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The political class at its most despicable

There is a stunning article in City AM:

The former Labour Treasury minister behind the infamous “there is no money” letter has apologised for the gaffe, admitting it helped the Tories attack Labour’s financial irresponsibility. […] “I’ve asked myself that question every day for five years and believe me, every day I have burnt with the shame of it”

What? I mean… what? So the problem is not that he and his cohorts squandered the UK’s finances, but that he admitted it in a letter that was used to hold them to account? Really? He says he has “burnt with the shame of it”, but in truth he is utterly shameless. The lack of self-awareness is breathtaking. My loathing for these people is boundless.


6th April 2010: Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards – and good luck! Liam

27 comments to The political class at its most despicable

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed Perry.

  • the other rob

    I am reminded of events in the USA, a few years ago, when congress voted on a bill that capped the fees that banks could charge supermarkets for processing debit card transactions.

    There was much weeping and wailing from the congresscritters over how they should vote. However, none of it concerned what might be best for the people they purported to represent, but rather it all focused on the fact that both banks and supermarkets are big campaign contributors and that however they voted they would alienate major donors.

    It was like they weren’t bothering to pretend any more.

  • At a less important scale, Sarah Silverman’s bullshit pay gap story: “My regret is that I mentioned Al by name- it should have been a nameless, faceless anecdote and he has always been lovely to me.”

    So instead of saying she was wrong, she says she wishes she had hidden the name to make it an unverifiable story.

  • Mr Ed

    There is a Grauniad piece on this, and Mr Byrne does not deny the accuracy of the letter’s measage, he used the phrase in discussions with colleagues.


    He forgot Bill Clinton’s dictum ‘Never tell on yourself’.

    So however you split it, he is a knob.

  • Mr Ed

    Well, thinking about it. The silly sod has a Tracy Chapman song running round in his head, thinking of having Britannia in his power:

    Maybe if I told you the right words, at the right time, you’d be mine. Baby, can I hold you tonight?


  • Snorri Godhi

    Could someone please clarify a point for me, and i suppose for other non-UK residents?
    The letter is dated April 6, yet Liam Byrne was Chief Secretary until May 11: why did he write this letter a full month before knowing who was going to win the elections?

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri, Parliament is dissolved around 4-6 weeks before a General Election, amd MPs cease to be MPs and all are candidates, but Ministers of the Crown remain in office.

    I would think that the letter was written as desks were cleared for the General Election, there is a pre-election ‘purdah’ im the auk when Civil Servants cease to generally advise Ministers to preserve notional neutrality, with Ministers only being called upon in case of emergency, like Mr Darling who went to an EU summit as the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer after the 2010 General Election, as he remained in office until Mr Cameron told the Queen that he had a majority by Coalition and Gordon ‘Brezhnev’ Brown, heir to ‘Gorbachev’ Blair had resigned as Prime Minister.

  • Pardone

    Well, there’s never going to be any money unless you abolish state pensions and end all funding of public transport.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I disagree. Long ago I used to work in the Treasury. My post was a junior one, but it was internally a rather egalitarian place, so I did meet Treasury ministers and saw how they operated in daily life. There was a lot of banter. This was just a silly joke, in a long line of similar jokes. This from Liam Byrne’s Guardian piece is absolutely correct:

    I guess I wanted to offer them a friendly word on their first day in one of government’s hardest jobs by honouring an old tradition that stretched back to Churchill in the 1930s and the Tory chancellor Reginald Maudling, who bounced down the steps of the Treasury in 1964 to tell Jim Callaghan: “Sorry to leave it in such a mess, old cock.”

    I had known the story of Maudling’s remark years before Byrne ever came on the scene.

    Byrne and his colleagues did squander the UK’s finances and he deserves opprobrium for that, but not for this little bit of bipartisan humour. It was ungentlemanly of Cameron to bring out the note.

  • Mr Ed

    Natalie, the letter was factually correct. What Mr Byrne is saying is that he was wrong to have written the truth, as it reflected badly on Labour. He failed the Party, the betrayed Big Brother.

