NI21: McCrea investigation stalls

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The soap opera which is NI21 continues. Last night the BBC reported confusion over the investigation by Carecall into the allegations against Basil McCrea. There was also the suggestion that the party had decided no further action was required. Today the Belfast Telegraph have reported that the investigation has been stopped part way through. This appears to be because Carecall require permission from the party chairperson Jane Howson for it to continue. Ms. Howson has withheld this permission.

John McCallister told the Belfast Telegraph:

“I would welcome the process to continue, but it is not within my power to do that.
“The only one who holds that power is Jane Howson, who was appointed chair by Basil McCrea.
“Apparently, Carecall received legal advice to call the investigation off because they needed the permission from Jane.
“Jane withheld this permission, and so the report cannot go ahead.
“I have laid down my political career to do the right thing.
“This is too important not to see through to a conclusion.

The BBC have also suggested that the row may now be referred to the Stormont Assembly Standards Committee.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this both the investigation and NI21 have become a farce. If it were fiction people would regard it as fanciful and unbelievable.

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  • cynic2

    Utter shambles worthy of an episode of The Thick of It

    Who would be stupid enough to vote for this lot. They behave like the Alliance Party on LSD

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Public self harm and moral bankruptcy. Membership should resign en masse and build something else in a ‘No Basils’ setting. Seems to be a space for them electorally – might even have pulled in 20,000 votes recently- if they had more on the ground presence and no Basilgate to contend with. As it is some of those 11000 votes (like mine) were sympathy votes for a shafted bunch of well meaning candidates. Sympathy evaporated now. You couldn’t detoxify the NI21 brand with a stomach pump and full blood transfusion…and in large measure it was just that…a protest ‘brand’. Start again from the ground up.

  • ForkHandles

    I think that this shows that its best to start a new party without the people associated with the usual NI nonsense from the current parties. There are many people that want a new start without the sectarian and tribal nonsense that we have had to listen to. There are many new people now associated with NI21, I would love if they kicked out the 2 knob ends that we have heard about and continued on their own. What have we heard about these 2? Just ego power struggle shite. Some people on slugger talk about experience being required. But this is nonsense, the experienced politicians are all a bunch of idiots. They have no useful skills or point of view to contribute. Time for new people to make politics in their own image. I would love if Tina McKensie came back and took charge. Many off us, like her, have left NI and had successful careers in many other cultures and countries. We know what is sensible and what is backwardness. I really hope she would come back.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Some people on slugger talk about experience being required. But this is nonsense, the experienced politicians are all a bunch of idiots. They have no useful skills or point of view to contribute.”

    @Forkhandles,

    I remember back in 2001 when the leader of the Ulster Democratic Party, someone who was inexperienced and entered politics due to the murder of his father, forgot to register his party in time for the local elections. All the party’s candidates were forced to run as independents. Shortly afterwards the UDA wrapped up the party and transformed it into a more controllable think tank. Politics is like any other industry–there is a learning curve involved: legal requirements, electoral strategy, media skills, policy expertise, etc. That is why there are politics courses at university. Politics is a profession both for the candidates and for their hired help: pollsters, media coaches, ad producers, etc.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “I think that this shows that its best to start a new party without the people associated with the usual NI nonsense from the current parties. There are many people that want a new start without the sectarian and tribal nonsense that we have had to listen to.”

    This is what’s needed. Certainly “the experienced politicians are all a bunch of idiots” and I’m starting to doubt that even the Saachi brothers could slick them up enough to pass as real human beings. But, ForkHandles, another central problem needs addressing:

    “Politics is a profession both for the candidates and for their hired help.” Not so much a “profession” as a “job”, with all the expectations of making a tidy pile of money and having another “real” life. As long as political life is thought off in this way, tmitch57, as something centred on the politicians self and his needs, rather than as a self-effacing profession of service to an entire community, no matter what we do we will simply clone the current political culture. Basil’s current brass necking the old “no case to answer” response to the alligations is just an other instance of the utter contempt these people hold their electorate in. “Give me your votes and f*@k off back to your slums for another five years.”

