Tony McNulty resigned from the government when he came under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over £60,000 claimed on a second home, where his parents live.
Yesterday the PM’s spokesman, Michael Ellam, was asked whether the Prime Minister thought it was premature and unwise to bring Shahid Malik back into Government so quickly. He was also asked why it was right for Shahid Malik to step down while Sir Philip Mawer held an inquiry, but not while John Lyon held one? Ellam gave some waffle which didn’t really make sense.
McNulty admitted in his letter of resignation that “It has been immensely difficult for me to give full attention to my job as Minister for London and for Employment and Welfare Reform with this issue hanging over my head.” Malik on the other hand wants us to believe he can give his ministerial duties his full attention despite being under investigation for corruption.
Why is he different from McNulty? Why is John Lyon’s investigation less important than Sir Philip Mawer’s investigation – which had less damning evidence to consider?
The news that sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan, formerly of the now defunct Morgan Allen Moore, who was retained by Peter Hain in his disastrously dodgy bid for Labour deputy leader has taken his team of spin merchants to the huge American spin shop Burson-Marsteller is a little worrying. Morgan Allen Moore was described by PR Week last year as a “scandal-hit outfit”, becoming the first firm ever to be kicked out of the industry’s self regulatory group. PR Week reports that
Morgan’s new ‘market access’ practice at Burson-Marsteller will advise healthcare clients on issues related to product marketing and access to the NHS.
Back in the not so distant past Morgan was hired to push a drug responsible for widespread deaths and crippling illness. Ortho Biotech, a division of Johnson & Johnson, retained Morgan Allen Moore in 2001 to push its anaemia drug, Eprex. Eprex is currently being investigated by the FDA because of the high number of patients who have suffered strokes and died as a consequence of taking the drug. Eprex was withdrawn in September 2001 (“Eprex vials to be withdrawn”, Chemist and Druggist, 22 September 2001, page 28 – not online) because of fears over its safety. On 14 July 2002, the Financial Times reported that
“Eprex has been linked to a rare but devastating condition known as antibody-mediated pure red blood cell aplasia or PRCA. The condition is triggered when the body produces antibodies against its own EPO, shutting down red blood cell production. The only treatment for PRCA is regular, life-long blood transfusions”.
Burson-Marstellar – a company which was itself also investigated by the APPC for having a secret client in 2007 – represents, amongst others, Digene Corp, a company principally specialising in the production of a test for HPV, the virus that causes genital warts in women. A marriage made in hell, some might say…
Nick Clegg has broken ranks with the political establishment on Trident, telling Nick Robinson “We have to be realistic and candid about what we can and can’t afford as a nation”.
During the Cold War the logic of Trident and other nuclear missile systems was compelling, now the threat is from terrorists and rogue states the case for Trident is nowhere near as strong. The Russian nuclear arsenal is much reduced from the Soviet era, so any future threat response imaginable need not be made to meet an over-whelming massive multiple warhead nuclear attack from a hostile superpower.
Yet the Tory and Labour party establishments remain committed to the U.S. supplied Trident system. The £100 billion price tag for a system that isn’t really independent is too much in these circumstances. Britain needs a much reduced smaller bespoke system along the lines of the French force de frappe. Something more akin to smart missiles which can be launched from air, land or sea.
Nick Clegg has asked Ming to review the LibDem approach to strategic defence. The military top brass will always demand expensive new toys, just as trade union leaders always demand pay rises. The Tories are also reviewing defence matters. £100 billion is a lot of money to pay for the wrong insurance policy.