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Accountability to the public

by Peter Rose about a year ago in controversies
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Political and commercial accountability

Accountability to the public

Political and commercial accountability

Accountability- definition ;-responsibility to someone, or for some action.

An account (non financial) definition ;--an explanation of conduct.

To bring someone to account – definition:- to insist on explanation --- to make someone responsible for the consequences of their actions or behaviour.

There are always calls, usually from opponents, that a politician be held accountable some some perceived misdeed but when considering the above definitions, it is only the last line that is really important. Explaining why a mistake was made does not satisfy any desire or intention, to “ punish” the person or organisation involved.

Increasingly the complexities of modern life, with over population, information saturation and an abundance of fake or misleading information; it is governments being blamed, at least in the media, for failures by others. It is a public desire for accountability which drives this allotment of responsibility. Much of this desire is generated by the media. Many times the average person does not have a very strong opinion but the demand for accountability fills the pages and air time.

In Britain in December 2020 the pages of the newspapers are filled with outrage over a particular NHS trust where,it is alleged, that many babies died unnecessarily due to bad practices and the covering up of the system failures. It is demanded that the government take action. The government should take action to prevent similar situations from reoccurring but it is very hard for any authority to legislate for what in reality, amounts to incompetence and then deception by senior managers. The very people supposed to ensure this situation did not occur. What stands out in this case are reports that many of the senior managers have moved jobs to other NHS trusts at higher salaries etc. Where is accountability in this situation?

Modern medicine and health care in general, is based around the giant commercial enterprises generally known as “Big pharma.” These are commercial companies that exist to make profits and so return dividends to their share holders. The success of these companies in not judged by what health care they provide but by what profits they make. Nothing wrong with this in principle but when they use their financial strength and the health care “flag” to obtain legislation which protects themselves and their profits, from any opposition; then there is something wrong. The directors of these enterprises will contend, with some justification, that they are accountable to their shareholders and not to anyone else. This ignores the fact that these enterprises interact with the wider public. Often with some form of official support. Accountability for the consequences of these companies is often diluted by the notion that the companies do much good or that the nation needs the medicines that these companies provide. The sheer scale of the financial clout “big pharma” can utilise when operating in unison, to support any section of itself that is being criticised; means they can escape accountability.

Politicians may blame the data they are given for mistakes in policy, and they may be right to do so but come the next election the public are voting for the politicians not the data providers. This fact alone gives such power to the unelected senior bureaucrats, who control the flows of information to politicians, that is unhealthy for democracy. There is a possibility that a “cartel” of senior life long bureaucrats, may have views and objectives that do not support the elected politicians and ministers. By controlling the information reaching the government they control the policies of that government. But they are not accountable for the consequences of those policies. This is a fault line in democracy. One that needs remedial action.

The legal profession also has large gaps in terms of public accountability. Lawyers who use unscrupulous means to get a criminal found not guilty even when they know this is wrong; never go to jail for deception, contempt of court or perverting the course of justice. All round the world there are law practitioners who sit safe behind desks well away from physical danger and totally immune from having to make instant life and death decisions; who have both political and financial incentives to persecute military personal, sometimes knowing the evidence is false. They use dubious witnesses claiming knowledge of events many years ago, witnesses with huge incentives to lie. War crimes must not go unpunished but using lies and distortions to pursue individual soldiers in an effort to get compensation and legal fees is not acceptable. Who is accountable? Does the lawyer have to pay all the money they got to the soldier in question and then get disbarred because they supported lies? Does the false witness have to spend 5 years in a military prison?? is the government who allow such persecutions accountable?

Private commercial companies enforcing laws and local authority rules, are another area of dubious accountability. These companies aim to make profits from the claiming of fines to be paid for breaking local authority rules. Where does accountability lie when they make false accusations? what is the level of evidence required when that claim to have witnessed an event the accused person denies took place? Can the boss of the firm be personally accountable for false accusations made by his employees? Is the local authority who hired the firm, accountable? Who in the local authority is the person to face the courts?

Media claims that are false news, have become so common we largely ignore them but who is accountable? Is it the politicians who form a government because they do not stop fake news? Is it the media platform that publishes the fake news? Or is does accountability lie only with the originator?

Accountability lies at the heart, the very basis, of a true democracy and it has been submerged in a swamp of legal and political obscurity. Cover ups are big business. The media and the lawyers, and some politicians, depend on cover ups. Big money is involved but even bigger is the damage to democracy itself.


About the author

Peter Rose

Collections of "my" vocal essays with additions, are available as printed books ASIN 197680615 and 1980878536 also some fictional works and some e books available at Amazon;-


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