Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Expensive Failure

Peter Hain
Counting the Cost
I've got a sneaky feeling that if, on some Inland Revenue form or another, I signed off on a turnover figure of £82,000 rather than a true figure closer to £200,000, I'd be out of 'oops sorry' band, even were the figures put together by some underling or another. The repeatedly useless Peter Hain though is a politician where different, much lower, standards prevail.

As much as it has been amusing to read of Hain's deputy leadership bid team fighting like rats in a sack over exactly whose incompetence has dragged the bad name of Labour further into the mud, at heart it is a deeply depressing spectacle.

The idea that the availability of more than double the declared funding would not have affected campaigning choices, something that Hain himself must have at least some hand in, beggars belief, even if he didn't do the book keeping himself. If you look at a five figure quote for some activity it looks very different with £200k in the bank instead of less than half that. The alleged unawareness of the Prime Minister, once again, of the developing story until the last possible moment again strikes another familiar off-key note, or at the very least betokens a 'see no evil...' approach of deliberate ignorance.

Of course though, it is a story with a happy ending, in that there was at least a little poetic justice. To have spent more than double the amount of every other contestant in a race and still only come fifth out of the six that made it to the start line must have been humiliating enough, even before the realisation sunk in that the winner was one of the most easily dislikeable performers on today's political stage.

I have to admit that I used to find Hain one of the less offensive senior figures in the Labour hierarchy. Of late though he has joined a growing band whose demeanour and simplistic form of argument by unfounded assertion was something that I never had a lot of time for, but I accepted to politically work a once inexplicably popular and modestly trusted Labour government, but seem hopeless incapable of adjusting to their newly reduced circumstances.

I suspect that there are many who, unlike myself, would dearly love to be able to vote Labour without a bad smell in their nose next time around, having seen a party truly contrite and self-aware of the faults that prolonged exposure to power has brought to them as to so many others. From the likes of Hain, as well as many others such as Balls and Harman and the Prime Minister himself, I doubt an apology will ever seem truly sincere as it may do to an extend, for example, from the likes of a Miliband or Darling as similarly useless as they may be in other respects.

As long as the likes of Hain linger, so will the bad smell. It's actually less to do with individual offences against the law or general decency, but how their lack of grace under fire even if they can abase themselves just far enough to say sorry.

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