Here is another great article from the “In My View” column by Nigel Ward.
Unsurprisingly, my “BAR SIMPSON” article last week (about Councillor Brian Simpson’s conduct in the ‘comments’ section of a Scarborough Evening News web-site story), has exposed deep divisions between the public and the elected representatives – the Councillors.
In attempting to deny (and/or defend) having accepted Broadband allowances from both SBC and NYCC, Councillor Brian Simpson (LibDem – Eastfield Ward) – or some mythical impersonator – allowed himself to descend to the level of hurling insults at a member of his own electorate who had been commenting pseudonymously on the site, even disclosing her identity and personal details.
I was appalled by Councillor Simpson’s shameful conduct, and I assumed that many of his colleagues would be equally shocked. So I wrote to all the SBC Independent Group Councillors, asking what action they thought would be appropriate. No response.
I also wrote to the six Labour Councillors.
Councillor Colin Challen (Castle Ward) responded, assuring me that he and his colleagues were opposed to corruption in public office and had been since the year dot. Well, thank goodness for that.
His fellow Labour member Councillor John Ritchie (Falsgrave Ward) also responded (marked, curiously enough, ‘In Confidence’), commendably suggesting a referral to the Police – that is what he would do, he assured me. I wonder if he has?
The only other response came from Councillor Steve Bairstow (Woodland Ward), who disappointed me the most with his scurrilous remark that he was:
“not going to go about falling out with fellow Councillors unless it becomes a problem to myself”.
What Councillor Steve Bairstow is saying is that he intends to turn a blind eye to serious allegations against a fellow Councillor of
- fraudulent claiming of allowances/expenses
- breaches of the Data Protectiuon Act 1998
- breaches of Article 1 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct
unless it is going to impact negatively on him personally.
This is a classic example of the classically corrupt policy known as CLOSING RANKS.
The expression “even a few bad apples will soon ruin the whole barrel” is grounded in common experience, because the decay, as we know, quickly spreads to the remaining good ones. The implication is that bad apples must be removed immediately, because they are more damaging to the system than may first appear. The metaphor is an injunction to us to turn our attention to the beginnings of corruption in public life, and demand that diligence from those in the highest authority.
What this famous metaphor fails to convey, though, is that the higher the authority, the biffer the apples – and the bigger the apples, the more neighbouring apples become contaminated.
In a local government barrel that has remained mostly opaque to public scrutiny since the inception of the Local Government Act 1972 – in fact, on All Fools’ Day 1974 – the spread of moral disintegration has become pandemic and almost complete.
Corruption of this sort spreads through two of mankind’s most primitive imperatives – fear and greed – and the two reinforce one another through a malign symbiosis. Each feeds the other in the classic process known as the ‘feedback loop’.
The Free Dictionary defines ‘feedback’ thus:
- “The return of a portion of the output of a process or system to the input, especially when used to maintain performance or to control a system or process.”
Ungoverned, any such process or system is doomed to self-destruction.
GREED for advancement in career, and for cash, provides the temptation, the motivation, the inducement, to ‘cut corners’. Do it once and you are hooked. You are then caught on the hook of FEAR – fear of exposure, of prosecution, of shame. So you do as you are told. Out of FEAR. And just as soon as you have compounded your complicity, someone offers you that juicy carrot again and ignites your GREED; a sought-after corner office, perhaps; a couple of weeks in that time-share on Gran Canaria; the chair-ship (and concomitant allowances/expenses claims) of some sorry little committee; a reserved space in that convenient car-park.
Take it. Why not? You’re already hooked, aren’t you?
So what you need now is an equally hooked underling – a scapegoat, a patsy – a mug. The corruption oozes down the barrel – that is the real trickle-down effect that all we keep hearing so much about.
This is how the system goes bad.
I have commented before on the importance of “ETERNAL VIGILANCE” (click to view), and I ask you now to bear with me and consider a few more words on the subject.
Some extraordinary things have come to light over recent weeks;
- fresh allegations concerning the North Yorkshire Police and the North Yorkshire Police Authority (on which subject, more in a few days time);
- information elicited under the Freedom of Information Act intimating that a considerable number of Councillors throughout North Yorkshire have taken unfair advantage of the various allowances schemes;
- ‘leaked’ information and documents indicating inappropriate business affiliations on the part of elected members;
- a seemingly cut-and-dried case of a Councillor openly insulting a member of the public on a newspaper web-site.
During this same period;
- Freedom of Information requests have expired unanswered and have been unlawfully refused;
- Complaints processes have been stone-walled and denied, despite irrefutable evidence;
- High-ranking public services have remained silent in the face of allegations of the gravest possible nature.
- Mr Donald Crawford, the eminent retired barrister and advisor to the Parliamentary Brief, has now reviewed the evidence collated by Timothy Hicks FCA in the Hofschröer/NYP case and expressed his professional opinion that there is evidence enough to arrest Police Officer and Council officials.
How come, then, that nothing ever actually happens?
Well, something does happen; what happens is that the big bad apples lean on the smaller bad apples and the whole thing gets hopelessly mushed up – and HUSHED UP.
So if you happen to be one of the GOOD APPLES in the barrel, feeling the heat of the trickle-down effect, why don’t you do the right thing, the honourable thing, and jump right out of the goddamn barrel?
I am forming a whistling-blowing band and I could use a few more sopranos!
You can contact me through the Contact page here on Real Whitby. You will not be the first.