Monday, August 05, 2013

Joe Dromey and the entitlement culture of the political class

From Brother Ivo:

Last week, Guido Fawkes highlighted a low key story about Joe Dromey, son of Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey. Joe had successfully complained to secure a correction to a Daily Mail story, which was his right: he is entitled to use all lawful remedies as much as any other subject of Her Majesty. Unfortunately he made one significant error which revealed much about his mindset.

When he emailed the newspaper, he copied the correspondence to his mother, who happens to be Shadow Minister for Culture Media and Sport. In so doing, he was subtly communicating the message: "Don't mess with me: I can make trouble for you."

As Harry Cole notes, Ms Harman has a leading role in the implementation of the Leveson recommendations, and her son was just mentioning the point to encourage his target to be that little bit more careful when dealing with him.

The Harmans have form in this area.

Jack Dromey, former Deputy General Secretary of the Unite Union, blazed the way for that interest group to capture a massive power base within the Labour Party, which has recently seen them extending that grip by securing first place on many of the regional lists for the forthcoming EU elections.

The problem with Mr Dromey's nomination for the Labour safe seat of Birmingham Erdington was not the £1500 donation made by the Union just 12 days before the selection, but that, as the number of safe seats was contracting closer to the election date, an exception was made for Mr Dromey to be nominated for Erdington which had previously been designated a women-only short list. This was, of course, the policy promoted by Ms Harman herself. As they celebrated his adoption, Ms Harman plainly forgot her earlier assertion that "I am in the Labour Party because I am a feminist. I am in the Labour Party because I believe in equality."

Ms Harman herself was not entirely free from such claims of privilege. When involved in a minor road traffic accident, she did not stay to exchange full details as required by law, but apparently drove off, declaring: "I'm Harriet Harman, you know where you can find me." She thereby placed the onus of seeking her out and getting past 'her people' upon the offended person to do that which it was her legal duty to discharge.

It does not end there. Like a stone dropped into pond, the ripples spread.

Her solicitor sister Sarah Harman got herself in serious difficulty with the High Court and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority when, aggrieved by a ruling her client had received, she referred case papers confidential to the Court to her sister, the then Solicitor General, who passed them to Children's Minister Margaret Hodge. To quote the Daily Telegraph report on the case: "The first that Kent Council knew about what was going on was when Sarah Harman told social workers outside court that she would talk to her sister, the Solicitor General, about the case. If necessary, she told them, the social services department would have to make a contempt of court application against her."

They did, and at initial public cost. The Court was not impressed. An application for permission to disclose the papers was brought to court as a 'cover' after the disclosure had already been made.

Again, the Telegraph report encapsulated the point: "Mr Justice Munby said the failure of Sarah Harman and her client to make full disclosure about the distribution of documents to the court was 'neither a pretty nor an edifying picture'. He said both Sarah Harman and her client had displayed a 'remarkable and disquieting lack of candour'."

Sarah Harman's witness statement had been "disingenuous to say the least" and she and her client had "misled a judge last month by a mixture of suppressing truth and suggesting falsehoods".

The then Shadow Attorney General Dominic Grieve was succinct: "I would have thought that the law was very clear on this," he added. "The documents are confidential, it's as simple as that."

So the overall picture around Ms Harman and those close to her is not dissimilar from the attitudes of the late Leona Helmsley who famously declared that "We don't pay taxes, only the little people pay taxes" - an attitude some see reflected in the private trust arrangements of Margaret Hodge herself.

The Harman mindset appears to be that some are indeed more equal than others.

One can imagine the uproar from Ms Harman, Labour and Unite if such a accumulation of "rules only apply to little people" centred around David Cameron, or any other member of the Bullingdon Club.

Ms Harman is no doubt not a uniquely unattractive case, though certainly a prominent one.

Why does this happen?

We ought to be generous enough to assume that Ms Harman has sincere impulses: she represents a poor inner London seat and no doubt encounters real need in her constituency surgeries.

She was Secretary of The National Council for Civil Liberties ( forerunner of Liberty) and, although it may not always be on the wise side of history, its aspirations are not intentionally ignoble. Even her enshrinement of the sometimes damaging equality agenda into the heart of Government probably had a proper genesis.

So what is it that leads Ms Harman and her family into such poor attitudes?

Brother Ivo's thinking is that this is rooted in the statist philosophy of the Harman dynasty.

