Leaky boat in a sea of sharks should be sunk

LP Columnist Barry Freeman
LP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Every so often a little story comes along which lays bare a bigger picture.

Not, of course, that the decision of former disabilities minister Justin Tomlinson to leak confidential and, clearly, market sensitive government documents to a private company for reasons unknown should have been quite so ‘little’ a story.

Indeed, by rights, a functioning Fourth Estate would have gone to town, front page maulings with an ignoble end to the North Swindon MP’s political career the only logical outcome. Which is not to say the story went uncovered. Let’s just say the reportage was a little more sensitive than one might expect.

This was typified, naturally, by the Mail, who described how Tomlinson’s voice ‘cracked’ as he apologised to the House last week, while pushing up their account his feeble excuse of ‘naivety’. Ahhhhh…

Makes you almost feel bad for wanting him kicked out of the legislature. Almost. If you buy this lame act.

And the State does. Which is why the Sword of Damocles over Tomlinson, the terrible punishment which might (we find out next month) await, is a possible TWO DAY suspension from the Commons. A veritable penknife of Damocles.

Two days? For leaking the draft version of a report on the credit industry, one initiated in response to the social damage being done by said industry, to then market leading payday lender Wonga?

Two days? For then submitting to his committee four changes Wonga wanted made to the report, under his OWN name? Labour’s John McDonnell got five days in 2009 for touching the bleeding mace!

And then the bigger picture becomes clear.

Had Tomlinson leaked, say, to campaigners demanding far tighter regulation than eventually resulted he would already be gone.

But he didn’t. He kept it in the family. That unholy brethren of big business – particularly high finance – and State by which this nation has been carved up over three decades and more. They want the same things. Think the same things. No? Paranoia?

Maybe. Yet all four of Wonga’s suggested changes made it into the report. Whatever. I just hope that when Justin gets back from suspension he is ready to apply himself 1,777 per cent.