    And have you met any of the graduates of the School of Politics at QUB? While I have nothing but praise for Shane O’Neill (no close relation…) and his excellent team, especially for the work of Margaret O’Callaghan, I cannot but tear my hair out at some of the slick careerists I’ve met from the school’s recent output……. a little real committment to something heartfelt would help.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I get carried away sometimes with the simplifications we all use to avoid running to 2000 word postings. Thank goodness I’ve said “some of the slick careerists I’ve met from the school’s recent output” as I have only met and talked with a few of them! I was attempting to make a point about the culture of political careerism, something probably every University over the globe is implicated in, and was not intending to suggest that QUB or its excellent (I repeat) School of Politics were uniquely producing these careerists.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if we could simply deploy some of the school’s staff directly into the political arena. Person for person they are considerably more intelligent and emotionally committed to ideas than all but a few of our current flock of representatives. Usually with a much better dress sense, too.

    I can but dream……

  • RegisterForThisSite

    NI21’s only elected councillor Johnny McCarthy has finally surfaced, he would like to find a home for a stray dog

    https://www.facebook.com/JohnnyMcCarthyNumber1

    if he wants to have a political career he really needs to get a bit more clued up, but then again I wonder if anyone in the party has actually spoken to him since the election.

    I never thought the party would go anywhere, but the inertia is amazing, all the waffle was just ‘Go Faster’ stripes on a parked car.

    I imagine the party will last just long enough to get Basil in the clear, and I imagine Tina is sniffing around Alliance by now, though I would hope Alliance has higher standards than that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    ForkHandles

    Some people on slugger talk about experience being required. But this is nonsense, the experienced politicians are all a bunch of idiots. They have no useful skills or point of view to contribute.

    They do have skills which are useful for politicians to have, such as handling the media and knowing what is involved in winning elections. You may regard them as idiots but doing elections is not as easy as you think, especially if you are campaigning for a party which cannot fall back on the old tribal politics of fear.

    RegisterForThisSite

    I imagine the party will last just long enough to get Basil in the clear,

    The party is nothing other than a vehicle to allow Basil to get re-elected as an MLA on his own terms,

    and I imagine Tina is sniffing around Alliance by now, though I would hope Alliance has higher standards than that.

    Tina has on several occasions dismissed Alliance out of hand in political terms, so it would surprise me if she joined. Of course a party should never turn away a prospective member, but I doubt Tina would feel it possible to swallow her own words.

  • Turgon

    CS,
    I largely agree with the above but John McCallister has also tried to use this as a vehicle to ensure his own political position. His star was on the wane from when he supported Basil for UUP leader. He was never likely to win the leadership against Mike Nesbitt but was given the deputy leadership in what looked like a uniting gesture by Nesbitt (and was more than McCallister’s support level really justified).

    His subsequent behaviour and indeed his actions over this scandal are always seen as honourable (and may to a significant extent be honourable) but he does seem to be either extremely naive (to the extent that he is almost unelectable) or else working to his own agenda almost as much as Basil.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I see where you are coming from but I’m not completely sure. McCallister’s best possible chance of retaining his seat would have been to remain in the UUP where he could appeal in a traditional fashion to rural unionism in South Down. By jumping to NI21 he was taking a risk.

    John is in a very difficult position now. I can’t see how he can return to the UUP having excoriated it and its current leader. NI21 is damaged beyond repair and I’m sure he was right to be concerned that many of his voters won’t live with voting for a party who are not committed to the union.

  • Red Lion

    Nobody bar an NI21 inner circle has a stark raving clue what is going on with this investigation and/or the Basil-John dynmics; it is all accusation and counter accusation.

    One thing, if I find that the NI21 has in any way blocked an investigation into serious misconduct especially that of harassment, then that is disgraceful, they would then be a party beyond contempt. Especially if a ‘new executive’ were found to be stonewallers planted by the accused.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Some people really don’t get two obvious points:
    – people vote for those they know, not random upstarts; and
    – electoral politics is a skill which you have to learn (and be capable of learning).

    Tina, for example, was the former and had no idea about the latter. It is quite obvious she will stay away from politics now, and rightly so.

    Red Lion

    Good stuff. A highly honourable stance.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh yes, some of us do get these points, IJP. It’s just that although they are fact, they also describe the inherent structural problem of current representative politics. People vote for people they know of as politicians, not for people they really “know.” All-important aspects of these people’s characters and their agendas will affect the voters quite directly, but are carefully masked from the voters through the media projection of carefully developed personas crafted to attract votes.

