Monday, 10 July 2017

Divide and conquer?


Rather an interesting comment from  Alexis Jay of the UK child sex abuse inquiry.  Powerful want us to fail     

I haven't seen anything to clarify who are the powerful who want to derail the inquiry.  There are some obvious candidates.    Well connected politicans?  Mandarins at the Civil Service? The Church? The judiciary? The Monarchy?


Of course we had some 'senior politicians'  here who wanted to see our recently reported inquiry fail even to happen.   One cannot help but wonder if the carefully incised terms of reference of our inquiry weren't done to protect the same interests and prevent the really problematic questions being asked.


All of those on the list above have either influence or responsibility for important parts of Jersey governance.   Form the Appeal Court to the Privy Council to the apppointment of Crown Officers they all have influence here.  


If any of them is a vested interest wanting to see the UK inquiry implode, and given the role each has in Jersey's governance, one has to consider why our inquiry wasn't  more closely connected to the CSA in the UK.  And isn't it revealing that they have asked for the report to be forwarded to them.  Why would they need that if there were no connexion?  It seems a good bet that there are unresolved trans-jurisdictional issues here. 


One obvious reason to have kept the inquiries separate of course is the age old tactic of divide and conquer. 

 


Friday, 7 July 2017

Utterly perplexed


I heard the Chief Minister's summing up speech in the States of the debate on the committee of inquiry report and I have to say I am totally perplexed.


After decades of abuse of children in care as evidenced in the report the  proposal is to have a  a new Children's Commissioner, set up yet more panels and boards of States members and produce a new strategy document.  That's it.  More talking shops, more bits of paper, one person - a  Children's Commissioner - to change everything!




According to some this is the most damning report from an inquiry they have seen.  With the exception of the Connetable of St John who argued against one item, no one contested the Chief Minister's prescription of signing up to all the recommendations.  Yet many of those same recommendations are exactly the opposite of the States policy and the programme of the Council of Ministers since ministerial government started.  Overnight they collectively volte face and start being the best to implement policies that last month they collectively opposed?


We now have ministers in the CoM who opposed the very set up of the committee of enquiry, ministers who opposed the creation of a Children's Minister in 2009. We have ministers who have derailed or opposed every significant move to reform the States who are now it seems going to support the exhortation in the report to adopt Clothier and Carswell.  Ministers who have spent a decade or more in the Assembly gleefully pushing every opportunity to adopt laws facilitating the finance industry are overnight going to now prioritise social justice measures as the report indicates. 

To quote Jim Royle ,  My Arse!



Where else in the world would you receive such a damning report and wake up the day after a debate on it to find exactly the same ministers and assistant ministers in office. No one accountable, no one taking responsibility in any way that matters.


The Chief Minister quoted Deputy Bree in saying something like nothing can be the same again.  To me it looks like if you are in the magic circle everything is still exactly the same.


Plus ça change.....




Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Senator Gorst's first challenge.


The Chief Minister did a decently statesman like job in his response to the publication of the care inquiry report.  He apologised to survivors and victims  up front and accepted all the recommendations. Chief minister shocked saddened sorry

In reality he could do little else.  The findings of the inquiry were critical of pretty much every aspect they looked into.  There were no straws to clutch at.  Even the fig leaf of the Williamson report that has been used before to claim progress is being made was  holed.

But that isn't the challenge I had in mind.  His immediate problem is what to do about deputy Andrew Lewis.  He is currently chair of the  Public Accounts committee and a member of the Chairman's committee The purpose and role of the commitee can be seen at Public Accounts  It is not trivial body having reported on such things  as e-gov, the innovation fund, financial management and internal audit. 

From the care inqury: "We find that Andrew Lewis lied to the States Assembly about the Metropolitan Police Service report, stating that he had sight of it when he had not. We can readily see why these acts have given rise to public suspicion that all or some of those involved were acting improperly and that they were motivated by a wish to discredit or close down investigations into child abuse.”

It simply isn't possible for him to continue as chair of the Public Accounts committee.  A vote of no confidence could be brought to remove him, but I don't think that can happen before the in committee debate on the care inquiry report.  And it  surely isn't appropriate for him to participate in that given the statement made by the inquiry.  Actually it goes further .

