Sorry about this. I know some of you will be disappointed but I am seriously thinking of voting Labour in May. I know it’s against everything I’ve stood for and I’ve just accepted an invitation to Troon to help launch Philippa Whitford’s career as an MP (which may now be withdrawn), but I’ve fallen in love with Margaret Hodge.
If every Labour MP was as direct and outspoken and as clearly on the side of the angels as the Labour MP who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee, they wouldn’t be in the trouble they are. In fact they would probably be the radical reforming people’s party they used to be and I’d have the same old dilemma I lived with forty years ago – Labour or SNP.
If I lived in Barking (no idea…I’ll have to check the map) I’d be offering to campaign for her and might even put out a press release complaining about vile cybernats like that Wings person.
Time and again this woman expresses the same degree of incredulity and astonishment at the barefaced lies and dissembling that our elders and betters parade before her committee. Today was a prime example. Here’s a waspish line from Andrew Sparrow’s sketch in the Guardian: ‘It is not that unusual to see a public figure subject to withering scorn by MPs on a select committee – it is one of the few unadulterated pleasures that parliament offers – but, still, this was something. We’re used to see Keith Vaz duff up some hapless copper, or a second-rate council chief. But chair of the BBC Trust is one of the triple-A jobs in the British establishment. To hear someone that senior be told to her face by a select committee chair that she should be sacked is remarkable.’
And that’s exactly what La Hodge did to Rona Fairhead, Chair of the BBC Trust and formerly head of oversight at HSBC, responsible for aiding massive tax evasion.
She tore into this corporate ice maiden who earned £500,000 to make sure the bank complied with its legal responsibilities and manifestly failed to do so. In fact Fairhead’s sang froid was Olympian in scale and her indignation withering as one member of the British Establishment accused another of failure. She looked and sounded as if the butler had been caught picking his nose at a dinner party. ‘Madam chairman…’ she squawked again and again.
Remarkably, she took no responsibility herself for anything and even tried to deny earning as much, but was quick and decisive in naming the areas of the operation she believed had erred. She had no doubt. Indeed, she sounded very cross that others had let her down – just as the boss of the bank had done before her. Preening executives, so precious about their status and cornucopia of earnings and benefits, utterly incompetent in their duties and casually contemptuous of others who must carry the blame.
How British. How utterly typical of the whole contrived raft of elitism on which British society is founded. Hodge of course is very much in that mould as family company shareholder and Lady but whatever reservations you may have about her and her career, I defy you not to cheer that someone – just someone – has the courage and ability to express what the voters think for a change without hedging it round with caveat and qualification like Miliband.
And what a contrast the gilded life of Fairhead is with its weekly cheques equivalent to the average annual wage and its automatic entre to the gleaming corridors of power compared to the life of Mr and Mrs Britain eeking out their existence with the help of benefits.
Failed to attend an interview (because it was too short notice and you couldn’t find childcare)? You lose your benefit for four weeks
Not been available to work (because you don’t want to work too far away from your children)? You lose your benefit for four weeks
Refused a job (because it doesn’t fit with your child’s school hours)? You lose your income 13 weeks – just over three months
The exact opposite approach is taken to the life of those who have no respected education, no high level contacts in the financial sector, outside the metropolitan carousel and whose every little error in life has a magnified penalty rather than promotion to the top of the BBC Trust.
In fact the system deliberately hurts them by demanding that targets are met for reducing the bill and deliberately ensuring that interviews are missed so that sanctions can be applied. British citizens are killing themselves rather than live such demeaning lives. Not that Rona would notice. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/03/benefits-sanctions-leading-suicides-dwp-depression
When so-called progressives challenge the right of Scots to play a part in running this country, remind them what a rank and hierarchical state the UK is and that a single MP asking hard questions stands out because she is so rare amid the cowed and complacent. The sad truth about Britain – despite the pitiful attempts at scorn in cartoons and otherwise – is that it should be biting off the hand of the SNP to bring some plain human sanity to a country in moral and economic free-fall.by