Friday, 5 October 2012

One, United Nation


While Ed Miliband was working on his 'One Nation' speech to the Labour Party conference, his old boss - Gordon Brown - was on an entirely different mission at the United Nations (UN) building in New York.

Gordon - the sometime MP for Fife - was in the Big Apple for a press conference, apparently, and to speak about his exciting new new role as a special UN envoy for global education.

But the press conference was abruptly cancelled when just one reporter showed up - and to add insult to injury the journalist in question - was from the Daily Telegraph.

Now I've written before about the moonlighting antics of Gordon Brown and other MPs - to my mind they should be concentrating on the interests of their local constituents.

Here's what Gordon Brown told the Guardian newspaper in December 2010 - after he left office as Prime Minister:

"It may seem strange to other people, but I feel at home," says Brown. "I am happy trying to do things here."

So he's not tempted by a few lucrative directorships and a peerage? Brown is appalled at the idea.

"I am not going to the House of Lords. Never. That's not who I am. That's not where I am. I want to do something for Kirkcaldy and Fife. I am a full-time MP, not a businessman."

Now what I don't get is why doesn't Gordon Brown just resign his seat - let someone else represent the good people of Fife on a full-time basis - and get on with his own life outside politics. 

Gordon was accompanied to New York by his wife Sarah according to press reports - but there was no mention of their two young children who presumably stayed at home in Scotland.

Now I'm not too sure what all this One Nation Labour business is all about - but I'm sure that  somewhere in the mix - there is a notion of honesty, integrity, fairness and the proper use of public money - both at home and abroad.

So why doesn't Ed Miliband - or Johann Lamont for that matter - tell Gordon that the game is up - and that someone else deserves a stab at the job.

Because down the line a little bit it would mean one less person - languishing among the ranks of the unemployed.

Here's something I wrote on the subject last year.

Moonlighting MPs (27 March 2011)

The Mail on Sunday is not my cup of tea for news, politics or analysis - but you've got to hand it to the newspaper - it does come up with some good stories that seem to bay the rest of the media by.

Today's paper highlights a high-flying row involving Gordon Brown - the former Prime Minister and still Labour MP for Fife - and a dispute about business class seats on a British Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to London.

Gordon Brown was returning from a speaking engagement in Abu Dhabi - where he gave a lecture to New York University students.

The university has a campus in Abu Dhabi and has previously appointed the former Labour leader to a £70,000 a year post - as a 'distinguished global leader in residence'.

The full story can be read in the Mail on Sunday or online at: www.dailymail.co.uk

Essentially the paper reports that some passengers were angry at being 'bumped' from business class to make way for Gordon Brown and his entourage - who required six of the £3,000 per head seats.

During the first hour-long leg of the flight from Oman to Abu Dhabi, the displaced passengers stared resentfully at the six empty seats in Business Class - known as Club World by British Airways, the paper reports.

At Abu Dhabi they were livid to see Gordon Brown board the plane with his team and take up 'their' seats - apparently.

British Airways issued a statement after the incident and a spokeswoman for the airline said Mr Brown's arrival on the flight was a coincidence - and he had been unfairly blamed by the mutinous passengers.

But this misses the real point - of course - which is:

How can MPs justify a full-time public salary - if they spend so much time away from their day job?