Monday, 20 June 2016

Such a small thing...

It raining now, so with the branchage preparations done  I'm going to try to write this piece again.  Every time something new comes up that seems to impinge upon it.  The latest locally at least was the handling of a report by the States, but of that perhaps later.

There is something in the political air.  It can be sensed all around. The election of Corbyn as Labour leader was an early sign.  The tidal wave of support for Bernie Sanders, unlikely as he is to actually win the US Democratic nomination, and even the popularity of Trump  in his party all seem to be connected. But it goes beyond political leadership and extends to many aspect of life.  Let me give you a list to get you going.

  • Valeant
  • Takata air bags;
  • Tennis
  • Toshiba's accounts
  • Turing Pharmaceuticals / Martin Shkreli 
  • Amateur Athletics
  • FIFA
  • Volkswagen  (& other car manufacturers)

I could have added a few heads of countries, and the odd UK  specific like the police actions in respect of the Birmingham 6 and Hillsborough, and MP's expenses scandal, and now election campaign expense limit breaches too.  And I deliberately left out the banks with their continuing list of fines for failings and fixes of just about everything from the price of gold to Fx.

In short trust.  Some of them outright cheated, others conspired to mislead, some just abused their position.  That's not really new or surprising, though the scale and breadth of it seems unprecedented. in modern times.  There is a sense that different rules are applied to those in exalted positions of influence and responsibility from ordinary citizens.

Where these problems meet the political agenda is that for ordinary mortals the only source of protection from these gigantic and often very well financed organisations lays with the legal and government functions.  If you have doubts or a lack of trust in those, what do you do?

My suspicion, and I have no evidence for it, is the reason Corbyn, Sanders, Trump are doing unexpectedly well is because they are somewhat outside of what you might term the circus.  They don't run to media spin doctors, they don't have to consult private polls and research before giving their opinion on something.   They give the sense that they might actually be telling you what they think (obnoxious as it might be in some cases) rather than what they are told the electorate wants to hear.  

Some might call that character - they each have something of that, even if you find it distasteful.  They none of them falls into the grey anonymous mold that so many technical political operators do.  And it is not new. Over 2,500 years ago Solon advised  to put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath. 

There is a quote attributed to Einstein that I am frequently reminded of when I read things locally : whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.

I'll leave it to readers to fill in their own list of where States members and especially Ministers have been rather careless with the truth.  Examples are not hard to recall.  I have no data to tell where Jersey would appear on a list such as the one below.  We might have some evidence when the current Shaping our Future survey results are published. (

If you think there isn't a problem to be addressed locally, perhaps you can explain to be the 0 rating  we had for civic engagement , taken from the official Figures in Jersey 2014.  Such a smal thing, so smal its not even there. I think that is somewhat indicative of a huge trust  issue. 

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