How the mighty fall! Two former Foreign Secretaries, Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind fell for a trap set by journalists working for the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4´s Dispatches programme.
The undercover reporters had created a fictitious communications agency called PMR, which they said was based in Hong Kong. 12 MPs with “significant outside interests” were invited to apply for jobs with PMR, which had “plenty of money” and wanted to hire “influential British politicians to join its advisory board”. Half of those approached didn’t respond. One said he wanted to check the company out in Hong Kong so the journalists took it no further. And another said he just wasn’t that interested. Obviously, people with as much knowledge and influence as senior politicians are going to be in demand from companies and organisations who want their services – as consultants or after-dinner speakers. Tony Blair is a prime example, earning a fortune from it. But there´s a world of difference from that and using their position to act as a paid advocate for a company, raising questions in the House to aid a particular company or a trade body, for example. What I detest in all this are the tactics from journalists. There are very few people who cannot be bribed in one way or another, even the clergy who should know better fall for it. It reminds me of that old joke…
MAN: “Can I have sex with you?”
WOMAN: “Not in a million years.”
MAN: “I´ll pay you a million pounds.”
WOMAN: “Well, if you put it like that, then yes.”
MAN: “Now we´ve established what you are, it´s just a question of negotiation.”
British MPs are not paid a fortune by today´s standards – and many do have other paid jobs outside parliament. For most people the motive for working is to make money (unless you are silly enough like me to be president of a community and spend hours of my time for nothing). How many readers would turn down an offer to be a consultant for a company for a five figure sum? I think these kinds of traps set by journalists should be outlawed. It’s almost as reprehensible as telephone tapping. All they have achieved with Rifkind and Straw is to damage the reputations of two prominent people who still had much to give to the country by their expertise. By all means use every tactic in the book to expose criminality but not to expose people approached to give of their time and expertise for money which is not against the law. There are some people – doctors for one – who have to continue doing some work otherwise would not be able to continue in their careers after leaving parliament. And couldn´t an MP be a newspaper columnist or write a book, for example? And if MPs couldn´t have paid jobs, all you would have as MP’s would be career politicians with no experience of the real world, and what a disaster that would be. Finally on this – that snake in the grass Miliband was very quick to demand that no MP should have outside jobs. But he failed to say anything about MPs being funded by trade unions!
The government has just named 70 companies or organisations which have failed to pay their workers the minimum wage – and one of them is a church! It was only a fortnight ago that the Church of England in a 52-page manifesto echoed the Labour party in demanding the introduction of a living wage in the UK – and was then found to have shot itself in the foot because many churches fail even to be paying the UK minimum wage. The worst offender failing to pay the minimum wage was care provider East Midlands Crossroads, which owed £37,500 to 184 workers. About 100 cases in the care sector are being investigated, which the Government calls the “tip of the iceberg”.
Delcom Systems in Salisbury owed £11,730 to staff, while the Apostolic Church in London owed £8,300 and workers at the Young Friends Nursery in Hove had been underpaid by £6,700. Business Minister Jo Swinson said paying less than the minimum wage was illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable.
“Naming and shaming gives a clear warning to employers who ignore the rules, that they will face reputational consequences as well as financial penalties of up to £20,000 if they don’t pay the minimum wage,” she said.
All very well, but nowhere near strong enough. What´s needed are draconian fines to take greedy employers out of business. Fines designed to bankrupt a business and an employer would only have to happen once or twice and then the rotten apples in society would be too frightened to exploit staff. The UK Government could do so much to protect the public but it actually does very little. Another classic example are the energy comparison websites which instead of steering people to the cheapest deal are allegedly pointing people to deals backed by the companies. Here again the government should teach the culprits a lesson they will never forget.
Last week we heard the BBC announce from the rooftops the result of their own survey saying that 68% agreed that acts of violence against those who publish images of Prophet Muhammad can “never be justified”. The fact that 68% of Muslims asked did not approve of violence was not the story. The story was that 24% did agree that violence was justified, while the rest replied “don’t know” or refused to answer. Almost 80% said they had found it deeply offensive when images depicting the Prophet were published and, most worryingly, 11% felt sympathy for people who want to fight against western interests. What the survey demonstrated so clearly, and which the BBC failed miserably to bring to the public´s attention, was just how many Muslims have sympathy with violent acts. They may be in the minority, but it represents thousands in the population and is an extremely worrying threat in Britain. It´s no wonder that the UK security services are so concerned.
I´ve written before about the dangers of Britain´s open door policy on immigration and now we can see so clearly how there is much potential trouble just simmering under the surface in a country which is supposed to be one of the most peaceful and tolerant in the world. It´s no wonder that increasingly Jews are frightened about their future in the UK and are considering moving to Israel.
How many swear words do you utter every day? If a new survey is correct, then quite a few.
The average Brit uses 14 swear words every day, according to a survey, and with celebrities getting more foul mouthed every day, Brits are getting quite a reputation. If I had used swear words as a kid, I would quickly have had a clip around the ear. Sadly, with the probability that parents are using as many swear words as their offspring, there is far less correction. I recall being on a bus where there was a group of children just out of school and the language was disgusting. It seemed each one of them was trying to outdo the other in the number of expletives. And when they weren´t using swear words, the word ‘like’ cropped up repeatedly. It´s just another example of our moral decline and lack of respect for one another – and it’s very sad.
Finally, don´t tell your wife you don´t love her – it could cost you money! It´s done just that in Turkey, where a man has been fined for telling his wife he did not love her. According to the country´s Supreme Court of Appeal the remark caused her “emotional violence” and had left her “emotionally wrecked”. The lower court had been dealing with the couple´s divorce action and both sought compensation from each other for insults passing between them. That court had decided that they were both as bad as each other, but the Appeal Court took a different view after the lack of love remark.