The crystal Methodist's real crime was trashing an ethical brand

22 Nov 2013 at 09:31

Ed Balls takes some beating as the most repulsive man in British politics. Just as I thought that he could sink no lower he now tries to twist the crystal Methodist minister scandal into a ‘did Osborne and Cameron ever take cocaine, we need to be told’ outrage. Do we need to be told? Does anyone give a toss whether any cabinet or Shadow cabinet took drugs while a student? Or did anything that they might be ashamed of now that they are in public office? Of course not. If Theresa May was, as Home Secretary, was taking part in drug fuelled orgies, then she would have to be called to account. But if she was up to naughties whilst at university is it any of our business? Certainly not.

Personally I really don’t care too much whether the not so Reverend Flowers was stuffing himself with drugs and rent boys. What does worry me is that he was arrogant enough to boast about it all on a Cooperative email address. And what makes me really angry is that he was appointed to chair a bank without any knowledge of banking. But what makes me scream with indignation is that he has trashed a brand which was rooted in humane and ethical behaviour.

Many thoroughly decent people took out accounts with the Coop because they believed that their money was going to be spent ethically and wisely. Because they believed in the ethos of the Cooperative movement. They didn’t for one moment think it was going be used as a sweet jar full of cash for the Labour Party to dip in and out of when they felt like it.

What is particularly revolting is how Balls and Miliband are now distancing themselves from Flowers. Surely it stretches credulity that the chairman of a bank that is deeply rooted in the Labour Party had hardly any contact with the leadership? That Balls had hardly any dealings with the man who provided him with fifty grand to fund his private office? Do these guys think that we are all so dim that we can’t tell a whopper when it bites us on the bum?

But Miliband and Balls have got more form than Shergar for this sort of behaviour. Remember Damian MacBride? Well, since he published his very readable but utterly poisonous book about how he headed up Gordon Brown’s black ops department, they didn’t seem to remember having much contact with him at all. Memory loss seems to be contagious in the court of Miliband. But I wonder how long it will be before a disgruntled Coop employee leaks the paper trail? I will take a close interest in this Sundays newspapers.
Flowers’ real crime is not buying class A drugs. It is betraying the trust of ordinary decent people who thought that the Cooperative movement stood out as a beacon of all that could be good in banking. They have been grievously let down. So let’s have a root and branch inquiry into how on earth this fellow glided effortlessly to the top of a bank. Let their be naming and shaming and let anyone who was involved in the appointment of this man and who was meant to keep and check on his stewardship of the bank be shown the door.