372 - corruption / uoıʇdnɹɹoɔ | Scoins.net | DJS

372 - corruption / uoıʇdnɹɹoɔ


Considering how often I have moaned about corruption of various sorts within the UK, it would appear that many places are significantly worse. So says [1] and, using the references given, I built a spreadsheet that ranks nations by the measures given.

None of this makes it very clear quite what corruption is, nor how it might be—or should be—measured. It is unclear whether the basic problem that the social system allows corruption to occur, or that it does occur, or that it is noticed, or that it is considered wrong. Personally I am against nepotism and cronyism but there are circumstances (been there) when, in order to fill a role you go to the people you already know who you might persuade to join you in a venture. If that is considered corrupt, then perhaps so is all head-hunting. Appointing an incompetent (which is what I consider nepotism to encourage) is a different matter, but then we can easily see that many less able folk are offered positions on the basis of appointment systems that clearly do not work. All of these issues I see as management competence tests, but some of the issues relate to the ways in which contracts are written.

Current issues in Britain's politics include: Geoffrey Cox, earning several million as a QC while a minister, including representing one nation in conflict with this one; BoJo's continuing story about the redecoration of his flat and who paid for it; similarly some donor paying for nanny (for one of Bojo's kids, not himself); MPs second jobs as an activity in general. I'm in the camp that says I want my MP to do nothing but serve and he is paid quite enough, though I might support some paid months either side for training, recovery and handover — and gardening leave, which might cover those last two. Then there's all the cronyism observed in handing out contracts during the earlier parts of the pandemic, far too many of which have proven suspect or downright fraudulent. 

DJS 20211115

The top pic is “The Bosses of the Senate,” by J. Ottmann Lith. Co. after Joseph Keppler Puck Lithograph, coloured, 1889-01-23 From the collection of the U.S. Senate. More on just that here

I toyed with the idea of corrupting the title word.     Ideas centred on reversal or inversion of letters, ɔoɿɿuqɟion and ɔoɹɹndʇıou, though I quite like the second; here I've kept the order L-R where in essay 352 I'd have rotated the whole word around an axis. The upside-down version works well: uoıʇdnɹɹoɔ, and would permit a rotation within the title, as in corruption / uoıʇdnɹɹoɔ. I wondered about anagrams of corruption, one of which is incorrupt o. Other possibles are contour rip, corrupt noi, troop incur, prior count and porto incur. As if  corruption incurs port or troops or even generates a prior count, though maybe that refers to historic corruption  within classes of religion. I chose the rotatable one  and inserted it above. Since first (draft) publishing has already occurred, it probably does not appear in the URL.  


As ever, I've probably uploaded this too early, in the sense that, having finished what paid authors would consider a draft, my  preferred action is to get the result off my desk, uploaded. But that is a luxury of mostly being my own readership.

[1]     https://theconversation.com/corruption-how-the-uk-compares-to-other-countries-171689?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2012%202021%20-%202112920918&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2012%202021%20-%202112920918+CID_d400bd368c070eba3185c9968bb7b9b1&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=how%20the%20UK%20compares%20to%20other%20countries

[2] https://risk-indexes.com/global-corruption-index/

[3]  https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/rankings/herit_corruption/  

[4] https://integrity-index.org/

[5] https://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/Home/Reports  I used only the Control of Corruption measure.

[6]  The corruption perceptions index, CPI,   https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2020/index/nzl   This is deemed to be flawed —of course, it measures perceptions of corruption in the public sector—and is criticised, for example at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/01/27/how-do-you-measure-corruption-transparency-international-does-its-best-and-thats-useful/. At the good end are the Scandinavian countries (regularly, but you wouldn't expect to see change there). At the wrong end war puts both Sudans and Afghanistan near the bottom, with Somalia and North Korea. China's position in the list is changed (up 17 from 100) but this is because countries around them in the list have moved downwards; the measure for China went from 36 to 37. Reducing corruption to a single measure throws away an awful lot of necessary detail, of course, so this is a very crude instrument with obvious flaws. In terms of relative position it is difficult to compare like with like, though perhaps looking at separated continents would be constructive - I am very well aware that what the West considers corruption in China is not seen the same way there (at all, at all). Just because Denmark is top does not mean that Denmark has no corruption, only that the perception there is lower than anywhere else.

[7] https://www.transparency.org.uk/corruption-and-british-politics-what-we-can-and-can-t-learn-osborne-case?gclid=CjwKCAiAp8iMBhAqEiwAJb94z-FGFMhtc5QMK-de7RIGY1Fdxkwx6uyxHg0Ce_5FkXARLBk-Up4VgxoCc_QQAvD_BwE refers to 'the George Osborne affair'. 2008? 2017? 2020? 2021? I think (from the text) during May's term as PM so before July 2019, but a date would be useful.. Possibilities:  standing for London mayor, heading the IMF, chairing the BBC, being editor of the Evening Standard, having a role at Blackrock or even chairing the British Museum. Half of these were proposals, not achievements.

