Sunday, March 01, 2009

Harriet Harman Let Off the Hook

I don't know if you're like me, but when I am watching a politician being interviewed and let off the hook, I start shouting at the TV. This morning's interview between Andrew Marr and Harriet Harman was one such occasion. He questioned her at length on Sir Fred Goodwin's pension. Harman rattled on about what a disgrace it was and how the public wouldn't stand for it, and that it didn't matter what the courts said, it was the court of public opinion that mattered. Go on Andrew, I was urging, ask the killer question! But it never came. Instead, she was allowed to bluster on and sound as outraged as the rest of us.

And what was the question which was never asked? If Sir Fred's pension is so outrageous, why was it signed off by Government Ministers, and shouldn't Paul Myners fall on his sword?

She was even allowed to get away with making the assertion that Sir Fred's pension wasn't a pension at all - it was severance pay. Well I'd love to see that one tested in a court of law. The fact remains, that whatever Harman called it, it was agreed to by her own government, to which, she was keen to remind us, she is a very loyal member.


Dick the Prick said...

'It's unacceptable therefore it won't be accepted' - hokely dokely, glad that's been cleared up.

I've loved Mandleson's intervention - the fact that he got £283k from the EU for taking ermine is a completely different matter not to be confused with staggering hypocrisy.

yellowbelly said...

She is an ignorant waste of oxygen, who doesn't give a stuff, but is merely positioning herself to become next leader of the Labour Party.

FireForce said...

This lot are way out of their depth, always have been, always will be, a chimps tea party is as far as they should be trusted!
All they can do is walk around patting each other on the back, they have never ever come up with an original idea, a fact they can not.

Trend Shed said...

I watched that too. If I am honest, my hopes of Marr asking a penetrating question were very low to start with.

If Paxman had missed the obvious questions, I'd be thinking he was ill or something.

Given it was only Andrew Marr, well, he always gives the government an easy ride doesn't he?

The Andrew Marr show has long stopped being a "must see" program. I have it on in the background in the event that something interesting may happen - one day.

Daniel Cullen Eyewear said...

I think Andrew Marr usually asks those important probing questions but top politicians are so adept at sidestepping, it doesn't seem to matter what they're asked.

It makes me smile nowadays whenever I hear the phrase "lessons will be learnt". Do people agree that this is now becoming the middle management equivalent of the footballers much beloved quote "a game of two halves"?

One final thing - is that little green open topped car really Andrew Marr's or is it a BBC prop? If it's yours Andrew, top choice!

Gordon said...

There was a similar point by a Labour peer on R4 the other day - he said (I paraphrase slightly), "it doesn't matter if it's legal, it's moral justice that matters." I thought the whole issue of Jackboots expenses was that it was technically okay even though the public think it stinks. Quite rightly, they'd object against vigilante squads. Why is a legal contract not acceptable in this case? They screwed up by signing it. Hold their hands up and admit their mistake. They are a bunch of hypocritical incompetents and the sooner they are voted out the better. (Sorry if this is duplicated, am having browser problems)

Sean said...

I have given up on the BBC a long time ago to supply objective reporting of current affairs.

Sean said...

..and another thing, what this is by NuLab is dog whistle politics, something they roundly condemn apparently.

Guido Fawkes said...

Am shocked that Mr Jackie Ashley, let Harman, best friend of the missues, off the hook.

Simon Harley said...

I am glad I don't watch Marr - shouting at the television is so undignified and futile.

When was the last time he didn't let a government politician off the hook?

an ex-apprentice said...


Guido been at the sauce again?

Unknown said...

Marr was clearly looking to lick her bottom clean. If she's the next leader of the Liebour party (quite likely) he wants to be in her good books.

Iain. Why do you assume any BBC presenter will ever ask tough questions of a Liebour politician?

I've yet to see or hear one decent interview where a beeboid beats up on a liebour politician.

Different for Tories of course. George Osborne is always treated like he's a child killer on the BBC.

Anonymous said...

Marr is a piece of sycophantic left wing shit.

He is just one of many at the BBC.

As ITV companies struggle with the recession their BBC counterparts wallow in the licence payers largess - no wonder Marr sucks up to Harman so.

From what the Mail/pectator says - Harman can expect a rougher ride from Brown

Salmondnet said...

