Friday, 20 June 2008

I mentioned the war but I think I got away with it

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to consult widely, think deeply, and come up with a constitutional future for Scotland. How's that grab you?"
"Er, OK, but see this consult widely bit - can I just do it but not widely? I'll get back to you on the other bits."
Ken Calman, Commission on repainting devolution, has sent forth his handmaidens into the committee room to decide upon the rules of engagement with this fine upstanding body. With one voice and a few strangled croaks they have decided to eschew all this open and public nonsense and get straight into the shadows. Here's some of the rules they've set:

1. Group members will seek advice informally instead of asking experts (experts in the constitution?) - apparently the members of the group are the experts - paragraph 4
2. Closed doors meetings are fine for discussing Scotland's future - para 6
3. They'll need to write stuff down - para 7
4. But they won't publish it unless Simon says they can - ibid
5. It's fine for one of the group members to hear something down the pub and enter it into evidence - para 8 - but only if they write it down and ask permission to publish it - para 7
6. There could be value in having meetings in different places with invited attendees (really, they said 'could') - para 9
7. They might invite experts (apparently in spite of being experts themselves) - para 10
8. Meetings open to the public will not be appropriate for this Commission - para 11
9. George Parr will chair all meetings - I made that one up
10. They'll select 'representatives' of the wider population to take part in focus groups - para 12 (maybe George Parr is chairing it)
11. They're going to make themselves known - para 14 - coming soon, the merchandising ...
12. An open-ended call for evidence would produce an "unfocused response", so they'll tell you that they'll be asking questions later - para 15
13. There's this website wot the Commission's got, right, so use that for gathering the opinions of the people of Scotland, right? Apparently not, that carries "considerable risks", but they might consider a questionnaire - para 17
14. None of the Commission members is to go 'off-message', and they've not to tell on Simon - para 20
Do I scorn too much? Well, they've considered the questionnaire and gone into a wee dwam, so the Commission now encourages you to write in, preferably in email but they don't intend to go publishing things. There's a policy on handling submissions, and it says:

They'll publish most of the submissions it receives - para 2
But nothing wholly or partially outside the remit - para 3 (don't mention your groceries)
They'll be reformatted and edited - para 4

Tom Lehrer retired in disgust, claiming that satire was dead when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. I think the Committee to Repaint Devolution has proven that reports of satire's death were mildly exaggerated.

Bring on George Parr!