Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Labour Snout in Trough No 94

Former Labour MP David Hinchliffe has trousered close on £6,000 from his new appointment as non executive director of the South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust.

The press release announcing his appointment says:

These appointments have been in accordance with the OCPA Code of Practice. All non executive appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees political activity (in any) to be made public.

And they expect us to believe this rubbish.

UPDATE: The New Labour spinners are out in force in the Comments section. The point about this post was to hightlight the ridiculous assertion that "political activity plays no part in the selection process". David Hinchliffe was a useless Health Select Committee Chairman so I fail to see that this experience alone qualifies him for the job. The number of ex-Labour MPs to be appointed to quangos is astonishing. Perhaps they would benefit from a spell in the private sector. Just a thought.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is absurd. Is your position that ex-MPs should never have other jobs?

David Hincliffe has a long record in this field, stepped down because he was pissed off with Blair, and was an exemplary Chair of the Health Select Committee.

Poor show.

Chuck Unsworth said...

I don't think they expect anyone to actually believe this garbage, but, then again, they don't care either way.

There's no real concern about what people think or believe. It's simply the exercise of naked power and greed.

Of course Hinchcliffe (and everyone else) has now realised what his price is....

Tim Swift said...

As anonymous says, you really will have to do better than that. Given that David has a long record, recognised across parties, of interest in and commitment to health, and that he lives in the area covered by SWYMHT, he would seem to be eminently suited to this position. I say this as a Labour member who is no great fan of David, but your post in this case just sounds like political spite.

PoliticalHack said...

1/10 Iain. Could do MUCH better.

Hinchcliffe is a former MP with a known interest and expertise in the subject. By any measure, he would seem to be a strong candidate for a directorship.

BTW, one of the other non-execs on the board has been a Tory council candidate, so is his nose also in the trough.

By all means, find real examples of sleaze, but this isn't one.

James said...

It is ridiculously lazy to portray this as Labour sleaze. Quangocracy is a sport that Tories have played for decades. For that matter, there are plenty of examples of complete no-marks who have managed to get on the Quango gravy train by dint of them not being a member of ANY political party.

Portraying it as a uniquely Labour problem is to pretend that it would be any different under the Tories. I don't hear any proposals for meaningful reform from them.

Croydonian said...

Scrap the quangocrats and make them run for election, rather than waltzing in to sinecure after sinecure on the back of their being, (cough), among 'the great and the good'.

PMD said...

Bloody hell, you're scraping the barrel here Iain. He was Chair of the Health Select Committee!

This is all well and good, but the next time you acuse a Dead Trees Journalist of laziness, all of your readers will be laughing up their sleeves. You've cost yourself a lot of credibility.

Matthew said...

Amazingly unfair Iain! The guy was an excellent and well respect chair of the Health committee - respected by MPs of all sides apparently.

And anyway, is £6k really filling your boots? For the number of days these people do, it isn't exactly enough to retire to the countryside for is it?

Did you get out of the wrong side of the bed?

Iain Dale said...

Why can people here (well, those employed to post on the blog by the Labour Party...) not see the main point of the post - which is even put in BOLD for those who are particularly dim. Let me spell it out again. The press release announcing his appointment said it was nothing to do with any political activity. This is such a ridiculous comment as to defy belief. Those who point to the fact that he was Labour Select Committee Chairman make my point for me. If that played a part in his appointment, under the rules it should have disqualified him!

I repeat "All non executive appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process."

Barrington said...

So Bob Neill being on a health authority makes him an excellent candidate for Bromley and Chislehurst but an ex-MP with an interest in health going on to a health body for his local area is a snout in a trough...

Pathetic partisan blinkered rubbish.

Anonymous said...

Ian you don't seem to get it. His past role as Chairman of the Select Committee presumably gave him quite a bit of expertise in NHS matters. Being there in the select committee chair because of his politics does not make his activity there political, in fact Tony Blair thought he was an NHS 'native', an enemy of the state, so many times did he conspire with Lib Dems and the very odd Tory to keep local Conmmunity Health Councils in existence.

Paul Linford said...

I think that if there's a story here at all it's that the Code of Practice is appallingly badly worded. What I suspect it is meant to say is that political affiliation plays no part in the selection process. To debar people from serving on health trusts on grounds of political activity would surely rule out a whole host of other well-qualified people besides former MPs. As it is, I suspect that Hinchcliffe has probably been appointed to this post on account of his experience both as chair of the select committee, and as a former Yorkshire MP, not because he was/is a representative of the Labour Party.

geoffh said...

Who are these people praising David Hinchliffe?

"Long record", "interest and expertise", "excellent and well respected".

