Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Turnbull's Hypocritical Assault Will Hurt Gordon
The hearing of the Public Administration Committee in December 2005, considered the memoirs of former ambassador, Sir Christopher Meyer which had seriously criticised a number of New Labour ministers. Giving evidence to the committee a former senior public servant urged MPs to ask Sir Christopher what he thought would be "the effect of patronising and derogatory comments in relation to elected politicians whom the ambassador had been paid, and paid handsomely, to serve". He went on to say that civil servants had traditionally urged ministers travelling abroad to stay at ambassadors' residences rather than hotels. "What chance do we have when ministers fear their confidences will be betrayed or they will be sneered at?"
Pressed by chairman Tony Wright, he said Sir Christopher should resign from chairing the Press Complaints Commission. Well, who was that senior public servant, now retired? None other than Lord Andrew Turnbull, former Secretary to the Cabinet and close colleague of Gordon Brown who has now violated the public servants' code more spectacularly than Sir Christopher could ever have managed. According to him, Gordon exercised a 'Stalinist ruthlessness' in controlling expenditure, treating ministerial colleagues 'with contempt', allowing them no information ad merely informing them of their financial settlements for the year.
The election is still some time away but the former Cabinet Secretary has delivered a damaging kick to his former boss's goolies which will provide Cameron with priceless ammunition for PMQs and help colour the public image of Gordon as the time ticks down to the next election, probably in 2009. Negative publicity only works when it has some purchase on proof in reality.
Turnbull has provided just that, reinforcing the swingeing criticisms made by Charles Clarke in the wake of the 2005 conference 'coup' attempt, that Gordon was not collegiate and very difficult to work with. I suspect Lord Turnbull had better abandon any hopes he may have entertained of chairing important committees or commissions, courtesy of his former boss. And I would suggest that Tony Wright invite Sir Christopher Meyer to comment on the noble Lord's interview in a future hearing.
Anyway great news for the opposition parties with the dour sour scot eventually becomes PM.
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