Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wendy Kinnard – Good Riddance (Part 1)

Clameur de Haro? is rejoicing that one of the more surreptitiously malign influences on Jersey politics in the last few years will soon no longer be a States’ Member.
Having shared some – but not very much – of the initial mystification at Ms Kinnard’s ministerial resignation, in almost indecent haste, on an apparently obscure and arcane technicality of legal procedure, barely days before the date of her own self-imposed departure, and having concurred totally with the widespread assumption that her position was, quite simply, completely untenable after the latest HdlG developments, CdeH? is delighted to witness her political demise.
For concealed behind the carefully cultivated façade, behind the image of caring representative of the vulnerable and champion of the disadvantaged, lies, at best, a serial incompetent in ministerial or quasi-ministerial office, and at worst, suspects CdeH?, an intensely radical cultural left-liberal who covertly espouses some of the worst tenets of politically correct activism.
Over the next blogpost or two, we’ll examine Trendy Wendy’s record in a couple of areas, focussing on her principal official role as Home Affairs Minister. Kinnard was Vice-President of the former Home Affairs Committee from 1999, and President from 2002, before becoming Minister of Home Affairs from December 2005. She’s therefore been continually involved at senior political level for 9 years.
We’ll go on to look at her ministerial performance in political oversight of the Jersey Police, before finally deconstructing the real reasons for her precipitate resignation, but we’ll start with her responsibility for La Moye Prison.
The 2001 UK HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) inspection of La Moye Prison, the first comprehensive such inspection undertaken in many years, was pretty damning (remember, this was on Trendy Wendy’s watch as Vice-President of the old Home Affairs Committee), and its connection or otherwise with the retirement of Keith Wheeler as Governor in December 2001, after a distinguished 23 years’ service, cries out for further study. Was he, wonders CdeH?, made the scapegoat?
In 2003, by which time Kinnard was President of the old HAC, more problems arose over prisoners breaching, apparently with a cavalier degree of insouciance, the terms of temporary release licences, creating such a degree of public disquiet as to cause her to make a Statement in the States on 7th October 2003. During that statement she referred to the 2001 Home Office Inspection, and claimed that no fewer 114 of its 147 recommendations had been implemented.
That however was clearly not the view of HMIP’s June 2005 Inspection, which in its Introduction stated “Few of the recommendations in our previous report in 2001 had been actioned four years later” , and went on to catalogue a litany of failings and deficiencies, many persisting from the inspection report of four years earlier. It transpired that the then Governor, Steven Guy Gibbens, who had in August 2004 replaced Wheeler’s successor, had been expressing concern at overcrowding and a general lack of adequate rehabilitative facilities since his arrival.
Then, in March 2006, a HMIP follow-up report averred that few of the recommendations of even the 2005 Inspection had been implemented. Yet CdeH? seems to remember Kinnard having the brass neck, without so much as a hint of embarrassment, contrition or acceptance of justified criticism, to sit alongside no less a professional than Chief Inspector of Prisons Ann Owers and say, in the best traditions of New Labour inclusive, evasive management-speak, how much she appreciated having these matters brought to her attention, how much she looked forward to working with HMIP in resolving them, and how much she would make HMP La Moye her priority “at the top of the States agenda”.
Er………just what were you supposed to have been doing for the previous 7 years, Ms Kinnard?
How redolent of the arrogance of the professional political operator, determined to cling to office no matter what, a particularly repellent example of the primarily self-serving political elite about which Peter Oborne writes so eloquently in “The Triumph of the Political Class”.
Steven Guy Gibbens resigned as Governor in August 2007, subsequently leaving in December 2007, only 3½ years into a 5 year contact: he mentioned as key to his decision the bureaucracy and resistance he had encountered in his efforts to try to carry out much needed improvements. Kinnard’s reaction however was to appear, firstly, to blame the States for not providing funding for improvements (although she had obviously not regarded such non-provision as a resigning matter), but secondly, to criticise Guy Gibbens and suggest that he “did not understand the Jersey way of doing things”………such as her doing nothing over the course of 8 years and 2 critical HMIP inspection reports, presumably.
That these two positions were and are mutually irreconcilable appears not to have occurred to Kinnard, or many other public officials: few however of CdeH?'s acquaintance missed the inherent contradiction.
Finally, in June 2008, we had the “indefinite detention without charge” foul-up, when Trendy Wendy arbitrarily took it upon herself to amend the previous 36 hours limitation on pre-charge detention, by authorizing the indefinite detention of suspects without charge, thereby not only making herself the envy of Gordon “42 Days” Brown, his sidekick Jacqui “The Lackey” Smith, and every authoritarian dictator ever inconvenienced by so irritating a hindrance as due process and the rule of law, but garnering the island much beneficial (or perhaps not……. ) publicity as a result.
She claimed to be doing so under delegated powers enjoyed by her as Minister under the terms of Jersey’s Police Procedures and Criminal Evidence Law. The only problem being that Kinnard unfortunately ignored that Law’s requirement to publish a draft of any changes and consult with interested parties, before such changes are actually made – she did neither, requiring a humiliating U-turn and climb-down.
It’s almost (but not quite) impossible to recall, in recent local political history, a poorer incumbent in a key ministerial or equivalent post than Kinnard and her track record of woeful under-performance. In the private sector, she would rightly have been discarded years ago – in the unlikely event, that is, that she would ever have been allowed near a position of responsibility in the first place.
Clameur de Haro? sincerely apologises to all readers for the inordinate length of this post – but feels it has been necessary to lay out, in all its awful detail, the repeated ministerial incompetence of one to whom CdeH? would never have entrusted even the running of his proverbial whelk stall.
Good riddance indeed.
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