#33. Define ‘transparency’, go on, I dare you!


In blog #32, ‘You might say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment’, I said:

What is so sad in all of this is the way it reflects the general tenor of Shirehall’s version of “openness” and, god help us, “transparency”. Personally, and I know many of you share this view, the use of that word “transparency” is wholly appropriate because it is so easy to see through what comes out of Shirehall to the underlying bullshit beneath the bland statements.

It was this kind of stuff I had in mind, although this came after I’d written that, confirming that the Administration will always live up to its burgeoning reputation for proving that however outlandish the criticisms levelled against it, it will always, eventually, prove them right…

As Conservatives we are in power and have formed the Administration, but I have also been clear that we are open to members of other parties to make suggestions and constructive criticism which we will work together wherever we can and act on suggestions as appropriate. In short we have set a culture of operating that is respectful, transparent and collaborative whilst being decisive and ambitious.”

Taken from Malcolm Pate’s answer to a question from Councillor David Turner, Council Agenda, December 2016, p274 (paper edition) p282 (online electronic edition)

Whilst the Administration may indeed be: “…open to members of other parties to make suggestions and constructive criticism...” there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that the Administration “…will work together wherever we can and act on suggestions…” without placing all the emphasis on those two killer words: “as appropriate”.

Now, define “appropriate”.

Your definition will not be the same as the Administration’s.

But is it fair to keep hammering at “the Administration”? Well, if it wasn’t this Administration as constituted, it would be one of the others – of whatever hue – because they’re all cast from the same mould.

I wouldn’t expect them, any more than the current lot, to abandon the Cabinet system of governance because it puts so much power into the hands of whoever happens to be the ruling group, nor is there a chance of any tightening of the scrutiny system on the watch of any other Party political group, because they will also claim to have been “given a mandate by the people”, a phrase usually accompanied by the waving of that party’s election manifesto.

Successive Leaders of Shropshire Council have made much of their “commitment” to openness, transparency and inclusion. Taken at face-value everything they commit to is commendable, a New Dawn. All they have to do is back it up with actions that prove their, errr, openness, transparency and inclusion.

When Executive Tory councillors invite The Opposition to “make suggestions and constructive criticism [and) work together wherever we can…” they are being either deliberately disingenuous or extremely foolish…

  • because no one is going to do that and see credit claimed by the ruling group for any consequential positive outcome…
  • because no one is going to help a Tory ruling group get out of the problems their slavish following of central government dictat have caused them (and us, let’s not forget), or at best continuing to support and maintain them in power…
  • because who in the Opposition is going to help a Tory who blames Labour for causing the “financial crisis”?

Mind you, if the Tories blame Labour, Labour blame the Tories and also blame the Tories AND the LibDems for what they did during their time in coalition. The LibDems just blame everyone and claim the moral high ground for everything but find when they get to that moral high ground that the Green Party has already staked its claim.

So “transparency” and the meaning in terms of seeing what underlies the BS?

Whenever the Administration denies accusations of stifling debate I recall this little “aside” in the online version of the agenda for the Full Council of 22 September 2016 (still available online, presumably overlooked by whoever was supposed to edit-out such revealing comments prior to circulation, unless they were up for a bit of mischief)…


Hmmm. We don’t want to be creating debate that might get us media attention do we?

Nice bit of “transparency” there.