What else do you expect from Mr Jackie Ashley?

Reading Glasses: - The Trabant is a BBC prop. Implicit dishonesty from the BBC. What a surprise.

javelin said...

The killer question is, when fifty to one hundred thousand jobs are lost by HBOS and RBS in Scotland will that be sufficient to cause devolution. If I were Alex Salmond I would be pressing very hard for Scotland to have it's own regulatory framework and blaming Gordon Brown for dealing a severe blow to the finance industry inScotland. Anybody fromthe SNP Reading this?

Not a sheep said...

Andrew Marr? Would that be the same Andrew Marr who is married to Guardian political journalist Jackie Ashley? Would that be the same Jackie Ashley whose father is the Labour Life Peer, Lord Ashley of Stoke?

Just wondered.

Jabba the Cat said...

Harriet Harman is the ultimate snake in the grass who specialises in weasel words by the skipload. All in all, a thoroughly despicable member of the female political species.

Chris Paul said...

Was it signed off "by Ministers"?

If so was it signed off with full and correct information?

I thought you were going to be fussing over her reasonable refusal to blab about cabinet discussions.

It really is about time Iain that you started blocking Jonathan Cook and his anatomical profile picture. He should keep his sexual fantasies involving Derek Draper to himself.

And you Iain shouldn't pander to this bare naked nastiness.

Nigel said...

"The prime minister has said that it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted," she added.
"And it might be enforceable in a court of law, this contract, but it is not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that is where the government steps in."

Clearly not a fan of Robert Bolt, then.

Fred Goodwin should have been dismissed for gross misconduct, not allowed to take early retirement, but that is entirely beside the point. Harman's remarks are utterly disgraceful.

bustop said...

"it was the court of public opinion that mattered"
More than one killer question to this statement I think!
Like Jacqui Smiths expenses, Harman trying to change the law to protect MPs expenses, Straw, Milliband Smith et al re extraordinary rendition Lords fiddles - the list goes on.

bustop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Compton Valence said...

The court of public opinion is a fixation of Stalinists. I believe such courts hold show trials.

We live by law in this country and for a politician to suggest that laws don't matter is the absolute end. Hattie is hard-working and earnest but totally misguided about this - and much else. The killer question Marr failed to ask was not Why was it signed off? but Why do you think public opinion matters more than the law?

Sir Fred will keep his pension, like it or not Iain, and the more ministers jump up an down and make idle threats, the worse the mess becomes for them. Sooner or later someone is going to have to say that the Treasury solicitors can't find a way to get at him. What a climbdown that will be.

Patrick said...

I was left utterly confused. Did she say that Sir Fred had "not retired", and it was "not a pension".

And Im still none the wiser who signed this off.

50 Calibre said...

I watched this nonsense too. I don't really understand the point of interviewing Harman. In fact I don't really see the point of Harman. If I could afford televisions I would hurl bricks at them on these occasions...

Tony_E said...

Andrew Marr is all but paid up as a Labour party member. There is no point in watching his moronic program, I stopped some time ago as I don't like to swear in front of the kids!

We really miss ITV running a proper politics service as they did in the 80's. As a teenager I remember watching Brian Walden, who despite being a former Labour MP (if I remember correctly), ran the tightest and least biased of political programs.

The BBC is now an agent of the left, if not the Labour Party. It is no longer fit for purpose at all.

Anonymous said...

The outrage at this session should be towards Marr and the BBC. If we don't have the media challenging our politicians then the public will learn nothing. Is it an accident that Marr does NOT ask such an obvious question. The BBC which I once liked should be torn apart for the Gov lap dog it has become.

Eddie 180 said...

terview, but given what you have reported, I would think the killer question was:
"If the Court of public opinion holds sway, should Jaquie Smith repay her expenses?"

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Mr Paul,

"Was it signed off "by Ministers"?
If so was it signed off with full and correct information?"

Are you telling us that Labour Ministers "sign off" without having a clue what it is they are "signing off".

Or is it fraud by the bank you're alleging, rather than ministerial incompetence?

Just asking. Just so we're all quite clear.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

It's not just Marr. Time and again unskilful interviewers let politicians off the hook. I think sometimes the producers shout down their earpieces, 'Move on, move on'. And 'moving on' is a gift to an evasive politician.

