Category Archives: Ethical

US Elections – The Coward’s Pivot

hill-and-donThe third US Presidential debate yesterday was fascinating for many reasons, but most of all because it revealed Donald Trump, like all bullies, to be a coward; it also showed he’s capable of rational desperation.

Donald Trump performs better each debate – he’s better briefed, more mannerly, and more rational.  More of his sentences are completed.  Hillary Clinton continues to display superior intelligence, depth, understanding, and thoughtfulness.

The big debate take-away:

It’s been proven time and again: if you must commit resources to activating your base your campaign is in trouble: someone has persuaded Trump, because his campaign is so desperately failing, he must proclaim conservative Christian orthodoxy, and gun-ownership focussed orthodoxy, to persuade Republicans to bother to vote for him.  His debate performance wasn’t appealing to middle America – undecided, moderate and independent – when he talked so strongly about opposing abortion and stacking the US Supreme Court; he was talking to the Republicans who’ve seen him as a hypocritical libertine and dangerous bully, and weren’t voting for him.

Without them, he won’t just lose on November 8, he will be devastated, and the Republican Party’s other candidates with him.  Without them, the Democratic Party must take control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and many of the State legislatures and Governorships that are up for election on the same day.

He is indeed a narcissistic libertine; he has certainly previously supported abortion rights; he’s a very recent and probably temporary convert to this kind of conservative agenda, and it has come at the cost of keeping the True Donald in the public eye.  At the end, lacking the courage of his own convictions, he’s prepared to adopt someone else’s.

His mealy-mouthed, half-unsaid, half-demand that a Supreme Court appointed by him should reverse Roe v. Wade, the most important Court decision about reproductive rights and obligations in US history, will have satisfied only the so-called right-to-life movement.  He lacked the courage to unequivocally say he wanted it overturned … he took the coward’s approach of trying to conceal the promises he’s made to the Evangelical Christian Right.

There was a flash or two of the Real Donald, the bully strip-mining the hurt and pain of communities outside the economic and social elites: he’s contemplating refusing to concede defeat if he loses, suggesting fraud on a massive scale, and implicitly threatening to use his campaign to destabilise Clinton’s legitimacy, and the legitimacy of the electoral system, beyond Election Day*.

Before the debate, Trump’s surrogates and advocates talked about him pivoting his campaign, away from the confused melange of messages past, and towards a “Drain the Washington Swamp” theme.  This debate performance, in contrast, was a pivot towards trying to save the down-ticket Republicans from the expected Clinton coat-tails.

 

Ethical Consulting Services partner Mike Smith is embedded within the US Presidential campaign, until US election day on 8 November.

 

  • The next day, appreciating the furore, and harm to his aspirations, this had caused, he issues a typically weaselly non-retraction that he’ll claim as a retraction when convenient.

 

 

Happy Anniversary To Us!

_LDP8380-cropped and smallAlmost exactly a year ago, Stephen Robertson and Mike Smith relaunched Ethical Consulting Services as a partnership.

We’re still having fun helping clients with

  • Governance and meeting skills
  • Government and stakeholder relations
  • Project and inbound investment facilitation
  • Branding, marketing, campaigns, and communication

… and training in any of the above!

 

 

Lobbying & Integrity – Government Wants You!

Dogbert Does LobbyingThere’s a Queensland Parliamentary Committee asking for your views on lobbying in Queensland – the outcome might significantly improve transparency and integrity in Government decision-making.

An estimated 80% of lobbying is unregulated, unreported and secret, right now.  The recommendations before the committee would take the rules that currently apply only to lobbyists who are consultants, and impose them on all of the other lobbyists, too – forcing them to abide by a code of conduct and publicly report contact with Ministers, Ministerial staff, and senior public servants, for example.

But be quick, if you want to have a say.

Back in June, the Palaszczuk Government appointed Professor Peter Coaldrake to conduct a Strategic Review of the Functions of the Integrity Commissioner, included a review of lobbyist regulation: his Report was tabled in State Parliament on 16 July 2015

Parliament’s Finance and Administration Committee has resolved to review the report to consider the recommendations made and comment on other findings, and they are calling for submissions – the closing date Monday 21 September 2015.  The Committee may consider holding a public hearing on Wednesday 14 October 2015.

You can find out more, and download the Coaldrake Report, here.

