Learning from the USA

The hearings on whether Brett Kavanaugh should be adopted or not as a Supreme Court Justice is a challenge to us in the UK, cos we don’t believe judges should be political (or rather, have made their minds up on matters before hearing evidence, and without deciding against a framework, in this case, the law), and nor do we think that important issues (such as allowing women to decide what to do about an unwanted pregnancy) should not have been enabled properly by a political process (something we did in the late sixties).

I think we are behind the USA on bringing the justice system to life and account.  Court proceedings should be shown, albeit, edited to show only those proceedings judged to be relevant, and to be shown after the trial is completed.  We need change to help people realise that the process of bringing justice is significant and appreciated.

The Police and legal services need to be more effectively managed, politically.  The USA does better on this cos of the ethos of elected officials spending public money.  We once ran Police services by elected councillors and we should again, albeit we need the external audit procedures pioneered 15 years ago, along with an ethos of publishing more management information to bring the sunshine that deters poor government and enables bigger debate of the issues.

The audit processes we developed under Tony Blair’s second term was missing from the Kavanaugh hearings.  An expectation that people hadn’t already decided how to vote, but rather declared the questions to ask and the challenges to make against a remit.  Kinda like we have in Planning committees here.  The Republican Senator from Alaska (pairing as a No to another Senator’s yes) was compelling, because she cited the remit on conduct expected against that exhibited by the candidate). To call the hearings a job interview is just wrong – cos if any of us here faced those kind of questions, or that length of questioning, in public even, at a job interview. none of us would apply for a job.  I also get how a proxy for a trial for an allegation of sexual abuse was misplaced in those hearings.  However inconvenient, the proper course is for a proper and full investigation to take place elsewhere – as may well happen after the mid-term elections –  and if necessary, removal from office.

The initial reaction to Kavanaugh’s appointment is that Trump has had a victory and the Republicans’ base have been motivated, when following capitulations over Russia and growing awareness of Trump’s problems was leading to sense that he might be impeached.  The second initial reaction is that the bullying of a victim of sexual abuse has been backed by Republican men and the polls are still good for the Democrats, as has the increase in voter registration.

From here, it seems clear that the USA is badly directed.  Deaths through gun ownership, money being wasted on wall and fences across America’s border with Mexico, misdirection on abortion (just what will have to be undone if the Supreme Court does now make it illegal?).  The surprise is the talk of America’s strong economy, cos if Jezza and Johnny Mac were running a huge deficit and jump in public debt to boost public spending, commentators would howl.

From here then, a perspective of how useless it is in the USA.  Yep, time for a reality check.

In the UK, a massive focus on Brexit, a bad decision for which the challenges continue to grow (e.g. Toyota’s strongest warnings yet and the growing emergency planning concerns).  The loss of the opportunity to own a home for the younger generations.  The increased deaths on the streets (highlighted by a former BBC journalist).  The roll-out of Universal Credit (which Gordon Brown has just issued a warning on).  Huge reductions in corporation tax and huge tax avoidance by the very rich that sees money not being spent locally and that working people have to make up for.   The poor perception of national political leaders.

Meanwhile, the world has had a renewed and heightened warning on climate change.  And we and the USA are both nowhere on that.

Yes, Jezza and Labour should be doing better in the polls in the circumstances.  But the circumstances also why we need visions and policies of big change, and why talk of a new middle way misses the point.  Small measures will not solve anything like enough.

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