ALONGSIDE our Councillors’ Code of Conduct sit some advice notes, which have been produced in order to assist us in interpreting the code, so that we can attain the highest possible standards of conduct in elected office.

Last week, I revisited the advice notes, and have since been haunted by a line within them.

It says: '…in a political context, a degree of the immoderate, offensive, shocking, disturbing, exaggerated, provocative, polemical, colourful, emotive, non-rational and aggressive, that would not be accepted out with that context is tolerated.'

I welcome some of these approaches – would that we were more colourful as politicians!

I recognise others.

I believe I have in fact uttered the words ‘bazillion gazillion’ a few times in chamber, to emphasise various points.

We should be shocked and disturbed as politicians and corporate parents when confronted, for example, with the statistic that (quoting from the Office for National statistics, 2022) 52 per cent of care experienced young people have been convicted of a criminal offence by the time they turn 24.

I have made peace with there being a place for the '…immoderate, offensive… provocative…', after all, our political chambers should reflect a wide array of opinions and perspectives that vary greatly – if we are to truly represent the wide array of opinions in our communities.

It is the final two approaches on the list: 'non-rational and aggressive' that I have struggled with this week.

I do not think it is ever appropriate for me to be, or equally to be faced with, non-rationality or aggression, simply because I am a politician, or discoursing with other politicians. How can these co-exist with our obligations to show dignity and respect to each other?

The issue of increased violence and aggression in schools has been raised by teaching unions and has become a recent topic of debate and action.

We seek peace and non-aggression in our young people. We want the trend of aggression to be reversed. I think our young people would be right to insist that we model for them the behaviours that we want them to adopt.

If the guidance to my code of conduct tolerates my aggression, or someone else’s aggression towards me, I argue strongly that this is the wrong message to send to my children, or yours, if we expect positive change.

If non-rationality and aggression are deemed to be acceptable tools in my toolkit, then I do not want to do the jobs that require them. If I cease to be rational, or become aggressive, I have lost my argument.

I like good systems, generally follow rules and care deeply about good governance. Finding that I cannot naturally just adopt a standard that is laid out for me to adhere to, either relating to my own conduct or the conduct I experience from colleagues, is tricky for me to come to terms with.

'A degree of' non-rationality and aggression are tolerated. Not by me.

I see no place for these approaches in a healthy political context.

I want to consign these to our past, rather than our future and I am asking for your help with this.

I ask each of you to reflect: Are these approaches tolerable to you? If not, help me change the current culture and framework which says that they have a place.

Our standard should be higher than that.