Laugh? It'd be funny but they obviously believe it.

There's barely ANY Lab member or ex-member up to holding down any meaningful job without recourse to backstairs lobbying.

Not fit to be whelk-stall owners.

The Remittance Man said...

What exactly does a non-executive director do?

In a publicly listed company he would be a member of the board representing shareholder interests, but quangos have no share holders.

I'd just like to know what Mr Hinchcliffe will be doing for his six grand of public money.

RM

Anonymous said...

"(well, those employed to post on the blog by the Labour Party...)"

Delusions of grandeur Iain. I like you and your blog but that is a bit OTT.

phone cam foolery said...

He looks more like he should be a client of a mental health trust rather than a director, the frakish result of some mad Italian fertility specialist combining the DNA of peter sutclife and David Blunkett.

phone cam foolery said...

He looks more like he should be a client of a mental health trust rather than a director, the frakish result of some mad Italian fertility specialist combining the DNA of peter sutclife and David Blunkett.

Anonymous said...

The Remittance Man ask "What exactly does a non-executive director do?"

Once answered very adroitly by Michael Grade, I believe.

"A non executive director is like a bidet. Nobody knows exactly what they're for, but they add a bit of class..."

I have NO DOUBT that the Labour Party is getting sh1t scared of the content of this blog - and its reach...so it's all hands on deck for damage limitation.

Mitch said...

"Delusions of grandeur Iain. I like you and your blog but that is a bit OTT. "

Actually I would've thought it very likely that Labour employs snot-noses to post here. It's their style. Let's face it, you'd have to be paid to support Hinchcliffe.

Inamicus said...

Am very far from being a Labour member/supporter/activist, but I have to concur with most of the posters here that Hinchcliffe was very far from being a typical Labour hack, and was and is highly respected in the health sector for his views.

Far too many of the Tory blog posters and commentators take the blinkered view that anything Labour politicians do must be incompetent or improper. This is not a sensible position to take.

Iain - you've got this one badly wrong and it might help if you backed down on this one rather than blustering on about it.

Bob Piper said...

I would also like to clear myself of the 'cash for questions' allegation as regards comments here. Iain, there is certainly a barrel being scraped here and whilst this sort of below the belt nonsense may be OK on my blog, people have come to expect higher stanards from you. The role of non-executive director may well take into account knowledge and skills people have built up over the years in various roles... what it doesn't mean is that they have been appointed because of any political contacts. These appointments are made by an arms length organisation, The Appointment Commission, not by any politician... and it was Labour that did that. Under the Tories there was a far more blatant political backscratching process.

As for that twerp who doesn't know what a non-executive director does in a publicly owned organisation, well it is not much different. They ensure probity, that challenging questions are asked of the Executives, that the shareholders' (in this case the general public) interests are taken into account.

Why not have a look at the number of directorships held by Tory MPs?

phone cam foolery said...

Bob piper
Maybe you should have explained the role of a non exec to certain people concerned with the Maxwell organisation, standard life and many other organisations.
Face up to it chum, most non execs are window dressing who come to the board room table armed with nothing but a big rubber stamp.
YOU TWERP!

Anonymous said...

"the blinkered view that anything Labour politicians do must be incompetent or improper." seems a remarkably sensible working premise to me.
An inclusive list of Labour pols exhibiting competence/propriety would rival http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/text/victories.html for brevity.

Martin Hoscik said...

Oh come off it Iain.

If you refuse to accept this was just an innocent co-incidence you'll be getting all cynical over the healthcare contracts issued to the company one of Blair's former advisors now runs...

Anonymous said...

Of course on the other hand the Pennine HealthCare NHS Trust has just appointed a bankrupt Tory (well his firm went down the plug just now) to chair it after paying off the last chief executive. The local Tory MP Phil Woolas is pushing instead for his own staff member (thrown out as a councillor with the biggest swing in history after being leader) should do the job/take the massive state handout instead. Tough decision. Probably down to measuring the respective lengths of snouts. Oh yes and the former Chief Exec of one of the hospitals is in the trust turned up after his own half million pound payoff package as the Finance member in Rochdale's Labour/Tory Cabinet. Confused? The public are. They voted that lot out and put in the Lib Dems. Obviously barmy but who can blame them?

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous at 7.39. Phil woolas is a Labour MP, not a Tory. I wonder if the rest of your post is just as accurate.

The Remittance Man said...

"As for that twerp who doesn't know what a non-executive director does in a publicly owned organisation, well it is not much different. They ensure probity, that challenging questions are asked of the Executives, that the shareholders' (in this case the general public) interests are taken into account."

