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Should Tessa Jowell keep her job?

Our correspondent writes ...

tessa jowellYet again we have the spectre of a cabinet minister embroiled in something that, to most of us, doesn't appear to be strictly above board. But, as Ms Jowell says in defence of her lucrative position, what her husband does has no bearing on her duties to the country.

Except that her husband's client, Silvio Berlusconi, is regularly surrounded by scandal; he is a close friend of our own prime minister, our prime minister is a close associate of Ms Jowell and our culture secretary is a close ally of the prime minister.

Some may think this is a situation where one person in a peer group automatically covers up for another under the preservation of friendship philosophy; others might think it is an incestuous and corrupt nest of vipers abusing privileges granted only to those who are elected to run our country.

To claim that she doesn't know the details of her husband's activities suggests she doesn't have a very good marriage since most husbands and wives tend to talk about their jobs, if only for the sake of having something to discuss apart from the kids. If I asked my wife to help raise 350,000 on the house to pay for some investments I know she would ask some very searching questions. Being very close, I would tell her it was short-term financial cover until the Italian prime minister coughed up for saving him from a corruption scandal. She would then remind me a) that our house isn't worth 350k and b) that 350k seems like an awful lot of money for telling a few porkies in court when you can reputedly have someone knocked off for a mere 20k!

But, as we have now come to expect of our politicians, Ms Jowell immediately claims that what she has done does not conflict with her ministerial duties and does not breach the ministerial code of conduct. She is backed by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, and Tony Blair immediately leaps to her defence, just as he did with those other paragons of virtue, David Blunkett, Peter Mandelson and Geoffrey Robinson.

Those of us who have our feet firmly rooted to this planet then begin to wonder what ethics are actually contained in the ministerial code of conduct since it seems the first objective of those in conflict is to lie. They can do this knowing the prime minister - that flawless judge of character and property deals - will automatically back them to the hilt. Any suggestion of distrust never leads to an honourable decision to resign as our ministers always seem determined to hang on to their cabinet positions until the truth finally emerges. Even then, they can continue to represent their constituents until things quieten down knowing they will probably be invited back to cabinet on the next reshuffle. Such is the way with people totally lacking any modicum of honesty and integrity.

One of the things I have learned during my quest to expose malpractice is that the perpetrators often make no attempt to cover their tracks. This is not because they are stupid - it is because they genuinely believe they are above suspicion or reproach. And, to some extent, they can expect to remain aloof if they continue to be protected by a corrupt society.

But what kind of culture breeds in the Ministry of Culture? Deceit?

Update - 2nd March 2006:

So now we know. Tessa Jowell has been cleared of any breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct because she didn't know what her husband was up to. In other words, though ignorance is not a legal defence in law it is, apparently, a perfectly valid defence in Parliamentary circles!

Those of us who are mere mortals would not understand any merits of having huge sums of money changing hands by way of massive mortgages and rapid repayments on two domestic properties. But as all the mortgage applications (totalling 1.3m) bore the signature of Ms Jowell it seems very strange that she could possibly claim ignorance about the repayments because she would be equally liable in law if the payments were not made. Or is that another law that does not apply to politicians?

So, yet again, a minister has the full backing of the Prime Minister and his cabinet toadies and most of us are left wondering why none of the culprits have the common decency to admit they are not fit to serve British people. Blair has again demonstrated that his judgement is severely flawed and one has to draw the conclusion that a man who is totally entrenched in lies and deceit prefers to be surrounded by other liars and cheats. Or perhaps he cannot dispense justice for fear that his victims could expose him.

This whole episode demonstrates once again that New Labour have given us the most corrupt government in living memory. They have handed our destiny to the USA and Europe and they have ensured that the meek will never inherit the earth. There are too many corrupt bastards preventing it.

As for Ms Jowell, we have to point out that if the woman is not capable of handling mortgage repayments, how can she possibly be trusted with the huge funds that will be necessary to host the Olympics in 2012?

Footnote:

When David Mills drove away from his home this morning in full view of television cameras, he smashed into the open door of a parked vehicle and knocked off his own nearside wing mirror. Reason? His forward vision was almost totally obliterated by ice on his windscreen.

As a member of the legal profession he would surely know it is an offence to drive with an obscured windscreen yet it did not stop him driving off. If you or I did it, we would no doubt be charged if our negligence caused an accident. But will David Mills be charged by the police? After all, the evidence is clearly recorded on videotape.

We have to assume the answer is no. Mr Mills will probably claim ignorance of the law. And why not? It works for his wife!

4th March update

The whitewash of two days ago has barely dried when news arrives that Ms Jowell and David Mills are separating. Our culture secretary is apparently prepared to sacrifice 28 years of happy marriage now she has discovered her husband may be involved in some decidedly dodgy deals.

Those amongst us who are somewhat cynical might think the prospects of lucrative financial gains as a minister of the state, and a future peerage, appear to be more important than standing by one's spouse. We might even think that a person who does not have the common decency to resign when the evidence against her is building up daily cannot be trusted to act on our behalf.  But in this respect, Ms Jowell is not alone. She is not the first New Labour politician to attempt bluffing her way out of a difficult position and she will not be the last. The most galling aspect, however, is that such brazen defiance in the face of increasing amounts of evidence insults the intelligence of decent people.


"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill


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