Dick the Prick said...

It's only a partial bonus if John Sopel is sober.

Trend Shed said...

Chris Paul,

You don't like my profile picture?

When I commissioned this piece of 'art work' - my brief was to find a picture which enabled the observer to understand something about themselves.

For me this art work celebrates the birth of 'Labour List'... and so much more....

You, however, seem to find it sexual. Whatever floats your boat......

Mitch said...

Why do people expect Marr to ask hard questions of labour MPs?.
he may as well be a MP cos he certainly isn't a journalist.

I imagine he gets emailed a list of "acceptable" questions to ask from his masters depending on who he is fawning in front of.

The mans opinions are therefore of no value and should be treated as a party political broadcast.

Tony said...

Were you seriously expecting Andrew Marr to ask a revealing, killer question of a Labour minister? I admire your faith, albeit misplaced.

When you have a Labour sycophant occupying a position such as Marr's then you get softsoap interviews like this and the one Gordon Brown got.

My only surprise is that Marr did not race outside afterwards to conduct Harman's press briefing. It would not be the first time, eh.

Richard Edwards said...

There no justice like angry mob justice. Labour wants to be careful; the mob will turn on them in due course when they have some more substantial to worry about than a fat cat's pension.

Gendeau said...

Harriet Harman is the most tempting argument for the feminist belief that Men and Wimmin are actually differant species - men just prey on Wimmin to reproduce.

Polly Toynbee makes a great argument too.

As a man I love the idea that hazza is of a differant species...just wish I was stupid enough to believe it.

On a serious note; can these people REALLY believe what they spout?

I believe care in the community can benefit some mentally incompetents, but letting them 'run' (sic) the country is just going too far.

jailhouselawyer said...

I still remember the day that Jack Straw let Michael Howard off the hook in the House of Commons over the Derek Lewis affair.

I am disgusted with Harriet Harman. In a previous life she was a champion of prisoners rights, and the solicitor representing Williams in the Control Unit Case. She was prosecuted for leaking court documents to the Guardian, in contempt of court, and went on to win her case against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights.

If this is accurate reporting: "it didn't matter what the courts said, it was the court of public opinion that mattered", I am even more disgusted with Harriet Harman.

At para 70, in the Prisoners Votes Case before the ECtHR:

"There is, therefore, no question that a prisoner forfeits his
Convention rights merely because of his status as a person detained
following conviction. Nor is there any place under the Convention system, where tolerance and broadmindedness are the acknowledged hallmarks of
democratic society, for automatic disenfranchisement based purely on what might offend public opinion".

If it is the court of public opinion that matters, then why is the government refusing to release the results of the public consultation exercise on whether prisoners should get the franchise?

In my view, I believe that the public actually supported the ECtHR decision and that the government cannot admit that it is seriously out of touch with what the public thinks.

Richard Edwards said...

If public opinion was all that mattered Jailhouselawyer then we'd undoubtedly still have capital and corporal punishment on the statute book. I wonder what Harman's argument might be here? She really is thick.

On deeper reflection, Harman's attitude to the legal system and courts is rather like the Nazi's - They are little more than an appendage of the government.

The more the pension row rumbles on the more the true colours of labour come to the fore...

Unsworth said...

Her 'performance' - in all senses - this morning was truly dire.

Asked about the erosion of civil liberties this former civil rights campaigner immediately indicated that she thought the increasing draconian surveillance of society was a great thing - because it apparently increased the numbers of convictions for Rape. No other crimes mentioned of course. This woman has but one point of view on anything - that of a virulent prejudice against all men. She is sexual discrimination on legs.

In short, she's a complete bigoted airhead. And Marr is totally enslaved.

Oh and Salmondnet, the Dinky Toy that Marr apparently ponces about in is, inevitably, Japanese. It's a Nissan Figaro. British jobs for British workers, eh?

Unsworth said...

Sorry, forgot to add that - like so much about Marr - it's a fake. The Nissan Figaro is a modern car underneath a piece of retro 'styling' - how utterly appropriate.

Magic2010 said...

Why did the torture stance go on and on and on? The lady doth protest too much? And her rubbish about not positioning for leadership.

Agree with the overall feeling here. Marr is obviously uncomfortable with making his cabinet MP guests squirm, which with this government is a likelihood week in, week out.