The phrase "these acts have given rise to public suspicion that all or some of those involved were acting improperly"  is referring to States members and very senior cvil servants .  Prima facie evidence that  his actions have brought the  Assembly and the States into disrepute.   That is a suspension issue.  

If the Chief Minister's words in response to the publication of the care inquiry report are to mean anything I can see no other option.  If he does not act on that finding  then he  undermines the report and the inquiry.  No confidence in Deputy Lewis as chair of the Public Accounts committee does not address the issues relating to the care inquiry and where he lied - to the Assembly and effectively to the public of the Island. If we had a recall mechanism I think this is exactly the sort of scenario it would be applicable. But we dont so it has to be immediate suspension.  


Monday, 3 July 2017

Vindicated


A quick scan of the care inquiry report released today.  Of course it will take time to analyse the detail, unpick the cautious language in places and spot the omissions.  One or two online comments describe it as the most damning report they have seen.  I wouldn't go that far, least not until I've read it thoroughly.  But for today, it does one important job. In the fight between on the one hand victims, survivors and campaigners and on the other the  powerful, the conflicted, the deceiving,  and those who tried to avoid having an inquiry at all , it is the former who are clearly vindicated.

So here are a few pertinent clips that stood out to me. 

On Willamson

 


On Skinner and Jouault

 
On  political structure. Clothier and Carswell


On past failures





A couple of bits from others.

Lewis Lied Bailhache political error   Andrew Lewis lied and the former Bailiff's Liberation Day speech was 'a grave political error'



Jersey ££££ post


As the intersted parties  are locked in to hear the Chair's statement of the report of the Independent Care Inquiry, the ever reliable JEP  manages to get its retaliation in first with a front page never mind the damaged lives, dodgy practices, likely illegal activities and  decades of abuse, just look at the money story. 

Bravo JEP,  ever the reliable tool of  the mercantile  establishment.


http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/07/03/states-failed-to-control-care-inquiry-costs/




Tuesday, 27 June 2017

More pressing business


I wrote recently of the survey by a PR company of the sources local journalists use for stories.  Well a couple more items have caught me eye.

An item that appeared today on the JEP online that superficially looks as though some reporter has been out to doorstep the Environment Minister  over an ongoing local issue - development of glasshouses.  The wording seemed oddly familiar to me so I checked.  Here's the printed piece, Minister envious of Guernsey planning policy  and for comparison the Minister in the States Assembly 20th June answering a supplementary question from Deputy Russell Labey re Warwick Farm. https://statesassembly.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/291867/start_time/8103000 

The odd thing here is the inclusion of the comment about Andium Homes wanting to build there.  You might think reading the piece that the Minister is accepting Warwick Farm is one of the sites that might be built on. Not so .  In the same half hour question time in the States there was a question from Montford Tadier https://statesassembly.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/291867/start_time/8661000 That response seems pretty definitive. There is no potential for housing at Warwick Farm in the short term. How can  a reporter pay enough attention to one answer to quote almost verbatim, and yet include something that is flatly rebuffed in the same question time? Laziness, ineptitude or  calculated political slanting, I don't know - make up your own mind.  

As an aside I would point out the JEP should be aware of at least one of the alternative plans for Warwick Farm, consistent with the current green zoning of the site.  I know because the background paper to one of the expressions of interest in the lease was e-mailed to them by an over zealous supporter of  the plan.

Let me highlight another States issue.  It is of course all public information. It is on record in Hansard there's nothing here not readily available to any reporter.  You might recall the debate on the new hospital funding was delayed 4 times.  18th April the delay was called for by the Treasury Minister to give members time to analyse the little over 100 pages of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel report .  A move was made by others to delay the debate by even more than the two weeks agreed.

Odd then that the same States members who couldn't analyse a 111 page report in April in a day opr two are now confident enough to read digest and  debate in detail a probably (hopefully) much larger report of the Committee of Inquiry in to abuse in less than 3 days.  It just does not stack up.  

What does stack up to my mind is the stage management of the publication of the report. Only accredited press (no interested parties?) will be at the launch on the 3rd.  As I read the information there will be no opportunity of question and the lock in session will only be revealing the executive summary at that stage.  In effect the immediate press coverage will be what the chair and panel are telling the press is the important stuff, the 'party line'. and of course that will dominate the public information available just ahead of the States debate.  

 The ancient Chinese general Sun Tsu wrote
All warfare is based on deception.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

and 


Every battle is won before it is ever fought.

