Monday, November 20, 2006

Calamity Hain

'Calam' and conscience.

The ancient Egyptians may have had fifty different words for sand and the Inuit over a hundred words for snow but the reason the English language has at least twice as many words as any other language is that we have to keep inventing new words for telling lies. This is to protect the advanced sensitivities and future peerages of our politicians. It would be extremely bad form for a prime minister or a judge say to call a secretary of state a fibber in an official capacity, so there is now a thesaurus full of alternative expressions to get over this hump in etiquette.

The politician with the most raging in-shorts blaze this week is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter ‘Calamity’ Hain or Calam as he is known to his friends and fellow truth or dare club members. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Calam has been accused by a high court judge of ‘failing in his duty of candour to the court’. My goodness that sounds even worse than leaving the toilet seat up in the home of a person suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.

It seems that there so many pesky rules these days that stand in the way of you appointing your friends to jobs as commissioners. You can’t understand it. The job needs doing and you’ve had a five minute chat with your friend over a seasonal mulled wine or two and they’re fairly sure that their holding of partisan views and/or position as your strip poker partner won’t prevent them from carrying out their duties in a fair and balanced way to the full extent of their admittedly limited abilities.

Last week Calam faced not one but two high court challenges to the ‘process’ he supposedly followed in making some high profile public appointments. Mr Justice Girvan showed himself to be a master of linguistic gymnastics, multifariously describing Calam’s inventive porkies as ruses

‘to divert attention from the true course of events.’


‘misleading and contained false information.’

As well as,

‘a less than full explanation of what actually happened and sought to minimise the political considerations.’

and rounding off,

‘it must be concluded that it was decided that the correct information should not be placed before the court.’

I have a word – perjury.

It must be said at this point that at the Ulster Royal Truth or Dare Club, Calam usually goes for the dare as ‘truth’ is not a concept with which he finds himself entirely comfortable. Therefore it seemed obvious that his joint announcement with Gordon ‘Scrooge McDuck’ Brown for the ‘extraordinary package’ of future funding of Northern Ireland would be stripped of annoying detail so that the papers could concentrate on what a fine prime ministerial team these two would make. The Belfast Telegraph sets the scene,

‘Peter Hain stood proud as punch next to Gordon Brown in Downing Street, announcing their less-than-meets-the-eye cash package for Ulster.’

In the absence of any detail, most commentators think this is mostly money that would have gone to Northern Ireland anyway, with a few extra quid thrown when someone bothered to do a little maths and factored in the RPI. The perfect opportunity to explain to us plebs how this ‘significant’ package works arose in parliament last week and was just as quickly batted away by Scrooge’s stooge Stephen Timms. From the Belfast Telegraph,

‘Conservative spokesman David Lidington asked how the November 1 funding package "differs from announcements previously made by Ministers about future public expenditure in Northern Ireland, and if he will make a statement".

The reply from Mr Brown's deputy Stephen Timms was brief and not to the point.

His one sentence answer stated: "The details of the St Andrew’s Agreement funding package announced on November 1 are set out in the Treasury press notice at: speeches/press/2006/press_82_06.cfm.’

They are so not - I think something just blew in from the Windy City because this pongs...

Picture from


Anonymous said...

I get really angry when I think about this. Great post. There isn't enough people talking about it.

Groucho said...

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them, well I have others.

Harpo said...

Cheap, cheap.