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Lessons have been learned, I’m sure

Forget Commission. Sage advice was required. Like that of a former colleague of mine who, whenever we found ourselves in difficulty, used to love to remind us of the advice he received from a wily veteran before him: If you are in a hole, put down the shovel, stop digging. Simple, straightforward and sound, Mr Acting Editor. Effective too.

But like most of life’s lessons, it is learned more often than not the hard way, through experience — or inexperience, as the case may be.

It is not my intention to pile on in this column. I will leave that to the many rabid partisans who have been out in full force, whether on the talk shows or on the blogs, advancing (or so they seem to think) the respective positions of their parties and/or the politicians they support, preferring as it so often seems combat over content, replete with the usual number of political potshots, making the requisite number of political points, justifying and/or rationalising based on what was done or not done in the past, not much different I gather from what went on up and down the Hill. Interesting stuff? Maybe. Interested? Not really.

The focus now really needs to be on what can and should be done to ensure something like this does not happen again, no matter who the Government. I believe the people out there are looking for a new model and a better way of doing their business.

Mind you, I am not going to make any excuses either.

Two ex-Premiers, on opposite sides of the fence, made the point better than I. Regardless of intentions, and as we all know the road to you-know-where is paved with the best of intentions, this trip should have never happened. At least not the way it did.

Neither former Premier referenced any Ministerial Code of Conduct. It was just plain common sense to them (my words) that this was not the way the Premier and two of his right-hand men from Cabinet should have gone about our business. At the very least, one might also have expected them to have been accompanied by a neutral, objective observer, to make a record of what was said and done, a role that is usually filled by, yes, you guessed it, a senior civil servant.

Speaking of the Code, it seemed to be quoted extensively by some in dispatches. I searched fruitlessly for one on line. I am absolutely certain that it is a very important document. It should be. But why shouldn’t it be available to and accessible by members of the public? It ought to be. This is how transparency and accountability begins: we should have to hand those standards and benchmarks by which we can hold our leaders accountable.

It is also hard to hold your leaders accountable when meetings are secret. Never a good idea really. Not a good tactic either. I say this not just because this is Bermuda where everything has a way of leaking out eventually (memo 101: never do or say anything that you don’t expect will end up on the front page of

The Royal Gazette, because it will), but because good governance requires it (memo 102: it is better to be up front and out front on matters that will likely end up on the front page of

The Royal Gazette in any event).

Jetgate as in Watergate!? I think not. But we all understand that this is catchy political shorthand that also makes headline writing easier. But what has been most revealing and damaging is the tangled web that has been woven since news of the trip first surfaced. Lessons learned, I am sure. We live in hope that they are the right lessons and that we will come to see a meritorious Government that is a little more meticulous than meretricious when it comes to the principles of good governance.

Ÿ Share your views on

The Royal Gazette website www.royalgazette.com, or e-mail jbarritt@ibl.bm.

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Published June 07, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 06, 2013 at 6:55 pm)

Lessons have been learned, I’m sure

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