Friday, 2 December 2011

Sae deif, sae blin .....

Objective A: to examine and comment on the policy of the department
Task 1. To examine policy proposals from the UK Government and the
European Commission in Green Papers, White Papers, draft
guidance etc, and to inquire further where the Committee
considers it appropriate.
Task 2. To identify and examine areas of emerging policy, or where existing
policy is deficient, and make proposals.
Task 3. To conduct scrutiny of any published draft bill within the
Committee’s responsibilitie s.
Task 4. To examine specific output from the department expressed in
documents or other decisions.
Objective B: to examine the expenditure of the department
Task 5. To examine the expenditure plans and out-turn of the department,
its agencies and principal NDPBs.
Objective C: to examine the administration of the department
Task 6. To examine the department’s Public Service Agreements, the
associated targets and the statistical measurements employed, and
report if appropriate.1
Task 7. To monitor the work of the department’s Executive Agencies,
NDPBs, regulators and other associated public bodies.
Task 8. To scrutinise major appointments made by the department.
Task 9. To examine the implementation of legislation and major policy
Objective D: to assist the House in debate and decision
Task 10. To produce reports which are suitable for debate in the House,
including Westminster Hall, or debating committee's work and setting the agenda.

So Mr Davidson MP is sitting trousering his £15k on top of his own MP salary and expenses claims for being Chair of a Select Committee, enhancing his MP’s pension while he randomly makes up jobs for his committee to do.  Above are the House of Commons own guidelines as to how and what the Scottish Affairs Committee should be doing – the question: is it, how well, and does it reflect value for money for the Scottish tax payers who foot the bill for this committee along with the Department it is supposed to hold to account – the Scottish Office.

The Chair of a Select committee does not have a vote except where there is a tie but is allowed to set the agenda for the committee with in the select committee’s remit. There are regulations about the pre-release of committee reports (leaking in other words) which says it is very naughty thing to do and possibly the Speaker will put you on the naughty step for a day if you are caught. Compared with the Code of Conduct our MSP’s follow at Holyrood while in committee, Westminster is more akin to ‘Lord of the Flies’ than ‘mother of parliaments’.

Code of Conduct:
In carrying out their parliamentary and public duties, Members will be expected to observe the following general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in its First Report as applying to holders of public office.[1] These principles will be taken into consideration when any complaint is received of breaches of the provisions in other sections of the Code.

"Selflessness:   Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Integrity:  Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

Objectivity:  In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Accountability:  Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Honesty:  Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Leadership : Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example."

Leadership – just what principles are being defined?  As one of my sidelines, I have been involved in leadership training for young people, one way or another, since I was in my early 20’s. So I have thought long and hard about how best to describe how to be an effective leader and the skills required. You basically lump together three types of leadership style:

T     The Dictator       Hitler, Gadahfi, Mugabwe all examples of a leadership style that only ends in tears for both the leader and the lead. It seems powerful at first, total control but the problem is as more central control is imposed all that can come next is even more central control until there is no one left to question what is being done in the dictator’s name because they are too scared or dead.  The end result is often war ending the atrocity like the rape of Berlin (Hilter said the people had failed him and it was all they deserved) Gadahfi in his drain pipe (what is it with middle eastern despots and drain pipes?) and Mugabwe who is teetering on the brink and just manages to pull back before he is deposed while Zimbabwe once the bread basket of Africa becomes a basket case state.
T    Then there is the Woodehousian Boy Scout Leader who is full of enthusiasm, likes to micromanage, tends to be a bit ‘gung ho’ and ‘follow me chaps it will be fun’ whose plans are meticulous but rarely is the impact on others thought through and rarely, if ever, will this leader consult with his team because though they are great chaps, you can not trust them to think for themselves. Patton and Montgomery were general’s who lead in this way which tended to leave their staff in a constant state of chaos and disorganisation when things did not go to plan as Kasserine Pass proved to Patton and Caen was to Montgomery. I would tend to put both Milliband and Cameron is this style of leadership as it is always some one else’s fault when the ‘plan’ does not work, never them.
t     Finally  here is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde leader or in leadership parlance the ‘servant leader’. This is the leadership style where you have a clear idea where you want to get to but accept you can not do it on your own. This is the style of leadership prominent in the Royal Navy, it puts the main emphasis on the team not on the leader. Its main statement of intent is to get ordinary people to do extraordinary things in an ordinary manner. Mostly this is achieved by consensus, utilising the skills and knowledge of the team and establishing a clear time line to achieve a task which is reasonable in the circumstance – the ‘Dr Jekyll’ part. This style of leader also knows sometimes people will just have to do what you say and consensus will come afterwards at the ‘debrief’ when operating to a tight deadline. You still trust folk to do their job properly and to their best endeavours and you rely on the team to get the task done. – the ‘Mr Hyde’ part.  Most servant leaders will only get their hands dirty when it is appropriate and they have something to contribute as their main task is to encourage and problem solve.

