In the past few days, the idea of bringing in new blood to the main parties’ front benches has been sorely tested.
- When Gordon Brown put Sir Digby Jones into the new DBERR (which is the new name for the DTI), a lot of Labour people were a bit sniffy. It is now clear that while the soon-to-be-ennobled knight and ex-CBI leader will accept the government whip in the Lords, he will not join the Labour Party itself. I was under the mistaken impression that this was against our own Party rules (but I’m sure that they will be changed / ignored if it is).
- As I noted earlier here the Tories are about to bring in Sayeeda Warsi to cover ‘community cohesion’, but she’s got form. As usual, my comment is massively put to shame by Unity, who has comprehensively gone into her history and since brought up some recent developments
- If you followed the first link in the previous point, you’ll see that Unity has also dug into the past of Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (link repeated here). Seems like the time she spent as Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee was a total of 5 weeks, but it’s the time after that which is of interest – pushing for appeasement of Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia at Dayton followed by a lucrative time working with Lord Hurd at NatWest brokering major deals with, umm, Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia until the downfall of the warmongering nationalist president put an end to the give-aways. Apparently the US diplomats nicknamed her ‘Dame Neville-Chaimberlain’ in 1996.
In all three cases, the appointee is unelected and will get a peerage in order to do their job. Even if they are only in their party post for a short while, their tenure in the Lords would be for life, barring some major impropriety on their part.
In all three cases, there is the potential for major clashes with the rest of their new colleagues (perhaps Dame Neville-Jones will fit in pretty well though with the Tories). I know that we need to bring in views from outside the political ghetto, but I think that in these cases the approach will backfire.