Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Peter Hain's Serious and Substantial Failures

So Peter Hain has been found guilty of "Serious and substantial failures" by the parliamentary watchdog.

I really felt that when the police decided not to prosecute him last month due to insufficient evidence over this and he and his Labour colleagues then went around the studios claiming that he had been cleared that it left a bad taste in my mouth. He had not been cleared at all but there was simply not enough evidence to prosecute. Of course in true New Labour style, the claim was repeated so much that in the end it became the story. Indeed the BBC News itme about today's development above states that he was cleared last month.

I feel a bit sorry for Peter Hain and I am aligned with some of his policy positions. He is an advocate of electoral reform as am I and I attended an event where he spoke at the Houses of Parliament last year where he made a very strong case for the Alternative Vote which he thought could be adopted before the next election. AV is not proprtional and I had been against it but in the course of that meeting he persuaded me that pragmatism should mean that proponents of STV get behind a push for AV as a first step. He is a very good public speaker.

However he has to hold his hands up here and genuinely apologise without making excuses. Politicians take all the glory when things go right and they have to take the flak when things go wrong. He is ultimately responsible for what happened with his campaign team and no amount of spin will change that.

We should also remember that these reports are always couched in diplomatic language so I think we can assume that "serious and substantial failures" is as close to excoriating as you can get with this sort of thing.

He should also not expect to return the the front-bench any time soon either. It would be unacceptable for this to happen after such a critical report.

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