Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections

Sordid and rather Sad

Two more MPs have been caught behaving, shall we say, “injudiciously” by a sting team working for Channel 4 Despatches. This time they snared “big beasts”, Jack Straw – former Labour Foreign Secretary and Sir Malcolm Rifkind – former Conservative Foreign Secretary and (until this morning) chairman of the Security Select Committee.

Sir Malcolm has now decided to join Jack Straw in retiring at the election in a few weeks time. They say political careers tend to end in death or failure and for both these politicians it is rather sad that well-respected careers should end on this note.

It is also slightly sordid.

It’s not so much just that they thought they were lining themselves up for some rather lucrative work for a foreign state (the Channel 4 vehicle was a fictitious Chinese company) – which arguably is not quite against the rules. It is what they said on secret camera.

They may not think that £5,000 a day is excessive – I would love to earn that in a month. To earn the equivalent of the national average (median) wage of £27,200 per annum, Jack and Malcolm would have to work a little under five and a half days.

And this for giving their paymasters “information that is in the public domain”! (Giving them information that is not in the public domain is apparently not cricket.)

Both their attitudes were contemptuous, arrogant and supercilious. Apparently this is not a party political division; possibly it’s the old problem of power corrupting.  Then again Animal Farm may provide the explanation:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
George Orwell : Animal Farm (Chapter 10)

I won’t say which is which – some may think they are both the same species.


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