Saturday, October 22, 2011

What has Djanogly actually done wrong?

Our MP, Jonathan Djanogly, seems to be a bit of a lightning rod. Controversy over his expenses and the questions he didn't answer. Controversy over spying on fellow Conservative members also did him harm. In this latest controversy I don't see what Djanogly has done wrong.

His declared shareholdings, woodland and his membership of the Djanogly partnership at Lloyds have been put into a blind trust. This change should have been declared earlier but these interests have already been declared so this is rather a red herring.

What seems to be the trouble is over his brother-in-law who owns several companies which technically Djanogly had oversight. Nothing untoward has been discovered in the sense that it hasn't been found that Djanogly has taken decisions about these firms. There is also trouble over his teenage children holding shareholdings in a couple of his brother-in-law firms. This is slightly more difficult because Djanogly, being a parent, should have known about these.

But at what point should a shareholding become an actual interest. If what seems to be the argument that he should have declared these shareholdings by his teenage children then I have to disagree unless he is a signature to these shareholdings.

The argument seems to be that Djanogly should not have oversight of companies dealing with legal claims because his brother-in-law owns a couple. Does this mean he shouldn't have oversight? The argument continues that because his brother-in-law businesses that Djanogly should not be making policy over this area. I believe Djanogly should carry on.

The basic problem I have will this so-called scandal is there is nothing inherently wrong. If we are going to go down the road that a relative or friend have businesses or interests this means that a Under Secretary of State or any Government Minister cannot make policy where relatives or friends could be involved.

For example: Djanogly is a solicitor. Therefore Djanogly shouldn't make policy about lawyers because some of his friend are lawyers.

My example is in planning. Just because friends and relatives can make planning applications doesn't mean Councillors cannot decide planning applications. Just when a planning application comes up from a friend or relative these Councillors should declare an interest and withdraw from the decision. This must be the case for Government.

It seems that the detractors want Government Ministers to be "nobby nomates" with no family, friends or interests to take all the decisions in Government. 

If it was found that Djanogly had changed policy or had made decisions or even influenced any change in policy or decisions for the sole benefit of his brother-in-law that would be wrong. No such evidence has been produced. If evidence were produced then this would change the situation.

I'm no fan of Djanogly. I'd rather have him go for something he has done wrong and not for something which has been made up.

The problems for Djanogly goes back to his expenses scandal. The press and interest groups will dig around for something that seems wrong. Whilst the electorate has forgiven Djanogly over his expenses, because he was re-elected, this means he is still a lightning conductor over anything that in some peoples minds is wrong.

No comments: