13 May 2010

Coming clean. What does it mean?

I’m moved to comment after reading how the beloved PM of Dongkey Rock came clean and stated before a public gathering in Fyzabad that, “I made mistakes. And I still make mistakes, my dear friends. But I am a human being…” (TT Express 2010-05-13)

I’ve been looking at this phenomenon over the last few years not just among politicians, but a range of professionals including health service personnel. Nearly every individual who messed up and confessed, attempted to use the ‘I’m a human being’ get out card. Others would put it another way e.g.. ‘If I was perfect I wouldn’t be on this earth’.

Interestingly there is one set of professionals who – although they may try the above - never actually get away with it in the minds of the public i.e. health service professionals – doctors and nurses. Chopping off the wrong leg, taking out the wrong kidney, or giving the wrong drug causing death or serious injury; never seem to be excused very easily – or hardly ever, I should say – even though faltering individuals would have attempted to pull the ‘I’m only a human being’  thing.

I won’t go into depth on legal situations here, because it could take days or months. To summarise – both the legal and the moral  situations in one go – I will say this: the higher your degree of skill and responsibility, the greater the duty of care to the individual, the more that statutory duties to discharge were involved, and especially where there was a ‘special relationship’ between the tortfeasor and the person suffering damage; the greater the chance that ‘the human thing’ will not wash as some kind of excuse or defence. For pedants and cub lawyers – keep in mind that I’m summarising tons of complex legal matters in a single sentence.

Now think of a political leader – in any land. These individuals have hundreds if not thousands of minds (civil servants) working for them and in their command. They have the power to seek and clarify complex issues using not just their own mental faculties. Complex issues can be crystallised to a degree of clarity that we average folk cannot normally afford. Yes – I know that the law of tort does not normally apply in political situations. But in accepting that, we cannot simply throw accountability to the side of the road. No! A different type of accountability for foreseeable political mistakes must be applied. What does foreseeable mean? Well – to average reasonable people – it must mean, that you had good warning and had access to a range of robust expert opinion, and you neglected to take proper notice or heed to such warnings, and opted to take risks with the lifeblood of a nation.

UDECOTT was well within the bloodstream of the Nation – it had access to the ‘heart’ of the Nation’s wealth. The people who were charged with overseeing UDECOTT had the highest duty of care to the people of the Nation, not to recklessly haemorrhage their lifeblood down the drain. Yes there are idiots out there always willing to argue that UDECOTT did good – and perhaps so did every mismanaged organisation or body around the world. To those types I simply say “Open your eyes.. read the newspapers and read the Commission of Enquiry report on UDECOTT”. But I know only too well that ‘there are none so blind as those who will not see’.

The beloved PM then states “I cannot support breaches of integrity in the Government or anywhere else and I don’t, my dear friends. The one thing people know about me is that I stand for integrity and I have always stood for integrity in the conduct of public affairs. Nothing has changed, my dear friends. And the minute anybody breaches the codes of conduct and standards of integrity that are expected of persons in public office, they stand on their own. And if they have a case to answer, we will ensure that they have a fair trial and they will answer before the courts.

Errh… so a couple questions arise:

  1. Why are we hearing about this now? Pretty obvious the answer – isn’t it?
  2. So – what if certain individuals make ‘human mistakes’ on integrity? Is that okay, on the said grounds of being ‘human’?

Get this into perspective. For PM or politician to admit making ‘human mistakes’ is actually a good ploy – good for them, I mean. Why? Because simple average people among the electorate are likely to be forgiving. They don’t know any better and cannot think deeper into the above issues that I’ve summarised in a very concentrated way. So – the result is usually the same i.e. improved support. People will identify their leader as a ‘human being’ capable of making mistakes like they do. That process of ‘identification’ with the leader brings sympathy. It’s sad really – because the average folk who are likely to be so affected by the ‘coming clean’ tactic, cannot fathom the tremendous and incomparable gaps between ‘individual responsibility’ as an individual, and responsibility held by a person in public and/or political office. Sad? Yes – because the herds of jackasses lack the intelligence to know the difference, and it is the numbers of jackasses that vote in a particular direction that decides who rules. So – you can see what all that means – can’t you? Daize it!