I would have backed Preston North MP and Security Minister Ben Wallace to be the new Defence Secretary. He was in impressive form at a terrorism seminar I attended during the Tory Party conference in Manchester. He probably lost out to Gavin Williamson because he was a staunch supporter of Boris Johnson in last year’s Tory leadership election.
But at least we have seen the promotion of another North West MP. Esther McVey was reflecting recently at a Downtown event about the fluctuating fortunes of a political life. Defeated in Wirral West in 2015, she was back representing Tatton after this year’s General Election. Now she is promoted to Deputy Chief Whip, a key post in a hung parliament where the government is trying to drive through our exit from the European Union.
The reshuffle was made necessary by the resignation of Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon as the crisis over MPs sexual behaviour began to unravel.
The reputation of our MPs has never recovered from the 2009 expenses scandal. The disillusionment, which partly explains the Brexit vote, was still with us as the latest revelations about sexual misbehaviour and misogyny broke. It affects all political parties so hopefully we can be spared party point scoring. The solution will require MPs to loosen further their adherence to the view that, as independent legislators, they must be free of outside regulation.
But the damage is done. It remains true that most MPs enter public life to make society a better place, but the cynics who have always claimed that they are in it for what they can get out of it feel vindicated. The critics who say MPs adopt a high moral tone in debates which is not matched by their private behaviour, have been proved right in some cases.
The toxic chemistry of people with power being near young employees desperate for jobs is also present in the media.
So, it jarred with me that Radio Five Live’s Pienaar’s Politics recently had the presenter discussing MPs inappropriate behaviour one minute and following it immediately with a feature where a female MP was invited to say whether she would “snog, marry or avoid “a series of male politicians.
While I’m at it here’s another “beyond parody” moment from my week’s radio listening. Footballer Joey Barton, banned from football after betting on games he was playing in, was giving expert analysis on a talkSPORT commentary of Leicester v Everton where his fellow commentator was giving frequent plugs for betfair.
The Roscoe lectures
Sticking to the media theme, I attended a lecture by the BBC Director General Tony Hall this week in Liverpool. He was the latest speaker in the Roscoe Lecture series promoted by Liverpool John Moores University. All credit to them for the events they mount in the impressive St George’s Hall.
The DG was worrying about the growing spending power of Netflix and Amazon. The bigger danger to the BBC comes from the constant sniping of the Murdoch press trying to bring down one of our few remaining assets that is the envy of a world where trash programmes peppered with advertising are the norm.
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