    Original democracy, as practiced in Classical Athens, chose their officers of state by lot to avoid those very temptations that anyone considering that they are mandated by an electorate to act will be open to. Also, in order to avoid the possibility of “barter” that elected tenure virtually encourages between representative and lobbyist for interest groups. Our own system of representation is simply one possible version of popular government, as a careful perusal of Kropotkin for example will revel. The homogenising nature of modern politics, something inherent in the toxic mix of the representative system and modern communications, is all too painfully analysed across a range of writers such as Marcuse and Ernest Gellner.

    And even taking as a premise that “electoral politics is a skill which you have to learn (and be capable of learning)”, all too many of our current representatives in all the local parties are inept amateurs who use what skills they have gleaned to quietly further personal bigotries while posing as pragmatic modern politicians to their middle class electorate and the outside world. While I give the Alliance party high marks for trying, all too many people will continue to ignore them and chose to vote for representatives who mirror their own worst natures.

    Beppe Grillo is questioning virtually every aspect of Italian public life currently in his political practice and, for those of us outside of Italy, in on his blogg. Something just as truly radical is needed if we are to break out of a political culture habituated to vote for an ongoing system riddled with cynical practice and inefficiency, managed by the people we already know, who currently pose as professional politicians. More “upstarts” with some real vision for the entire community, please!

  • SeaanUiNeill
  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Again, you can ignore reality all you like, but:
    – NI isn’t Italy;
    – Italy uses a party list system, NI uses a personal vote; and
    – Grillo has actually achieved nothing aside from becoming Nigel Farage’s new best mate.

    Again, get this: people vote for those they know, ideally with a track record of (perceived) delivery. They don’t, and didn’t, vote for random upstarts who have no track record in their community.

    Of course, the real issue with NI21 here is that if there is no case to answer, why are they so determined to avoid an investigation?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you! That’s the whole point IJP! “Again, get this: people vote for those they know, ideally with a track record of (perceived) delivery. ”

    And the track records of those they vote for deliver what we have here at the moment. Trying to say anything else is simply ignoring the rather ugly realty of local politics.

    Having been in Italy a few times I’ve noticed that possibly the only strong resemblence between Italy and NI is the similar level of shambolic political practice. The main point I’m making is that representitive politics are simply a habit we are stuck in at the moment, not any “final solution” to the problem of governance.

    And regarding the rather cheap Farage dig, are you really, really saying that Grillo’s critiques of political practice within our plutocratic, bankster controlled “democracies” are entirely unfounded? Or that some of his positive suggestions for reform do not apply to a possible righting of the sclerotic practices current in our own system?

    On one of these points, extending democracy to actual people, tiny Switzerland is able to enpower its population with plebicite voting on significant issues. This cuts out the arrogant pomposity of the “mandate” arguement altogether. Our own habit of adviserial politics is hardly some irreprochable absolute, but grew out of the bitter Whig/Tory conflicts in the late seventeenth century, and although it has sometimes “delivered” in the past, NI is not Westminister! The advererial model is clearly recognised as potentially a very toxic model for our particular case, requiring modifications such as power sharing. But the habit of oppositional behaviour is so ingrained that we’ve ended up with simple stalemate, which from my reading of the recent elections, is what people are going to continue getting by voting for those they know, who can offer a track record of delivering stalemate until doomsday under our current system.

    There are many other ways of approaching the art of being ruled that simply modifying slightly a grossly oligarcical system of minority government by a miniscule group of well known professionals. Taking your arguement to its logical conclusion, we could simply decide that these professionals could be appointed by way of exams from among the graduates of politics courses and cut out the costly and time-consuming business of elections all together. Samples of opinion could then be taken across the community by other professionals in order to assess the popular mood.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    ,” tiny Switzerland is able to enpower its population with plebicite voting on significant issues.”

