Last week the Joint Standards Committee of Babergh and Mid Suffolk issued an Advice Note “‘Blogging’ & Social Network Sites”. Nearly five hundred words of what should be obvious. Of course we all have to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
However, some of the advice seems to encourage an atmosphere where personalities and policies do not matter and thus honest debate is silenced. For example:
- make political points, but be careful not to be too specific or personal if referring to individuals
- general comments about another political party or genuine political expression are less likely to be disrespectful than comments directed towards or about an individual
Where is the respect for the people when their representative is hypocritical, misleading or less than competent. Local politics like many organisations can be maelstrom of ideas being advanced and like it or not it can be a zero sum game. If there is only a limited amount of money to be distributed why should monies go to the Dance East Boys in Babergh programme in preference to Home-Start Babergh? The Boys in Babergh programme speaks for itself. Home-Start Babergh is an independent charity that operates as part of Home-Start UK. They recruit, train and provide volunteers that work with families in times of need.
More importantly their support is given through home visits by volunteers and through support group meetings, where children can play together, supervised by a play leader, whilst parents meet with each other and with Home-Start staff. In many cases, their support is complementary to that of the professional agencies. Their volunteers are there for the family as a friend and confidant during a time of stress or difficulty. See: http://www.home-startbabergh.co.uk/.
Similarly why should the Dance East Boys in Babergh programme take precedence over the Kernos Centre. It provides counselling and support services to people with emotional and psychological difficulties from a wide variety of causes.
One of the main aims of counselling is to guide people from feeling victims of circumstance to feeling they have some control over our lives. See: http://www.kernos.org/
So, returning to the advice from the Joint Standards Committee: I hear what they say but it will not stop me from speaking out in a forthright and robust manner when I deem it appropriate.