Skip to main content

Social Capital


I don't have a lot of time for governmental buzzwords as they often have little relevance on the ground. However, I make an exception for "social capital".

Social Capital is well described in Robert Puttnam's book Bowling Alone it is a measure of the values in society beyond those which are purely financial. The statistic used to measure Social Capital is generally that proportion of people who trust strangers in different circumstances. It is important as a society in which people can trust each other is one in which people don't have to spend too much time protecting their backs. That means that people can work for a good quality of life for a higher proportion of their time/effort.

It is the concept of Social Capital that exists behind civil renewal (one of ODPM's buzzwords). Like many things, however, ODPM then through organisations such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit often work against their defined objectives. The NRU has gone around the country funding bodies called "Community Empowerment Networks". In Birmingham we have a particular problem with the pattern of behaviour of the CEN in that it is not democratically accountable, but instead is dominated by personal interests and friendships. It makes decisions which are skewed by conflicts of interest. It is, therefore, something that actually undermines Social Capital and discourages voluntary activity.

This is a general problem in the Community and Voluntary Sector where frequently bodies act improperly according to the Committee on Standards in Public Life The principles of handling conflicts of interest have been around for years.

People wonder why I get stressed about public funds being handled in a manner which involves people doling out funds to their mates. That is because this pattern of behaviour destroys Social Capital. It always has to some extent been important "who you know" as well as "what you know". However, in the public sector particularly this should not be the case. Things should be fairly decided and seen to be fairly decided. The failure of regeneration in part comes from the fact that the processes of allocation of funds are often mildly corrupt or even moreso.

The fact remains, however, that even at the level of Birmingham's corporatist City-wide Local Strategic Partnership (aka the City Strategic Partnership, aka the Birmingham Strategic Partnership) that the principles of "snouts in the trough" operate where funds are doled out to bodies with representation on the board. As the current chair of this body I am trying to resolve this, but am encountering resistance from the government.

It is, in fact, the existence of conflicts of interest that causes substantial damage to systems of government that have a corporatist (traditional) style of governance and lead from relatively anodyne conflicts of interest leading to substantial corruption over time.

Over time the UK has developed checks and balances to handle these conflicts. However, Tony Blair's third way (historic corporatism) is undermining these processes whilst the whole thing is ignored by the mainstream media.

Human beings are relatively easily corruptible. If you put people in situations which are likely to corrupt them then they will generally get corrupted. The real scandal of Blairism is that relatively secure systems of governance have been undermined to place people into positions in which the encounter pressure to be corrupted in their actions.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Statement re false allegations from Esther Baker

Statement by John Hemming
I am pleased that the Police have now made it clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote false criminal allegations against me and that the allegations had no substance whatsoever.
I would like to thank Emily Cox, my children, Ayaz Iqbal (my Solicitor), my local lib dem team and many others who supported me through this dreadful experience. There are many worse things that happen to people, but this was a really bad experience.
It is bad enough to have false allegations made about yourself to the police, but to have a concerted campaign involving your political opponents and many others in public creates an environment in which it is reasonable to be concerned about ill founded vigilante attacks on your family and yourself. Luckily there was a more substantial lobby to the contrary as well, which included many people who were themselves real survivors of abuse, which has helped.
I am normally someone who helps other people fight injustice. …

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

I have only just found this one which I think is accurately reported below (but if it is not please give me an accurate report).

KING’S BENCH DIVISION

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

Here, the magistrates’ clerk retired with the bench when they were considering a charge of dangerous driving. The clerk belonged to a firm of solicitors acting in civil proceedings for the other party to the accident. It was entirely irrelevant that there had been no evidence of actual influence brought to bear on the magistrates, and the conviction was duly quashed.

LORD HEWART CJ:
It is clear that the deputy clerk was a member of the firm of solicitors engaged in the conduct of proceedings for damages against the applicant in respect of the same collision as that which gave rise to the charge that the justices were considering. It is said, and, no doubt, truly, that when that gentleman retired in the usual way with the justices, taking with him the…

Statement re Police investigation into Harassment and Perverting the Course of Justice.

It was recently reported that the police were not investigating the allegations of Perverting the Course of Justice that I had made. This came as a surprise to me as I had been told for some time that my allegations were to be considered once the VRR had been rejected. I have now had a very constructive meeting with Staffordshire police on Friday 29th June 2018 and the misunderstandings have been resolved. At that meeting the evidence relating to the perversion of the course of justice and the harassment campaign against my family were discussed. The police have decided to investigate both the perversion of the course of justice and also the harassment campaign. I would like to thank them for changing their decision and I accept their apology for the way in which they did that. I am also in possession of written confirmation a police force would be investigating allegations that a vulnerable witness has been harassed for trying to expose the campaign against me. I hope that the aut…