Gordon Brown has, by my reckoning, the very worst personal character defects of any Prime Minister since the War. He lies with consummate ease. The yellow streak up his backbone is the width of the M25. When the going gets tough, he gets going, as far from the scene of trouble as he can. And for sanctimonious hypocrisy and cant he has few equals.

Today’s Sunday Times sets out a notable example of the latter tendency.

When Gordon Brown was shadow chancellor and John Major’s government was on the rack, he had a telling phrase for the exodus of ministers into business. There was a “revolving door” from “cabinet room to the boardroom” and it was just another dimension to Tory sleaze. Nothing like that, surely, could happen under new Labour.

He was not the only one, of course. Smuggo, who has started lining his own trousers with indecent haste, was always happy to go on about this and never was there more lip-curling contempt evinced than by Scottish Pixie Robin Cook when it came to Tories taking well-paid jobs in business. But Brown’s phrase marked him out as a moral authority on the subject with all the weight and piety that a ‘son of the manse’ could bring to it.

The reality is, as the Sunday Times points out, that not only is being sacked from a Labour Government all but impossible, if it does happen there is immediate solace available to all, regardless of competence, probity or any thing else you might care to name. It lists the lucky ones.

The sheer length, scale and nature of the plum jobs picked up by Brown’s colleagues demonstrates beyond a peradventure that the ‘revolving-door’ of which he spoke so piously in days of yore is now turning at a far faster rate and far more often than it ever did under the Tories. In short, Gordon Brown’s erstwhile strictures on the matter have been comprehensively trashed and he now presides over the niffiest of atmospheres in the ‘jobs for the boys’ department.

It is not as if these employers were especially keen to seek out able administrators possessed of the finest minds and keen judgement – were that so the likes of Patricia Hewitt, Richard Caborn and Lord Bach would hardly come immediately to mind.

What everyone suspects is that they are sought after for their ability to open doors to their successors and party colleagues and their insider knowledge of the long-term plans of the ministries over which they once lorded it. It is thus a toxic mix of ‘jobs-for-access’ and what would be called ‘insider-dealing’ if they were working in the City.

The current ministerial code of conduct (para 1.2.f.) says this:

Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.

Is it not the case that many of these jobs give the strongest possible appearance of a conflict between their former employment in public office and their present and pretty well immediate personal and private interests?


And is it not about time that this shabby, dissembling Prime Minister of ours be brought to book for presiding over as this grubby, rampantly cronyist, mutual back-scratching set-up?


Or is the only response to be the sound of yet more CVs gushing from the Laser Printers of Whitehall, including that perhaps of one G. Brown as he realizes the propinquity of his nemesis?

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