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question, Bob. Though might I suggest you amend the "twerp" bit. It demeans your post and makes you appear churlish.

Exercising my right to a secondary question, perhaps you could answer me this:

How will the people of South West yorkshire be assured that Mr Hinchcliffe will represent their views? He does appear, after all, have some form as an apparatchik. Might the good people of the area not be justifiably afraid that his loyalties lie more with the regime than them?

I trust you will have learnt some manners by time you reply.

Henry Mayhew said...

I think he looks more like an Impressionist painter. An interesting face indeed. He looks like one of those gritty northerners the Party chairman referred to a few weeks ago. Certainly not a mincing metrosexual in any case. Lowering hills and all that. Or is it clouds?

Bob Piper said...

Remittance Man... believe me, twerp was being polite. Regarding your secondary question, are you suggesting non-executive directors should be elected in order to be accountable to their localities... because Blair thinks something similar actually, hence Foundation Trust Governors. Nice company you keep though.

As for the other berk whose name seems to include, appropriately 'foolery' you obviously believe that because the organisations you cite were less than financially prudent, that axiomatically proves there is no role for non-executive directors in either the public or private sector. That is a point of view. A stupid one... but still a point of view. There is a good deal to worry about in terms of non-exec's... Enron is an even more blatant example, but it also shows why you may need those with different skills to those possessed by merchant bankers and accountants. The alternative is to have no scrutiny at all.

Mike said...

I think this is all a bit unfair on Iain. After all, he's got a lot of posting to do every day, and, when nspiration is lacking, is is pretty easy to play the man instead of the ball.

Mark P said...

Umm ... isn't it normally a pretty sure sign of a politician having lost a decent grasp on the real world when they start assuming that any and every critic of them is both (a) stupid and (b) a front for another political party?

PoliticalHack said...

What a load of tripe. I've come to expect better from you, Iain. And I'm not employed by the Labour Party at all - nor am I necessarily New Labour. As I point out on my blog, New Labour would have no interest in defending this rather old Labour ex-MP.

Funnily enough, David Hinchcliffe actually worked quite closely with Ginny Bottomley back when she was SecState for Health.

You haven't dealt with my point that there is one other non-exec on this board - and others across the country - with close ties to the Tory party. Are they also snout-deep in the trough? The fact that political activity has to be disclosed - an item mentioned in the notes for editors, not the main body of the press release - is meant to allow an open environment.

You have got this one wrong.

Henry Mayhew said...

Will people stop criticising Iain today please? He's had enough. If its so bloody easy entertaining you lot, you do it - on your own blog.

Bob Piper said...

Henry... are you being paid for that comment?

Anonymous said...

Iain is spot on with this -

It's not that the guy has got a job i don't begrudge any body making a living. I want i find unacceptable is what does he offer the trust that they have already not got? If they could do without his expertese before why cannot they do that know.

£5-6,000 is not a lot of cash but as it is a non - job, what is it for? If hinchcliffe wanted to carry on infliencing he would have been better off financially and strategically remaining an MP.

I condemn the whole of these non job people not just hinchcliffe. The only reason he has got the job is through his offilation to labour. How do i know this? One "associate" i worked with beame a chairman of a health authourity - no health experience prior to taking chairmanship because of involvement with a political party - Which one - you decide!!!

The Remittance Man said...

Really Bob, I hope you reply to your constituents' queries in a more decorous fashion.

As to the non-answer you gave me I still think that the people of South West Yorkshire would have a right to question where Mr Hinchcliffe's loyalties lie. As you explained in your answer to my first question his new job is to ensure the probity of the Health Trust's executives. Form what I can gather he's been a member of the Labour political establishment and thus might not wish to ask too many embarassing questions of people who were his colleagues not long ago.

I accept that some poachers do make very good gamekeepers, but a wise landowner doesn't necessarily trust one until he has proven himself.

RM

Mr Nixon said...

"I accept that some poachers do make very good gamekeepers, but a wise landowner doesn't necessarily trust one until he has proven himself." and other such clever asides, only go to prove how the provision of mental health care is yet another vital service which is being kicked around by those who would use popular issues to vent their own party orientated opinion and score points on a scale which bears no relation to the subject which they claim to have a vested interested in. I am charged with the care of people suffering from "mental illness," - although it is questionable when I see so much more disease and sickness within british politics - and am reminded on a daily basis that the issue of mental health is a socio-political problem as well as a clinical one. It is NOT a party political issue and should never be. No vulnerable person should ever have to suffer at the hands of political wrangling. If you wish to continue with you meaningless discourse, then be my guest, we will continue to provide all the care we can within a crumbling and hopelessly bearocratic system.