Public Accountability

Jonathan Smith reacts to reports of the use of self-deleting messaging in Whitehall 


As public servants politicians and civil servants are accountable, not to themselves, their Parties or Associations, or any external vested interests, but to those they serve and those who pay their wages – the tax-payers.

It’s an old-fashioned idea, perhaps, but one which lies at the heart of our political system, and the professionals who keep it going. Compromise it, treat it as a ‘take it or leave it’ menu of responsibilities and duties, and the undermining tentacles of corruption take hold. When you become a paid politician, you accept the deal on offer: do nothing that might lead to your motives being questioned.

So, the reports this week - that suggest that the use of self-destroying messaging between Ministers and with their Civil Servants could be endemic across government - is deeply worrying. What makes them think that they have a right to exempt themselves from proper scrutiny and accountability?

Jonathan Smith

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