Notorious Federast (with an ‘F’, people, with an ‘F’) Peter Mandelson, or “Mandy” to those so inclined, is to quit the EU Commission to avoid giving Gordon Brown the pleasure of sacking him. As a replacement you might hope for someone with high ability, charm, good communications skills and a CV displaying diverse talent. Alternatively, you could have Patricia Hewitt.

I have been keeping La Hewitt on ice for a week since this item by the inestimable Bruno Waterfield and Toby Helm for the Daily Telegraph appeared last week but attracted no further attention due the Labour’s fire sale. But I had not forgotten her and thus I now serve her up, like a slightly warmed over zombie.

I have been saving her because the fact that she even merits consideration as a candidate reminds us forcefully of the usual Labour response to incompetence or sleaze in its Ministers: if at first you do not succeed, then you get a chance to fail, fail, fail and fail again.

There was a time when the incompetent minister was sacked and then withdrew gracefully to the backbenches there to nurture his or her constituency until death or the peerage took them away. Not so under New Labour’s government of all the talentless where either incompetence or sleaze seem to be indispensable qualifications for future employment. Thus Hewitt, ejected from the Cabinet in June 2007 after a display of rank incompetence and mismanagement at Health, has begun putting herself about with the £200k per annum (plus Fat Cat pension) post of ‘our’ next EU Commissioner very much in mind.

So who exactly is the utterly graceless Nanny Hewitt?

She hails from Australia, where she went to University. This, some might think, explains why she treats the British People with such contempt, but, to be fair, she probably treats everyone less important and less intelligent than herself with the contempt she thinks they deserve, regardless of race, colour, creed & co. That will be 99.99% of the world’s population then.

Moving to the UK In 1971 at the age of 23, she picked up a job as Age Concern’s Press and Public Relations Officer. In 1973 she moved to be a ‘Women’s Rights Officer’ at the National Council for Civil Liberties (now known as ‘Liberty’) and a year later was promoted to be its General Secretary, a post she held for nine years.

At the 1983 general election, she stood in Leicester East on that wonderful piece of leftie hokum, ‘the longest suicide note in history’, as Labour’s manifesto for that election became known. She lost.

Undeterred, she quickly grasped the greasy pole and began wriggling her way up it. When Michael Foot resigned as leader not long after, Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley entered the lists to replace him (along with the Peter Shore and Eric Heffer). La Hewitt’s first wriggle on said greasy pole was to write two letters, one to Kinnock and one to Hattersley. Let the latter take up the story:

One Friday afternoon in early October 1983, Neil Kinnock and I sat, drinking beer, outside the Grand Hotel in Brighton. We were providing a “photo opportunity” to illustrate how the leader of the Labour party and his deputy – recent opponents in the leadership election – would work in perfect harmony. We had more in common than the assembled journalists realised. Neil Kinnock had just read me a letter that Patricia Hewitt had sent him earlier in the week. It expressed the devout hope and profound conviction that he would lead the party and offered her services as his press secretary. I had received an identical letter.

With such flexible chameleon-like qualities one might suspect she would end up somewhere near the top of the greasy pole. So it came to be.

She spent the next six years as Kinnock’s mouthpiece (given Kinnock’s verbal flatulence, she must have had the most exercised mandibles in the land) before moving on to assist Lord Hollick set up the Institute for Public Policy Research of which she then became deputy director (gallingly the IPPR website makes no mention of her contributions: oh what it is to be thus airbrushed from history!). Here she remained until 1994 when she moved to become head of research at Andersen Consulting which later became Accenture so as to slough off any unfortunate connection with Enron through Arthur Andersen from which it had split some time before.

Hewitt finally made it into the House of Commons on Blair’s coattails in 1997, winning Leicester West which she has held ever since. She spent a year on the Social Security Select Committee before becoming Economic Secretary to the Treasury. In 1999 she moved to Trade and Industry as Minister of State responsible for e-commerce and small businesses, a post for which she was supremely qualified, of course, given her CV.

At the 2001 general election she was rewarded by Blair for her devotion to the cause by being moved up to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and was given additional responsibility as Minister for Women and Equality whence she was moved to the Department of Health in 2005.

It was here that she demonstrated her singular ineptitude. She presided over one of Labour’s major IT disasters, the Medical Training Application Service which was supposed to underpin the recruitment of junior doctors for posts in the health service throughout the UK. In the event the system was a spectacular failure, even by the standards already set by Labour for IT incompetence. Not just did the system not work properly but it also produced a serious security failure in which it became possible for confidential details of applicants to be viewed online. It has largely been junked at considerable cost to the taxpayer.