It's unacceptable though that they didn't think to attach strings to 16 million quid of OUR money. And then that BBC puke doesn't press with it.

Their false indignation (harman, two-shags et al.) makes me want to puke.

I suppose with tens of billions flying around whats 16 mill? huh? And Harman thinks they can win the next election. bwahahaahaha

Little Black Sambo said...

Chris Paul: "Ooh, I'm offended."

cassandra said...

The real question is of course, what is an incoming Tory administration going to do about the BBC?
How can the Tories fight against the utterly hostile and hate filled BBC AND try to repair the smashed up economy, do you think that the union barons will sit back twiddling their thumbs when the really tough choices start getting made?
The Tory party can dress to left and wear the clothes of a eurotrash social democrat rabble till the cows come home and the left will still despise the Tories and will still try to destroy them either at the ballot box or using the old socialist favourite, 'by any means necessary'.
The Tories will have to show incredible determination and guts, they will have to the same true grit that Maggie showed, are the Tories upto it?
Hoping for the best and trusting to luck simply will not fly!
Still if the plan by the eurotrash quislings is to ruin the UK for the EU take over the rubble then all is going according to plan and Dave will be the first regional satrap of a minor powerless region.

Salmondnet said...

Unsworth. I stand corrected. It's still a prop.

Newmania said...

Harmann presented the part privatisation of the Royal Mail as a crusade to ensure its future .It is ,as she said part of the fabric of the Nation . The answer to the future of things that are the….’ fabric of the nation ‘ ,is privatisation then is it ? It would appear that the swift demise of the Labour Party is also part of that answer because they aint touching education ,the NHS etc.

Peter Grimes said...

Harlot Harridan is a useless man-hating (she married Dromey for God's sake!) tape stuck on repeat.

Her blink count when asked about her leadership (ffs she couldn't lead a cookery lesson, just like Fat Jacqui) ambitions gave the lie to her lying response.

And please, stop putting the knife into Poor Ole JugEars - he's got to do something for his promised 'K', and like The White Queen, it is to suck up to ZaNuLaBor.

Domesday said...

Er...who was the interview given by? Enough said. These programmes are Labour party political broadcasts dressed up as impartial politics (not very well).

someday said...

Andrew Marr is an appalling lickspittle.

Urban Roy said...

I missed the interview but I did read the highlights of the story. For me the most ridiculous/ outrageous quote was the one you allude to, the BBC website assures me that Harman said:

" might be enforceable in a court of law, this contract, but it is not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that is where the government steps in."

While he may not be an attack dog journalist, well done Marr for getting her to make such a stupid statement. It tells you everything you need to know about Harman.

Snafu said...

When did any politician worry about "the court of public opinion" about mass-immigration?

The Grim Reaper said...

Is there a competition at the moment in the cabinet who see who can be the biggest hoon* in the government? Geoffrey must be getting jealous at these displays of stupidity.

* Hoon, to those of you unfamiliar with this, being a substitute for a four-lettered obscenity which I am not allowed to use on Iain's blog. You work it out...

killemallletgodsortemout said...

"The prime minister has said that it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted," she added.

I bet Fred The Shred is really bricking it now!

Yours richly,

etc, etc.

Ian M said...

One very point on this issue has just been raised on another blogsite.
Taking account of the fact that the RBS is a Scottish Company (as I believe is HBOS), under which legal system is his contract enforced? If as suggested it is a Scottish one, then under the Devolution Settlement does the Westminster Government have the power to nullify the contract? I suspect this may be in the hands of Alex Salmond!

Even if that is not the case, this is an appalling breach of the Rule of Law. It is retrospective and it is targetted. Remember Individual Cases make bad laws. I could even the the slightly less repellant than Harman, Sir Fred (he is from Ferguslie Park area of Paisley which explains a lot)taking the Case to Europe.

Question... said...

What I find interesting is that Her Highness Hariot Harman considers Neu Liebor to be above the law of the land.

Whatever crime this banker has committed, is it right that the gov can change the law in retrospect in order to persecute an individual ? What threat does he pose ?

Crumbs, I am surprised they have not already locked him up without charge, as an enemy of the state, pending deportation to some forsaken place like Scotland.

