The British Way of Life

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for and I’ve just accepted an invitation to Troon to help launch Philippa Whitford’s career as an MP (which may now be withdrawn), but I’ve fallen in love with Margaret Hodge.

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

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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.

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.

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58 thoughts on “The British Way of Life

    • Hodge was in charge of Islington council when serious allegations of abuse in childrens homes began to emerge on her watch. She resisted with all her might that these allegations be properly investigated instead insulting some of the victims by claiming the reports were exaggerated and the acusers were disturbed. She’s got a cheek accusing anyone else of incompetence and her credentials are far from traditional labour values as far as I can see. All hot air and no credibility. I’d think again who you’re voting for.

  1. smiling vulture

    Good Luck voting Labour

  2. You may wish to ask la Hodge about her own shares in offshore trust!

  3. John Mitchell

    Excellent article, Derek! from a very wet and windy Selkirk.

  4. bob mccracken

    didnt realise you would flip so easly,or as sheldon would say just as i was getting the hang of sarcasm

  5. Margaret Hodge: Barking MP claimed £146,301. Odd that a London MP should require this sum for working in the same city they live. Like the rest, she says one thing while doing the other, feathering her own luxury nest.

  6. I saw Margaret Hodge ripping into her and thought at the time:

    ‘Well done! About time.’

    Credit where credit’s due.

  7. Rosa Alba Macdonald

    My son has ADHD with Autistic traits. He IS now in full-time education but refused school today (and was very hyper); on Friday it took me till noon to get him to school, then he ran away within ten minutes (I do not have a car so this is sometimes walking him there – 40 mins, then home).
    I have tried working time and time again. I cannot sustain even supply teaching without being called away or called up at work (or being late as my son runs off on way to school – and then I need get a taxi to work).

    I had childcare for him but had to let it go (after a period of not working/waiting for w promised job that disappeared): i paid for 10 weeks in case work (supply work) turned up. This was a place it took several months to find: few childminders are registered for children aged 12 or over, less still willing to take an unpredictable 5′ 6″ child with additional support needs. Now I no longer have such a place I need to be available for a vulnerable 12 year old, intellectually 15 but emotionally 9 year old who absconds from school or is excluded or refuses to attend if the routine of his day goes wrong, at least once a week.

    I am praying desperately that my son’s DLA is renewed and I can return to claiming Carers’ Allowance, because I am not really free to work, except occasional random Supply Teaching.
    The thought of claiming Job Seekers Allowance and being sanctioned terrifies me – I could not guarantee getting to an interview in the nearest city.

    I would love to work regularly. But even in the very best scenario, it would have to be school hours, term-time only and local enough for me to be back home, by 3.50 or my son to meet me outside work. A child with my son’s vulnerability of deciding to authenticate a cardboard shield by setting fire to it from the cooker, or who if something goes wrong in a big enough way (unpredictable) still threatens to jump out windows or similar could not be left for even an hour at the end of the school day (or before school) far less alone for 8 hrs of the working day during the holidays.

    • Wow, Rosa, what a ruthless and sorry predicament you’re in. You have my 100% sympathy and moral backing. Keep searching. Keep pushing. I know it must be soul destroying to feel so isolated, but keep on going, I have no remedy, but somebody surely should have.

  8. Derek,

    You are right again! If only WM was full of people like Margaret Hodge, highly principled and prepared to challenge. She must be pretty sick about the state of the Labour Party.

    However, for Scotland right now, only sensible choice is SNP – only electable left of centre party with any credibility.

  9. Much as I hate to admit it, and hate waste monster MP’s with a passion, I do agree with you. To see somone bringing their gas soon take a peep, or squeek even, is wonderful. Just a pity there isn’t more of them in that cesspit.

  10. smiling vulture

    my comment is sarcasm

  11. Hargaret Modge

    You forgot to mention that the DWP expect you to prove you are not well enough to work.
    Prove it, how? they give no guidelines. You ask your GP to write a letter and he takes 12 weeks and wants paying for it. In the meantime your benefits are stopped, but don’t worry if you’re successful in your appeal they will back date your payments. Wonder how you back date eating!

