Strangely, organising a month-long trip to Israel for thirty teenagers, followed by a two-week summer camp for 140 children, isn’t the best time of year to be blogging as well. But I’m out the other side of it now, so let’s take a quick look at what happened while I was out…
…not to mention the weather.
Just in case you’ve missed any of the developments of the summer, here’s a quick way for you to catch up:
Outrage as the National Trust fails to condemn Isis: a guest post by the Daily Mail
Back in the early days, when all Isis did was behead, pillage, murder and force people to wear unsightly orange clothing, the National Trust’s lily-livered “we’re apolitical” cowardly refusal to condemn could more or less stand up.
This approach was sorely tested when Isis activity began actually ruining Britons’ holidays. But still, it was just about acceptable.
But now, we have to ask: WHAT IS THE NATIONAL TRUST THINKING? Put up with rape and murder, fine. But now that our historical buildings are under threat (and you might think that calling these Arabian buildings ‘ours’ is something of a stretch but try telling that to Lord Elgin!) how can any self-respecting heritage body sit by idly?
Also in today’s Daily Mail:
- Lincoln Cathedral ‘built illegally by foreigners’ and should be demolished
- How migrants cause cancer
- Thatcher death ‘wasn’t tragedy’ says Corbyn in latest outrage
- EU to blame for wet summer
Account and accountability
Police and Crime Commissioners have been back in the news after an independent report found – shock warning! – that they’re under-scrutinised and get away with a lot by the simple device of having zero public profile.
Particular criticisms raised were:
- PCCs are not subject to any mandatory code of conduct, those in six areas including Sussex having actually written their own for themselves (O how I wish I could write and enforce my own code of conduct).
- PCCs have the power to sack, with immediate effect, the Monitoring Officer whose job it is to investigate complaints against the them and ensure that their spending follows the law.
- PCCs can appoint a mate as their deputy at will, with no proper scrutiny. (If only someone had made this point years ago… -Ed.)
- There is no way of holding a PCC to account in between elections other than informally criticising them.
Of course, the report was only written after exhaustive consultation with the good old Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. (Readers may remember their astonishing submission to the last PCC pay review: they thought PCCs should be paid more.)
In their evidence this time, they found:
Sorry, what? “Most PCCs think” (that’s a lie for a start) that this most basic requirement of transparency, that applies to virtually every elected politician in the Western world, to disclose publicly how many chauffeurs they employ at public expense, is a bad thing because like ceebs innit? Give me strength…
My old friend Katy ‘Twinkletoes’ Bourne submitted her own evidence to the inquiry, focussing on the role of the Police & Crime Panel (a group of local councillors who have the misfortune of having to scrutinise PCCs’ activities without the power to do anything about any of them).
Katy and the Sussex Police & Crime Panel had a run-in a couple of years ago when she wanted to appoint a crony as her £85,000-a-year deputy and the Panel disagreed because they thought the candidate, Tory councillor Steve Waight, had too many other commitments to take the role seriously.
But she went ahead and appointed him regardless, because the Panel’s disagreement meant as much to her as the word ‘integrity’… then he resigned six months later because he had too many other commitments to take the role seriously.
Anyway, her evidence to the inquiry said this:
Mrs Bourne does not think that Police & Crime Panels should have the power to veto PCC appointments where they believe the criteria for suitability is inappropriate or not satisfied [sic]. The Commissioner re-emphasises that the power of the Panel lies in the effective scrutiny of the PCC decision-making process.
The power of the Panel lies in… sorry, you’ll have to run that by me again, Katy.
Political leaders deny stuffing Lords with cronies
Senior politicians have been quick to reject claims that they are stuffing the House of Lords with their supporters, after publication of the Dissolution Honours list revealed new peers to include David Cameron’s parents, Lord Sewell’s bra and Nick Clegg’s political supporter.
Moves are now afoot to reform the upper chamber of Parliament. Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham is proposing its replacement by an elected body so as to reduce the number of vanilla, boring politicians sitting on the red benches.
Some coincidental online research by a friend (Who thinks my name’s Ed. -Ed.) revealed the somewhat startling fact that Google users have reviewed Auschwitz concentration camp and given it 4.5 stars out of five – naturally, the search engine renders these as yellow stars.
One of the one-star reviews (of the current memorial museum) reads:
Truly horrendous experience. I was treated terribly by the staff, who confiscated my handbag. So I had no bottled water, no money to buy a quick snack in the break. No camera. The world has gone mad, not changed much since World War 2.
Yes, it’s so terrible when you’re in Auschwitz and aren’t able to buy snacks.
In, out, shake it all about
This week saw one of those unusual/ rare/ unique moments when Electoral Commission was trending on Twitter.
Said Commission had just released its report on the EU referendum question, recommending that instead of boring old options reading
there should be the much snazzier
But I reckon we can do better even than this. Here’s the official Gabrielquotes shortlist of proposed referendum options: