Monday, December 10, 2007

[citizens juries] reflective but not representative

James Barlow, Constituency Chairman for the Conservative Party in the three-way marginal Bristol-West seat, was writing about what would presumably be the ultra-boring subject of local recycling and landfill but it turned out to be anything but boring.

The moment he touched on Citizens Juries, danger signals abounded:

Now my party colleagues in the Conservative Group of the council have taken an active part in this process - John Goulandris as Chair of the OSM committee, and Richard Eddy as Chair of the Quality of Life Scrutiny committee.

But I'm concerned that the Jury process is misleading us all. I suspect that it removes the impetus for oversight of Council policy by the opposition party, and it creates an illusion of impartiality and "judicial" deliberation when it's really just a rubber stamp on existing policy - i.e. it ain't a Jury.

As another UK user of Citizens' Juries comments on their website :

"[It c]an be difficult to 'reject' the Jury's recommendations"

In our city, a Citizens' Jury is constructed as an off-shoot of the Citizens' Panel ("Bristol's Biggest Think Tank") which consists of two thousand local residents, some randomly selected, some self-selected.

For the randomly selected, a London firm supplies the questionnaire:

The on-street recruitment questionnaire (Appendix 5 of the latest Jury's report) is less intrusive than that of the Citizens' Panel, but also fails to check whether the respondent is a Bristol Council Tax payer. It also mispells "Cotham" as "Cotam", and indicates that Cabot is a ward in both Central West and Central East Bristol, but I suppose that's to be expected from a London-based market research firm .

If you like, you can apply to join the Citizens' Panel, for which you will be asked your ethnicity, sexual orientation and whether you consider yourself to be transgendered, but not whether you are a council tax payer in Bristol.

But:

...half the jurors are recruited from the existing membership of the Citizens' Panel, and the other half by on-street recruitment...

James comments on its purpose in giving feedback, which it certainly does, but then:

I'm slightly more sceptical of some of the other aspirations for the Panel -

"[to contribute] to democratic renewal and [to encourage] participation in democratic processes"

I thought that was achieved by voting, and doesn't seem to be compatible with the stated utility of the panel "as a vehicle for developing public relations". You can petition the electorate, or persuade the electorate. Doing both at exactly the same time seems a tricky proposition.

So, is this Citizens Jury a legitimate representative body?

The jurors are recruited to be a cross-section of the community: the Jury is said to ‘reflect’ the local population, rather than to ‘represent’ it.

In other words, recommending policy without being elected but with the virtual guarantee of recommnedations being adopted - and leading this process are "facilitators":

The role of the facilitators is to enable the jury to complete its task, not to lead the discussion in any particular direction.

Officially. But the facilitators are also charged with this task [taken from N10's guidelines for the Nine Regional Focus Groups, i.e. the EU concept of regions]:

"Participants will be given facts and figures that are independently verified, they can look at real issues and solutions, just as a jury examines a case. And where these citizens juries are held the intention is to bring people together to explore where common ground exists."

Independently verified by whom? By "experts" approved by the ODPM from whence came Julia Middleton [there are various links halfway down this post on her organization].

Now if you explore CP's training of "facilitators", assuming this is from where they received their training, snippets emerge. Candidates are trained to lead beyond authority, to seize an issue and lead in it, that is, to become facilitators.

And the skill in this is to be able to persuade without coercing, to leave participants feeling that the three-card trick was actually democratically arrived at and government can then point to a democratically arrived at decision.

One of the central motifs in the whole EU drive is "legitimacy".

This is why Lisbon was, why the referenda were, why Brown won't put a referendum on the EU to the British electorate. It's not correct that Westminster acts lawlessly - they are obsessed with being able to claim they acted lawfully.

Hang on a minute - why would a government need to spend
"£45,000 to run the jury", muliplied by however many Citizen Panels there are [by page 10 of Google, they're still being listed]? Why the expense?

The illusion of legitimacy.

Now look at the whole mechanism. There is a group of approved citizens who, for a start, have been raised above the common throng to oversee local government policy, traditionally the preserve of councils. But councils are corrupt, incompetent, in thrall to paymasters and political parties, aren't they?

So The Select Body of Citizens feels it's doing important work and that government will listen to their recommendations. Hell, isn't that what we're all going on about - government listening? And they do listen - to the decision the facilitator is able to get out of the forum.

The leader poses questions, people respond, the recalcitrant or obstinate objector is bypassed and the decision is arrived at.
Any trained teacher could tell you about this technique and as a former Head, I was on my guard against it - the others are tacitly encouraged, by raised eyebrow or other non-verbal expression, to either approve or disapprove and always there is the desire to please by the honoured citizen who, don't forget, has already been preselected.

But what if the citizen selection process didn't completely work, what if someone has the temerity to ask: "What is your legitimacy?"

Here is an example of this occurring.
John Trenchard mentioned Englisc Fyrd, who quoted:

And yet another blog has noticed CP. This speech by CP head honcho Julia Middleton. And I quote:
No region and no part and no part of any country are ever going to go anywhere until it manages to engage the talented.
and:
The other day I was in a meeting in Belfast, I have no idea how I ended up in this meeting. It was a really wonderful meeting with about fifteen people there. When we were really getting going there was this little jerk in the corner, who kept piping out “What is your legitimacy?” and we all said “just shut up” and we kept on going.
and:
Anyway, he went on and on about our legitimacy to such an extent that in the end I turned to him and said “Let me just be absolutely clear that at this meeting we are not trying to allocate any public funding, nor are we trying to make any public policy.Actually in this meeting are the fifteen people that are the only people in Northern Ireland that have done anything for the homeless in Northern Ireland for the last 10 years. That is our legitimacy and it is a totally compelling and overwhelming legitimacy”.
Note the sleight of hand - the legitimacy question wasn't directed at the 15 people. It was directed at Julia Middleton and Common Purpose. Note the disdain for dissent - "just shut up", "jerk". That says a lot.

and then the anti-democratic agenda stall is laid out:
I believe with a passion that there is a democratic space. There is an enormous space in it for politicians. They call the shots. They are accountable. That is right and proper. But there is another space for leaders of civil society.

Coming back to James' verbatim text of the process on waste recycling in Bristol - read through it and make up your own mind about how far this discussion was "not led".

Citizens Connect is different and yet along the same lines, in this case citizens connecting directly with the government electronically but not face to face [Micro-Control 7], on whom Englisc Fyrd writes, [when looking at the Dome question]:


But with millions pouring down the drain (well into a few people's pockets) an attempted diamond heist and daily financial craziness at the Dome, no one really noticed anything unusual when Camelot, whoever runs Common Purpose and Lord Falconer gave £2 million to Common Purpose to run a web site which links to the governments' sites, which is all Citizen's Connection is.

This is the government's thrust - circumventing the elected channels within the UK. Brown's own speech included:

So the citizens jury on crime will look at how we can empower people in their neighbourhoods to work with the police and other agencies to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

and:

It is a politics of common purpose, because our country is built on the fairness of the British people.

So, the juries produce "recommendations", of which James notes that there is a history of Jury recommendations being quite coercive on policy formulation [supported within the full text of Brown's speech] and not simply advisory. James further notes:

The whole terminology of "jury" and "witnesses" is misleading, as this is not really an antagonistic process. There is no judge, no prosecution or defence, but rather an agenda to be agreed. In fact the use of the trapping of a proper jury are just theatre to mask the manipulative nature of the exercise.

There was a similar process, sometime earlier, when the leading figures in the Scottish Arts were led in a "debate" which was not a debate:

After an obviously unwanted debate (chaired by Mrs. Jack McConnell, Labour Party) in which the audience clearly did not accept what they were told, the final words from Seona Reid (then Director of the SAC) conveyed the impression that some form of transaction had taken place, that "SAC was working to ensure the arts were incorporated into the range of Government policies - but arts organisations and artists needed to play their part in making this a reality".

So let's summarize. The ODPM trains pre-existing "facilitators" and from whence are they drawn? Well, you tell me - where would you expect such leadership to come from?

"Would an organization of such magnitude as Common Purpose, whose whole purpose is to have people in place in all regions of the EU-UK for the purpose of "leading beyond authority" and given the government's own first thrust into regional assemblies which was soundly defeated, would CP stand back from these Citizen's Juries and play no leadership role whatever?"

There's a little matter they seem to have forgotten though, as James notes:

But hold on a minute - this is essentially what Councillors are supposed to do isn't it? Scrutiny of legislation and local service provision?

So James asks what such "Citizens' Juries'" prime directives really are:

Well let's look at the originators of the Citizens' Jury concept (and owners of the US trademark) - what do they have to say?

"Democracy is based on the idea that elected officials and public agencies carry out the will of the people. But the manipulative nature of our election campaigns and the great power of lobbyists make it doubtful that government policy is based upon the wishes of a well-informed and engaged public. Public opinion polls can tell what people quickly think in response to telephoned survey questions. The actual "will of the people" may be something quite different."

Let me have a go at translating that: The people (that's you and me) don't know what we want if you ask us, and we're easily swayed by slick election campaigns. In fact we need someone else to tell us what we really need.

But even beyond circumventing elected authorities, there has to be some further point to it. It has to be something more than just "legitimacy".

Helpful in understanding this is the Carpathian Foundation's tagline "five nations, one community" and that is an indicator or what is going on. With its "
Carpathian Cross-border European Citizens’ Panel", the purpose is clear - to empower sections of the citizenry, handpicked and vetted for affiliations, in the upper AB socio-economic groups, in geographical divisions which do not correspond to national boundaries.

That is - the EU is circumventing national and traditional local government to indirectly implement policy.

You might like to read the Micro-Control series on this blog through the search at the top left and it goes into aspects of Common Purpose's common purpose of setting up regional leadership under Westminster, which in turn has signed Lisbon and is firmly on the EU path, a point few dispute today.


