The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

Meet the Professor

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Standards without a chair ?

Sir Alistair Graham is the Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. It was instigated by John Major in 94 amid the scandals and sleaze that dogged the tail-end of the Conservatives time in office.

Sir Alistair's task is thankless.

He and his committee are the main Parliamentary watchdog for ethics, standards etc. in Parliament.

They report back to the Prime Minister.

They make recommendations to the Prime Minister.

Decisions to act on their reports and recommendations are the Prime Minister's.

Get the picture ?

The Prime Minister is the watchdog's teeth.

On April 24th, Sir Alistair's contract is up. These things happen. Nothing unusual in that.

What's unusual is that no replacement has been found.

Sir Alistair had some thoughts on this in an open letter to the Cabinet Secretary.

"I am extremely concerned that despite raising the issue with you on a regular basis since Sept 2006, no arrangements have been made to appoint my successor... This will leave the Committee without a permanent chairman for what is likely to be a considerable period, and, during a time of unprecedented public concern about standards of conduct in government and erosion in trust in the political process more generally. This risks perception, unfair or otherwise, that this Government places a low priority on the maintenance of the highest standards in public life."

Baroness Shephard of North-wold, a Tory peer and member of the Committee, said, “It is inexcusable when there are police investigating Downing Street to effectively disband the Standards Committee for a period of time by leaving us without a chairman. We have no idea what might be in store but they don’t want any more of us.”

Here are some past statements from Sir Alistair ;

I think it is demonstrated by opinion polls that the public think this
Government is as sleazy as the last. [Tony Blair] has paid a heavy price for
ignoring standards" May 21, 2006

"This is clearly in breach of the ministerial code"

...on John Prescott's visit to Philip Anschutz's ranch, July 20, 2006

Here's what Sir Philip Mawer - Commissioner for Standards said to us re: gaps in the policing of Parliament ;

Naturally, we expect the gov will get around to searching for a replacement. Suggestions on a postcard to TB c/o 10 Downing St.

For the full rub - here's an article in the Times.


  1. Was this photo of Sir Alistair taken just after he learnt his contract wasn't being renewed ? He looks very jolly.

  2. I am not sure Mr Graham's committee ever did anything anyway so he doesn't need a replacement does he?

  3. Miliband for PM20 Mar 2007, 13:38:00

    Here's another good link about this:

  4. Village People20 Mar 2007, 14:11:00

    Given Labour's eminently sensible policy on cutting down layers of middle-management in government - why bother with the committee ? Just give Teflon Tony a few extra quid each month and let him get on with it. It's what he's doing anyway isn't it ?

  5. Tony the Hairdresser20 Mar 2007, 16:52:00

    Isn't Victoria Beckham out of work ?

  6. I'm sure she'd do a fine job - after all, she's well used to lip-synching...