Events in Somerton, or, more specifically, the activities of ex-Cllr Canvin (whilst he was Vice Chair of Somerton Town Council) have caused me to consider what sort of world I would like. It a question or right and wrong and the line between the two. What is right and what is wrong in this crazy mixed up world of ours?
Was it right for a Councillor, in this case ex-Councillor Canvin, to decide to sell-off public assets. Was it right for a Councillor, in this case ex-Councillor Canvin, to phone up three of his mates and ask them to bid on a public asset in what was, in effect, an auction that he organised? Was it right that ex-Councillor Canvin would bring a building to the Council, a building in which he had a legal interest, a building not offered on the open public market and arrange the exchange of that building for the land that he had already offered to his mates?
Now, in my world, this is quite wrong. In my world, the conflicts of interest, the lack of transparency, the lack of public consultation, all of that makes these deals dubious. But are they corrupt? That is the real question and its a question that will be defined by concepts of morality.
And the question then becomes, "what does your moral compass look like?". My experience has led me to believe that a Yes/No compass like this oneserves me best becauseI know where the line is. It can be a bit blurred but it gives me a good sense of how far I can go.
There are three other types of moral compass, two belong to the world of extremism where either right predominatesor wrong predominates
and the third is the one which I suspect runs our world and the world of politics. That is the compass of 'Maybe' which is predominated by grey. Everything can be considered, argued or rationalised and little is ruled out or in. There is lots of room in the compass of 'maybe' for weasel words and excuses. And I suspect that ex-Councillor Canvin works off the 'Yes' compass and his fall-back position is the compass of 'maybe'.
So when I went to that Community Hall Streeting Group Meeting all those years ago, my moral compass told me that there was something far far wrong with what was going on. My moral compass told me that the conflicts of interest, the lack of competitive tendering, the lack of transparency meant that
But I wonder what the same situation looked like from ex-Councillor Canvin's viewpoint. I suspect that it looked very much like a very big trough into which he could stick his snout, and he did. And I suspect that he wonders today exactly what all the fuss is about. Afterall, he's followed his own compass and it told him that everything was OK. And I'm sure that he has many friends at District and at County who wou;d have done exactly the same and who are probably doing exactly the same today.