Do you remember the Triennial Review? On this blog I urged interested parties to contribute to the debate and I have no doubt plenty did. It was announced in September (and you can still see it here) that “The Review Team will report to the Government on their findings before the end of the year.”
They meant last year of course, and it hasn’t happened. Why? Well, the British Council head man, Sir Martin “hey, call me Marty” Davidson, has offered the following explanation to his understandably concerned British Council colleagues.
“We’ve received an initial draft from the Foreign Office, it’s a very, very long document and our Board hasn’t even had a chance to discuss it yet. I don’t think I can promise that there is going to be a great announcement about it in the immediate future, largely because this first draft needs a lot of work doing to it before we can even discuss it properly. We’re having a lot of conversations with the FCO and there is still a lot of water to flow under the bridge. I know it’s frustrating for people but I have to ask colleagues to be patient and recognise that just because a draft has been completed it doesn’t mean it’s right for wider circulation, not just within the British Council but anywhere else either.”
There are of course some dopes in the organisation, including presumably the supine “trustees”, who will find such an explanation credible, but for most it is the standard insult to intelligence. The organisation is delaying distribution of the report because it doesn’t like it. He says “it is very, very long”. I bet it uses lots of long words too. He says the board “hasn’t even had a chance to discuss it yet”. Pull the other one, Marty boy. You also say “we’re having a lot of conversations with the FCO, and there is still a lot of water to flow under the bridge”. So, it’s very long (well, actually very, very long), and despite the fact that they haven’t discussed it yet, they are having lots of conversations with the FCO. And the board are playing pooh-sticks in order to pass the time (and get the review changed).
So, what is the problem exactly? Marty says there are “challenges”.
“Those challenges are around transparency, fair trade, accountability and alignment with government policy, which are all issues that we know and recognise and have been part of our conversations internally for a number of years. There are no surprises and we just need to carry on thinking through how we respond to those challenges as an organisation.”
After the board has met to discuss the review presumably. There’s a sort of poetry here which dear Marty doesn’t get. If you stand accused of lack of transparency, unfair trade and lack of accountability, and these accusations – voiced pretty much universally elsewhere which is why there are “no surprises” - are articulated in an authoritative report, the natural response is to obfuscate, prevaricate and procrastinate. QED, Marty lad, QED.