From Partygate fines to sleaze, how should the public trust those in power?

When Helen MacNamaraFormer Deputy Cabinet Secretary responsible for order, governance and ethics in Downing Street, decided to take up the post of Director of Politics and Enterprise in the Premier League in early 2021, her appointment to be examined by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, a public body, advising on the suitability of a senior official taking up a job in the private sector.

Her career traits were supported by the Cabinet Office. Although Mrs MacNamara, as the committee’s report states, would have had “general access to a wide range of privileged information which can be seen as useful to any business she chooses to join” and had “a significant network of contacts across government “, however, her switch to the Premier League was waved.

While there may have been a problem with what is known in politics as the “optics” of a close confidant to the Prime Minister to join an organization that has significant corporate contact with the government, the Cabinet Office had no doubt that Ms. MacNamara would Follow the rules. Saying it had “no reservations” about her appointment, it drew the committee’s attention to “Ms MacNamara’s personal integrity.”

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So what about the optics today, a little more than a year later? How unassailable is Mrs MacNamara’s “personal integrity” when we know that six months before she got the job in the Premier League, she reportedly brought her own karaoke machine to work so she and her colleagues could get a really old knee at. a colleague’s graduation party? Has she considered that she might have broken the lockdown rules?

For a small context, this was at a time when government rules prohibited any indoor gathering, and we were specifically advised not to participate in public singing (not even “I Will Survive”). It was also the night before The Duke of Edinburgh’s Funeralso several hours after the Downing Street scammers took to the streets, and not before they had allegedly had a drunken contempt, Her Majesty was to sit alone, isolated and mourned, as she said goodbye to her husband at 73 years.

Mrs MacNamara has been identified as one of those fined £ 50 as a result of the police investigation into the “raucous” party on 18 June 2020, which broke Covid rules. In a statement released yesterday, she said: “I’m sorry for the judgment I have shown. I have accepted and paid the fixed fine.”

There was no reason for that Premier League would have known of this illegal gathering when she was recruiting Mrs. MacNamara. But it begs to believe that the Cabinet Office also did not know it at the time they praised her “integrity”.

I am not using this case to further bother Mrs MacNamara, but as an example of how the world works. A £ 50 fine and a lavishly paid job in the Premier League are Mrs MacNamara’s sanction for her blatant breach of the rules. Gavin Williamson was a disastrous education secretary and was rewarded with a peerage. Owen Paterson broke all the rules, but the Tories circled the wagons to try to protect him. And so it goes on. No wonder the public has so little confidence in the machinery of elite institutions.

While a brutal war is raging on our continent, it is difficult to comment on such matters. But we reject them at our peril. In a mature democracy, a collapse of public confidence in the instruments of power is no small thing.

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