Some one up there has turned off the tap! To walk to the allotments minus a brolly was little short of a miracle, and we set about our work of clearing the mud in a brighter mood than for some days. There have been moments when I wished I were a hen, able to stay in the dry with a near army of fogies attending to my every need. Then again I would never have the chance of being invited to a David Cameron birthday party as was Rebekah Brooks in October.
This latest revelation about our very strange prime minister plus the sad but very convenient death of the whistleblower Sean Hoare, who made clear that Andy Coulson was a key figure in the hacking scandal, could well have occupied our tea break but Phil had a different Cameron tale to tell.
His nephew is employed by Derby based carriage builder Bombadier. Thousands of British jobs there are devoted to building train carriages and there was considerable optimism about the future. It was widely expected that the company would be given the task of building rolling stock for the £6 billion upgrade on the Thameslink rail route, an order guaranteed to provide continuing employment for thousands.
Those thousands are now laid off and face a very uncertain future. Given the firm’s excellent quality and reliability record, the government created shock waves of giant proportions when it announced that the massive contract was to be awarded to German firm Siemens. Outrage soon followed but Mr Cameron and his Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, proceded to claim that their hands were tied. At Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Cameron said that “we were bound by the criteria set by the previous government. In this case the procurement process was designed and initiated by them”. At first hearing it sounded a weak explanation for the sacrifice of so many British jobs. Upon examination of a leaked document it proved to be a barefaced lie.
Someone in the Transport ministry decided to reveal all by releasing anonymously a copy of the “Invitation to Tender”(ITT) for the Thameslink Rolling Stock Procurement Programme (TRSP). The document reads ; “The issue of this ITT in no way commits the Secretary of State to award the TRSP to any person or party. The Secretary of State reserves the right to terminate the competition, to award the TRSP without prior notice, to change the basis, the procedures and the timescales set out and referred to in this document or to reject any or all Proposals and to terminate discussions with any or all Bidders at any time”.
In other words the point of the process was entirely proper, to oblige the British Bidder to offer a competitive price. Predictably the government is now defending its decision to sacrifice thousands of skilled jobs, and to destroy an important British enterprise, by claiming that it would have been at risk of contravening EU procurement directives. Experts have dismissed this excuse, but even were it to be valid we have to ask ourselves about our real priorities! Since the vast majority of the people believe that we shouldn’t be subject to EU law anyway, it seems decidedly odd to sacrifice so much for fear of Brussels becoming irritated.
Former Treasury Minister Geoffrey Robinson said that the document proved that ministers were free to decide. They were free, he said, to “put the national interest first”. He ended with a plea that the decision be reversed to “save a vital British industry”.
Sadly his plea is likely to fall on deaf ears. The multi-millionaire Hammond is not renowned for viewing British manufacturers favourably, and Cameron has become totally preoccupied with explaining his extraordinary relationships with Coulson and the Murdoch clan.
Job creation should surely be an absolute priority for any British government, particularly at a time of recession. Instead we have one happy to see thousands more skilled workers cast on the scrap heap and to defend its failure via a tissue of lies!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S PUB QUIZ; 1. Rose 2. Tessa Jowell 3. Westlife 4. Seaweed 5. Sweet 6. Victoria 7. Oil tanker 8. Fuller’s 9. Blood poisoning 10. Leopards
JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR ANOTHER PUB QUIZ????????????????????????????