From where springeth Mike McClelland's mandate to seek a representative role on the PI? He is paid by the membership to represent their interests in a so-called 'member-led' union. Is he seeking this position for selfish reasons or on behalf of Napo? If elected, will he be 'representing' in his own time or paid Napo time?
There has been absolutely no attempt by the Napo leadership to engage on the PI. The PI membership has been bloated for political reasons through the corporate funding of membership fees, which would have included personal details being passed on to a third party without the consent of members. Napo's position on the PI is hypocritical and sneaky.
There are two perspectives on the PI: one to ignore and boycott, the other to join and influence the direction it takes. I am boycotting it until I know what my future in Probation actually is (I am at a significant risk of redundancy). I would not criticise Mike or Keith for taking the alternative position. I know and trust them both and would feel better knowing they are in there rather than many others I could (but will not) name. NAPO cannot do right by many at the moment but I consider them to be in an invidious position at the moment. We cannot stop the train so need to decide whether we get on or watch it roll off into the distance without us. Both actions will draw criticism.
The sadness is Napo have not developed a disengagement policy for the time being. Ultimately PI maybe the right organisation but the timing is too soon or too late & I am not clear where it leaves Napo's Professional Committee work. In view of there not being a definite motion from 'the floor' to disengage - I presume the NEC had to take some action to get Napo at the centre of the organisation.
What I find so despicable is the PIs complete public silence on the main issue of TR which makes what we have now more dangerous than what preceded - namely the split. I have had past contact with Mike and respected him, I am not so sure now. I think he is in an awful position. Meanwhile MOJ seem planning to bring Napo to their knees by ending the direct deductions from salary. That is at least one issue Labour could make a public stand about NOW - presumably they do still believe in Trades Unions being active in the workplaces?
If the generic Mike's and Keith's of this world wish to take alternative positions, then it's a free country, but these particular namesakes are in positions of leadership in Napo and Napo is scared of actually consulting with it's membership about the PI. 'Member-led' is as nauseous a phrase as '£46 in your pocket'. If they haven't got a mandate then they are self-serving and are patronising the membership – and in the case of the funded Mike, at our expense. The PI is the condom with which the MoJ screwed Napo.
The split has happened, it's about saving what we can. A nice bit of pragmatism here, unburdened by the principle of joining up in the first place. In what way will the PI contribute to the salvation effort? It is not a pressure group, so it will not campaign against TR which would, I suppose, be parricide as it's an offspring of TR.
The PI will be a cultist, networking chatterbox representing TR in all its public/private/third sector diversity - and an earner for some academics. The PI will validate and institutionalise the split. It will do its best to keep its multiplicity of providers happy. That's always easy when you stand for everything in general and nothing in particular.
There have been calls for a Probation Institute for years. We have one now and Napo are now strongly represented within it. I have had some dealings with the PI and they are open to constructive engagement and are no doubt bemused at the continual raging of a handful of contributors to this website who, when not bashing Napo, bash the PI whenever it is mentioned.
Some of the most prominent academics in the probation world and others are now engaging with the PI and yes they are using its meetings and functions to network and build bridges to encourage professional practice. TR is often discussed critically as it has had a disastrous impact on professional practice. We are all trying to get to grip with the new organisations and structures and trying to make the best of things.
PI is not part of TR and has arguably fallen foul of Grayling's cynical attempts at PR manipulation that would have us believe that he dictates the terms of our professional status. Is it any wonder that several of those from Napo who were elected are the ones who have kept the professional light burning for our profession. Now is the time to support the PI and the values it stands for. Grayling wants it to limp along and fail so let's make sure he is disappointed.
Napo is 'strongly represented' in the PI. Yet Napo has been so quiet in promoting PI. Why? To criticise either Napo or the PI is to be one of a handful of discontents, according to its stout defender. As complainants through the ages have heard: 'No one else has complained!'
The claim that PI is not part of TR is a new twist on the truth, but then so was the rhetoric about Brutus being a reasonable man. The PI was a £90k indulgence by the MoJ to demonstrate its pseudo commitment to professional practice and development - to give credence to its TR agenda. But now we must separate these two events and understand there is no connection, just one of life's coincidences. Yet we are told, all they talk about within the walls of the PI are the evils of TR!
The PI people are bridge-builders, busy building bridges, including toll bridges, I presume, that will, perhaps, bridge the spilt. In my jaundiced opinion the PI is a bridge too far. The PI is clearly enabling some tormented souls to 'move on' with their careers and you have to admire their powers of recovery in adapting to the new structures.
I think there's a chance to use it positively. The TR mess will fall whichever way it will. We have little control over that but the PI can be built into something that continues to develop an alternative national voice and doesn't have to be an MOJ lapdog. I believe it will be independent if we support it and work within it.
The PI perhaps represents what might be regarded as the remnants of the establishment within probation ie the bit Westminster really listens to. If you continue to ignore that fact then you are ignoring the realities of the world we live in which clearly suits some. The PI is the only credible connection we have at present to those in power and you are wishing it away. We need to engage more not less as Napo's thinkers and strategists know only too well.
We are not apologising for the PI but rather defending its existence. It is growing and increasingly influential. It is also now attracting funding from a large variety of sources and tapping into funding streams that have long been available to similar institutes in the EU. There are some very smart and experienced people involved and they are in it for the long run. The smart money is on the PI.
Any evidence that 'Westminster listens'? Any evidence it listened to the probation establishment over TR? Maybe it's time the Napo thinkers and strategists went public with their thinking and share it with their member-led union, as it all sounds a bit elitist, what with smart people and smart money.
At AGM in 2013 I voted for an institute with the expectation that a licence to practice would follow which would ensure the future professional standing of my vocation. The half arsed kite mark it seems to be offering is the opposite, and to my mind an insult. Instead of defending our professionalism it will see it diluted.
PS - Another pedestrian blog by Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence and absolutely no mention of the Probation Institute.