The Reverend Flowers – points for procurement?

What to say about the Crystal Methodist, the Rev. Flowers?  Is there a procurement angle that gives me the excuse to write about a story, that if you read it as a novel, you would classify as “magical realism” rather than anything likely to happen in real life. But here we have a senior councillor, a school governor and ultimately a director of a pretty big bank who turns out to have (allegedly) a predilection for hard drugs, porn, and ketamine-fuelled rent-boy orgies.

And he looks like such a nice man too.

So, let’s try and draw a few vaguely procurement related thoughts from this.

1.       Don’t trust appearances. Many people go into public life because they want to contribute to the greater good, and make a difference. A few do it in order to do bad things (corruption). And a very few may do it to camouflage their failings. Who would suspect a Minister, and Councillor, of having a dissolute and wild personality?  So, whether it is in suppliers, colleagues, friends, look beyond the smart and conforming appearance to the person beneath...

2.       On a related note, there is a great deal of faith being placed by politicians (of both parties) in institutions such as charities, mutuals, not for profits, community interest companies. There is an assumption – as when we see the smart chap in a blue blazer – that they must be “good things”.  Procurement is getting caught up in this too, encouraged to give more business to this sort of organisation. But again, appearances can be deceptive. The Chairman of the Co-operative Bank, for goodness sake. It ‘s all a bit like hearing Father Christmas is getting too friendly with Rudolph.  So let’s be positively cautious about these organisations, just don’t assume they’re full of good people doing good works.

3.       Politics and business is almost always a toxic mix when they get too close. The Co-op Bank has lent millions of pounds to the Labour Party, and the appointment of Flowers as Chair seems to have been driven by his political connections more than his banking credibility. Credit to the Tories for avoiding any business related scandals in this administration (the Grant Shapps affair never quite achieved take-off in the public eyes).

4.       And that need for that separation between politics and business is another reason we have to be diligent in public procurement – and yes, occasionally put up with a bit of EU regulatory nonsense – in order to make sure public procurement never becomes just a branch of politics, privilege and patronage (as it still is in too many countries, unfortunately).

Finally, as a procurement person, it is also good to get a bit of benchmarking and market intelligence on a tricky spend category. So, thanks to the Reverend, I now have a much better idea of what it will cost me for my next drug fuelled night with rent boys in Leeds*.  December 11th is in the diary...

(In case my Mother reads this - joke. I take no pride in saying that alcohol is the only drug I have ever tried – not even a puff on a cigarette. I don’t judge others though and I reserve the right to get stoned out of my head once I’m old enough to feel it doesn’t really matter what happens as a consquence...)

Voices (3)

  1. IanR:

    Credit to the Tories for avoiding any business related scandals in this administration (the Grant Shapps affair never quite achieved take-off in the public eyes).

    Er……..Liam Fox? Peter Cruddas (this part of comment deleted by editor – I think Mr Cruddas won his libel action! I think we have to say that the Tories haven’t done too badly re scandal – unlike their coalition partners!)

  2. Trevor Black:

    At least we haven’t had the “Clintonesk” excuses such as ‘I did take that Crystal Meth but I didn’t inhale’ or ‘ I did not have sex with that rent boy, I was only undertaking some research’ and anyway the Methodists don’t approve of alcohol. Perhaps if he chosen a career as an MP no one would have noticed!

  3. John Diffenthal:

    “Credit to the Tories for avoiding any business related scandals in this administration (the Grant Shapps affair never quite achieved take-off in the public eyes).”

    The real scandal about Grant Shapps is that he is their party Chairman.

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