 I will leave for you to decide what sort of leader Mr Davidson appears to be from his petulant out bursts but for me one day it is all going to end up in tears for him when some one hits him either legally or physically.
As to behaviour towards fellow MP’s the Code of Conduct has only this to say:

“Members shall at all time’s conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute.”

The rest of the ‘Code’ is to do with or about money, see for yourselves at: 
The current SAC investigation is into the ‘Referendum on the separation of Scotland’.
This raises the first question:

Are any Scots out there aware of Scotland wishing to break up into the small clannish fiefdoms of yore suggested by the title of the inquiry?

Now look back at the Core Tasks for Select Committee’s right at the start and what they are supposed to do. The question at the forefront is: 

“Does the Scottish Office have any intent to have a referendum on the subject - The Separation of Scotland – and are there any Green or White papers on this issue released by the Scottish Office or HM Government which the SAC is required to review under its ‘Core Task A1’”

To which the answer is most certainly not. All that is before Parliament is the Scottish Office’s ‘Scotland Act Amendment Bill’ on which SAC has already had a detailed investigation and excluded all evidence that clearly has demonstrated what a pig’s breakfast it is. So how can SAC carry out an investigation on legislation from the Scottish Office which does not exist nor how can Mr Davidson come up with the agenda for the investigation he has, as it is clear none of the electorate in Scotland want to break it up into smaller parts or have expressed any desire to do so and his questions are not relevant to such an outcome.

Maybe it is justifiable under Core Task A4 or C7 (with a bit of word juggling) investigating the relationship between the Scottish Office and the Scottish Parliament?

No  - because it has nothing to do with this relationship which is clearly strained and becoming worse by the day. The Scottish Office has no say in bills that are raised by the Scottish Parliament on issues pertaining only to Scotland. The Scottish Office now know they can not interfere as the Axa et al vs the Scottish Government  Supreme Court  judgement stated that laws and statutes enacted by the Scottish Parliament must be respected (are considered as made by a sovereign parliament)

How about under core task A2, this will be the one:

To identify and examine areas of emerging policy, or where existing policy is deficient, and make proposals.

Yet A1 only allows the committee to scrutinise bills and policies from the EU or HM Government plus it is clear the Scottish Office, the EU and HM Government at large have no new emerging policies for Scotland but they certainly have quite a few policies which are truly deficient and SAC is happy to ignore.

This leaves me with a series of questions:
1.       How can the House of Commons fund an investigation which is outside the core task of this Select Committee and out with the committee’s legal competency to do so?
2.      Why should the Scottish tax payer fund a jolly for Davidson and his pals which in the current straightened time can not be value for money?
3.       Where is the SAC objective evidence that this is a subject requiring investigation and is important enough at this time of financial restraint to need to be carried out - outside of Mr Davidson’s own whim?
4.       Will the UK Government even bother to read any such costly report from SAC given they rarely take into account any select committee report that is outside their own parliamentary agenda?

Answers to BBC Scotland ‘Blubber with Flubber’ – you know it make’s as much sense as this SAC ‘investigation’.

(The title refers to the old saying: thir’s nane sae blin as wilna see, nane sae deif as wilna list.)

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