Why the Nolan principles matter

The Palace of Westminster

Sally-Ann Hart has written about the abuse and vitriol that MPs face on a regular basis. I don’t doubt that this is unpleasant and upsetting, however I would urge her to think about why this is happening.

Boris Johnson and his entourage are not leading by example, preferring the bully boy tactics used successfully by Trump. They have been rapidly eroding the Nolan principles, which outline the ethical standards those working in the public sector are expected to adhere to. The seven principles are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership – not words I would easily associate with our prime minister. For instance, on selflessness, successive Conservative governments have refused to countenance closing down tax loopholes that allow shell companies to be formed to hide assets for their very rich friends, costing the UK public at least £90bn in lost revenue every year.

For me though, the most striking aspect of this government is the lack of kindness and compassion. Slashing Universal Credit at a time when energy and food costs are soaring is so cruel, as is cutting foreign aid at a time when major recipient countries are struggling more than ever.

Our government is abusing individuals on a regular basis all the time. Just this summer, children as young as 12 were being held in solitary confinement in sweltering conditions for 23 hours a day in a secure training centre in Milton Keynes.

Peaceful protesters calling for social housing to be insulated are risking being incarcerated for long spells. Asylum seekers who are effectively under house arrest in hotels are dying in large numbers, all hushed up by the Home Office. Should this be happening in 21st century Britain? Of course not.

And on the issue of abuse on social media, it is worth remembering that Sally-Ann Hart was twice investigated by her own party for alleged islamophobia and antisemitism. As this investigation was behind closed doors, we can only speculate as to how thorough it was – so much for openness. She was apparently sent on a social media training course, which may or may not be a euphemism. Boris Johnson’s claim that any of his candidates found to be discriminating against people would be “out first bounce” doesn’t sound very honest to me, I must say.

So if I am going to have any sympathy for anyone receiving verbal abuse or threats, I would start with the teachers, the nurses, the shop workers, council staff and social carers.

For those in power, whether they are conservative MPs, or media and business tycoons, I would say: stick the principles next to your bathroom mirror and read them every day. Who knows, if you live by them, maybe they will rub off on others.

Image Credits: Steve Bidmead / Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/westminster-palace-of-westminster-347971/.


  1. I am astonished that Rye News should allow such a blatantly party political piece without declaring that the writer is a member of the Green Party and their candidate in Rye for the next election. Typical of would-be politicians, he has indulged in a fair amount of mud slinging without being prepared to back up his statements.

    He refers to £90 of revenue being lost due to tax loopholes. This figure may or may not be correct, but where did it come from? The writer’s imagination or a respected source? Why does he not say instead of producing a figure out of the air?

    He states that children ‘as young as twelve’ are being are being held in solitary confinement ‘in sweltering conditions’ this summer. Leaving aside the fact that there have been few ‘sweltering’ days this summer, how many 12 year-olds were being held in this way? He doesn’t say, although the implication, almost certainly incorrect, is that many were of this age rather than much older teenagers. Nor does he say why they were in a secure training centre in the first place or why it had been necessary to put them in solitary confinement nor for how long. The suspicion must be that these ‘facts’ are probably exaggerated to give an impression quite different from actuality.

    He then talks about ‘peaceful protesters’ facing possible long incarceration. Not only are these so-called protesters anything but peaceful in the way that they have disrupted the lives of many going about their normal daily business, but they have already caused one death that could possibly have been avoided, held up ambulances and other emergency vehicles and seem to think this is a clever thing to do. So far none, to my knowledge has faced ‘incarceration’ and hardly any have even been charged.

    He incorrectly refers to the hoards of migrants crossing the channel by various means as ‘asylum seekers’. This is nonsense. They are illegal immigrants with no automatic right to enter the country. Certainly some, a minority, are genuine refugees who deserve to be granted asylum here but even they are jumping the queue of those who are applying through legal means. He goes on to state that they are dying in large numbers confined to hotels. First, this is untrue, second these hotels are often 4 star and at least one country house hotel, so hardly the concentration camp scenario that is being implied.

    Finally the outrageous slur on our MP – whether one is a supporter or not – without any hard facts to back it up but implying that an old accusation, that may or may not have had any truth behind it (probably not) was in fact true and had been covered up must come close to being actionable.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I should say that I am not a member of any political party and no great supporter of this government, but neither do I agree with the far left woke view that everyone else is wrong and only they are right and others’ views are of no account. It would certainly appear that Mr Manning is of this latter category.

    • I will not reply to every aspect of Mr Harris’ comment, as that will take too long. Yes, I am a member of the Green Party, but I’m writing in my own capacity. I am quite capable of thinking for myself and can heartily recommend it to anyone who has not yet tried it. As with every article or comment I make on Rye News, I can substantiate what I say and do carry out research beforehand. The editors at Rye News quite rightly request that any statements made are correct and verifiable, but understandably do not require every article to come with foot notes to that effect. They also recognise that I am stating my opinion.
      On the matter of the secure training centre in Milton Keynes, the original report is published by Ofsted, https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50170360 . I find it really quite disturbing that Mr Harris thinks there is somehow a sliding scale whereby at a certain point, this type of incarceration becomes acceptable. Would it be ok if a 13 year old boy were locked in solitary confinement for 22 hours in uncomfortably warm conditions, having committed a slightly more serious misdemeanour? In my opinion, state violence (for this is what it is) against children is never acceptable. I would like to think this might be the prevailing opinion in society, not just one that is ‘far left woke’.
      To be clear, I totally condemn the violence against Mr Amess. The purpose of my article is to broaden out the discussion, to call out violence and injustice against others, in particular those who are marginalised by society and the state and to remind those in public office of the ethical standards they need to set.
      As for my comments about our MP, this information comes from a letter written by the Conservative Party to one of her constituents, so I suggest Mr Harris takes this matter up with them directly. Or he can choose to read her Wikipedia page.

  2. The Owen Paterson affair raises a number of issues which should concern us in this constituency. I took the time and trouble read the Standards Commission report – all 104 pages! As a lawyer I was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt ( a higher standard than the Commission required) that the charges had been made out. I also noted that our MP took the Whip and supported the amendment. An MP is a representative not a delegate. This means they will use their experience and judgement.However they have a duty to listen to the views of their constituents. If the government were to put forward legislation which would adversely affect our constituency say Agricultural,Fishing or Tourism, of course this would carry a three line whip it being a government bill, which way our MP would vote.


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