Posts Tagged ‘Sir Alex Allan’
As we cleaned out the squabbling hens this morning there was a good deal of chat about Prince Philip, our irascible hero on high. When we first noticed his absence from the Palace concert we assumed that the Duke had tossed a coin to decide whether to wear ear plugs or simply stay at home. Sadly, it transpired that he is in hospital. We are not too surprised. When several of us were watching the Thames pageant, Tom commented that his bladder must be in better shape than that of most elderly men. We ancient owners of ancient bladders know only too well that standing for long periods in very cold temperatures is a recipe for trouble. Based on our experience he will be fine after a few days rest.
The other snippet of news that caught our eye was the instant decision of our dear leader to refer the case of Lady Warsi to Sir Alex Allan, the adviser on ministerial interests. He is right to do so given that she faces several accusations of what sounds like, er, dodgy practice. But his decision raises a big question. Why did he not refer Jeremy Hunt, whose practices sounded a good deal dodgier. To be honest that is a rhetorical question, we all know the answer. A guilty verdict on Warsi represents no threat to David Cameron, the same on Hunt would bring down the dear leader himself, given his participation in the BSkyB bid plot.
But it was another story that really shocked us. Everyone is painfully aware of the obscene level of top executive pay, and its continuing escalation at a time when people at the other end of the social scale are suffering hardship unknown since the days of Dickens. Each time a new scandal breaks we are assured that the Company’s remuneration committee is advised by independent consultants, whose views are made known to shareholders. Today we learn that almost 70% of those supposedly independent ‘experts’ also sell general consultancy services to the same companies. In other words should the consultants not play ball with the Board they will lose out on other lucrative contracts. No surprise that the High Pay Commission has spoken out at what is a conflict of interests to beat them all.
So its champagne all round for the ever richer rich boys, irrespective of their performance. By way of contrast we learn of the treatment dished out to long-term unemployed jobseekers who were bussed from Bristol to London to work as unpaid stewards during the jubilee celebrations. As part of the government’s Work Programme they were obliged to board coaches at 11.00pm en route to London. On arrival, in the early hours, they were told to sleep under London Bridge in driving rain and near freezing temperatures. They had no food or access to toilets and were obliged to change on the pavement into their security uniforms.
Ater then working a 14 hour shift in pouring rain alongside the Thames they were taken to tents standing in, what reporters described as, a near-swamp. This appalling treatment was handed out by Close Protection UK, one of the magnificent private sector warriors we hear so much about. It confirmed that it was using 30 unpaid staff and 50 apprentices. The unpaid work was, they said, a trial for paid work during the Olympics.
Had these youngsters been animals the RSPCA would right now be preparing charges of cruelty. The story illustrates vividly the growing divisions in our society. Those of us roughly in the middle are getting by, those at the top are raking in fortunes and avoiding the inconvenience of tax, those at the bottom are plummeting into hell of man’s making.
It was inspiring to hear the stirring words of Land of Hope and Glory yesterday. Sadly the reality in the coalition’s Britain is rather different!
QUOTE OF THE DAY;
” I believe that we create every so-called illness in our body. The body, like everything else in life, is a mirror to our inner thoughts and beliefs. Our body is always talking to us; we just need to take the time to listen. Every cell within our body responds to every single thought we think and every word we speak. So change your thinking now and get going. You can heal your body”….Louise L Hay, author of “I Can Do It”, a guide to the use of affirmations to change your life.
There was more wind on the allotments this morning than Albert musters after one of his notorious nights-out. In some ways gales are the worst of all weather conditions for a bunch of codgers. Our hearts are willing to chase roof panels, but our bodies are inclined to cede victory to the B & Q specials which invariably head off for Manchester airport.
But we suspect that greater people than us have the wind-up at this moment. For a blog that prides itself on covering a wide variety of stories we seem to have become pre-occupied with the mystery surrounding Jeremy Hunt, but there is a reason for this madness. We suspect that, possibly for the first time in recent political history, the fate of the Prime Minister rests on what happens to one of his ministers. Yes there was the thrilling tale of Fox and Werrity, but Cameron was free to hoof them out without fear of becoming implicated. But anything that focuses on the tangled web of intrigue with the Murdochs is another matter all together. David Cameron was not merely close to the Murdochs, he was part of them.
Now he is really in a corner. The plan, doubtless the result of many hours devotion by the Downing Street escape committee, was to refer the Hunt affair to the Leveson inquiry. As late as yesterday we watched an interview with Nick Clegg in which he ridiculed the demand by his deputy, Simon Hughes, for an independent investigation by claiming that there could be no finer check that that of swearing on oath before Leveson. The thinkng of him and his boss was probably that the questionning would be lost in the daily mass of appearances by the great and clearly bad members of the media.
But his Lordship has spiked the guns. Yesterday afternoon he made it clear that it was not his role to investigate breaches of the ministerial code. He added that this is a job for Sir Alex Allan, whose official role is to investigate apparent breaches. To add to the blow Sir Christopher Kelly, the respected chairman of the committee on Standards in Public Life, said it was “obvious” that Mr Cameron should call in Sir Alex to investigate if the code had been broken. “There is no doubt that the allegations that have been made about boundaries and behaviour of ministers need to be properly investigated”, he added.
Oh dear! There can be no doubt that Hunt has breached the code, being fully responsible for whatever his special adviser says or does. Since the Civil Servants are the very same that served Vince Cable (and warned him against any contact with the interested parties) it is certain that they issued the same warnings to Hunt. Frankly the beleagured minister hasn’t even one leg to stand on, and today’s poll shows that the view of almost 70% is that he should resign.
But the danger of an inquiry focussed solely on this issue is that it just might extend its remit. Clearly Hunt’s visit to News Corp in the US being followed by the decision of Murdoch to switch support to the Conservative Party, in turn followed by meetings by Rupert Murdoch with the new Prime Minister, in turn followed by the trapping and axeing of Vince Cable has David Cameron’s fingerprints all over it.
The next stage of this story will be intriguing. If David Cameron is forced to concede that there must now be an independent inquiry Hunt is finished, and the Prime Minister may find himself officially under a mortal spotlight. If he doesn’t, the political pressure will hit the Conservative prospects even harder than todays poll’s already indicate.
Dare I forecast what the escape committee may come up with. In the way that Adam Smith was compelled to sacrific himself to save Hunt, Hunt will now be ‘persuaded’ to sacrifice himself to save the supreme leader.
Of course I could be wrong, Nick Clegg might decide to say that he did it. He has nothing to lose since today’s ComRes survey reports that the Lib Dems are now at 10%, and at least a fifth of those of a Lib Dem persuasion say they will only vote for the party if Clegg is no longer leader!
QUOTE OFF THE DAY;
“I have been selected to be a school governor….hoping that my thirty years with the Prison Service will be of use to the pupils, staff, and parents of these children”…….Election leaflet for David Moran, Conservative candidate for Chorley council.