Welcome to my day: 30 October 2023 – rules, regulation… and enforcement

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another Monday.

It’s a quiet week at Westminster, as we await what is likely to be the last King’s Speech before the General Election. In terms of content, I suspect that we’ll see more “culture war” legislation proposals but what will say a lot is any legislation which smacks of “sowing the ground with salt” – actions proposed to limit the actions of an incoming Labour government. Given the Government’s actions to make the completion of HS2 “difficult” if not impossible, it isn’t hard to envisage similar acts of “legislative vandalism”. It’s just another indicator of an administration utterly contemptuous of the unwritten rules of governance and democracy.

But it is a reflection of an increasing problem in our democracy – that those who break rules are not held accountable.

There are those who would argue that the election of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson as Prime Minister was where the rot set in as far as British politics is concerned. And yes, his contempt for rules was obvious from day one. But his behaviour was exactly as predicted by a range of observers – people who knew him, had worked with him and had employed him – and Conservative MPs voted for him anyway. The idea that rules were for “little people” was already fairly well established. The accusations made against the likes of Peter Bone, Owen Paterson and Chris Pincher strongly suggest that, as they all pre-date Johnson’s tenure at 10 Downing Street.

And that’s why if rules and regulations are to mean anything, there have to be consequences when they’re broken.

It’s also something that political parties are not terribly good at. There is often a desire to will the ends without ensuring that you have someone to enforce them. You can, for example, pass all the planning legislation you like but, unless local authorities have the means to engage planning officers, building control officers and enforcement officers, all that you have is a headline in the newspapers. Talk of a rules-based environment is, just that, talk, without the full range of compliance tools.

I do get it. Rules enforcement isn’t “sexy” and politicians are sometimes uncomfortable with celebrating the fact that they have employed more “jobsworths”. But if we’ve learned one thing from the past decade or so, it’s that the public generally don’t like people to “get away with it”, whatever “it” is. And my personal experience is that, whilst most people are inherently honest, those who are less so are emboldened by the sense that nobody is watching.

So, is there anyone out there writing a manifesto that calls for more and better compliance activity across the board, or for better, simpler legislation that makes compliance efforts more focussed?

Elsewhere, it’s AGM season for Local and Regional Parties, and I’ll be attending the East of England Regional Conference on Saturday. Given that I can walk there in about twelve minutes, it seems only right that I should turn up. But what’s (been) happening in the other English Regions? Why not let us know, or write a preview to encourage more people to turn out or run for Regional office? You know where to find us…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and a former Regional Secretary in both London and the East of England.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

3 Comments

  • All very true. However we need to examine the concept of power. In planning applications, as an example, it helps a lot if the applicant has a lot of influence, such as a large developer. An individual often finds it more difficult if they have limited resources and find that those with resources object.
    It would help a lot if we had suggestions about how to level the playing field for those with limited resources.

  • “The House of Commons is notoriously incompetent and wayward when it tries to deal with moral issues, offences against the supposed customs of the time or plain dishonesty or negligence by its Members or servants.” Jo Grimond, Memoirs, 1979.

  • Peter Hirst 4th Nov '23 - 12:39pm

    Elected representatives’ election to office is conditional. This is part of the unwritten constitution that has governed our governance for centuries. When it breaks down as it has the solution must be to form a codified set of rules that is overseen by a body above party politics.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Paul R
    @Martin Gray - The NR only operates in France and its gains were offset by losses for other far right parties in the EU. The net results in the European Parliam...
  • Paul R
    @Peter Martin - Ignoring the data - in this case of actual election results - to advance a claim is "Cherry picking" of the worst sort. If we are to do that, we...
  • Chris Cory
    @Leekliberal. I’ve heard this old canard many times, that if we didn’t have a monarch we’d have President Johnson/Blair/Farage, but the Irish seem to ha...
  • bob sayer
    On the list of new MPs onparliamentary website( I think) Tim Farron has a photo which is Nigel Farage or a bad picture of Tim...
  • Alex Macfie
    It's not just Farage. Trump and his followers are also trying to link the attack to his opponents. This is despite the suspected attacker being a registered Rep...