    I heard Ms Hodge laying into that woman too. That is nothing compared to the intrusive questions asked of you when you have to attend a tribunal. She sat there in her fancy suit and perfect make-up. She’ll get away with it. But there are a lot of us out here in our old but clean supermarket clothes that regularly have to go through worst than that.

    Vote Labour ‘cos one woman did the right thing. I don’t think so.

  12. I listened to Margaret Hodge take Rona apart, and the HSBC top dogs – but she is herself an establishment figure with her own Islington history to rewrite and for all the public humiliation these people get….. nothing changes. Its almost a side show – something that makes us feel better that these parasites are getting their comeuppance -and she is very good at that, but they’re not, really they’re not. Its smoke and mirrors. For all the warm feelings of schadenfreude – nothing changes. Her role is almost tokenism – it makes us think that the institutional corruption in British business and political life are finally being challenged – but the HSBC boss’s £5m a year in his Panamanian shell company is worth a bit of ritual humiliation. Its a sort of bush tucker trial for corporate wolves. But they still get away with it, so the Public Accounts Committee has become a ritual of limited impact. Maybe that is its real value. It is a surrogate and deflects us from real actions and reforms that change the god awful plutocracy we live in. So much as I admire the toughness my considered response is “So What ?”

    • Well said. Couldn’t agree more. Grandstanding on an epic scale, “sound and fury signifying nothing”. Displacement activity. Where are her socialist credentials and what are her views on Indy? I note she was in the “Save the Union Express”.

      • My thoughts too. Her performance is suiting the established figures, otherwise she’d be whisked out of there immediately. My trust and faith in all things WM has vanished or, should I say been “killed stone dead” by those within.

  13. Nobody would deny that Margaret Hodge’s Committee and her role as Chair does not present those who come before it to rigorous interrogation. That is good.
    Nonetheless I feel that there is more than a little doubt about the political record of the same Mrs Hodge. It would be interesting to see what a little investigative journalism would reveal. Margaret Hodges historic closeness to Blair, Brown, and Straw give clues.

  14. Entertaining stuff from Margaret Hodge but tell me, has there been a single one of them stripped of their power, influence or status after the minor inconvenience of sitting through 10 minutes of embarrassment? The whole thing is a pantomime. We need to be rid of Westminster and the self serving power elites who control it. Vote SNP.

  15. She could be another Labour liar . There quite a lot of them!.

  16. So someone gets a public bollocking from Lady Margaret Hodge & that’s it job done! That committee has no teeth, its a sham of puppet theatre meant to impress the masses & let them know that Parliament is on their side. As if!

    MH herself is no saint having had her family business accused of tax evasion in 2012 when it paid less than 0.01% tax on it’s profits. She knows where the bodies are buried having been in WM since 1994 & is not afraid to use that knowledge if needed. She is just another member of the Establishment even when displaying righteous indignation at the likes of Fairhead or bankers. If they can’t give that committee teeth then what is it for? A show akin to a show trial but without a penalty when found guilty.

    • Nail on head, Lollysmum. Bit surprised by Derek being taken in by this pantomime. Just a circus for the masses to make it look as though some politicians care for their electorate. You would think an election is in the offing. Oh, just a minute!

  17. Patricia Wilson

    its al for show ,nothing happens to any of them after their wee telling off

  18. Always have enjoyed watching Margaret Hodge and the Public Accounts Committee tearing a strip out of the civil service/PFI and there profligate use of the public purse from HS2 to DWP to massive IT mismanagement throughout the civil service and the billions handed over to English Academies, whether it changes anything I probably doubt it but for anyone interested in who is getting our money and what they are wasting it on it is worth looking out for.

  19. Agree Lollysmum a sheeps a sheep, there all alike in lambing!

  20. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  21. Hi Derek. Margaret Hodge may deserve some credit for the way in which she undertakes the role as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee but anyone, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, can adopt the “what on earth were you thinking / why did you not realise” approach. It is the easiest job in politics, particularly when your own party is not in power and the remit of the Committee does not allow for the questioning of political policy decisions. It is of course right and necessary that public servants and non-politicians should be held to account by Parliament. However, if anyone believes for a moment that Margaret Hodge undertakes her role on a non-partisan basis or with no thought to how her outrage – faux or otherwise – might play with the media then a quick check for the existence of buttons on the back of their heads would be in order. The day when Margaret Hodge is prepared to rip into current and erstwhile colleagues for their disastrous neoliberal / neoconservative policies and economic incompetence will be the day that I might be persuaded that she actually is on the side of the angels. I am not holding my breath – and nor should you. Robert

  22. Despite her past closeness to the Blair/Brown/Straw regime, I must admit Hodge did well in verbally skewering the BBC’s Fairhead.

