Cronyism, dishonest journalism the honours system and why Crosby deserves a Dukedom

31 Dec 2015 at 12:17

What has happened to the Independent apart from selling less copies than Goldfish Weekly? This was the paper which was to break the mould and put professional, impartial journalism at its core. That’s why it was called the Independent. But read today’s splash with care.
“Almost 30 Tory party members or supporters receive awards amid accusations of cronyism”, it screamed. And then there were the quotes from the usual suspects. Andy Burnham (yes, I thought he was dead too) was ‘outraged’ at a knighthood for Lynton Crosby and then goes onto a diatribe about the wicked Tories thinking that they can do what they like.

Well, this looks like a tale of Cameroonian baubles for the Bullers corruption unearthed by the painstaking skill of an Independent scribbler in the finest traditions of Her Majesty’s Press. But then let us read on. It is revealed by the head of the honours committee that,“26 out of 1,196 awards were for political services including Parliamentary clerks, Rosie Winterton, Ed Davey and Harriet Harman’s former adviser……”

To put it in legal terms the subheadline is complete bollocks and utterly misleading. I am not sure that we can go to journalist default mode and blame the sub editors as I thought most if not all of them had been sacked. It’s not just sloppy journalism it borders on the dishonest. It wouldn’t have happened under Andrew Marr’s editorship.

We Brits love our baubles adorned with meaningless medieval gobbledegook. And there is a modicum of cronyism from all parties. Who cares if some bag carrier from the Ministry of footpaths and dog shit gets an MBE? Who cares if Labour’s Chief Whip gets the DBE, after all she has had to put up with Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and now Corbyn? What we do care about is when the greasers, chancers, donors and arse lickers get pushed into the Lords where they have the chance to legislate. But honours at a political level have always been a means of control. Keep your nose clean as an MP for about thirty years and you’ll get a K. If you stab a PM in the back as a senior minister forget about a peerage.

There is also a lot of press outrage at the award of gongs to civil servants. This year’s Joan of Arc is Lin Homer. I know Lin of old. I was counsel (for Labour actually) in the Birmingham postal ballot fraud when the election commissioner likened her handling of an election as ‘worthy of a banana republic’. But she was looked after and wreaked havoc and disaster at UKBA, the Department of Transport and now as chief executive of HMRC. She should have pensioned off years ago. I don’t give a toss about her DBE which comes with the rations, but I do care deeply about a charmed life and a massive pension pot worth millions.

And having a crack at Lynton Crosby is a bit like saying, ‘what have the Romans ever done for us?’. Anyone who can housetrain Boris and win an election for the Tories against all the odds deserves a Dukedom. The man has been shortchanged! And before we have another burst of sphincter rattling hypocrisy from Burnham just remember that the Lords is stuffed with Labour election gurus.

So, let’s get it all in perspective. There is a certain amount of cross party cronyism in the honours list. But it is a minority sport. The majority of gongs and baubles go to the deserving who selflessly serve their communities. And talking of sport, what happened to Andy Murray?

Lastly the Indy had a crack at Marion Little ‘an election strategist’. Too right she was. She was my splendid agent. And for that burden she deserves nothing less than a DBE.

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