Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Monday, 28 June 2010

When an MP 'loses it'.

@obotheclown: OK obo, I admit it. I'm a c*nt.
I also don't seem to have got the hang of this InterWebby thing. I'm totally clueless about how to turn off admin rights to the comments section, so how I cope as an MP creating laws to f*ck you up the a*se with, I haven't the faintest idea...
And the reason for this immoderate outburst?

Obo had, on his own site, written this. It's a bit sweary, but it does make a good point.
There was a time, when he was in government, that Tom Harris was a good, interesting blogger. He made a reasonable fist of engaging with people, both people who sucked his pole as well as people who wanted him impaled on a pole.

He also managed to occasionally step off-piste on his blog, certainly more than he ever did in the lobby.

Then Labour lost the election.

And I think this shock really was a bit too much for poor Tom. Instead of powering out of his hard-won blogging credentials and laying waste to the ConDems with verve and wit, he turned into a pathetic "yah-boo-sucks" mong, blogging at the intellectual level of Bevanite Ellie.

Come on Tom. You and I will never, ever agree on pretty much anything. But this pathetic, infantile, tribal bollocks is really demeaning. You sound like a spiteful toddler every time you blog lately.
If you follow Mr Harris's blog you'll probably agree with Obo, because the tone of the blog has changed quite a bit since the election, it may be that he reflects the thoughts and opinions of a lot of Labour MPs who are, in effect, leaderless and will remain so until mid-September. There is no 'party line' to follow at the moment and no 'policies' of their own to champion. So all they can do, to keep themselves in the public eye and maybe hope to be noticed, is be critical of both policies and personalities - because that's how Labour behaved when in government.

Criticism of government policies is what 'The Opposition' is supposed to do, but this criticism is supposed to have a purpose - it isn't meant to be empty, whining rhetoric. The 'Opposition' is supposed to use their time in Parliament and in committees to temper legislation that they think goes too far by being positively proactive, because all MPs of whatever political colour are meant to be there to represent the best interests of their electorate. Trouble is that for 13 long years the Labour government had too large a majority to have an effective opposition, so were able to do almost what they wanted - and whilst in power they always seemed to tell us not what they were about to do, it was always what the horrible Conservatives might have done. It was almost always alarmist stuff, and always empty words - because the neither the Conservatives nor the Lib Dems were in a position to do anything much and the Labour government had its' own way, and did precisely what it wanted. Responses to opposition MPs were almost always put-downs, worded in a 'we know best' and 'you're stupid' sort of language.

It must be very difficult, having wielded such power and authority, to suddenly find yourself powerless, not really knowing what you're meant to be doing in Parliament, leaderless and rudderless and with only one or two long-standing MPs who have experience of being in active opposition. So the rules are being made up as they go along, and are based on what they know best - what they did before - name-calling in an attempt to distract, to cover up the fact that there are no policies.

The new creature in government is called a coalition. A coalition is always built on compromise and negotiation. The business world is used to making compromises and we, the electorate, know the Lib Dems had talks with both Labour and the Conservatives. We know they opted to go with the Conservatives instead of joining Mr Brown's 'Rainbow Coalition of all the parties'. We're still not 100% sure it was the right thing to do, but we do know we'd had enough of Labour and didn't want the more of the same.

Some sections of the media and some MPs don't seem to want to understand the process of negotiation, which tends to involve withdrawing from a previous high horse position to reach a compromise, and they're criticising both parties of 'breaking manifesto promises' - which is a bit rich really, because Mr Brown taught us that manifesto promises can be broken, there's a Judge's Ruling that says so.

The blog in question also has several posts complaining about IPSA, including an indication of bad-mouthing by MPs that, if it were an ordinary member of the public could lead to arrest for abusing a civil servant. These complaints come at a time when almost everybody except Labour and the Unions seems to realise Britain's in the middle of a serious financial crisis - and we should all be counting the pennies, and reducing spending, not trying to line our own pockets or create mountains out of molehills.

Mr Harris's own comments policy includes this
Want to try out some really, really clever put-down that you’ve been constructing in your head since last August? Do it somewhere else.

And if your comment is, in my view, needlessly offensive and snide, I’ll delete it without explanation or apology.
So, let's backtrack a bit to when Mrs R first saw this comment. She, naturally, thought the site had been hacked - it happens, and she had expected the comment to disappear. She sort of expected some sort of disclaimer, or an announcement condemning those who had done the dastardly deed that undermined Mr Harris's credibility and niceness.

But, that's not what has happened because it looks as if Mr Harris has been back to his blog since. Later (moderated) comments have appeared, he's also left another response ... and those words remain in place. So Mrs R reckons it's reasonable for her to assume these are his own words, deliberately written, and intended to be read by anybody who reads his blog and decides to also read the comments.

Mrs R would be furious if her MP was putting stuff like that on the internet, even as a joke, and she'd let them know what she thought. Unfortunately Mr Harris is able to moderate comments out of existence, so it's unlikely her words would see the light of day - hence this post.

Mr Harris is not Mrs R's MP, but he is paid by Mrs R's taxes and maybe it's 'old fashioned' to say this, but she doesn't expect people whose wages she pays - especially MPs - to use language like that in public. And, a blog is public, if it isn't protected by a password and only viewable by a select group of by invitation-only individuals.

So, Mr Harris, don't wriggle and pretend it's a joke. You are a public servant and we expect better from you. Either take that comment down, tell us it was 'hackers' or apologise to those you've offended - because Mrs R isn't the only one.

* Asterisks courtesy of Mrs R.


Anonymous said...

I'm 99% sure he's been hacked somehow. Looks like he's changed to a new comments system, which hasn't been configured properly.

The Grim Reaper said...

Tom should go on a basic computer course to learn about these things. He can stick it on expenses if he wants, I'm sure.

Mrs Rigby said...

Seems to have vanished now, maybe he took your advice Grim Reaper.