By this way of thinking, the state is the agent of all good impulses, and it is at its best when shaped by the great and the good, of which they and folk like them are the best extant examples. They do good, intend good, embody all proper values, and to impede this (or them) is to render humanity a profound disservice.

Such attitudes have a historical parallel which they will not find flattering. The "L'Etat c'est moi" philosophy of Louis XIV has been reincarnated amongst a political caste in the UK and USA alike, with families we can all nominate, for whom a similar philosophy is laced with arrogance. Now it is "L'Etat c'est nous" and nous sommes doing very well out of it, thank you very much.

Having once operated the levers of power, the experience becomes both addictive and symbiotic. They love the state for the validation it gives to them, but equally they must protect the state so that it may continue to give its privileges and immunities to them and their own. Little wonder that the expanding opportunities presented by the European Paliament prove irresistible.

Brother Ivo has previously lamented the news that some 75% of British MPs are millionaires. He looks at the 'success' of the Kinnocks - another dynasty founded on state/EU patronage - whose share of re-distributed taxpayers wealth bears little relation to the added value felt by Joe and Joan Public.

What is especially worrying is that much of that wealth is generated through proximity to the political process rather than independent activity. Whether through consultancy, media or book deals, directorships, second property capital gains or gold-plated pensions, there are many whose association with the state has seen them rise or maintain high wealth and social status. Once tasted, the relatively secure life of safe-seat politicians (at least 50% of all parliamentary seats) is hard to give up, and it becomes very tempting for the political class to wish to secure similar advantages for one's family.

What was once considered 'public service' is now a highly remunerative career option.

In short, for all the talk of social mobility and equality, the Harmans/Straws/Benns/Blairs/Kinnocks etc are as wedded to patronage and family advancement as any medieval monarch, or indeed any parent seeking the advantage of a good education for their offspring.

It is against this background that Brother Ivo views the latest additions to the House of Lords with a degree of dismay. We now have the largest legislature in Europe - bigger even than the EU Parliament - and there appears to be no limit to how many more can be added from the families, friends and patrons of the political class.

The Upper House may have had its origins in privilege and patronage, but at least when its membership was governed by primogeniture it had a self-funding and self-limiting mechanism wholly absent today.

The philosopher Roger Scruton has described society as a contract between past, present and future. Was that not better secured under the ancien régime?

When the upper legislature was in the hands of the old aristocracy (albeit latterly with limited powers) its members were largely economically independent, un-beholden to current politicians, had a sense of history and heritage, and were frequently eccentric and dis-obliging.

Perhaps we cannot go back to that, but we can look at its virtues and ask whether the current direction of travel is proving a real improvement.

Those entering the privileged world of the political class seem to be increasing swiftly and inexorably, and in inverse proportion to the calibre of its nominees. It is surely the duty of sceptics to expose how these people get there, how they behave and how they underwhelm us with their self-awarded rewards for failure.

It is noble work and has a sound precedent.

As WS Gilbert might have written:
For every boy and every girl,
who's born into this world awhile,
is either a patronising Harmanite
or else a passionate Guidophile.
Brother Ivo is the Patron Saint of lawyers.


Blogger David B said...

While I think it folly to seek a return to the old aristocracy, who did very well for generation upon generation under that sort of regime, the rest of Bro Ivo's piece seemed to me the most thoughtful he has done to date, with much in it with which I can happily agree.


5 August 2013 at 09:37  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Shock - Horror - breaking news!

British politicians found feathering own nests: move along now - nothing to see here - keep moving.

5 August 2013 at 10:26  
Blogger Flossie said...

Ah, Harriet Harman. Can this be the same Harriet Harman who, along with Patricia Hewitt, ran the National Council for Civil Liberties at the time it was passing resolutions in support of the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation, and when it was calling for legalisation of sex between adults and children?

MP Tim Loughton, the then Shadow Children’s Minister,said: “Clearly there is a serious conflict of interest with the committees she sits on, who might want urgently to clarify her position on the exploitation of children for the sexual gratification of adults.

“It’s a shame that Miss Harman’s zeal for positive discrimination and all things politically correct among adults does not extend to the exploitation of children. Any child who is used for the sexual gratification of adults counts as an abused child and needs protecting.”

She is also vehemently opposed to the government supporting marriage through tax breaks, declaring that the state has no role in protecting marriage.

