Folly and hubris in politics

From The Guardian editorial on Mrs Thatcher’s disastrous decision to go along with Dorset MP Oliver Letwin’s idea of poll tax, in spite of more sensible advice from Tory “wets”:

“A few years before Lady Thatcher and Mr Letwin became obsessed with the poll tax, the American historian Barbara Tuchman wrote a book about the march of follies in human affairs, from the Trojan to the Vietnamese war. [She] argued that a folly’s success was marked by the determination of its supporters to pursue a foolish and failed policy in the face of clear arguments in favour of an alternative course. The poll tax was Mrs Thatcher’s folly. But her supporters and her party have not yet learned the lessons of her act of hubris.”

Information Commissioner v EDDC: are press releases and FAQ web pages “public consultation”?

Readers will be aware that only 2 “public consultation” events have ever neen organised regarding Knowle relocation – a very brief and rather uninformative event in Sidmouth and a highly stage-managed “stakeholders meeting” at Exeter Airport.

However, it seems that EDDC believes that highly stage-managed press releases with only good news and a highly stage-managed Frequently Asked Questions page on their website where they choose all the questions is all the public consultation required.

Why are we not surprised?

Relocation costs: what about Turk’s Head junction in Honiton?

The “major supermarket” which pulled out of the Honiton Heathpark site would surely have had to contribute to changes at the Turk’s Head jubpnction – already heavily congested and about to get worse with the construction of the Premier Inn on the site of the old motel.

An EDDC building will add even more to the severe congestion. S106 payments are meant to compensate a local community for such changes. Their car park will not be much smaller than that which would have been built by the supermarket.

Will EDDC be contributing to changes? If not, why not? And if so, how much will changes cost? And are they included in current costs?

Judicial Review slams “fundamentally flawed” mathematics of council

Torbay Council has been landed with a massive bill because they underpaid care homes by hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In a judgment that should send shivers down the spines of EDDC councillors, a judge said:

“Accountants commissioned to report on the council’s workings agreed with TQCF’s claim that the authority had made “illogical mathematical errors” and TQCF won a judicial review at the High Court in London.

The judge agreed that the calculation it used was “fundamentally flawed”.”

That’s what can happen if you don’t get your sums right …

East Devon District Council or the Vatican?

Here are the “15 ailments of the Curia” that the pope recently identified.

How many apply to EDDC?

1) Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. “A Curia that doesn’t criticise itself, that doesn’t update itself, that doesn’t seek to improve itself is a sick body.”
EDDC Translation: impotent Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

2) Working too hard. “Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously.”
EDDC: No comment! Try getting some people on a Friday!

3) Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. “It’s dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful.”
EDDC: Cry WITH us – no way!

4) Planning too much. “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.”
EDDC: Freedom of speech at committees!

5) Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you’ or the hand tells the head ‘I’m in charge.’”
EDDC: Today Skypark, tomorrow Honiton …

6) Having “spiritual Alzheimer’s”. “We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord … in those who depend completely on their here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands.”
EDDC: Vanity projects! Secrecy!

7) Being rivals or boastful. “When one’s appearance, the colour of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life.”
EDDC: Putting party politics before people.

8) Suffering from “existential schizophrenia”. “It’s the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It’s a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people.”
EDDC: Couldn’t put it better! Information Commissioner v EDDC.

9) Committing the “terrorism of gossip”. “It’s the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people’s backs.”
EDDC: Private and secret meetings behind closed doors for the privileged few.

10) Glorifying one’s bosses. “It’s the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honour people who aren’t God.”
EDDC: Williams, Cohen and Diviani

11) Being indifferent to others. “When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.”
EDDC: hatred of common sense from those with different political views.

12) Having a “funereal face”. “In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes.”
EDDC: Joy is limited to the Press Office otherwise fear and insecurity rules!

13) Wanting more. “When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure.”
More, bigger, new offices NOW.

14) Forming closed circles that seek to be stronger than the whole. “This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad scandals especially to our younger brothers.”
EDDC: The Executive Committee, the private groups behind closed doors.

15) Seeking worldly profit and showing off. “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”
EDDC: trashing those of other parties and trying to destroy their reputations.

The Pope speaks!

…” …overwhelmingly male, clerical bureaucrats are a ” sick body” … Among their sins [is] an addiction to power: “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others”.

Sound like East Devon District Council? Sort of – Pope Francis on the problems he faces at the Vatican!