The Hidden Power

Check 11 - 4th Separation of Powers - Statutory Duties

Statutory duties for the behaviour of politicians and officials at work, including the duty of straight speak, shall be set.

If you stopped, for even a second, to wonder what might increase trust in government, or any governance, you might start with Being Trustworthy. This week (mid April 2021)in the UK, a Welsh MP - Hywel Williams - referenced a bill put forward in 2007 by Plaid Cymru ("Plyed Kimri"), proposing to make lying by politicians illegal. He asked the Prime Minister, known for his extravagant attitude to the truth, whether he would support the principle behind the bill. The Prime Minister responded that he would “concur with the basic principle that he just enunciated”. Is that a yes? A no? An evasive circumlocution? An evasive circumlocution. Does it increase anyone's trust in the Prime Minister?

There was once a version of trust within government, a fabric of norms and tacit agreements which maintained a standard of behaviour but - crucially - wasn't encoded. Over the decades around the turn of the 21st century, this culture of trust has decayed to the point where, with the ascent of Boris Johnson to power, many MP's have fled the parliament at Westminster, whose culture is routinely described as toxic.

This week we discuss:

Feedback effects of lying, cultural depression

Corruption as waste - Ceaucescu and the orphanages, China and the pandemic

Cultures of lying - in corporations and politics

Sources of lying - politicians are required to make promises and defend performance

Blame vs. improvement (design authorities)

From failure - we learn

What have we elected people for?

Trust and learning - getting away from "good" and "bad"

Governing is a team sport - it's about teams, not glory

Hywell Williams and Boris Johnson

David Cameron's lobbying woes

Statutory duties would also protect government actors from risk

Decay of culture of trust within government

Rehearsal of some essential statutory duties

How would they be enforced?

...through intention, and through institutional enquiry - ultimately through judiciary and constitutional court

Need for clarity and strictness in corrective

Relating this and trust in government in countries with Proportional Representation

Analogy with company principles - eg Amazon


Great explication of Greensill affair with reference to inadequate rules (FT podcast, 30 mins)

Hywell and Boris:

Truth and untruth in ocean governance (Netflix - Seaspiracy 1:03 hrs):

David Cameron and Greensill:

Amazon's much-vaunted leadership principles:

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