfill for outsourced private companies.