Sorry to go off-course, Brother Ivo, but the very mention of this woman's name makes me see red. No wonder her son is weird. And fancy being married to her!

5 August 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger Jay Bee said...

A brilliant analysis Ivo. You are really getting into your stride.

The divine right of kings has evolved into the absolute right of Commissars.

The State is me – the State is us – the State is ours.

5 August 2013 at 10:39  
Blogger David Hussell said...

This remorseless expansion of the state and the agencies and apparatus gathered around it, provides an ever expanding territory in which the political elite, their families and friends also, can operate, thus insulating themselves from the reality in which the merely governed must live their lives. This is one of the chief reasons, I believe, why the EU is supported by the so called main parties. They view Ukip as a threat to this cosy arrangement.

5 August 2013 at 10:39  
Blogger Preacher said...

Good report Brother Ivo, I remember a programme called House of Cards that was about the power struggles in the Commons & the corruption & deals that were brokered. It made the Wars of the Roses look like a Saturday night at the Dog & Duck by comparison.
But of course it was fiction,- wasn't it?.

5 August 2013 at 10:55  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

What is it with these people that their only aspiration in life is to become a politician? Why don't they ever want to be productive members of our country, such as plumbers, electricians, engineers, entrepreneurs (risking their own money, time and effort). And this child can't be motivated by doing 'good' for others because he isn't old enough to know what that means or how to go about it. So, God only knows what conversations he and his miserable parents have had while he was growing up, that leads him to his current aberrent condition.

5 August 2013 at 11:05  
Blogger Martin said...

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." George Orwell "Animal Farm"

Sorry, but it struck me so forcefully. I recall from days long ago, when I was in a union, how the union hierarchy were at times not dissimilar from the management.

Man is always corrupted by power, whatever his intentions.

5 August 2013 at 11:44  
Blogger John Thomas said...

Awful! Compare these people with politicians of sixty-or-so years ago, and then think how politicians might be (if present trends continue) in 60-70 years' time! Well, at the risk if seeming to promote my own things, I tried to do just this in a book I wrote a while ago, a fiction ( - let's hope it never comes to this!

5 August 2013 at 11:54  
Blogger bluedog said...

Good work, Brother Ivo, the House of Lords has become an utter disgrace. The process of creating life-peers is inherently corrupt; a party hack is defeated in an election, and hey presto, wins a life-time on the gravy-train with the added benefit of a title! If only such generous awards were more widely available.

It is quite remarkable that the political elite are so blinded by their sense of entitlement they cannot even see there is a problem.

The House of Lords in its current form must be swept away and replaced with an elected senate, as part of a more comprehensive constitutional restructure.

5 August 2013 at 12:10  
Blogger Demetrius said...

There is more to it than that. In my log on Monday 30 July 2012 under "Harriet's Little Secret" I linked her to the Chamberlain family. Joseph Chamberlain was a fan of the Three Acres and a Cow promise to the electorate.

5 August 2013 at 15:46  
Blogger Owl said...

Little Harriet is a Fabian.

The aim of the Fabians is a communist state through gradualism rather than revolution.

They don't even try to hide it.

They are the new elite so what else do you expect!

5 August 2013 at 16:36  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Now see here Dromey. Time to let the apron strings go and make your own way in the world, don’t you think ?

Then again, with daddy a union Kommissar, and mummy a fem civil liberty nuisance, perhaps you do need help, what !

5 August 2013 at 17:56  
Blogger Anne Thrope said...

I've heard that before, about the NCCL and its involvement in paedophile "rights" - amazing what you learn by reading UK paedophiles exposed website and similar stuff. Harman is a grabbing hypocrite of the left, and it sounds as if her son is a nasty spoilt brat. Getting ahead on the shortlist, and they were so proud of abolishing HEREDITARY peers. Who's up there now, just puppets?...I'm sorry to say it,but I don't think this country has any future.

5 August 2013 at 18:04  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

There's nothing like leading socialists for a sense of entitlement. T'was ever thus - look at socialist leaders throughout history; with a few notable exceptions they are the revolutionary middle class, and think themselves the natural leaders and betters of real workers in the same way the aristocracy used to.

"The working class can kiss my arse, I've got the foreman's job at last" - that parody of the Red Flag could have been written for the Harmans and Dromeys.

6 August 2013 at 10:54  

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