    What a contrast to the (Anti-) Scottish Affairs Committee chaired by the thuggish Ian Davidson, which did its level best to undermine the Independence aspirations of the YES Campaign, by encouraging those appearing before it to talk down Scotland’s prospects in every possible way.

  23. Hmmm. Yes, I too have watched the odd skewering going on in those Committee hearings, and will admit that I have felt not a little pleasure at seeing someone get what they deserve, but frankly, they’re all as bad as each other. The others are right. Those committees have no teeth, so they’re just an arena for a bit of to-and-fro-ing, some sharp comments and that’s it. Not at all satisfactory. When they hear evidence from parties and organisations whose job it is to hold governments to account and speak up for principles and transparency – I’m thinking of 38Degrees as an example, the usual tone from the committee is withering scorn.

    So yes, seeing someone who deserves it getting a good kicking is good for the soul, but it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing of a cell door slamming shut.

  24. Reported on the BBC this morning apparently ” Margaret Hodge quite likes Rona Fairhead as a person” as opposed presumably to the monetary equivalent of a serial killer she pretty much classified her in the Select Committee hearing. These committees are all about “playing to the gallery” but you know that Derek, and as a wee hook to catch our attention…your opening paragraph probably worked…..

  25. I suppose it is so rarely we hear a politician saying what they should, and sounding like they care about us, that we can be momentarily swayed. But do we really want Westminster full of more Hodges? After all she is just yet another tax dodger….

    Also one shouldn’t forget that she was in charge of Islington Council when they decided to proactively hire gays (and therefore paedophiles) to work with children. “Hodge was told about a paedophile network operating in Islington’s children’s homes, but she refused to listen.

    Margaret Hodge is also silent about how her policies directly enabled paedophiles to work with children and escape detection. Islington Council’s Equal Opportunities policy was unveiled in August 1983.

    It promised “positive action” to recruit gay staff, gave an assurance that all council jobs would be open to gay applicants – including the sensitive area of work with children, promised that nobody would be put at a disadvantage if they came out as gay at work, and pledged ‘adequate redress’ to any lesbian or gay man who was subjected to “any harassment, whether physical or verbal” by members of the public or fellow workers…”

    I want shot of her and all her ilk from having any public position.

    • Whilst I completely agree with your sentiments regarding the abuses that have taken place within the Westminster establishment and in various councils throughout the UK. I take umbridge at your comments citing ‘gays’ as somehow the ’cause’ of the rise in paedophillia at the point when our discrimination against gender orientation was beginning to relax in society in general.

      Let me ask you something, was Jimmy Saville gay? Is Max Clifford gay? Is Rolf Harris gay? I could go on and on and on citing the prevalance of abuse within the heterosexual ‘normative’ culture and the time scale of abuses that predate the era to which your refer. Still I imagine your attitude would be exactly as you seem at pains to describe. One of complete ignorance and bigotry toward a section of society that you ‘blame’ overtly for the rise in paedophillia.

      Paedophillia is a society wide issue, the level and scale of it has taken place within traditional organisations and institutions whose funciton was to protect the children who were in their care, it has gone on for centruies, not the least within the hallowed enclaves of Churches and Hospital and so called Care Homes and of late we find out on a scale so wide and deep within Westminster, it’s frightening to even conceive of..

      It’s got fuck all to do with homosexuality and everything to do with screwed up immature brains who have abused their positions within the institutions that are lauded in this United Kingdom as somehow respectable and above the law.

      And the most sacrosanct institution where these abuses are most prevalent is within the Family. Yes that most revered and shinning exemplar of morality: the Family. The heterosexual domain where the nice man and woman marry and have children and they all live happily ever afer…

      Being Gay is not the prerequisite dispostion of a paedophile. It’s not the sexual orientation toward a member of the same sex or the opposite sex that is the signifier of a paedophile.

