Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fighting corruption - what interests the public is not always what is in the public interest

It is a good thing that Britain is hosting a conference on cutting corruption this week.

It is a good thing that leaders of countries which have a severe corruption problem are coming to that conference - and recognising this is not the same as saying that those Presidents are corrupt themselves, it is a hopeful sign if it indicates that those national leaders are serious about trying to do something about the problem.

In context that is clearly what David Cameron was saying to the Queen earlier this week in what was clearly meant to be a private conversation.

There was a time when TV interviews were accompanied by large boom microphones, or when people being interviews were miked up themselves (as Gordon Brown was  when he called Mrs Duffy a bigot.) But these days more and more cameras include smaller and less obvious mikes.

I can see that politicians of all party are going to have to be more and more careful where and when they speak their mind and sometimes for honourable reasons.

Which raises the interesting question of whether the press should use it when they get a scoop because a microphone picks up something which may be of interest to the public but not necessarily in the public interest to publish.

Just as it is the sick that need a doctor, it is the most corrupt countries who most need to do something about corruption. And there is also every reason for us to work with them in, for example, making it harder for stolen or fraudulently obtained money to be banked in Britain.

It's not necessarily going to build trust to rub the fact that a country is corrupt in the face of a political leader of that country who may be trying to do something about it, though.

If you look at the most recent world Index of perceived corruption as measured by Transparency International - here is a link to it -

there is some substance to what the Prime Minister was overheard telling the Queen.

But I cannot see that it was in the public interest to create a diplomatic embarrassment by publicising this conversation.


Jim said...

One of the problems we have found is that you can write a very aticulate leaving plan, but getting people to actually read it can be a real pain, especially when it runs to 421 pages.

Now shorter (48 page) booklets do help, but even still its a bit of a problem getting people to read those too.

so in this day and age, well what you need is "Flexcit - the movie" which you can take to the public and bypass the media. So ok, What ever it takes

Chris Whiteside said...

I've had a quick look and will have to watch this. Not as slick as "Brexit the Movie" but Richard North probably makes a lot more sense.