Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-07-08 - 7:50 a.m.

The time was well spent at Bae HQ – a very informative programme of speakers and a good list of attendees. I was able to test my working knowledge of knowledge management too. Irish huh? The way US universities do this stuff is really interesting

Tony’s commission on the 1948 CD has hotted up – I went into the ICA nearby on the way back to the station to see if I could I get David Toop’s new book – they had sold out – so I picked up Modern Painters. They had an exhibition of works selected as influentional.4 mins 33 secs was sitting on a Piano. There was Judd box too. The catalogue has more works mentioned than are on show. Someone has chosen photos from the Judson Dance Theatre performances of 1965-67. I found these very moving on many levels – not least because they gesture at the emptiness of the Judd box – the elusive content that can never be replaced. Someone else chose Spiral Jetty with a quote from the originator:

“No ideas no concepts no systems no structures no abstractions could hold themselves together in the actuality of the evidence.”

Reluctantly dragging myself away, I went to the big bookshop on Trafalgar Square, glancing across at St Martins thinking how amazingly lucky we are to have that as a venue for Lullabies. Still couldn’t get Toop but I came across a new Derek Bailey bio – very lavish and comprehensive. Mick Beck crops up on page 23 and once I discovered that I just knew I had to fork out. Also ample refs to F Frith and many more.

The journey back by train to Gfd and then by car to Leamington was difficult and I arrived back about midnight – but the seminar had been worth the effort.

I gave James the copy of the New York Review of Books – mainly for the article on Bush and the legality of torture. He is well into the Woodward book.

The Butler review on intelligence looks as if it might be something. When he was Sir Robin he chaired a committee that did the strategy on the business unit that I was FD off and so I saw him close up, so to speak. He is old school but there are times when that is a good thing. My next job took me into some of this rights and wrongs area and so I have a reasonable idea of where he stands on a few issues – particularly the issue of faith and confidence of the processes. He believes that the relationship between Ministers and officials has to be protected so that the best advice can be given. This often looks very reactionary because it means he against certain decision making processes being discussed eg in people’s memoirs. This often looks as if it is just another example of bureaucracy avoiding accountability.

However – RB – is old school in the sense that he always sees the balance of privelige responsibility and function. He is reporting on a situation where obviously things stopped working properly – crudely where the system got itself into disrepute and I think he will be pretty ruthless in exposing how this happened – especially as people seem to have failed to offer balanced objective advice – which in his view is their duty.

I always thought Butler was missed over the Ecclestone affair – and that his successor must have been too soft. In UK public law someone is corrupt if they behave in a way which a reasonable person may construct as corrupt. “You can trust me I’m Tony” is not actually a defence – it’s a manifestation of an ignorance of constitutional principles which in a lawyer is pretty frightening if they are in a position of power.

Cabinet Secretaries are there to stop ministers including prime ministers looking so stupid and bringing themselves and the system into disrepute. Actually bringing the system into disrepute is in the disciplinary regime – if you do it badly enough you can be reasonably dismissed etc – provided there has been due process and investigation etc. I have had to do some of those investigations – in other words if process hadn’t been done well enough it would have been me defending the decision at the Tribunal.

The new Labour Government wanted to publish one of the early reports that I was concerned with – about a very poor decision involving a software company and some public money in the South West. In fact the Minister who was all in favour was Barbara Roche, another lawyer, now languishing on the back benches. Again I thought they just hadn’t got a clue about what was really at stake in terms of protecting the integrity of the system. The public may not understand the constitutional principles but they have rumbled the general drift.

There s a lot I could say on very early L Nyro tunes but that will have to wait.

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