      It is the sexual orientation toward children that signifies a paedophile.

      Gay and Paedophile are NOT interchangeable terms.

  26. My niece was born in Barking and lived above the Veterinary Surgery. The Barking Vet. Ho Ho!

  27. I don’t suppose the lady would like to flit northward and join a properly progressive movement? 🙂

    • A person of true integrity woukd no longer remain in the labour party. In fact tgey woukd very loudly and publically resign.

      • There’s none in that party, or the institution it supports, I would trust on any level tbh.

        Any of them would betray their own sister or their best friend if it meant advancement…

        … oh wait.

  28. Derek, I approved of her performance there. Would that more parliamentarians behaved like that instance.

    She still has a lot of questions to answer about how she behaved in the past (cf., and so on)

  29. Derek, I sincerely hope you’re taking the rip in that second sentence. Think of Margaret Hodge as a gallon of truth in a loch of poison.

  30. Though the reality is not a lot will change. It’s like watching the old Panorama programmes or hearing an interview on Radio 4. Al to is said and it sounds good but then nothing happens.
    We really decided to change with the Independence referendum. The House of Lords would have been removed and its interference neutralised, with a little time, in Scotland. War crime weapons of mass destruction, Trident, would have been removed.
    The whole sleazy, corrupt pit of Westminster would be in another country.
    But too many who like to complain, but not do, voted to continue with the status quo.

  31. “Britain … should be biting off the hand of the SNP to bring some plain human sanity to a country in moral and economic free-fall.”

    Agreed. Why would Miliband not welcome the help of Alex Salmond, the man who won the accolade “Politician of the Year” in 2014?

  32. Margaret Hodge = curate’s egg. Her record at WM is good on social and welfare issues but she voted to renew Trident, voted for the Iraq War and voted against an inquiry into the Iraq War.

    Sorry but I need my politicians to be better than half good.

    As others have said, beyond a bit of public embarrassing what power do these committees really have to change things? I saw the grilling they gave to HMRC over their soft glove approach to things like HSBC but did anyone lose their 6 figure salaries and life-long lucrative pensions? I think not.

  33. Margaret Hodge! I take it you’re indulging in a bit of sarcasm Derek. For me, a competent committee performance doesn’t gloss over a million dead in Iraq, or her decade in charge of Islington council.

    It’s nice she seems to have a grasp tax evasion, shame she didn’t think there was anything wrong with the fostering of children with convicted paedophiles.

    Maybe it’s me that’s being harsh on the future Baroness. What’s a little child rape between friends.

    It’s the British way of life and all.

  34. Derek, I think you need a read at this before you go too far overboard in idolising Margaret Hodge.

    “In 1990, she [social worker Liz Davies] raised concerns at a local council meeting that a large number of boys in the area were showing signs of abuse. She claimed that Margaret Hodge, then leader of Islington council and later the Minister for Children under Tony Blair, ignored her warnings. It was 2014 before Hodge would apologize for her “shameful naivety” in failing to properly investigate the claims of abuse. She is now chair of the Public Accounts Committee, which is responsible for oversight of all government spending.”

    “One of Labour’s most senior MPs has confessed to “shameful naivety” in ignoring the pleas of victims of paedophiles who were assaulted in children’s homes in a scandal-hit council she used to run.

    “Margaret Hodge, a former children’s minister, issued an apology amid a growing furore over the latest investigation into widespread sexual abuse in the London borough of Islington.

    “Police have uncovered possible evidence that Jimmy Savile sexually assaulted vulnerable children in a care home in Islington. It is the first time Savile has been connected with the abuse in Islington in the Seventies and early Eighties that has resulted in the council paying hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation to victims. It is thought dozens of vulnerable children were abused by a number of paedophiles.

    “However, most of the abusers escaped justice because allegations made at the time by victims were ignored and many files, which contained corroborating evidence, have been lost or shredded. Mrs Hodge was a councillor from 1973 and leader of the council for a decade from 1982.”

    “Mr Panton first complained about Bain in 1979 but was ignored. When Mrs Hodge was children’s minister in 2003, and her job under pressure over her former role at Islington council, she accused Mr Panton of being “extremely disturbed” in a private letter to the BBC in an attempt to discredit his testimony.”

