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

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Ministry at the Institute for Public Policy Research

Yesterday saw the Ministry at the Institute for Public Policy Research (Guido has much to say on this think tank) who were kind enough to invite us to their "fixing British politics" seminar offering "reflections from leading thinkers on some of the major challenges that will face policymakers in decades to come". We don't want to sound ungrateful, but it would be an understatement to say we were bemused/surprised by the experience. I suppose we shouldn't have been.

On the panel were, Tony Wright MP, (newly appointed chair of the all-party parliamentary reform committee), Vernon Bogdanor, (Britain’s leading constitutional expert) and Dominic Grieve QC MP, Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Attorney General. In attendance were an invited audience of "academics, journalists and policy makers".

Questions to be covered included ;

  • What should be the priorities for any reform of the political system?
  • Can political reform address the decline of the moral authority of parliament and MPs engendered by the expenses scandal?
It quickly became abundantly clear from the rhetoric in the room that if "No-one really knows the real root of the public's anger over expenses" was the forward thinking in politics, Great Britain PLC is in the deepest, darkest smelliest brown stuff for some time.

The word "trust" went entirely unmentioned for an hour and a half before the Ministry pointed out this may just be an issue with the public. The ability to re-establish it will be the benchmark for any proposed reforms.

In the real world we have two options once you've lost trust in someone. In business, marriage, you name it, there is no third option. There are no exceptions to this rule. You either continue the relationship in the knowledge that ultimately you can turn to the courts, or disengage. Naturally, this holds true of the relationship between citizen and state.

Over the last two decades Parliament and Government have successfully eroded trust to the current unprecedented level, compounding the issue by implementing half-baked reforms which have repeatedly been exposed as inadequate as their ability to maintain the public trust.

Cut to the IPPR discussing the need to de-centralise power, holding primaries, referenda etc.
Cut to Sir Alan Beith MP telling the Commons "The House has already shown that it is capable of producing a code of conduct"
Cut to the electorate disengaging.

The real un-answered question of the seminar was "What will it take for Parliament to wise up and give their employers the real-world option of holding its' representatives to account ?"

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