In 2006 Hewitt endeared herself to the general public and to NHS staff in particular by announcing to the world that the NHS had just had ‘its best year ever’. This arrogant and palpably untrue claim came at a time when thousands of jobs were being cut across the country as a number of NHS trusts attempted to cope with budget deficits. Unsurprizingly she found herself the object of contemptuous booing when she addressed the Royal College of Nursing 2006 Congress in Bournemouth, something which must have cut every Socialist to the quick, given how they affect to own the NHS as part of their political birthright. BMA chairman James Johnson observed that 2006 had rather been the worst year on record and to all appearances Labour had definitively lost the support, perhaps for the first time ever since the founding of the NHS, of health workers.

With delicious irony, given her former role at the NCCL and as Minister for Women and Equality, she managed to have herself declared guilty by an Employment Tribunal in 2005 of sex discrimination when she chose a palpably less-qualified women over an obviously well-qualified man – it is funny, is it not, how with Labour it is always ‘do as I say’ not ‘do as I do? And how with Labour it is always white men who are discriminated against, not women or those from ethnic minorities?

This is not the only occasion when this dreary, charmless woman has evinced her distaste for me. In a 1995 tract enticingly entitled “Transforming Men: Changing Patterns of Dependency and Dominance in Gender Relations” she was cited as questioning the very notion of “whether we can trust men with children.”, her conclusion being that it may well be necessary to introduce a practice of “not leaving men on their own with groups of children”. Clearly she is a subscriber to the ‘all men are rapists’ theory of society.

Her world view came in for further ridicule and contempt (and revealed more than just a little of the poisonous mindset of your typical Labour woman) when several Royal Navy personnel were outrageously kidnapped by Iranian bully boys. In due course the female hostage was shown on camera smoking a cigarette, which prompted this miserable cow to put on her ‘I’ve just sucked five lemons’ face and opine:

It was deplorable that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message to our young people.

But it is her patronizing manner which probably did for her in the end. Labour does not mind incompetence in the least (the make up and performance of the present Cabinet provides copious and extensive evidence of this fact) but an excess of arrogant condescension and an ability to get up the nostril of even the thickest skinned person meant that her demise was inevitable. Thus it was in June 2007 that Gordon Brown (who, one suspects, had been the victim of her condescension more than once), gave her the chop. At which point the nation heaved a huge sigh of relief that we would no longer have to suffer Nanny Hewitt’s lecturing and busy-bodying any more.

I loved this story from Andrew Pierce (whose whole article is required reading):

The other day, her name came up in conversation with a political lobbyist, who recalled with horror having a meeting with Hewitt in a particularly cavernous Westminster building. His telephone rang. It was his wife. He cut her off, saying: “I can’t talk now. I’m in a meeting with Patricia Hewitt.” To which his wife responded: “I can’t stand that patronising cow.”

The words echoed clearly around the room. The lobbyist, mortified, quickly countered: “No, no. I think you mean Harriet Harman.” To which the wife responded: “No. I mean that awful Hewitt woman.” The meeting with said lobbyist was brought to a swift end.

Great stuff……couldn’t have happened to a better person. Ho Ho!

So we come back to her being touted about as “our” commissioner in Brussels. I say ‘our’, but, of course, they cease being ‘ours’ within a short time of taking up their post, once they have got used to the limo, the wonderful Brussels Gastronomy, the shopping opportunities, the serious salary and pension and all the fatcat perks that are the very essence of an EU Apparatchik’s Just Desserts.

She is, in many ways, ideally suited to the job. Like Mandelson, Brown dislikes her. She has the perfect qualifications, having been a totally incompetent minister who demonstrated just how much of a mess you can make of a ministerial post. Her manner is supremely that of a Nabob. Politically she has made the journey from being a Bennite in the 1970s (when, presumably, she was anti-EU) to Blairism in the 1990s, a journey so typical of New Labour types who have pursued power at the expense of principle. Thus she will find transmogrification into a federast a stress-free experience, copiously lubricated as it will be by all the shopping power that the lovely EU moolah will bring her, the deference and, under the new Constitution, the power she will wield over her erstwhile colleagues.

How the fallen become mighty!

Since being ejected from the government for incompetence, she has landed, as they say in South Africa, with her bum in the butter, having lately taken up a nice little earner with Boots (who else, when you have single-handedly ruined the NHS) and as “special adviser” to Cinven, one of the world’s biggest private equity companies, which last year paid £1.4billion for Bupa’s UK private hospitals. Bearing in mind a lifetime of being in a party which has evinced nothing but loathing for private medicine, what better place to bide your time than a company dedicated to the business of making a profit from private medicine?

But then greasy-poleism, political flexibility and the urge to get your snout in the trough were ever a stronger call than mere principle in such as Patricia Hewitt.


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