    There is no such thing as being ‘ungentlemanly’ to thieving, vicious, lying socialists, any more than there is to being ungentlemanly by beating off a rabid dog.

  • Michael Jennings (London)


  • bloke in spain


  • The same sort of thing happens in the US when a politician tells the truth. It has a tendency to propel a Party into power.

    Obama recently said that cannabis was less dangerous than alcohol. Which is objectively true. The Right went into an uproar. The sentiment generally being: “How dare he speak the truth. What about the Children?”

    The unfortunate thing here is that the truth may keep the socialists in power. Such is the power of denying truth. Of course there is much that left lies about. But all that may get buried because in America finances and regulation are not sexy. Cannabis is.

    Fortunately one politician on the right gets it. Rand Paul. He discusses finances and government failure and then Cannabis. And do the “media” pick up on policy? Not much. Cannabis! The trouble is that he has to win the primaries in the anti-cannabis Party.

    But look at how inverted it all is. Generally the Democrats are the woman’s party and the Republicans are the party of men. Women are opposed to cannabis and men favor it – on average. So which party is most opposed to Prohibition? Democrats. And which party most favors it? Republicans. So in this particular case neither party is representing its voters. But there is another dynamic at work with medical cannabis being favored by about 60% of the voting public. The Democrats are going where the votes are. How shameless of them.

  • Richard Thomas

    The Republican party married itself to the Christian right. A long term tactical mistake as the country moves towards being more socially liberal and people find themselves alienated by overtly puritan policy (the left is no less puritan, of course, they just hide it better). However, this tipping point is coming and soon the canabis and gay marriage debates will be behind us and hopefully it will be time to drop some of the baggage and regroup.

  • Julie near Chicago

    The Republican Party is the offspring of people the majority of whom were Christian, and almost of whom were “culturally Christian.” These people saw slavery as an institution antithetical to Christianity. If the Republican membership and supporters today contain a hefty proportion of Christians, real or merely self-described, I’m not sure that the Republican Party’s associating itself with what its leadership seems to think are Christian moral beliefs (except when there’s a controversy, which finds most of the Party Bigwigs suddenly dumbstruck) counts as “a tactical mistake.”

    Also, in point of fact the failure of SOME (hardly all!) Republicans to accept the use of pot as legitimate (whether or not deplorable) is surely far less damaging than the failure of Dems and Progressive to accept real libertarian liberty, or even seriously cutting spending and taxes and getting the Government’s nose out of the most important of the areas that are none of its business.

  • AngryTory

    There is no such thing as being ‘ungentlemanly’ to thieving, vicious, lying socialists, any more than there is to being ungentlemanly by beating off a rabid dog.

    Sure there is — but it is based on a rather old-fashioned notion of “gentleman” that is mostly out of favour, except in Florida and a few other places in the US, it seems..

    Faced by thieving, vicious, lying socialists, a gentleman must deal to them at once. If he has a cane, he should us that; if mounted he should charge; and if he happens to have a fowling-piece (or these days, more appropriate ordinance) it must be discharged not to delope, warn, or wound, but with accurate aim to achieve the most salient effect.

    Acting otherwise towards socialists, thieves, or any other type of leftist is most deeply ungentlemanly.

  • On the cannabis question I’d like to leave part of a bit that was posted elsewhere:

    I’m getting the Left to fight against State Power.

    Which is another way of saying I’m double crossing them. Openly. And they LOVE it.

    And while I’m doing that with the left I leave them this little gem to make them think about ALL government power.

    Every tax, every regulation comes with it an army of bureaucrats and behind that an army (with guns) of enforcers.

    It is having some effect.



    I’m not so sure. The Republicans of 1914 opposed the Harrison Narcotics Act because it was of the opinion that the Constitution did not grant the Federal Government that power.

    What the current Republican Party is comes from Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Attracting Cultural Conservatives from the South who were no longer comfortable with the Democrat Party because of its anti-racist policy ushered in by Lyndon Johnson.

