In a section focusing on the Hayden Phillips review of party funding, Peter Watt notes:
Sometimes the discussions bordered on the absurd, such as when we managed to clinch a deal with the Lib Dems by promising that Menzies (Ming) Campbell would get a taxpayer-funded car and driver if the reforms went through. (p. 115)
Isn't it wonderful to know that Ming, despite his aura of high principle, is just the same as any other politician who enjoys the trappings of power. Or powerlessness in the case of the LibDems.
Tony Benn recounts in his Diaries how he knew that Wilson was about to resign; Benn's driver had told him that the government car pool had been advised that official cars and drivers were to be allocated for life to all former prime ministers. (Home had been adamant that he hadn't the slightest interest in such a perk.)
Was this while he was leader? If so, was it actually a gov car for the leader of the lib dems? If so, is this not just part of their wider effort to have the Lib Dems awarded the same respect and 'perks' as the other two main parties? If so, aren't you being a bit obtuse?
The rumour is that Ming Campbell stopped an SNP/Lib-Dem coalition in Scotland and a PC/Lib-Dem/Tory coalition in Wales after the 2007 elections because he thought he might get a cabinet seat in Gordon Brown's, "Government of all the talents", which had been dangled before him.
A car would have come with the post and in a similar fashion he also never got a sniff of it.
I was really thinking about how very senior politicians are prepared to give up so much for so little - over and over again it comes up in accounts of 20th century politics. Not obtuse JM, oblique.
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