Tuesday, 20 March 2012

An Imprecise Commission

A little observed extra feature of the "Independent" commission slipped under Daniel Wimberley's radar recently:

‎"The Commission will need to define its own work programme and it is therefore not possible to set out in advance the precise time commitment required for the work" - this is on the application information for people seeking to serve on the electoral commission. So you have to apply not knowing how much time may be required! That strikes me as:

(1) Daft - there really is no more appropriate word for asking people to apply to be members of a commission with no idea of the timescales involved. Compare with this - a standard application form for membership of a commission in the UK:

Meetings are held the last Wednesday of every month August through June and are generally 2 to 3 hours in length. Your time commitment will vary based on the Commission's needs. Board positions are voluntary. City Council will appoint the member for a three-year term.

That is precise and clear - and that is on an application form. How anyone could have let an application form get out which wholly lacks any clarity as to time commitment is beyond me; clearly, the people who drafted the application form have enough time on their hands themselves - or perhaps too much!.

(2) A cunning plan to ensure that the only people who can apply are richer people with lots of time on their hands. In other words, retired people, probably ex-jurats, lawyers etc, rather than ordinary people. In the absence of any specifics regarding time, who is going to be able to stand? Clearly, no one who might find providing the time difficult.

It is likely that the membership will consist of "the great and the good", who are usually very often neither very great nor very good, but are known to the commission as "sound". Independent it will not be!

Sir Arnold: - Someone who can be firm with our political masters.
Sir Humphrey: - Absolutely. No nonsense with that lot!
Sir Arnold:- But tactful...
Sir Humphrey:- Exactly.
Sir Arnold:- Suave, charming, emollient...
Sir Humphrey:- And above all, sound.
Sir Arnold:- Sound? Oh, yes, sound.
(Yes Minister, Party Games)

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