The very first warning sign for me, in James' post, of the stink of CP was in the words:

"ethnicity, sexual orientation and whether you consider yourself to be transgendered".

Excuse me but how exactly do these details reflect on waste recycling in Bristol, a matter supposedly thrashed out in local council meetings?

Chair of New Deal for Community in Liverpool quoted the advice given to Franklyn D Roosevelt when he set up his own New Deal:

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial."

It's the process of diverting and hijacking the agenda of what began in a well meaning way, of harnessing a pre-existing desire in the community and giving it to them in your own way. The idea of citizens having a say is admirable.

But to implement it, it can only be done with government assistance and governments, especially of the Brown ilk, are not noted for divesting themselves of either power or funding unless there is a common purpose. A Roosevelt Justice, quoted from the same source above, said:

"The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

Well meaning people are often naive [e.g. the development of the atom bomb] and this is the genesis of PC and from where the diversion and hijacking come. There are a great many out there less altruistic, less naive and all too willing to harness buzzwords to pursue entirely different agendas.

10 comments:

  1. Dear resident of Straf-Mercia.
    Keep the swords on your chariot wheels sharp.
    (Is that an appropriate greeting? :) )
    A very good post. Just shows you can't trust anyone, the infiltration of the triffids is just about complete!
    Bastards all.
    I try in the real world to warn folks, even give printouts, but no-one gives a shit, no-one has the attention span. East-enders, coronation street, etc are the objects of intellectual debate. "prime candidates for mules" passes through my mind, but.........
    I hope I'm not being repetitive when asking if you caught my link on the previous post.
    You have mentioned before that you have links to the original members/stockholders of the B of E and the Fed, and hopefully a few others.
    It would be instructive if you would kindly like to share them.
    Thanks

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  2. Thanks James.
    This quote comes to mind.
    In the April 1974 issue of the CFR journal, "Foreign Affairs", page 558, Richard Gardener states that the new world order "will be built... but an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old fashioned frontal assault." Congressman McDonald, Heinz and Tower stated that this is a conspiracy. Again, the media remained silent.

    How totally congruous with current machinations throughout the EU, by the filthy triffids "an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece,

    James, even your fellow bloggers seem incapable, or unwilling, to read the runes. Banging the drum seems to be failing.

    It's time for some inspirational thinking. The enormity is stupendous, - that I believe is what creates public incredulity.

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  3. In the last couple of months, UK official holdings of US T-bills has increased by 300%
    They obviously anticipate the £ falling internationally to the same extent that the $ has, or will.
    Competitive devaluation of currencies.
    Asset inflation
    Impoverished pe-ons.
    Foreclosures.
    Or are CITI, and a few others (also in the UK,) to big to be allowed to fail?
    The time seems not quite right for the next global asset grab/theft.
    The signs are there, but the timing, the coup , seems distant yet

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  4. Random Thoughts.

    If Sovereign Funds are to be increasingly involved in bank rescues, you have to wonder whether their owners have been brought into the CFR fold, and what their impact will be, (if any), on the CFR.

    I'm trying to find a game plan for the almighty cock-up that allowed contagion to spread this far.
    Is it to benefit the ME and SE Asia?
    Exploited correctly, the price should be/has been, sharply discounted.
    I suppose the losses created the necessary urgency in the 2 houses to kill nationalism.
    I think the truth lies along those lines.
    With any luck, more US courts will resist repossessions, and in the commercial real estate markets too, which also seem about to collapse, and the diluted price to the ME/Asia will be even less.
    Interesting times.

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  5. No comment yet on the substance of this post.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well you do not expect me to comment on it do you? I don't have the attention span and Eastenders is on...

    ReplyDelete
  7. James, re substance.
    I'm following the ethos of the post.
    I'm thinking that comment at the micro level, - well the time maybe past when it will be effective. Not that it isn't worthwhile, as it not only identifies the treasonous persons, but it confirms previous analysis.
    But it is after the event, so to speak.
    I just think that something at the macro level, something enormous, is needed at this late hour to derail the march to serfdom.
    I'm trying to relate the Sov. funds phenom with the observable change in alignments of the in-play actors in the ME problems pre and post Annapolis meetings.
    They are all related.
    And they could be profound for the future.
    Just as the bankers never forgave the Czar, and financed his downfall, and ultimately the downfall of the USSR, I believe Putin may not have forgiven the bankers, and the power play in the ME, (arms and clout from Putin) may be that scenario playing out.
    If Putin is not part of CFR, then this could delay plans for a few years.

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  8. The legitimacy story is slightly different in the Beyond Authority leadership book by Julia Middleton.
    This time the man in the corner kept muttering "What is our legitimacy?" and the final three sentences now read:
    "They are simply thinking what they can do next - themselves. That is their legitimacy. It's a highly democratic legitimacy and it's a glorious one."

    The original speech is Here (At the moment, anyway!)

    There seems to be some revision of history here. I'd rather like to hear that little jerk's version of the event.

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  9. I think it's just a bunch of quangoes again and the trouble is these people take themselves too seriously.

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