Fringe Box



Letter: Truth is Still Truth, The Emperor Has No Clothes

Published on: 14 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 14 Oct, 2018

Cllr Richard Billington in “Transparency” debate

From Ben Paton

In response to: So This Is ‘Representative Democracy’?

Cllr Billington states, in so many words, that the conduct of the Executive of GBC is acceptable for no better reason than that the public does not appear in numbers in the council chamber to complain.

Does this logic bear examination? Is it really an acceptable justification for Cllr Billington’s contention that the council is transparent and accountable?

Is it really the case that just because the customer has not, according to the service provider, complained that the service really has been of acceptable quality?

Far from being a good argument, I find this line of reasoning rather distasteful. A burglar could adopt a similar line and say in his own defence that because his victim has not complained that his crime was not a crime. If the burglar was very cheeky he might even say that because the victim did not have a burglar alarm that he deserved to be burgled!

The fact is that abuse of process, misconduct or crime is still just that, regardless of whether anyone notices or complains or the perpetrators have “gotten away with it”. To believe otherwise would amount, for example, to accepting President Putin and his cronies as an ethical government.

It really is not good enough for a council confronted with the charge that it has not been transparent and accountable to respond by saying that there is no case to answer just because the public gallery at a particular council meeting is empty.

It is the sort of argument that we can read in Animal Farm or 1984.

Local Councils are a law unto themselves. The Local Government Ombudsman is toothless and in cases of abuse of process useless. The realpolitik is that Conservative councillors in Guildford appear to believe that might, in the form of an electoral majority, is right.

However, outsiders can see numerous sleights of hand, distractions, half-truths, twisted logic, misleading evidence, conclusions that do not follow from the premises, and straightforward bluster and bulls***.

As the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes narrates, truth is still truth, even if only a minority of one, ie the little boy, has spotted it.

The silent majority that some people presumptuously pray in aid is not silently supporting the council. If it was sufficiently informed it would join the growing ranks of those who have looked at the evidence and found the council wanting.

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Responses to Letter: Truth is Still Truth, The Emperor Has No Clothes

  1. Alix Tatlow Reply

    October 14, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Brilliantly put and echoes my thoughts. Thank you.

  2. Jenny Grove Reply

    October 14, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    An excellent letter. This council is really beyond the pale.

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