Can you settle a debate for us here in the NTI newsroom? Is David Miliband the greatest leader the Labour Party never had? For that matter, could he have been their best ever leader (which due deference and a touch of the flat cap to Harold Wilson, Clement Attlee and ... well, that’s it really)?
Covid-19 is being pushed down the headlines this Sunday (16 May) by politicians doing things that politicians do best. This is, not doing the things they were elected to do, but things for which we absolutely would not have elected them, had we known they had done them, or would do them later.
Take the much-lamented and hugely missed David Miliband. He is chief executive of the refugee charity International Rescue Committee (where they call him ‘Virgil’, and fall about laughing). Dave was paid almost $912,000 for his hard work in 2019 (up just over £200,000 from the year before and two and a half times more than his predecessor) and we are not saying he isn’t worth every cent. You must be doing pretty marvellous things to be working at a charity that seeks tirelessly to help those around the world with, quite literally, nothing but the clothes they barely stand in and earn just shy of a million dollars.
The charity offers full-time internships, based in the States, of 37.5 hours a week (having received millions in UK aid) all of which are unpaid. It is enough for these hopefuls to have a true socialist at the helm and it is reported that our Dave doesn’t miss the opportunity to be paid the £81,932 that an MP receives in our country.
The next politician to catch the headlines this week is the most famous one in our country since Margaret Thatcher. Following a rain of blue over almost all the country in the elections on 5 May, it was predicted, even boasted, that Boris could be prime minister for more than ten years. It is alleged that this caused applications to triple at clinics dealing with cryogenics, offering a service in which a human body can be frozen for, say, ten years and then defrosted and seamlessly welcomed back into the community. The first obstacle to Boris' political immortality is the matter of cancelling that pesky County Court judgment against him, which doesn't play well with his future political credit.
The order of the court was made on 26 October 2020 for £535, and related to an unmerited defamation claim made against our dear prime minister by someone called Yvonne Hobbs. A No 10 spokesperson said: “The judgment in default has been set aside by the court. The claim has been struck out, deemed totally without merit and the Government awarded its costs.” This is just as well, as otherwise Laura Kuenssberg and her microphone could have been brushed aside outside No 10 by a haughty bailiff seeking to seize assets to the value of the claim, including a hairbrush which could be accurately described as, 'barely used'.
The third politician to steal the headlines this week is a recent favourite of the NTI newsroom and another Dave, this time Cameron, whose bank accounts and text messages are coming under ever-closer scrutiny. He was forced this week to defend his lobbying of UK ministers and officials on behalf of Greensill Capital, insisting it was to benefit the economy rather than preserve the value of his share options in the company. That should, of course, go without saying, yet he said it. What also (almost) goes without saying is that Cameron owns one per cent of shares in Greensill which was once valued at around $7 billion (that would be, $70 million, but in Liquidation it is probably worth just a fraction of that at around nothing).
Before the Commons Treasury Committee Dave declined to say what the actual figure was, but said he had share options and was paid a “generous amount, far more than I earned as prime minister”. Before the same Committee he said financial technology companies such as Greensill were “not well understood” by most people; whereas making lots of money is dreamt of by many.
Thank heavens Britain's favourite Health Minister is squeaky clean despite persistent allegations that he personally intervened to help a former Conservative minister from securing a PPE deal worth £180 million (according to Government emails). Really. Sometimes when you read about corrupt Government officials all over the world accepting bribes and using their positions of power inappropriately it makes you proud to be British, doesn't it?