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Dec. 7th, 2009

Lord Hamilton of Epsom: I am told that twice the then Chief of the Defence Staff, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie, went to see the Prime Minister … each time the noble and gallant Lord made his plea for a significant increase in the defence budget, he was told, “Charles, you know that I cannot interfere with Treasury matters, you must go and talk to Gordon Brown” … I am also told that the second time that happened, the noble and gallant Lord got back to his office in the Ministry of Defence and was informed that it had had a message from the Treasury stating that he had to be reminded that his pension was discretionary. I sincerely hope that this story is true because it has all the hallmarks of one of Gordon Brown’s attack dogs: vicious, intimidating and wholly inaccurate. There is no way that his pension could have been cut, except under the most exceptional circumstances. [Hansard]
Lord Guthrie was sitting in the chamber during this speech. He did not take the opportunity to deny the story.

A reputation for cartoonishly over-the-top reprisals seems to have clung to Gordon Brown and his inner circle*, which should give us pause when we encounter claims like this:
A vicious feud has broken out over a Labour-appointed peer who unexpectedly quit as head of an NHS watchdog at the centre of controversy over shocking hospital death rates. Well-placed Government sources claimed that Baroness Young, chair of the Care Quality Commission, was “volatile and hot-headed” and had sent abusive emails to colleagues.

But her allies say she is the victim of a dirty-tricks campaign after a series of clashes with Health Secretary Andy Burnham. [Daily Mail]
What we know for sure is that Basildon university hospital had death rates that were unacceptably high and a standard of hygiene that was downright sarcastic, but the Care Quality Commission—a body whose recent creation was discussed endlessly in the Lords, and you can imagine how much we all look forward to hearing the further discussions about what to do with it now—only a month before had rated it as “good”.

According to some reports, Baroness Young had been lobbying the Department of Health to change the simplistic rating system, as it led to anomalous results like this exact one. According to other reports, she had made no such representations and instead had spent her time as chairman of the CQC flinging her own faeces around her office. Maybe there’s some truth in both versions, maybe in neither, but this administration has now built up such a reputation for smears that I’m disinclined to believe a syllable of any accusation against those who have fallen foul of it until witnesses to the actual events can be made to bring their signed testimony to my desk.

* Sorry about that. No-one needs to envisage anything clinging to Gordon Brown’s inner circle.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
Tucker's actually real, isn't he?

May I have his address plskthx.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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