Why Holyrood has become Orwellian and Big Sister always survives
It was an unusually bright, warm summer’s day and the clocks were striking fourteen (to commemorate both Bannockburn and the independence referendum). At the Ministry of Truth/Ministrealachd na Fìrinn, ScotSoc’s top spinmeisters were wracking their brains to bury some inconvenient truths in really forbidding bureaucratic language. “Remember we must definitely not translate this one into plain, simple Newspeak,” the director told his team. “Big Sister has decreed it must be especially impenetrable for the press and the proles.” What they eventually came up with was a masterpiece even by their own proud standards:
Review of the Scottish Government’s corporate processes for the storage, retrieval and deployment of corporate information to ensure they are fit-for-purpose.
It worked a treat. Even the high-brow hacks couldn’t get their heads around it. But there was this one weird woman called Winnie Smith who not only had real boobs and a vagina but was still a journalist not a churnalist. She hated the party and repeatedly scribbled ‘Down with Big Sister’ on her notebook.
After joining the anti-Party Sisterhood (secretly linked to an underground grouplet with a Gaelic name) she slipped into an illegal relationship with someone still self-identifying as their original gender. After committing that sex crime, she knew it was only a matter of time before she was dragged away by Police ScotSoc. But she was determined to carry out one last subversive act against Big Sister. Recognising that language is a form of political control, she decided to translate segments of the aforementioned impenetrable document into plain English.
Government records are defined as recorded information in any form, created or received in the day to day work of government. They are characterised by their essential purpose and value which is to provide reliable evidence of actions, decisions and events – the ‘who, what, when, and why’ something happened…The review found a prevalence of localised non-corporate behaviours around information management which can increase risk and potentially undermine the true value of the information the organisation creates, receives and manages.
Information is power and there can only be proper democratic accountability if the demos (people) and their elected representatives can find out who screwed up or who shafted whom. Big Sister has devised numerous methods by which she can do whatever she decrees and never be held accountable for her dark deeds. Her clandestine plots and orchestrated cover-ups are never recorded in any official, retrievable format so, for all intents and purposes, they never happened. Or there is, at least, a plausible explanation for a poor recollection of events.
Responding to public inquiries, external and parliamentary scrutiny is now a constant and permanently embedded feature of SG’s ‘business as usual’ environment. Inquiries relating to the SG’s Covid 19 response are inevitable.
Big Sister and her ruling cabal screw up on so many fronts and engage in so many plots and cover-ups, the governance of ScotSoc is in complete chaos. There are soon going to be some awkward questions being asked about why so many people in ScotSoc care homes perished during the first phase of the global pandemic. Also why, despite being subjected to medical martial law by the Covid Queen, ScotScot ended up with the highest rates of infection in Europe and had its announced Freedom Day cancelled. But the Party will remain in power because see next section below.
The current approach to responding to these inquiries is generally reactive and tactical in nature.
Whenever things get so bad that Big Sister is called to account in any way, she always reacts by doing whatever will ensure her own personal, political survival. The tactic for dealing with her biggest political rival was to try to turn him into an unperson.
These data stores can create significant information risks to the organisation including:
1. Reduced levels of legal compliance –
Public Records (S) Act 2011 – the content is not subject to records management including retention or disposal schedules.
FOI – the content is not readily searchable and hinders efforts to meet freedom of information requests.
GDPR – the content can include sensitive personal data which is difficult to review and risk assess.
The situation has become (largely by intention) such a bureaucratic omnishambles, the ScotScot Government is breaking – round the 14-numbered clock – all the major statutes it has passed, or adopted, regarding public rights of access to officially-held information and data protection.
Instruction on information and records management is available to staff on what to do, how to do it and to some extent why to do it. However there is very little explicit direction to staff on what not to do and why not to do it.
Best no to ask, pal. Jist shunt it intae the shredder and keep shtum if ye want tae keep yer job.
As she typed those last words, Winnie knew it was only a matter of time before the Doc Martens would be stamping on her face – especially having done it in the authentic language of the proles. So she took all the official ‘2014 Victory’ brand products off her kitchen shelves and tossed them in the bin. She then sat down to savour one last mug of real Scottish Blend and a Tunnock’s Tea Cake, the latter banned by Big Sister since it started to be marketed as a great Oceania snack.