Are Transparency International wearing rose coloured specs?

Are Transparency International wearing rose coloured specs?

I find it hard to believe that Transparency International, the world's premier anti-corruption campaigning organisation have marked the UK as having improved on 2020 in their most recent Corruption Perception Index and have the UK as within the top 15 countries. So I ask why might this be? This article looks at the issue of lags, TI's focus on the public sector, press bias via ownership, and some private sector scandals. I finish by asking, if they mark the UK so well despite the evidence, how much worse are the others?, ...

The buck stops … over there

The buck stops … over there

Not all is happy in the Labour Party in Westminster & Southside. It seems that people are not happy with David Evans performance as GS. Personally, I agree, but in this tweet, and the politico article it quotes, “Labour Sources” identify his speed on implementing change, inability to raise private funds and the mishandling of staff cuts. It interests me that the response and culpability for the data breach is not on the charge sheet nor the complete administrative balls up at Conference 21.

I have two things to say. On fundraising, it is not David Evans who has driven people or Unions away and the idea that the Labour Party can run on large donations alone is a fiction that has never been possible.

When Blair’s people tried it, despite adopting a pro-business position on Trade Union reform and selling other policy positions such as the attempted exclusion of Formula 1 from tobacco advertising ban, they ended up illegally hiding donations as loans, and selling peerages. They finished up by borrowing tens of millions of pounds from banks to fight elections, a debt that was only finally paid off after the Corbyn surge. Such largesse from the banking sector is unlikely to be forthcoming for an opposition party, except possibly from abroad which is equally illegal. …

Sophie’s choice

I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Reeves (MP Leeds West) last weekend; she was guest speaker at a Lewisham Labour fund raiser and I was fortunate enough to be able to ask her a question as she was leaving with her sister, Ellie (MP Lewisham West & Penge). I asked where she got her mandate to say we are not going to rejoin the EU in 50 years. She said that it came from Keir and when I said that I’d ask him the same question, she said that we have to win back the Red Wall seats and that even hers remained in jeopardy unless we had a firm position. I did say that “not in 50 years” will lose votes in London, wish I’d made it clear that the “policy” may be posing a choice between the two sisters’ seats.

There’s an interesting asymmetry in the estimated Brexit votes between the two seats, Leeds West 53% leave, Lewisham West and Penge 35% leave. …

Human rights are universal

Human rights are universal and threatened in the offices of the state, not in a court in London or Strasbourg

I have been writing a response to the Govt’s consultation on the Human Rights Act. The deadline is midnight this Tuesday. Here is a version of preamble.

I believe that Human Rights law codifies rights and are designed to prohibit and punish over-mighty Governments & politicians that oppress their citizens and their non-citizen residents. They are universal and thus not to be only available to a deserving minority or to be denied to an undeserving minority.

The Human Rights Act and access to the European Court of Human Rights is a crucial defence for all citizens and provides an enhanced route to enforce the rights of public sector workers.

I note that there were only two adverse judgements in 2020, and that since the HRA was passed, the number of adverse determinations has reduced dramatically. This is good because it reduces the cost of justice to those wronged by the State.

I oppose the weakening of the court’s discretion, reducing access to the courts and the weakening of the prohibitions on Government actions. I note that weakening the courts’ ability to take the ECHR into account is likely to lead to more cases being taken to Strasbourg.

It would seem through out the consultation that there is a confusion between the rights of Parliament and the rights of the Government or individual ministers.

I am  concerned that weakening the protections will led to oppressive actions taken by Ministers or their staff, unauthorised by parliament, without an ability to remedy via the courts, a right guaranteed in the ECHR. There will be an effective transfer of the power of interpretation from the courts to officials. This will be an effective diminution of the rights and protections of government employees and service consumers.

My concern is that, as a result of the framing of the consultation, too much attention will be applied to the relationship between the government, parliament, the UK Supreme court and the Strasbourg Court, and insufficient attention to the effective transfer of power to Ministers, Councillors and Officials who may behave poorly and with impunity should they feel less likely to have to answer to the UK or Strasbourg courts.

I was helped in developing answers to some of the consultation questions by the British Institute of Human Rights.  …

Democracy and the rule of law first!

Democracy and the rule of law first!

Friends are considering if we/they should support Ukraine’s request for fast-track membership of the EU. I believe that Putin’s target is the EU and that its response must be robust but the criteria for membership includes a robust democracy, a market economy and an administration committed to the rule of law. Ukraine does not meet these three criteria.

From my work in CTOE on the COFOE, I have come to the conclusion that one of the weaknesses of the EU’s treaties is that while the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity are essential parts of the treaties, they only express a relationship between the EU and the member states. This needs to change such that the member states need to guarantee subsidiarity within themselves and to their citizens. The current treaties do not do this.

