That is even faster than the meter of his cab…
Though Guido doesn’t normally give the Treasury spinners much credit they do have some pretty stunning put-downs from time to time. Vince spent the weekend briefing those few hacks who haven’t yet seen through his act that, in an unprecedented step, the Treasury had opened talks between Vince and Nicholas MacPherson, the Permanent Secretary. In a “go-back-to-your-constituency” moment Vince even said he was “ready to serve“. It was a tad embarrassing then when Whitehall made it clear what was going on. They said they were amazed what old Vince got out of a twenty-minute meeting – which he requested – and they hosted “out of politeness“.
The senior moment unravelled very quickly and far from being unprecedented these meetings were sanctioned by the Cabinet Office as a courtesy to the opposition and took place before the 2005 election as well. It’s a shame the old soothsayer didn’t “foresee” this bit of spin unravelling…
Membership of the Privy Council is what entitles one to be addressed as “the Right Honourable”. When Stephen Byers was made a member of the Privy Council he swore “by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto The Queen’s Majesty as one of Her Majesty’s Privy Council … And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty.” Surely whoring yourself out to change Her Majesty’s Government’s legislation “like a taxi cab for hire” falls outside the terms of this Oath?
Being a member of the Privy Council is a great honour, it is the oldest political institution in the land after the monarchy itself, tracing its history back to the Norman monarchs. Byers’ continuing presence on the Council sullies the institution, so given he is unlikely to resign himself he will have to be removed. It is still possible to petition the Queen to have him removed and Guido has set up an online petition to do just that:
“We, the undersigned, call on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to strip Stephen Byers MP of his membership of the Privy Council due to his involvement in offering to sell access to the British Government for personal profit.”
UPDATE : 318 signatures in less than an hour. 756 in less than two…
Guido knows that hundreds of loafing lawyers read this blog, he also knows lawyers never do anything for free, so he is offering a reward of a copy of The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze to those who provide the best argued charges against Byers. Either post them in the comments or email them to Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com (entries will be anonymous, don’t worry).
According to Channel 4’s Dispatches, which worked on the joint investigation with the Sunday Times, Byers confessed that:
- He had secured secret deals with ministers.
- Could get confidential information from Number 10.
- Was able to help firms involved in price-fixing get round the law.
- Boasted he had struck a secret deal with Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, to terminate a rail franchise contract for a client, National Express.
- Persuaded Lord Mandelson, to amend regulations on food labelled on behalf of Tesco.
Byers now says he was lying, surely not the best defence to use in Court.