    “The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.” – Nixons chief political strategist Kevin Phillips

    Prior to that the Republican Party was much more libertarian. The Libertarian Party was formed in 1972 (IIRC) in response to Nixon. And Drug Prohibition was the least of it. Wage and price controls. Controls on oil (remember “new oil” and “old oil”). And a host of other socialist policies. And the new Republicans (former Democrats) were comfortable enough with that to elect Nixon twice. He was one of our most despicable Presidents.

  • lost-lost cousin


    Are you even capable of posting about anything that’s not about marijuana?

    I’m not saying’, I’m just sayin’.

  • lost-lost cousin
    May 12, 2015 at 4:10 am

    You might as well have asked me in Germany of 1942 if I couldn’t please stop talking about the massacre of the Jews and other unfavored classes.

    Prohibition – especially differentially enforced against minorities – is such a despicable policy. The State is taking away people’s liberty wholesale – the US runs the largest gulag in the world – ever. By numbers or per capita. We are passed South Africa in our treatment of Blacks.

    The question is not why do I talk about it so much. Why do you talk about it so little?

    Every day I wake up it makes me scream. Or – as a ‘net friend of mine says.

    “Modern Prohibition/War on Drugs is the most destructive, dysfunctional and immoral policy since slavery & Jim Crow” – Retired Police Detective Howard Wooldridge

    And I know how much libertarians abhor slavery. Well this is not in some (for me) far off country. It is where I live. And I’m fortunate to live in a country where screaming can have an effect – eventually. Care to scream with me?

  • Mr Ed

    You might as well have asked me in Germany of 1942 if I couldn’t please stop talking about the massacre of the Jews and other unfavored classes.

    Why, is it that every day cannabis plants are uprooted and composted? Why not keep your submissions somewhere inside the bounds of reasonable comparison?

    You do sometimes come across as the drug law equivalent of Red Dwarf’s Talking Toaster with its insistence on talking about heated bread products and the like. This thread is about politicians being unwilling to address the elephant in the room. Lots of people get through their lives without ever bothering about taking recreational drugs, or even using them for medicinal purposes.

  • Mr Ed
    May 12, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Why not keep your submissions somewhere inside the bounds of reasonable comparison?

    Well I’m Jewish. We are perhaps overly twitchy about such things. But if not checked they have a tendency to lead to mass murder – Newt Gingrich in 1999 called for death for 2 oz of pot. He now favors legalization. So we did at one point get rather close to mass murder. It was considered – at least by some – a viable political option.

    But OK. Proportion.

    “Modern Prohibition/War on Drugs is the most destructive, dysfunctional and immoral policy since slavery & Jim Crow” – Retired Police Detective Howard Wooldridge

    Well the largest gulag in the world – ever – is no small elephant.

    And had it been the 1920 to 1933 era I would have been talking about alcohol. The drug is incidental. It is the Prohibition. And the policing and prisons and loss of constitutional protections that go with it. Not to mention the cost and the enhancement of government power. All subjects that USED to interest libertarians. Quite an elephant that. It is larger than the room.

    Ever see the play Rhinocerous by Ionesco? The movie with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder is quite good. It is on line: http://putlocker.is/watch-rhinoceros-online-free-putlocker.html


  • Mr Ed

    I’m fine thanks, I just wonder perhaps if you might get out more. I enjoy your posts, but there is more to life than dope and illegality, that’s all.

  • BTW in America slavery is taken somewhat seriously. We went to war over it. It was quite a bloodletting. And before the war started some people had some rather strong opinions on the matter. It obsessed them.

  • Mr. Ed,

    America is running the largest gulag in the world – ever. Isn’t that rather a disgrace for a “free” country?

    Isn’t imprisoning people for their choice of plants a crime against humanity? A lot of people these days think so. I’m one of them. And you know who else was guilty of crimes against humanity? Those people you thought I was over the top mentioning.

    But I DO get your point. If you gave that sort of thing “too much” attention you might wind up raving like I do. Better to avoid the subject as much as possible. Then you can appear normal. Don’t mention the rhinocerii. (yes it is psuedo Latin but it flows)