Friday, 13 March 2009

Why Rules Matter

The politico's parrot-cry that irritates me most is, we will learn lessons from this, our latest screw up. Lessons from the past are embodied in the rules of organisations covering their corporate governance e.g. how to convene a meeting and take minutes. The major failing of bank regulation was not that regulations were not in the rules book but that they were laxly applied or waived altogether under political pressure.

Consider the Lloyds takeover of HBOS last autumn. G Brown did not want major redundancies in Scotland during the Glenrothes by-election. A loss there and Gordon was toast. Only two UK banks were in good enough shape to takeover HBOS, an entirely domestic operation, Lloyds and HSBC. HSBC were bigger but had significant shareholders from China and already had sub-prime problems in the US. Lloyds had lost its international claims about 30 years ago in a previous bank disaster. Lloyds was thus a domestic bank that could easily only expand in the UK with a chairman who was ambitious to be the biggest bank on the High Street. Politicians recognise this in less than 5 seconds. The problem for a Lloyds takeover was it would be rejected on competition grounds by the OFT but Gordon could over rule the OFT! So you have an ambitious man and what he wants is in the gift of GB who wants what the ambitious man has to offer. Deal done! Stuff the Lloyds shareholders who ended up £50bn worse off, forget about due diligence rules, hubris wins again but nemesis quickly followed as surely as it did in Ancient Greece and Rome.

Coming now to UKIP they had lots of rules governing MEP candidate selection for the members to vote on viz:

All candidates must have a UK electoral roll number.

All candidates must have a CRB check.

Candidates standing in more than one region must make this clear at the hustings.

Proposers can only propose one candidate.

Candidates must be a British citizen.... or a citizen of another member state who is resident in the UK or Gibraltar during the nomination period.

Candidates must be a member of UKIP

and of course candidates must support UKIP's core policy of withdrawal from the EU

One candidate, Marta Andreasen failed all these criteria yet was put on the London list and the South East list! Another, Tim Worstall, failed the residency and proposer criteria. Both are close associates of Mr Farage.

As Lynda Robson put it,

'Why are some candidates more equal than others?' I am absolutely sure that if when I had applied I had said:

I'm not a UK resident;

I'm not a fully paid-up member of UKIP;

I can't get a CRB check;

My proposer has also proposed someone else;

I'm not on the UK electoral Register; and

I have no intention of mentioning I will be standing in two Regions

I believe I would have been very firmly rejected - and rightly so.

Such chicanery will not play well with Elcom or our other enemies in the media and the community at large.'

UKIP's election rules regulator was Mr Gill. With Farage's approval he waived the rules for Marta Andreasen. This created huge bad feeling and upset a large number of our activists in London and the South East. Hubris from Farage and nemesis will follow as it has for Lloyd’s Victor Blank

The great strength of this country has been the fair and impartial application of rules of procedure. David Abbott expressed this superbly in the email below which was used to kick him off the UKIP NEC!

Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 4:42 PM
Subject: Football, cricket and UKIP

Dear NEC members and other friends,

Several times my website has pointed out that most of the world's popular
games and sports began in Britain because we Brits understood the importance
of rules. You can't have a game without them.

Rules have to be fair, agreed and understood ahead of time, and obeyed. If
the rules are broken, there are penalties. The rules are not to be ignored
or changed in the middle of the game. The umpire or referee has to be

This is the British way, and it has worked for centuries. Without rules that
are understood and willingly obeyed, nobody wins and nobody has a good time.

Lack of success and a distinct lack of a good time now distinguish UKIP.

Where UKIP has rules, they are ignored if it suits the leadership. Often
there are no rules and no rulebook. Minutes are not always kept. Rules are
selectively applied to favour the few and to afflict others. Lack of fair
play is sapping the life of our party.

A recent manifestation was the selection process for the MEP lists. A man
who had once been my hero was going to be the trusted umpire who would
ensure that the rules for the selection process were fairly applied. Instead
there were significant breaches of those rules. Lynnda Robson described
breaches that affected her in some detail, and we have all had
communications about rule-breaking from many other complainants.

This uneven application of the rules is a disgrace. It seems to have been
directed by the leadership.

Until our party leadership adopts again the ethics of its members, which is
to say British habits of keeping to the rules, fair play and honesty, it is
hard to envision any future success for the party.

This situation is tragic because we were looking to the party to lead us out
of the morass of the EU. Instead the leadership seems to have adopted the
EU's reckless attitude toward rules and indifference to ethics, particularly
Judaeo-Christian ethics.

I am sending this to several interested party members. If you are an NEC
member, please vote with your conscience at NEC meetings, and do not succumb
to the continuing pressure that legitimises rule bending. If you are not a
member of the NEC, but have friends who are, please encourage them to do the
right thing.

Yours sincerely,


David F Abbott MRCP

And now we have procedural rules being ignored on the SWCC by the RO Mr Wood and the Chairman Mr Mager not giving sufficient notice of a meeting, more than 21 days and not sending out the agenda more than 7 days before the meeting. I have written to both pointing out that as these last two meetings on 14th Feb and 14th March were improperly convened they cannot transact any SWCC business. I gather Mr Farage was not pleased with these rules as he attended the first illegal meeting. He was even less pleased when someone pointed out they were his rules approved by his NEC! The reason such rules exist is to stop cliques manipulating committee meetings.

Rules, regulations and procedures protect us from those who wish to thwart the democratic process. Those who waive them generally come a cropper

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