Saturday, February 16, 2008

Foolish Interruptions

One of the stories in the news today, Alistair Darling says the City should stop rewarding failure.

"People get fed up if they see others getting great big bonuses and they can't actually see what they did. It can be extremely frustrating," Mr Darling says.

By coincidence, the same newspaper also carries the following story, presumably based on information from another member of the government (or possibly the former member of the government in question?).

Patricia Hewitt, the former Health Secretary, is on course to become Britain's first woman Commissioner in Brussels... and is understood to have the support of both Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman, the Deputy Prime Minister, for the £200,000 a year post in the EU executive.

Oh dear.

Were you to be leafing through a copy of the Telegraph, you would eventually read the following damning assessment of the former health secretary's capabilities. During a flaying of the Hewitt record of nannying, hectoring and incompetence which will surely unite people across the political spectrum, it includes the following gem.

And do you remember Hewitt's thoughtful response to the national outcry over the illegal detention of our Servicemen captured on the high seas by the Iranian military?... Nanny Hewitt made a memorable observation about the only British Servicewoman who was held in captivity. "It was deplorable that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message."

Indeed, I remember it well. The more so because it was a joke which has, because it is just the sort of thing she would say, has been widely reported as fact ever since. In fact it was a joke. More embarrassingly, it was a joke printed in the Sunday Telegraph (scroll to the bottom for the source). Still, if it indicates that even other Telegraph employees don't read Christopher Booker's column (and I do sympathise, there are only so many times you can read a swivel-eyed rant about the EU) one hopes that his bosses will employ Alistair Darling's 'next door neighbour test' before deciding whether or not he should be rewarded.

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