Wednesday, June 06, 2012

So, David Cameron does know Sir Alex Allan's phone number then

One of the non jubilee items of the last few days has been the news that Sayeeda Warsi has been referred by David Cameron to the Independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code, Sir Alex Allan. She took her brother in law, with whom she has business interests, on a government trip to Pakistan. Despite her apology, it's absolutely right that this should be investigated.

So now we know that Cameron's failure to refer Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to Allan is not just because he's lost his phone number. The Prime Minister was very quick to turn Sayeeda Warsi over, so why will he not do the same for Hunt, whose clear bias in favour of the News Corp bid for BSkyB, as shown in a series of contacts with the Murdochs and others, casts doubt on his adherence to the Code.

For Cameron to be the sole arbiter on this does not seem to me to be right. He's hardly an unbiased bystander. In fact, he has a clear interest in Hunt remaining in office, because the next stop after Hunt is Cameron himself.

I might be doing the man a disservice, but being seen to do the right thing is really important. Particularly when the foreword to the Ministerial Code says:

In everything we do – the policies we develop and how we implement them, the speeches we give, the meetings we hold – we must remember that we are not masters but servants. Though the British people have been disappointed in their politicians, they still expect the highest standards of conduct. We must not let themdown.
We must be different in how we think and how we behave. We must be different from what has gone before us. Careful with public money. Transparent about what we do and how we do it. Determined to act in the national interest, above improper influence. Mindful of our duty. Above all, grateful for our chance to change our country.
And who wrote that? One David Cameron.

It makes you wonder whether cases where impropriety is suspected should automatically be referred to the Independent Adviser. There would have to be some evidence, or there would be something on the internet every day that would merit investigation. It certainly should not be the call of the Prime Minister.You can't leave it up to the Opposition either or you could end up with a farcical, politically motivated situation like you had with Clinton in the 1990s but the current situation is not satisfactory at all.

I'm glad that our lot have not been anywhere near defending Hunt. In fact some of them have been actively calling for an investigation. It's the right and proper thing to do and the longer this lingers, the worse it's going to get.

1 comment:

tris said...

You're right. Cameron appointed Hunt in what would have been obvious to a 5 year old was an idiotic decision. If Hunt falls, Cameron's coat will be on an even shogglier nail

I still don't think that they have understood that they no longer operate in a secret world of deference and respect where no-one queries the decisions of the prime minister.

They are servants. They always have been; they just never though of themselves saw such. We pay them to run things for us and Cameron would have done well to remember that...given that they purport to be his own words, and that in a departure from norm for him...they are true, and they make sense!

There is the added fact that Hunt went to Charterhouse, from whence up to Oxford where he knew Camron and Osborne, whereas Mrs Warsi has a northern (to them) accent you could cut with a knife and a voice like an out of tune foghorn. Definitely not one of "us".

They have done their best to hide behind the jubilee week, but, it seems, someone has to be a scapegoat, and it's not ever going to be the Charterhouse boy.

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