This is needed to ensure that the promise of subsidiarity is met, that decisions are taken as close to the citizen as possible. It annoyed me greatly, that Cameron was bleating on about subsidiarity while acting as the elected dictator of one of the most centralised states in Europe. This deficit and lack of mandate on the institutions of the EU cause problems for independence or ethnic minority movements within the member states, such as in Spain and Hungary. Ukraine also has an significant ethnic minority population and its democracy needs to offer them the same security and human rights as the majority.

Ukraine is deemed by Transparency International as the second most corrupt state in Europe, it is third worst in front of the ECtHR and is deemed to be a Hybrid State by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index. The only way in which Ukraine could join via a fast track is if the EU were to relax its standards on human rights and the rule of law. It is unlikely to do that as it is in the same argument with Poland and Hungary and is busy changing its rules to allow it to financially sanction them.

Democrats need to defend and improve the democracy of the EU, and its member states. Our solidarity with the people of the Ukraine needs to be expressed through other means.


Image Credit: CC European Parliament 2010 BY-NC-ND MEPs Voting …

Ukraine, war & Britain

Ukraine, war & Britain

I wrote a piece two days ago, focusing on what UK  citizens and residents of good will should do about the war in Ukraine but feel I need to clarify.

I congratulate the Ukrainian people and their armed forces for the defence they have put up. It proves to me that the UK, because that is what I know , was fooled by the hybrid war conducted by Russia who weakened the UK’s will to resist its imperial adventures and defend its own democracy. Russia funded the Brexit campaign and much of the Tory Party; Brexit is a massive weakening of the European self defence capability as we can see by the EU’s speed in responding to the Russian invasion compared with the UK’s pedestrian pace. Russia’s propaganda presented us with a view as to the invincibility and overwhelming numeric superiority of the Russian Army.  This imbued in some British people, including me, a moral cowardice. This cowardice, equivalent to appeasement in the 30’s will have been reinforced by the moral subversion of NATO due to its US led adventurism in the Middle East.

NATO is the only alliance that can act but to call it a great achievement is hubristic and sectarian overstatement. Today’s NATO is not the same organisation as it was thirty years ago. The need for NATO will be proven if Sweden and Finland seek to join but all its fans need to recognise that the US is not the reliable and generous ally it once was. Trump explicitly questioned the US commitment to Article 5 and Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was not agreed by NATO.

The Ukrainian state is not pretty, it has the 3rd worst record in front of the European Court of Human Rights, and is judged by the EIU democracy index as a Hybrid State. In terms of both metrics the Russian record is worse. NATO member Turkey is the second most frequent breacher of the ECHR. But the Russian invasion is a war crime which it seems will now be investigated by the ICC. Good!

Throughout this we must not forget the brave Russians who are expressing their opposition to the war.

At home, a government that speaks for me must

  • Implement effective sanctions
  • Set up effective and generous refugee acceptance programmes
  • Purge itself of Russian funded corruption
  • Develop a defence policy that defends us against real threats not fake ones.

I would add that we should rejoin the EU but that will not happen until it ceases to be a partisan issue, however this will take much less than 50 years. …

Just in hiding

I reshare this not to gloat, not to criticise the USA, but because of Will McAvoy’s sorrowful review of a great past, which offers insights that the world could learn from today

‘America is not the greatest country in the world anymore’,

We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.

Will McAvoy – The Newsroom

That country doesn’t exist today, let’s hope it’s just in hiding

Words from here. https://speakola.com/movie/jeff-daniels-sorkin-newsroom-2012 …

What is to done about the Ukraine in the UK

What is to done about the Ukraine in the UK

Writing a piece on the invasion of the Ukraine is taking longer than I expected, the big issue is now quite simple, Russia should not have invaded the Ukraine; it’s a war crime and yet the response of British politicians has been, on the whole juvenile, selfish, narcissistic or cowardly. The rest of this article, overleaf looks at the glacial pace of the imposition of sanctions, the corrupt receipt of Russian money, the dreadful defence policies, and a failure to welcome refugees. In addition, I mention the need to offer solidarity to the nascent Russian ant-war movement. I also call out Starmer's über factional and misplaced response. Use the "Read More ..." button for the rest of the article ...

NATO & democracy

The Economist Intelligence Unit has produced its 2021 Democracy Index, which I have not yet read in detail as it would seem there are some interesting things to pick up and comment on, such as how the UK is not considered a ‘flawed democracy’ while Spain is? Is there a link between the Democracy score and GDP? But what this article looks at is the democratic credentials of NATO’s membership vs. those of the Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This is ordered west to east.

Nato members and democracy from the EIU 2021

In other work I am doing I note that over 50% of the European Court of Human Rights cases involves Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine, who are the top three defenders.

Flawed democracies are described as follows,

These countries also have free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected. However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation

The EIU Democracy Index 2021

I last looked at the EIU index in my article, How democratic is the UK? …