    @Sean,

    American states have allowed voters to vote on referendum questions for decades. In California it is a much used and abused art form whereby the legislators avoid the onus of taking tough decisions and then the two main parties and special interest groups run 30-second ads where Hollywood actors read a script attacking a particular position telling ill-informed voters to vote yes or no for Proposition # such and such. The quality of the democracy ultimately depends on the quality of the level of electoral involvement by the voters.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with you tmitch57. Referendums are stupid. Governments which aren’t empowered to make decisions fail, and California’s state government is a case in point.

    It’s on this point that I start sounding like a republican, because the problem here is not the system, it’s the electorate which is in turn a function of the way the state is constructed. Were Northern Ireland an independent country, or a major part of Ireland, it would not be possible for elected politicians to abdicate governing in the way that they do here. Under the current arrangements the implied understanding is that the British will bankroll everything, and if/when it all collapses, will step in to clean it all up.

    The country will improve only when politicians come to understand that misgoverning the country will result in their defeat at the polls.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Interestingly Switzerland lacks an Opposition yet is a fully functioning democracy.

    Another nail in the simplistic NI21 analysis of our problems, I fear.

    Of course, the real issue is exactly as Comrade Stalin.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Back to the subject at hand, NI21 have released a statement, reported by Vixens with Convictions, which says that the Carecall matter was all to do with John acting on his own bat and that the NI21 executive have no say on the matter, and that there will be no further action due to the fact that no NI21 employees have raised a complaint through the party’s grievance procedure.

    Over on twitter certain NI21 activists, who are apparently in some cases not blessed with enormous amounts of wit, already appear to be clinking champagne glasses, as if NI21 is now off the hook and John McC has been defeated, but this seems a bit premature to me.

    The reason why you bring in an organization like Carecall is because you want to involve an independent arbiter to get to the truth in the event that your staff are afraid to use your internal procedures (which are inherently not independent). This is necessary to head off problems before legal action occurs. So it’s not really a simple matter of saying that the allegations cannot be considered serious if they have not been reported formally. NI21 still has a problem as there’s absolutely nothing to stop people going to the press, and one of those alleging harassment has already threatened to go to the Assembly standards and privileges committee.

    Booting John McCallister out of the party, which is the obvious next move, may be straightforward but it won’t save the party.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, Comrade, back to the real issue, as I’d hoped might happen when I put up the Vixens link yesterday morning a few hours after it came online!

    But it is interesting that the chaos of ego clash within NI21 highlights just how very impossible it is to get anything approaching a realistic political party pff the ground here, with the political culture IJP seems to wish to perpetuate. Naive as NI21 may be, we must remember it’s the “experienced” politicians who are ripping the party apart, rather than the footsoldiers. And yes, Basil has miscalculated that the sort of brass-necking that the leaders of bigger parties can fall back on here may not be available to those small to medium sized fish swimming in puddles. But with the Assembly standards and priviledges committee now having taken five years over considering the charges from teh period of Irisgate against our first minister, Basil may be drawing a pention before the serious issues Ashleigh Murray has raised come to consideration.

    And tmitch57, and Comrade, if referendums are as stupid as all that, does this not reflect on the whole concept of democracy as an empowered people?

    Comrade, “The country will improve only when politicians come to understand that misgoverning the country will result in their defeat at the polls.”

    Yes, our political classes are irresponsible chancers, but I don’t see politicians elsewhere doing a great deal better, which is why disillusion with the modern system of professional career politicians is spreading a miasma of political disengagement all over the globe and not just here.

    And, tmitch57 “The quality of the democracy ultimately depends on the quality of the level of electoral involvement by the voters.”

    The representitive system we have already tells the voters that smarter, more able professionals, such as IJP has been recommending, can do the job of running aspects of your life better than you can yourself. Its what centralised power, be it king, Commons, or local councils (or even the officious civil servant at the door), has always been about at root. The only way to engage a people is to create institutions that actually enpower them, and this is why I’ve mentione d Five Star, which has posed a number of issues that we ignore at our peril if we wish to avoid the slide to final stop economic governance through banking and finance (which is exactly why the issue of professionalism comes up when properly analysed). If you do not believe the real people can handle power, then the entire electoral machine of modern democracy is simply a sham for gulling people into enpowering professsionals, an expensive and dishonest misdirection from the real centres of power.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh Comrade, just remembered about “The country will improve only when politicians come to understand that misgoverning the country will result in their defeat at the polls.”

