Andrew Taylor is standing as a candidate against Alun Michael in the 2005 election
Reluctant Candidate versus Reluctant Minister.
I am a director of Freedom to Care, an organisation that promotes public accountability. In that role I give active support to people who are victimised for raising concerns. When this happens, their concerns are never subject to a competent investigation. Investigations are very often biased to protect those at the heart of the problem. These situations arise every day, throughout the UK, in public and private organisations. This is not only damaging to the whistleblower but bad for the organisation concerned. The individual, friends and family suffer as a consequence for many years long after the event. The organisation also suffers as it fails to tackle the issue raised and deludes itself that concealment is the best defense. Such a practice leads the organisation to become less effective and more legal challenges. The very highest standards should be maintained in Govenment departments and that is core responsibility of our elected MPís and Ministers to ensure sound governance.
Victim support is inadequate and not the long term solution. What we all need is true transparency in organisations, and the example country should be set by public organisations. Politicisation has become endemic within the civil service, and it has become immune from any censure. The response is to educate those that tolerate or are actively involved in abuses of power.
I believe that the only way the UK can progress in this regard is for it to be on the Parliamentary agenda. Genuinely on the agenda, not words but deeds. The Public Interest Disclosure Act and Freedom of Information Act are a start but inadequate means of promoting the advantages of accountability.
Enforcement requires litigation, and litigation is a slow and life-changing experience for most people. And while the legal process victimises still further, the original malpractice get covered up or continues unchecked.
The public needs exposure of those who abuse the power given to them, who evade accountability and cover up wrongdoing. As an MP I would never tire of exposing such corrosive activities. As an election candidate I shall do the same. To this end, I hope to discuss public accountability with fellow candidate Alun Michael MP, presently the Minister for Rural Affairs.
Rural and Urban community relations
As a result of recent problems, such as BSE and Foot and Mouth. The rural population has felt under siege from DEFRA. The department that Alun was Minister for. DEFRA for its part has felt under siege as well. I am concerned that although Alun says he is listening, I cannot see evidence of tensions easing. Both DEFRA and the rural population has felt threatened, but I feel that it was the Ministers duty to consider how best to involve the community not alienate it. It was a therefore a shame that the Fox Hunting Bill was considered at such a stressful time for the rural community. I take issue with this timing and my concern at seeing riots and the incident in Exeter when some people through objects at Alunís car. Personally that must have been a frightening experience whatever the level of protection. It does however demonstrate that someone is again not fully listening. A subject close to me as of course I have been unable to get Alun to deal properly with the issues I raised about internal DEFRA affairs. Different issue, same response.
Civil Service and You, Me and Public accountability.
The Civil Service is the government in residence. Regardless of whom we elect as the Government, the day to day activities are run by unelected mandarins whose sole aim is to act without being held personally accountable. Ministers are responsible for Policy but they are also there to ensure ĎSoundí Governance. If a policy is being ignored or given lip service then it ultimately is the Minister who should be accountable. I am standing because of the resistance of this Minister to ask the right questions and ensure the department acts responsibly. Responsibility does not equate to not being caught, but being able to accept it makes mistakes and rectifies both the victims and the system failures.
Party or Candidate?
Most of us vote on the basis of party politics and not on the individual candidate. There are many exceptions and Independents have won seats in the previous two elections alone. I would ask you to consider the possibility of voting this time on the candidates. Voting for me will not alter on balance the selection of Prime Minister. However it can make a difference. By voting for myself you are voting for someone who will positively engage in the process to ensure that promises made by the government are carried out by the Government. Contributing to the process by ensuring new legislation is practical, enforceable and importantly accessible to each and every one of us.
PPC for Cardiff South and Penarth