There is nothing quite as important in practicing deception than to have a compliant unquestioning fourth estate.


Friday, 23 June 2017

Shades of things about to come Updated.



In the run up to the important date of July 3rd, I was interested to hear a piece on radio 4's PM today concerning the odious Peter Ball. He is the bishop who was convicted in 2015 for misconduct in a public office and for abusing 18 teenagers and vulnerable young men.  It was a follow up to the report yesterday.  The key points of Dame Moira Gibb's report are : 
     "Ball's priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused."

     "The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others"

     "Ball's conduct has caused serious and enduring damage to the lives of many men... Peter Ball betrayed his Church and abused individual followers of that Church." 


The radio piece interviewed Rev Graham Sawyer who was one of Ball's victims in the 1990's.  I've done my best here to transcribe what he said.  It will be on Iplayer for a while at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08tvjm8#play


Many victims of abuse like myself are still being ignored, isolated and vilified today.  I find it (the report) underwhelming. There wasn't much in it that was new to me. A few extra details perhaps but a lot of it has been known to many people who have been seeking to change the culture in the Church in the way that it deals with these matters.  And particularly with the way that it deal with the victims of abuse.  I was appalled Dame Moira Gibb in her forward says we have no doubt the Church has a genuine commitment to meeting its responsibilities towards victims of abuse.


It is simply totally untrue.  The way the highest levels of the Church - bishops archbishops and the National Safeguarding Office  - the way they treat people like me and the other people I speak with can only be described as enduringly cruel and enduringly sadistic.


For balance I assume they also had Bishop Sarah Mullally on.  She was not involved with production of the report. Again I'll try to transcribe her words.


I was disturbed by the contents of the report. Also saddened by the way in which survivors of abuse had been treated.  There was no excuse for that. Frustrated because as a Church (we are) seeking to  improve but (it) demonstrates not doing it fast enough.


The presenter then put a point that one fellow had written 17 times before receiving a reply from the current Archbishop of Canterbury.


The Bishop answered We are are trying to get a better response and training The Church of England is quite a complex organisation. Whilst that is not an excuse in Devon we have 6,000 volunteers to train.  The report was commissioned by the Church  of England so we are saying we want to learn. We recognise we have failed and we are seeking to try and mover forward.  It has to be an indication the the Church is willing to learn and to change, but not fast enough. 


To my mind the comments of the Bishop are pretty weak as more contrite version of  'lessons have be learned'.  It is also a bit rich trying to play up some merit for commissioning the report when that only happened after Peter Ball had been convicted.  What else could the Church have done?


Why is this of relevance to July 3rd and the publication of our CoI report.  Well it demonstrates clearly that establishment institutions are not above reproach and that collusion in high office is certainly possible. I rather suspect the comments  by Rev Sawyer will be applicable here - no new information and nothing much to commend to victims and survivors.


ADDENDUM

I've just come across this which is a very interesting piece that rather confims the point about treatment of victims, refers to Peter Ball, and involves Dame Butler Sloss who had been  picked to chair the CSA inquiry.  Butler Sloss tape







Tuesday, 20 June 2017

It is all about who you know


Six months without posting is uncharacterisitc of me.  It certainly isn't for lack of material to comment on: delays to the Committee of Inquiry, unexpected election results, Sen Ozouf in out hokey cokey dance, serious case reviews re child care, the vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister.  In part it is circumstances that have left me with a lot more work to do than normal.  In part it is because these things are of little real consequence in a world where systems are at or possibly beyond sustainable limits.


I did read one article that I think is worth noting, because it might explain some of the surprise and the disconnect between expectations and outcomes in political events. The article is a summary of a survey of  ‘traditional media’ in the Crown Dependencies, See  The Blurring of Lines Between Social Media and Traditional Communications


 The critical paragraph is "What stands out in particular to us as PR professionals is the overwhelming and persistent preference amongst journalists of sourcing stories from press releases and personal contacts, rather than relying on social media."


Two strands of thought really concern me here.  First is what is missing.  No mention is made of professional reports and published data.  Analysis of such sources and data is where important stories can be discovered. Hardly surprising therefore that we seldom see reporters go back to old reports and commitments of public bodies and follow up if recommendations have been enacted , deadlines met or actions delivered.   Sometimes such things are taken up by blogs and individuals , but as we see from the survey these are not regarded as sources.


