Monday, 6 August 2012

Time and Money Well Spent?

The widespread perceptions of inappropriate self-indulgence that are attaching to Sir Philip Bailhache's “fact-finding” foreign visits have deflected attention from a more fundamental reason why these trips are a poor use of public money.

For all that Sir Philip claims to be receiving very useful briefings, his status as a visiting official must inevitably skew the picture that is presented to him to the point of uselessness as a practical guide for ourselves. It is an ancient and worldwide tradition to show only the best and most glorious when hosting high-status guests, and hide not only the rubbish, but even the mundane nitty-gritty.

Let us imagine that the Dependencies Sir Philip are “researching” decide to send reciprocal visitors to examine how our own parliamentary system is working, in due course: Who would see them and what would they tell them? No doubt there would be a dinner with the Council of Ministers and another with the Jurats, and maybe even visits to a few carefully chosen Constables, but it would be a safe bet that nobody with any track record for favouring reform would be allowed anywhere near them.

That being so, why does anybody expect VIP visits to be anything but a poor gauge of an island's political health, compared with a few hours judicious internet browsing?