It's 600k a year, the Gov has just blown 300 Billion and wrecked the entire economy and the most important thing to do is deprive a man of a pension authorised by themselves ?

Is this Gov fit to run any country ???

Do you trust these people ?

Would you do business with Neu Liebor ?

Shame on you if you voted this lot.

Old Holborn said...

I can't wait for "public opinion" to overide the law of the land.

No seriously, I can't wait.

So many lamp posts to choose from.

Anonymous said...

Please see what I'm going to say to Sir Fred:-

The Grim Reaper said...

Another thought I've had on this - isn't it amazing that the deputy of a government with an unelected PM is talking about the importance of "public opinion"?

Vronsky said...

As bad, or worse, was his gorge-raising and grovelling interview of Lebedev which preceded the Harman piece. That was enough for me - I left before Harman got started - can't be responsible for my actions any more.

Richard Edwards said...

Fred's Goodwin's contract is governed by Scots civil law. As such it falls within the jurisdiction of the Scottish government and parliament. In theory Westminster can override Holyrood and extend a special law to Scotland to deal with his case, though the political price would be considerable.

However, a bill of attainder - which is what Labour are proposing - is a breach of Article 6 of the ECHR and if it expropriates the pension Article 1 of Protocol 1 ECHR as well.

Savonarola said...

Harman was a third rate solicitor and is a fourth rate minister. Neverthless compared with Byers, Dobson, Morris, Blunkett, Hewitt, Jowell, Smith, Beckett et al, one could call her a star.
Harman is up to something. Hague/Clarke must stae categorically that resorting to legislation to stop the pension is more corrupt than the arrangement it wishes to alter.
The fact of the matter is that this outcry is to deflect attention from Myners' incompetence. He has effectively traded a liability for £1m(salary for notice) for one of £8m(extra cost of allowing pension at 50 rather than 60). Myners should admit his mistake and resign.

FrankFisher said...

"The prime minister has said that it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted. And it might be enforceable in a court of law, this contract, but it is not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that is where the government steps in."

I can't make up my mind. Is she a stalinist, or a nazi? She's saying the government intends to ignore the law, and the law of contract - very nazi - yet she's fond of the court of public opinion, very Uncle Joe.

Very confusing.

Almost as difficult as to whether, when we reintroduce the death penalty for treason, we'll hang her or behead her. After a fair trial, naturally.

I'm really torn

Ian M said...

following on my point at 6.38 Rohan said (8.24)(and has been suggested by Dan Hannan MEP)that what in effect the Government is suggesting is a Bill of Attainder. Then Fred Goodwin will be in the company of the Despensers,Thomas Cromwell, Catherine Howard, the Duke of Monmouth and the Regicides of Charles I
The problem is that a Bill of Attainder is part of English Common Law. Is the Government then thinking of using a principal of English Common Law that hasn't been used for 210 years to alter a principle of Scottish Civil Law? I suspect that such action may be in breach of the 1707 Treaty of Union as well as the 1998 Devolution Settlement and the European Convention of Human Rights.
The Lawyears will love this!

seebag said...

Would this be the same court of public opinion that was promised a voice in a referendum? the one that puts the Tories many points above Labour? the one that would like to see the Cabinet minutes on the Iraq war? the one that would like Jacquie to pay back her expenses? Harman is both mad and stupid - that court remark will come back to bite Labour into oblivion.

Ian Simcox said...

Would this be the same 'court of public opinion' that wanted a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?

Funny how Labour is happy to listen to the public when it aids their cause, yet totally ignores it in any other case.

Much like the EU really, where you can have any opinion you like, so long as you agree with us.

Martin S said...

Andrew Marr. Twonk first class.

John Pickworth said...

On the list of unasked questions...

I'd like to enquire precisely what heinous crime Sir Fred has committed that requires the full force of the State to fall down upon this man's head? Seriously, its a bit excessive isn't it?

Kinda shows what a vindictive miserable man Brown and his support acts are I think!

Also, this pension, you know, how its the Government's/taxpayer's money and all... If Sir Fred were to hand his pension back to RBS, does that mean the Government will be reducing RBS's bill come payback time? Somehow, I expect Gordon will still have his hand out for the full bailout to be repaid. Whether the pension is handed back makes not a jot of difference to the taxpayer as far as I can see.