    This has something of a ring of perhaps implying that we repeal the 1832 Reform act and limit the franchise, should we want to get out of the rut.

    And IJP, I’d chosen Switzerland quite purposefully, because, as you point out, their non-oppositional system of coalition is a model of how our own system should actually work. Their referendum system is not simply a cop out of responsibility for unpopular actions, but is geered to sensitivly limit the free hand of their representitives, by primarily challenging laws if sufficent popular opposition can be assembled. While this is still not really meaningful democracy, with proper safeguards such as officer election by lot, at least it would put a realistic limit on the mandate claims of our own representitive oligarchy.

  • http://eastbelfastdiary.blogspot.com/ Jenny

    The real problem, as I see it, is twofold. First, setting up and maintaining a political party is a lot harder than it looks on Borgen. It’s particularly difficult – I would say almost impossible – without paid staff or at least a reliable cohort of volunteers (the reliability being more important than the number). There’s a lot of admin. Second, the sort of people who get involved in politics *may* have a genuine desire to make the world a better place, but they also tend to have, how can I put it, large egos. So managing a political party is not only about delivering a clear message to the voters and organising how to scoop up the votes – it’s also, crucially, about dealing with the paperwork and dealing with people who think a lot of themselves.

    I am not at all surprised that NI21 has come unstuck. It takes years to set up the kind of structures and working relationships that are needed to be an effective political party. NI21 were just in too much of a hurry to make a big impact.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Comrade

    Indeed.

    In fact it is highly alarming that a group of people claiming to be interested in gender issues,equality and such like would not understand that allegations such as these require an independent arbiter.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “The representitive system we have already tells the voters that smarter, more able professionals, such as IJP has been recommending, can do the job of running aspects of your life better than you can yourself.”

    @Sean,

    Yes, that’s true and most people accept that. The purpose of elections is to serve as a corrective and allow ordinary citizens a veto over the decisions, or at least over the tenure, of their representatves. Your objection is much more valid in regard to the European Union in which unelected bureaucrats make those decisions and there is no veto. Remember that in ancient Athens one third of the inhabitants were slaves and hence non-voters with no say. The American Founders examined some of the practical problems of reproducing the polis democracy in a large territory, and concluded that it was impossible. The arguments can be found in The Federalist Papers.

    “I agree with you tmitch57. Referendums are stupid. Governments which aren’t empowered to make decisions fail, and California’s state government is a case in point.”

    CS,
    Referendums are not stupid–running government by referendum is stupid. Referendums should be reserved for important decisions that are well known to most citizens and which they have opinions on such as in the GFA the provision for deciding the constitutional future of Northern Ireland.

  • http://www.facebook.com/northdownvoice NorthDownVoice

    I wonder how ethically strong it is

    for the call to be made

    by a nominee of the person under investigation?.

    If it was a position elected by the whole party,

    If it was a full executive rather than an interim one,

    It might appear more independent.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks, tmitch57, and of course you are perfectly right. Everyone takes the current representative system completely for granted, as the norm of sane government. The only alternatives on offer seem to be either clones of China or sleezy military dictatorships, so Churchill’s “bad system but others worse” is the mantra. But I cannot believe, looking around me that in any of our modern democracies we are actually being governed by truly “smarter, more able professionals.” Simply by people who are very good at projecting themselves as such, or in the case of Northern Ireland even this constraint against overt bigotry and ignorance is optional for our political classes.

    But then as Son of Strongbow posted some time back: “I confess Seaan that you are my guilty pleasure here on Slugger. The arrogant condescension and overweening self regard that is weaved throughout your posts make entrancing reading.” So I guess I would be expected to think myself better than Peter and Marty, and the entire concept of modern representative government. But I cannot help thinking the the critiques of the Five Star manifesto are still worth thinking about, rather than attempting to fossilise an eighteenth century solution that must increasingly become historically situated in a world of much more immediate communication that the horse or stage coach postal system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/northdownvoice NorthDownVoice

    25th June

    Anyone know for sure whats Happening?

    Apart from the wonderful piece of prose by @AlexKane221b

    ” #FreshPolitics My Arse ”

    aka” Short life, and quick death, of NI21″

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/short-life-and-quick-death-of-ni21-1-6137073