[8] http://www.transparency.org.uk/publications/corruption-in-the-uk-overview-policy-recommendations/ leads to a collection of reports. e.g. track and trace, access to Westminster, covid procurement

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/10/uk-corrupt-nation-earth-brexit-money-laundering

[10]  https://www.democraticaudit.com/2018/11/08/how-transparent-and-free-from-corruption-is-uk-government/  A telling and dense report, some of which, such as departmental spending detail, one could argue with.  Having read some of the 2018 report (that's in the URL), I reckon that the next one will be written in a much stronger style, akin to the IPCC 6th report (essay 358) since it seems to me that we have regressed quite markedly.

I wonder if openness and transparency are different. Wikidiff has relevance. Transparency is countable and as such implies content that is going to appear whether or not there are implications. Openness accommodates attitude, opinion and approachability, so it might include some spin, or some defensive content.

The majority of FOI requests come from journalists; I don't understand why that should be seen as a bad thing, up to the point at which the enquiries are politically motivated.

The more I have read about transparency, the more I felt this has a parallel in teaching of all those time-serving activities where there is some demanded statistic that one provides in a remarkably offhand manner largely because you, the very small cog in the machine, have no investment at all in the uses of that demanded information. Simply, you don't care; you don't care about the question, or the answer, or the resulting statistic, whose quality you now guarantee to be very low. Moreover, if you discerned some interest, you would probably game the content so as to minimise the subsequent effects upon your own work. Perhaps I mean optimise the effects, but my experience says that people's reactions to bureaucratic demands centres mostly on the leave-me-alone approach.

[11]   https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/388894/UKantiCorruptionPlan.pdf  This is a more general review of corruption within the UK,  and also looks at international corruption affecting the UK. I find it quite readable, but not relevant to cleaning up our politics. The 66 action points imply that the UK should be doing a lot (more) to tackle forms of corruption. I'm afraid I read the list, nodded at a lot of it, and felt I could extend the list to close to a hundred at this level of detail. Much of the perception of corruption could be cancelled by attention to transparency.

More of this sort of study can be found at https://opendatastudy.wordpress.com/, and for example, https://opendatastudy.wordpress.com/whos-watching-parliament-project/. This lead me down a rabbit hole, to the concept of an armchair auditor (a Cameron phrase) and here.

‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’ (from George Orwell's unpublished preface to Animal Farm).   ‘Transparency is the right to ask questions those in power don’t want asked and look for information they don’t want us to see’. From here.

Found after this (and published after me);

From a Guardian mailshot :
Last week, I promised we’d keep going on UK government sleaze - and many of you responded rather enthusiastically. So here’s a quick rundown of pieces we published in a single weekend. 

  • Dodgy luxury home: 4-minute read here
  • Dodgy use of a luxury home: 3-minute read here
  • Dodgy hook-up: 2-minute read here
  • Dodgy takeover: 2-minute read here
  • For heaven’s sake, can we stop the dodginess please?: 90-second read here

From The Conversation:   There’s a been more than a whiff of sleaze about in UK politics this week, to which I shall confine my remarks to noting that one of my favourite aphorisms on this particular topic is that the fish rots from the head. But the clumsy handling of the Paterson affair, coupled with revelations about the way some MPs earn a little extra walking-around money has put the government’s skates dangerously adjacent to what some might consider the edge.  But let’s not name names. Let’s instead consider how the UK measures up in terms of corruption globally. And, in fact, the country does pretty well according to the most reliable indices, not far behind the laudable probity of New Zealand and much of Scandinavia, and miles above poor benighted Somalia and Sudan, where even the crooks complain of not being able to get a decent break. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about. Which links straight back to [1].

Will there be action as a result? There is sufficient demand for this from the electorate and that has provoked parliament into some belated action. The proposals made in the week 15-17th Nov suggest that second jobs will be confined to a limited list, that paid lobbying must stop, that MPs understand that their principal responsibility is to their constituents (no, it is to the electorate, or we'll continue to have ministers feathering their constituencies). This needed sorting out long ago and it is up (or down) to parliament to fix this problem of their own making. It won't cure the distrust of politicians, but it may stop the rot.  FT, 16th Nov (paywall?)

For older proposals, mostly from 2018, look at https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/no-second-jobs-for-mps-declare-all-lobbying-how-labour-can-fight-corruption/ This may be a biased (Labour party) source with vested interest; on the other hand, I'd like our politicians to be much closer to being squeaky clean and provably so. 

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