Friday, January 30, 2015

A Very Short Sighted Public Inquiry

I believe as hard as I can in all the improbable things of this world like Santa Claus and tooth fairy and public inquiries that are really public and really an inquiry.

Because I believe, I am doubly disappointed when they fall so very short of the mark of either public or inquiry.

The Scottish Police Association spent a lot of time and money and good will on their recent inquiry into the decision by newly minted Police Scotland to decide arbitrarily to allow armed police to respond to routine inquiries. That was the first issue. Folks in the line at the checkout found themselves next to an officer with a sidearm--or worse. It was, at best, startling.

But that was only the first issue. And by ignoring all the rest, the SPA inquiry tips its hand as nothing more than jockeying for more power for themselves over police matters.

This is my blog so I'll be straightforward and say Stephen House, Chief Constable, lied. Please 
check the facts for yourself. You can track the media reports (including my own articles in the Caithness Courier) for the sequence of events. By delaying  publishing the results of their inquiry, most folks will have forgotten all that stooshie. But he lied. I am old fashioned. I think when folks in public office are called out on a lie, they need to resign. Especially police officers. Especially the chief cop.

Now to the findings of the so called public inquiry.

On the basis of only 1000 replies (for my American readers: yes, Scotland is small but not that small--overall population nearly 6 million if we all stand up tall and get counted), those of us who objected to the policy have become a 'significant minority'. Most people, they say, thought the policy was OK. Cue the Mark Twain quote re liars, damned liars, and those who use statistics.

Now what is worse is that headline makers do not even bother to see that only 1000 people responded (badly written questionnaire--perhaps in retrospect it was designed with just this oversimplified conclusion in mind) so now the headlines are that most people actually approve of the policy. That is a giant stride forward into self-servingness.

By calling it a PR problem, the SPA steps into the breach to help the police manage their communications. The fix is in.

It is not a PR issue to be lied to by the Chief Cop. It is not a PR issue to have a major cultural shift in how police relate to the people they are pledged to serve--not to bully, not to intimidate, not to protect themselves from, but to serve.

Iain Whyte said that even those who objected to the policy would have accepted it if it had been better communicated to them. That is half true. An essential part of that communication was to make the case for why armed police were necessary. That case was not made then and I daresay won't be offered now. Having been given headlines saying it was all a PR problem and most people really agree with the policy, the lies have been given the imprimatur of a public inquiry,
except it was neither public nor an inquiry.

I am so angry because I believed in this inquiry. I went to Inverness to give evidence and I wrote letters and answered their questionnaire. In short, I was used.

Now if you think this blog is un British in its tone and righteous indignation, then check out this blog:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Because Margaret Said So

Who knows what makes us connect one person to another. And some more firmly than others. It starts, in this case, with a shared connection thorugh a friend and knitting.  I have always lived more in my head than with my hands so I come awkwardly and tentatively to schooling my hands, which perhaps makes me appreciate more not only others' skills but also their willingness to share them with me.

Margaret tumbled into my life like that. If she hadn't been the sister of a friend and a knitter, we might never have known each other, but she meant a great deal to me even though we were so different and so tentatively connected. And so when news came today that she had died in her sleep I felt her loss for my own sake as well as for my friend's. Her eyesight had begun to fail her and she had set knitting aside. I don't think she found anything else to fill that gap.

Only yesterday as my fingers fumbled over a new stitch, I heard her words in my head--I cannot recereate the Yorkshire in her voice-- but the gist was that I had to be tough with my knitting and tug on the stitch to get it to line up as it should. And so I did as Margaret had taught me and was surprised yet again to see that the stitches did, in fact, behave. Margaret said so. That was enough for them.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

from The Floral Offering by Henrietta Dumont:

Moss is selected to be the symbol of maternal love, because, like that love, it glads the heart when the winter of adversity overtakes us, and when summer friends have deserted us.