  35. If, Derek, you were trying to get us going, you have certainly succeeded!

  36. Would be a bit like giving mouth-to-mouth to a deid horse. Let’s just skin it, and sell the meat to (…an unnamed company) for burgers. At least we’d get some use out of the UK Labour party, which would be a novelty for most of us.

  37. Methinks Ms Hodges grandstandeth too much. A bit like that Judge Judy person on TV.

  38. Her comments were NOT representative of the Labour Party’s opinion though, were they?

    “Ms Hodge later clarified her comments, made during a two-hour grilling, saying they had been her personal opinion.”

  39. Hoss Mackintosh

    I think the real point is that Rona Fairhead will be running the BBC Trust for years no matter what Margeret Hodge does or says.

    She will not resign and she will not be fired – she is a Banker.

    There are one set set of rules for London Bankers (who destroyed our economy) and a different set of rules for the poor of this country.

    Thank you, Derek, for highlighting the differences which are solely down to our corrupt Wetminster Government running an increasingly corrupt country.

    The only way to get out of this is independence – there is no other way.

  40. While this is a fine article written by Derek Bateman he fails to mention one glaring fact. That of course being that the chairman of the BBC Trust is always affiliated to the party in government.

    This then, is not some noble act but nothing more than a loyal Labour MP using this opportunity, so near to a General Election, to make it try look as if she is standing up to a person in power. If Labour do form the next Government, in part or in full, then Rona Fairhead was always going to be out of a job. This is nothing short of dull, mandatory electioneering to win votes for her party this coming May.

  41. I should like to think that if someone who committed, say, rape, 30 years ago,
    can still be prosecuted and if found guilty, sent to jail,
    then, the same might also be the case with the many bankers,
    who recklessly gambled the economic stability of the UK,
    together with the financial well being of tens of millions of people,
    and lost.

    I should also imagine that for such a serious crime,
    a life sentence would be mandatory.

    Was it really worth it, for mere money, to become a criminal,
    haunted by the demands of justice,
    waiting for the dreaded knock on the door.

    Under this regime, that knock won’t come.

    But it will with the next.

    Or the next after that.

    Until it does, the UK can’t be fixed.

  42. Well done Derek, A Sarcasm & irony ‘fest. Its hard to disagree with the majority of the comments. Margaret Hodge is machiavellian to say the least. Its all a show, but nae teeth. I have to agree with ‘manandboy’. Those of you north of the border have a chance. Its called Indy. Those of us in England…..shafted.

  43. I have a lot of respect for you, and what you are doing Derek,
    and I saw that performance too.

    But I remember her from years and decades past.

    “Margaret Hodge ‘sorry’ as council she led told to investigate Savile abuse allegations”

    Ok you might say – the ToryGraph loves to have a pop at the opposition.

    So HSBC are (proven, not alleged) serial law breakers and the BBC are lying to us.

    But did they condemn children to sexual abuse?

    Can you have _any_ respect for someone if they preferred to advance their own political career rather than DO THEIR JOB and protect children?

    quote from a detailed article on The Daily Beast.

    socal worker “raised concerns at a local council meeting that a large number of boys in the area were showing signs of abuse. She claimed that Margaret Hodge, then leader of Islington council and later the Minister for Children under Tony Blair, ignored her warnings. It was 2014 before Hodge would apologize for her “shameful naivety” in failing to properly investigate the claims of abuse. She is now chair of the Public Accounts Committee, which is responsible for oversight of all government spending.

    Read It For yourselves.

    There is no legally actionable content in this comment, only attributed quoting from legitimate sources. So please leave it up for others to find.


  44. Derek, you are still welcome in Troon, the invitation stands!!

    Your commentary and the commentators BTL neatly exposed the “Investigative Theatre” that is a Westminster Committee. Lots of great soundbites, no action as a result.

  45. As others have already said. M Hodge is up to her armpits in egregious tax avoidance if not actual evasion.

    She covered up child abuse in her local authority.

    The true face of Labour evil.

    See also Rotherham, Glasgow, Monklands, anywhere else with labour in power.

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