The  second, and equally as serious is the self referential nature of the sources the journalists are using.  Personal contacts and press releases are not representative of society as a whole.  If journalism is a profession staffed predominanlty by graduates, then likely those within it mix with other professionals and graduates.  Their circle of contacts are likely similar to themselves.  Press releases are the tools of the educated and the comfortably well off of corporates and big organisations.  A bit of reflection shows us the input to the journalists about which items are important which are worthy of attention and in what light they are viewed is not based on any merit or seriousness of the content, but on who is connected, who has the channels open, who can whisper in whose ear.


Hardly surprising then that our local media, and I suspect it applies further afield too, have their own Westminster Village effect.  No surprise then that election results  where real ordinary people  have a voice come as a shock. 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Peace on Earth, goodwill to all and a happy New Year.









 
You might be forgiven reading much of the press for thinking the traditional seasonal sentiment for this time of year is something of a sarcastic parody of what passed in 2016.  It has even spawned headlines like Is 2016 the worst year in history ?  But that would be a mistake I think.


Yes there have been conflicts and tensions  in Syria, West Papua, and the Ukraine to name a few of the top of my head.  We have seen relations between the USA and Russia and the USA and China more  strained than for decades.   So bad in fact  the much respected journalist John Pilger described it as the third world war already under way.




On the other side of the argument we have seen a half century long armed conflict in Colombia end , and there are several studies showing the recent trend in deaths in wars is declining.


Unfortunately battle deaths are not the only casualties in war. For 2012, the first and latest year for which its estimates are available, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) estimates that more than 172 million people were affected by conflict worldwide. Of this total 149 million or 87 percent were conflict-affected residents (CARs). Internally displaced persons (IDPs) accounted for another 18 million and refugees for five million.

That preceding paragraph comes from 2016 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics

From here we also learn that  hunger /undernourishment has decreased notable in both absolute and relative terms over the last 25 years. 

The same paper also comments on one other significant question:

"Does the world produce enough food to feed everyone?

The world produces enough food to feed everyone. For the world as a whole, per capita food availability has risen from about 2220 kcal/person/day in the early 1960s to 2790 kcal/person/day in 2006-08, while developing countries even recorded a leap from 1850 kcal/person/day to over 2640 kcal/person/day. This growth in food availability in conjunction with improved access to food helped reduce the percentage of chronically undernourished people in developing countries from 34 percent in the mid 1970s to just 15 percent three decades later. (FAO 2012, p. 4) The principal problem is that many people in the world still do not have sufficient income to purchase (or land to grow) enough food."

That last sentence is quite a problem.  Bearing in mind that food is perishable and there is really only so many calories one can eat without  producing  ill effects,  you have to wonder at both the logic and inhumanity of this.   Where do all the surplus calories/food go?  Either to waste or to producing unhealthy body weight.


So what of the other part of that sentence - the income bit ? Certainly over the last 2 centuries it seems things have improved overall.


(from https://ourworldindata.org/world-poverty/)


So from the purely economic and anthropocentric long terms view things are getting better.  There may be hiccoughs and  delays but slow improvements are happening.   Who you might wonder is paying for this marvel of continuous improvement?

Try this from our Earth biodiversity

  Just to illustrate the degree of biodiversity loss we're facing, let’s take you through one scientific analysis...
  • The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
  • These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.
  • If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true - i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet -  then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.
  • But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true - that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet - then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year.

In a generalised form, here is a graph of the dates of Earth overshoot day.  That's the day each year where statistically we consume and pollute more than we believe the Earth can accommodate.

(In 2016 Earth overshoot day was August 8th).


It isn't Trump or Brexit or any of those things from 2016 that really  worries me.  It is the  clear long term trend in this graph that is the real problem.  Good will to all men (& women) isn't enough , not nearly enough.  Nor is fear that leads to inward looking isolationism.  The antidote to fear is gratitude.  Consume less, share more.  Be grateful to live in times where we have ample resource like food enough to feed everyone if we desire to.  Be thankful we have medicine and technology to improve lives.   Something has to change.  The smart move it so change ourselves to avert the worst that might be imposed upon us.  The window of opportunity may be short lived , I cannot tell, but appreciate you do have the opportunity to make a difference like no other generation so far has.