Sunday, 12 April 2009

McBride scandal - The real issue

I wrote a blog last night detailing my views on the Damian McBride scandal. In all of the excitement, maybe we have overlooked the real root cause of the problem. Mr McBride is a civil servant. They are there to run the machinery of government, not to besmirch their opponents. MP's get generous allowances to employ staff. They get generous allowances to post us letters, they get generous allowances to travel around telling us how marvellous a job they are doing.

I totally disagree with the concept that on top of all of that, they get the civil service to do their bidding. If parties want to indulge in smears and character assassinations that is bad enough. The fact that you, me and the bloke next door pay for it is scandalous.

As you know, if you follow my blog, I tend to focus my political comment on Barnet, so lets have a look at what is going on here. Barnet council spend money (our money) on an advisor for the ruling Tory administration. This person is Vanessa Gearson. She is a prominent local Tory having stood as both a Barnet Councillor and a PPC. When her political career came off the rails a nice job was created at Barnet Council for her. According to Barnet Council watch, this post costs approx £60,000 per annum. Now I've no idea what Ms Gearson does, but I doubt she's organising rosters for binmen or visting lonely old people in sheltered accomodation to see how they feel about the council scrapping their wardens.
Given her history and the esteem in which other Tories hold her it is clear to me that her role is, shall we say, questionable and a waste of taxpayers money. Now I may well be wrong about what she's up to and if she can justify her salary as being of benefit to all Barnets Taxpayers, when warden cuts are being made, all she has to do is get in touch and she can be The Barnet Eye's first guest blogger. Can't say fairer than that can I?

Her salary would pay for two sheltered housing wardens. I guess you probably know which I think is better value for money. It's a shame that a Tory Council on a drive to cut out unnecessary waste are blind to this.

One of the justifications for the salaries MP's and Councillors get is that they could earn far more in the private sector. As Ms Gearson is an ex Councillor and failed PPC, maybe she should go out and get a proper job. This type of creation of jobs for your mates, when the electorate decide they aren't up to the job, strikes me as indicative of all that is wrong in British Politics. Anyway, I've offered her the opportunity to make her case and show me how much value she delivers for her £60K of my money. I await the call !

******* Update *************

Since posting this blog, it has been brought to my attention that Vanessa Gearson has now been promoted to another post in the council. Richard Robeson is the current cabinet advisor. Well Richard & Vanessa - my offer is open to both of you to explain what value the cabinet advisor delivers for the Barnet Taxpayer. As this would purely be an explanation of the job, it would ot contravene the rules on engaging in Political activity. Apologies to all for any inaccuracy above.


Anonymous said...

Is it a coincidence that all these mysterious comments from anonymous bloggers has coincided with these new appointments? Would be interesting to see these people's inboxes, I bet they contain some very 'fruity' language!

Don't Call Me Dave said...


Vanessa Gearson has now been promoted to another post in the council, but her initial appointment as Cabinet Adviser was nothing short of a disgrace.

Barnet has managed to get along for quite a while without such an officer. Alan Williams didn’t need one and nor did Victor Lyon or Brian Sallinger. Indeed, if you look at the Chief Executive’s job description it says he is the “principle policy adviser to the council.” Why are taxpayers being forced to pay for the services of a friend of Mike Freer when the Chief Executive is already paid to do that job?

Even if the council genuinely required a Cabinet Adviser (which it doesn’t), the appointment of Vanessa Gearson should never have been allowed to happen. Council officers, like civil servants, are supposed to be politically impartial so that they can serve administrations of any colour.

The position is a politically restricted post, so to appoint someone like Gearson who is overtly political was sticking two fingers up at the whole process. No doubt Mike Freer figured that if Tony Blair could get away with politicising the civil service, then so could he.

The Editor of Conservative Home blog said of Gearson’s role in bringing down Ian Duncan Smith: “The behaviour of Vanessa Gearson…during that period was completely at odds with the high standards that should be expected from people who aspire to be Tory MPs.”

Birds of a feather, flock together.

The current Cabinet Adviser is Richard Robeson – the former political assistant to the Conservatives (another position which should not be paid for by taxpayers) and another Freer loyalist.

Why have Labour not complained about either of these appointments? Could be that they will appoint their own buddies to highly paid public jobs if they ever get back into power in Barnet?

The McBride scandal will be headline news for a few days, but I have little doubt that the furore will eventually die down and the troughing classes will find different ways to stuff their friends pockets with our cash.