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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Brexit Fundraising - Brillo In Trouble

Some broadcast media presenters and pundits are wary of speaking too freely outside the studio, and especially on social media platforms like Twitter. Not so Andrew Neil, still fronting the BBC’s Daily Politics and This Week, still overseeing the Spectator magazine for the Barclay brothers, and still passing adverse comment on anything that might make the various referendum Leave campaigns look other than pure as the driven snow.
And it is this candour, especially Neil’s constant carping at the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, which has caused the finger of suspicion to move in his general direction once again. Zelo Street regulars will recall how she unearthed a passage from Arron Banks’ book The Bad Boys Of Brexit (actually written by mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott) where Banksy recalled an invitation to the private dining society the Addison Club.
Banks had told “Andrew Neil’s asked me to speak at an event for the Addison Club, his very elite private dining society, on 3 November. He seems to have forgotten our Twitter spat. He’s emailed saying he thinks I’ll ‘find a few in our membership sympathetic to your case and even a few with chequebooks’”. Hold that thought for a few paragraphs.
Neil has of late taken a highly sceptical view of what Ms Cadwalladr has unearthed, as I told previously. This week has been no different: “Except nothing new of substance was revealed. As a journalist I’d love for Russian collusion/financing to be revealed because it would such a wonderful feat of investigative journalism. I must await the facts. You don’t have to”. Chris Wylie took a dim view of Neil’s sitting-and-waiting idea.
The job of journalists is to ask questions and find facts, not sit and ‘await’ them. But here's some while you wait. Fact: LeaveEU donors met w Russian embassy about Brexit. Fact: LeaveEU donor took one of the diamond deals. Fact: LeaveEU donor emailled Russian embassy FBI docs”. This stung The Great Man into action, well, sort of.
Fact one proves nothing Fact two as yet proves nothing Fact three - interesting. Pray tell more”. More had already been told. But he wasn’t finished. “So when you lecture me on journalism being about asking questions - thanks for that, I’ve only been doing it for over 45 years - and I ask you a question about fact 3, you go all silent”. Patronising, much?
And an appeal to authority, just to be on the safe side. But, as Ms Cadwalladr had to remind him once more apropos those facts, “Well, I keep responding to it, Andrew. And you keep ignoring it … Ok, look, I'll post it AGAIN”. Then she hit him with another.
Just spotted that @lordashcroft is a founding member of your super-secret Addison club. You know, the one you told @arron_banks was ‘sympathetic’ to his cause. Why not question him? He knows all about this non-Brexit-Russia story”. All of a sudden, Banksy’s story, along with the previous account that told of “a dinner at the Addison Club … Founding members Michael Spicer … Lord Ashcroft and … Lorna Tilbian” fell into place.
Did Banks meet Ashcroft via the Addison Club? And, more to the point, as Neil is on record talking about “a few in our membership sympathetic to your case and even a few with chequebooks”, did a BBC presenter assist in soliciting donations to the Leave campaign?
Just how elastic are those conflict of interest rules, BBC people? More on this later.


Andrew_S_Hatton said...

On a different point - but maybe related.

I am a keen former probation officer practitioner of the "old school"

That school developed incrementally from nineteenth century police court missionaries working for religious - temperance societies saving souls.

We discovered over generations that the way people change for the good is through consistent supportive but challenging relationships, utilising all that economics and social science and other disciplines can provide to aid those who agree to work with us to improve their own lot. Along the way we came into contact with some very damaged and dangerous people who lack the capacity to work towards their own improved functioning as responsible adults. For some therefore, for the time being - some times - a long time – they are best removed from society - hence probation got into public protection and from 196 or 7 were charged with the responsibilities of managing the then new system of parole and by and large did it well - judging by in those early days the very few further offences committed by those going through the parole system.

We used the same skills as employed by social workers - those individuals who work for local authorities and have more powers than probation officers - traditionally did ; social workers initiate the removal of people, be they children or those who are mentally ill. Probation officers are only statutorily authorised (I only know about England and Wales) to recommend to either a court of law or a Government Minister that a person be incarcerated if that person already has a criminal conviction and so is subject to a court order. There were at one time special considerations in family court law - which since 2001 has not been the province of probation officers.

Over time mostly for public spending and electoral popularity reasons (I surmise) politicians via central government have taken greater responsibility for the management of probation - moving the control of the system away from the Magistrates (Justices of the Peace) who incrementally ran much local government until statute took it away from them.

Back to Andrew Neil. By 2012 the by then deformed probation system (the status of probation orders changed in 1991) was so in the hands of central government that a minister could divide up the employing authorities in anyway s/he wanted as long as parliament did not intervene.

Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg had seen fit to put Mr Grayling in charge of probation with Lord McNally as his assistant running things in the House of Lords until Lord McNally was replaced by Mr Simon Hughes and the departmental responsibilities were redistributed within the Ministry of Justice, yet again, during the time of the Coalition Government.
To be continued……….

Andrew_S_Hatton said...

In early 2013 they hatched up a plan – seemingly led by people from the Policy Exchange Organisation to split all the probation agencies into two parts – uniting and centralising the parts dealing with the, so called, more serious criminals into a nation public organisation directly controlled by the Ministry of Justice, whilst regrouping the other parts into regionalised organisations to be outsourced.

From the outset – to people such as me – who have dealt first hand with all sorts of convicts from their first court appearance through to the conclusion of their time as subjects to the resulting court order – the proposals were obviously very flawed and almost certain to fail – for a host of reasons – I shall not rehearse again now.

Quite a determined but divided campaign was begun but Lord McNally and Mr Grayling were impervious to simple logic from people who actually knew just how complex is the English and Welsh Criminal Justice system. They had already changed the bit about Court Interpreters and should have had recent evidence that if you change one bit it has latent impacts, initially probably unimagined.

Sometime before the Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) Plan was actually hatched – Mr Neil announced via social media that on behalf of the BBC (the British people) that he would be interviewing Mr Grayling the next Sunday and invited questions from his Followers. I and I suspect others, put a number of direct challenging questions about the plan for TR and waited – it was when the prison system was in crisis. Probation was not mentioned once – Mr Grayling had an unchallenged opportunity to make his Public Relations statements and in due course probation was split.

Now we have every public authority admitting the scheme has failed and the MOJ hinting via The Times newspaper they will let the private companies off two years early.

So much for Mr Neil’s investigative journalism – even when given the ammunition he does not use it where the likes of Mr Grayling is concerned.

Andrew_S_Hatton said...

Thank you for posting my earlier comments that referenced Mr Neil's dealings with Mr Grayling regarding the disaster that has been created for probation in England and Wales.

I see another blogger and experienced outsourcer has also commented today about the state of probation - so if that is of interest readers may choose to look there - Richard Johnson also predicted the disaster from 2013.


Unknown said...

This is extremely insightful. Thank you Andrew.

Andrew_S_Hatton said...

Thanks to Tim Birch, I am flattered and frustrated in about equal measure.

Flattered because it is gratifying to get confirmation that my explanations make at least some sense.

Frustrated because I was trying to say this stuff about what is important about probation since Mr Grayling first announced them - in fact even before that. I realised in 1991 that the then Criminal Justice Act was going to change probation for ever, but I could not get anyone to see it. The substance was the probation order -(now almost abolished) became a sentence of the court (a punishment) rather than a (sort of) Conditional Discharge with very special conditions that required the probationer if s/he agreed to cooperate with meeting a probation officer over an agreed period of time, sometimes with other conditions thrown in, then at the end - the conviction - in many cases would be expunged from the probationer’s record.

But I guess this is not the place for such details and maybe Zelo Street has had more than enough already.