Officials in public life are hiding from accountability. How do we improve public accountability?
It did not begin with Kwasi Kwarteng’s “not-so-mini” budget, which proved to be the biggest tax-cutting budget in a generation, disguised as a mini-budget, for which he did not provide the usual Report on the Economic and Fiscal Outlook from the OBR. His package of unfunded tax cuts sent the pound tumbling on 23 Sep 2022.
The Bank of England intervened to support the pound in the market and after its third unprecedented intervention Kwasi Kwarteng still failed to provide a fiscal plan, hiding from accountability. However, hiding is par for the course.
Keeping out of sight was notable when Boris Johnson avoided an interview with Andrew Neil ahead of the 2019 General Election. Andrew Neil directly challenged him because Johnson was “the only leader of a main party not to have faced a prime-time grilling by him” and the first Prime Minister to decline to be interviewed on BBC One’s Leaders Interviews programme.
Hiding from public scrutinty is seen also when BBC Newsnight cannot find a Government spokesperson or an oppositon spokesperson to comment on the topical news of the day.
If important political hopefuls can decline interviews and being held to account, it is no wonder that lesser mortals follow in their lengthening shadow.
In my experience political newbies put forward by major political parties do not attend hustings lest their deficiencies are exposed. Experienced politicians can manipulate which hustings they will attend, so that they do not meet other candidates’ challenges.
Local newspapers will not report awkward stories if they will interfere with their advertising revenue.
It is a feature of SCP policy to find mechanisms to make politicians more accountable between elections. We can no longer rely on national nor local media.
Recall of MPs
Over a decade ago we drew attention to the lack of public accountability and the Recall of MPs Act 2015 is the first parliamentary legislation in this direction, within a few years of our drawing attention to it. Holyrood has still to address the issue, where we first drew attention to it.
Local Question Times
We have called for local media events and local Question Times not only for MPs and MSPs but also to hold local councillors and council officials to account by public scrutiny. This will also help to improve the quality of such public figures and help the public to assess their credentials for their job. It will help to raise standards, improve local democracy, as well as enfranchise and engage the public in local affairs and influence decisions.
Many people are familiar with quotas and the attempts by political parties to make their politicians ‘more representative’ of the population. The SCP wishes a better way of selecting politicians rather than 1. career politicians and 2. the follow-my-leader politicians who simply follow their leadership into the voting lobbies. We need politicians who have demonstrated their capacity and who can show it to the electorate.
It is part of the SCP’s solution to the corruption and incompetence in public life to remind public figures of their responsibilty and accountability both to God and the people they represent or work for. Not only are they accountable to God, but we remind them that they will have the whole of eternity in the company of those whom they have abused or at least failed. They might try to hide away from public scrutiny now, and some even commit suicide to avoid the shame from which they want to hide, but even if they succeed in hiding till the end of their life, such as Jimmy Savile, they will not succeed Isa 14:13-20.
The Bible gives us a dramatic picture of the wicked trying to hide from God’s justice Rev 6:16.
14 Oct 2022: within hours of posting this blogpost, Kwasi Kwarteng has been sacked as Chancellor of the Exchequer after 38 days in the job. His letter of resignation admits no faults. The new Chancellor is Jeremy Hunt.
In a five-minute statement at her Press Conference, Liz Truss announced another U-turn, abandoning her plan to cancel the proposed rise in Corporation Tax from 19% to 25%, changing her mind and asserting that this is forecast to raise £18billion per year, to provide more funds for The Growth Plan 2022 and thereby to reassure the volatile markets. This follows Kwarteng’s earlier U-turn to abandon his decision to cut the highest rate of tax from 45 to 40%. In the BBC discussion of Liz Truss’ short Press Conference, lasting about nine minutes. More than once Ben Brown the BBC news presenter referred to the “three questions” she took, showing his inability to count to four. She took questions from Ben Riley-Smith of The Telegraph (who has no Wikipedia page), Harry Cole of The Sun, Chris Mason of the BBC and Robert Peston of ITV – each question about herself, whereas she had evidently not called a Press Conference to speak about herself, so they were blind sided by her abrupt exit after using each question to continue to deliver her own message. During his leadership bid for the Tory Party, the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had wanted Corporation Tax to be reduced to 15p, even more than Kwarteng had announced in his “mini” budget. Evidently Truss has changed her mind about the effect of raising Corporation Tax.
17 Oct 2022: BBC’s Nick Robinson noted that the Prime Minister Liz Truss is hiding. She was “nowhere to be seen” in the House of Commons to answer questions and Penny Mordaunt stood in for the absent Prime Minister who arrived belatedly at 4:30 p.m. Her absence was repeatedly noted by Parliamentarians and BBC Scotland’s news headline at 6:30 p.m. began: “Where is the Prime Minister?”
25 Oct 2022: Peter Hitchens lets us in on the secrets of MPs, for example, that Tony Blair “was a student Trotskyist (a fact so hugely important and so hugely subversive of the carefully crafted image of this person that it was kept secret till years after he left office.” This was explained in his Roger Scruton lecture on 24th October, in spite of MailOnline mistakenly printing 24th February in its headline.
Another hidden secret in plain view … – Just as Rishi Sunak was declared the new leader of the Conservative Party on 24 Oct 2022, and thus the next UK Prime Minister, we were told three facts. 1. he was the UK’s first British-Indian Prime Minister. 2. he was the youngest Prime Minister at 42 years old for over 200 years. 3. He was a Hindu. We were told that religion did not matter, and Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader in Opposition, in the subsequent Prime Minister’s Questions commented that people of “all beliefs can fulfil their dreams” in Britain. However, just as our politics is not yet colourblind neither is it “faithblind”. This can be demonstrated in various ways. 1. BBC News at Ten commented: “On the day he entered Number 10 [Downing Street] Rishi Sunak wore a sacred Hindu thread on his right wrist.” What does this mean? It was not explained. It is a Kalawa. He is “Hindu and proud”, a non-drinker who worships a cow and avoids beef. Does this make religion irrelevant in Britain? The same news item carried a report about the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly calling upon LGBT fans to show respect to the host nation when they visit Qatar for the Football World Cup, where LGBT activity is illegal. Labour called the remarks “tone-deaf”. But are they? 2. So I will let you into another secret in plain sight. Suppose Sunak’s opponent in the leadership race Penny Mordaunt had won the election. Let me tell you what the country would have learned within 4 or 24 hours of her victory, that has not been mentioned in either of her leadership bids over the past three months since July 2022. The day would not have finished without the mainstream news media telling us that Penny Mordaunt was the first UK Roman Catholic Prime Minister. So why has this not been mentioned? As if we do not know. Not so much tone-deaf as a deafening silence. Hindus worship a cow; Roman Catholics worship a piece of bread in the Roman mass. I worship God and His Son Jesus Christ. If British society thinks that this does not matter, they will discover eventually that God thinks otherwise.
27 Oct 2022: The Spectator’s podcast discussed Rishi Sunak’s Hinduism but the elephant in the room was not mentioned far less discussed – the Hindu caste system. Another Instead we were told that Hinduism makes a virtue out of making money, and the temples are beautified by the rich who hope that their gods look favourably on them – the false doctrine of salvation by merit rearing its all-too-common head once more.