Monday, August 03, 2009

Why is Eric Joyce Still in his Job?

Over the last few years there have been many examples of government PPSs breaking ranks and criticising the very government they are members of them. Only rarely is any action taken against them.

The latest is Eric Joyce, the PPS to Bob Ainsworth. He has called the MoD court case seeking to claw back compensation payments as "wholly wrong". He's right and some would say courageous to speak out in such a way. Others might say it would have been more courageous to resign on such a matter of principle.

But it says a lot that the Labour whips are letting it be known that his job is not in danger. What it says is that they can't be bothered to paper over the cracks in their crumbling edifice.

19 comments:

TA Major said...

On the plus side, Eric Joyce, is one of the very few members of the Labour party who has ever served in HM Forces. It is just a shame it is so late in the day for him to make any comment at all.

Anonymous said...

Who's Eric Joyce?

Sniper said...

All you have to know is who's spittle Joyce is licking now.

DeeDee99 said...

Sounds like Eric Joyce is far better qualified to be Defence Secretary than Bob Ainsworth.

Once again, Gordon chose the wrong person.

Unsworth said...

Is this not just window dressing? What will Joyce's comments do really? And his timing is interesting. One would have thought that he could have made his position clear at a much earlier stage. Instead he has waited - it appears - until the matter has been brought to Court.

However, if he is sacked the political damage to the Government will be substantial - so I'm not surprised by the Labour Whips' quiescence.

John of Enfield said...

Labour have played this game before with a number of ministers as well as (unpaid) PPS. Their position on hospital closures could best be paraphrased as "I am a member of the Government that voted for the closure of this hospital - I am completely against it as an individual but I haven't got the guts to give up my post on such a (small?) matter of principle".

A government without principles is how I would summarise it.

Gallimaufry said...

Ex-Black Watch.

Unsworth said...

@ Gallimaufry.

And this is a commendation or a condemnation?

Lee H said...

All part of the plan to reverse the decision. A couple more murmurs here and there and it will be "well it wasn't really our policy anyway" etc and a new compensations bill will come out and it will be all " you see, this is what we meant really". And besides as Bob has already said, he hasn't really got the intellect so he didn't really know what he was saying yes to anyway.

Anonymous said...

What it says is that they can't be bothered to paper over the cracks in their crumbling edifice.

Nah, what it actually says is that they understand the political price that will be paid if they try to punish someone for stating the obvious.

This is much akin to the Catholic Church, a few years back, deciding to "forgive" Galileo. It's the simple recognition that declaring war on someone who is self-evidently correct and who is speaking for 99% of all sane people in the universe is going to achieve very little: you'll probably lose the fight and, even if you don't, your victory will be purely notional because you'll end up looking like a douchebag.

Anonymous said...

No doubt Eric Joyce will find one of the skeletons in his closet walking all over a Sunday newspaper sometime soon.

Gordon's new Labour has lots of previous in dealing with their own going off message.

Gallimaufry said...

@ Unsworth: service with Black watch is worthy of respect.
http://www.theblackwatch.co.uk/index/history-and-research
Your daft comment proves you are actually Bob Ainsworth and I claim my £5.

Jess The Dog said...

Sacking Eric Joyce (former Black Watch and Adjutant-General's Corps) would be political suicide even beyond trying to claw back compensation payments. Joyce was in the Army after all, unlike everyone else in this government. Even the military community could end up jumping on the outrage bus in support of Joyce and that would be no mean achievement!

Polly Toynbee's Hairdresser said...

Im highly impressed with the gallant and honourable Mr Joyce.

For this fantastic MP to have taken time out from filling in his travel expenses forms means he must be very passionate about this subject.

Unsworth said...

@ Gallimaufry

I'm aware of some of the illustrious Regimental History of the Black Watch, but surely you'd not claim that service with the Black Watch is worthy of greater 'respect' than all other regiments? And perhaps not quite all members of that fine body of men have met the mark, eh? I'd cite George Grant, the mutiny of 1743, and the case of Abd al-Jubba Mousa, 53, a head teacher in Basra who died after he was allegedly beaten with rifle butts by Black Watch soldiers in May 2003 as random examples. That is not to decry the majority, of course.

But my point is this. A splendid and honourable career in whichever regiment does not necessarily fit one to be an ideal Minister of Defence. True, a lack of direct experience of the Armed Forces is a distinct disadvantage, but other personal skills may be advantageous. My concern is that Ainsworth and many of his colleagues have neither the skills nor the experience, nor - it appears - the wit or the inclination.

One might ask what took Joyce so long to come to this conclusion. Did he, for example, think that the case would never come to Court? Yet from his elevated position he'll have seen the enemy's tanks massing on the horizon. And exactly what will he do now?

Mirtha Tidville said...

I hear the distinct sound of yet more nails being hammered into the coffin marked LIEBOUR.........

Anonymous said...

Id Eric Joyce the guy who made that disastrous appearance on BBC Scotland in June ? attempting to justify his £150K annual expenses, looking tired and emotional, unshaven and tie-less. Didn't seem to care what people thought about his views then, either. The expenses story has really died a death.

jon dee said...

So often his master's voice, might not Eric Joyce have been encouraged to make his " compensation" intervention ?

Watch out for U-turns.

Steve said...

I assumed that this indicated that the policy of trying to limit the compensation was primarily driven by officials, that the politics of it wasn't picked up by the ministerial team, and that it's easier for the PPS (who is not a minister at the MOD and therefore can be argued not to have any exec responsibility) to indicate a recognition that it's a political screw-up.