 

 

The Talking Dead: What NOT To Say To Government

walking_dead_smallIf you don’t have a good understanding of Government and Opposition, it is easy to put your foot wrong and wreck your chances of a successful discussion, when you’re pressing the Government to support your project or policy proposal.

Here’s a few thoughts about the wrong thing:

  • Absolute Power – Not every Member of Parliament or public servant has the power to do everything (read more here) and if you ask for something they can’t do, then you look like a dill; for example, legislation may proscribe taking certain actions or making certain decisions – you need to know this before you ask;
  • Power Without Glory – The Doctrine of the Separation of Powers is a special and high level constraint on powers saying, amongst other things, that Ministers must not usurp the powers of the Parliament or the Courts; in Australia the Doctrine is imposed by convention*, whilst in other countries it doesn’t exist or is imposed by laws or their constitution;
  • Game of Thrones – Public servants and Members of Parliament always have limits on what they may do, imposed by where they are placed in their respective structures, will rarely be interested in interfering in something that is someone else’s role, and rarely have the capacity to do that easily;
  • CodeBreaker – All members of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary have codes prescribing how they should work; only the most courageous** amongst them will contemplate stepping outside those codes, and only those prepared to risk prison will propose they should;
  • You’re Awful, Muriel – You must start a discussion by presuming your audience knows what they are doing and why, even when you know they are entirely wrong: nothing kills your chance of a productive dialogue quicker than implying or saying directly that a Member of Parliament or public servant doesn’t know what they are talking about, or has been incompetent; you have to find a different way: you must structure the discussion so they see your alternative as better***;
  • Lie To Me – Never tell a lie, never assert anything is a fact when there’s any doubt, and never leave out anything important; Telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is your only option, to ensure credibility; telling the truth means you must be very, very sure of your facts, and keep facts entirely separate from opinions;
  • Sin Of Omission – it’s worth repeating: never leave out anything important; recognise, too, that you are not necessarily the best judge of what’s important – if there is any chance your audience might see something as important, you must at least mention it in passing;
  • Censored Man with blue tape on his mouth. Isolated on white.Rush To Judgement – Opinions from non-experts are pretty worthless, so don’t offer them unless they are considered, evidence-based expert judgements;
  • Don’t Mention The War – Public servants usually operate impartially, and Members of Parliament are experts, so don’t talk about politics unless they invite it – and even then, exercise extreme caution that you tread on no toes;
  • The Ant Bully – When you threaten or bully, explicitly or implicitly, you’re saying you lack the facts, lack a good argument, lack ethical standards and maturity, can’t be trusted to stick to a deal, and want to be on the front page of tomorrow’s paper;
  • The Guru – keep your ego in check; if too much of what you say is about you, you’re not sufficiently focussed on how your proposal benefits the Government and the public, and you will be building resistance as you build perceptions of your ego;
  • The Killing Season – don’t denigrate your opponents or competitors, because you’ll always look like a bully or slimy, egotistical or selfish, and more interested in your own advancement than in good policy.

 

* One of the biggest flaws in Australian democracy is that this doctrine is not strongly mandated by State and Federal constitutions, which allows authoritarian Governments to accrue too much power at the expense of liberty and democracy.  But that discussion is for another time!

** Courageous in the “Yes, Prime Minister” sense:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_the_People_(Yes,_Prime_Minister)

*** Mike Smith is incredibly grateful to then-Northern Territory Labor Leader Maggie Hickey for teaching this valuable lesson!

 

 

Jointly Venturing: Wider Services & Capabilities

Ethical Consulting Services are thrilled to announce we’re now a partnership between former Queensland Government Minister Stephen Robertson and Government Relations specialist Mike Smith.

Stephen brings new specialties to the business – particularly inbound investment facilitation and project facilitation – beyond those Mike previously offered clients, so we’re expanding our scope:

Strategies that get you where you need to go …

  • Government relations & stakeholder relations,
  • Project facilitation,
  • Inbound investment assistance,
  • Governance,
  • Marketing, communications, and campaigns,

… and customised training in each.

And, the value we offer to clients is slightly different, too, now we are two:

We find the pitfalls and opportunities the others miss, giving you the best chance of success, because we’re:

  • ethical,
  • knowledgeable,
  • insightful, and
  • meticulous.

We’re both looking forward to the challenges and opportunities the new partnership will bring.

Our updated website here has more details of what we offer.

If you think we can help your business or organisation, give us a call or send us an email here.