Sunday 7 November 2010


Further to my recent post about David Cameron’s personal photographer being put on to the Civil Service payroll, ie being paid by you and me to take flattering publicity pictures of the prime minister, I came across a letter from Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich, to Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, in which he poses some very valid questions. Hat tip here to Labour Uncut.

Here’s the letter:

Sir Gus O’Donnell
Cabinet Secretary
Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall
2 November 2010

Dear Gus,

You will no doubt be aware of today’s report in the Mirror newspaper that the Prime Minister has taken the decision to appoint Mr Andrew Parsons as his official photog

Given the current financial climate, and the severe pressure on the public finances, you will be aware that this appointment is the subject of some controversy.

I would be grateful, therefore, if you could answer the following questions:

a) Can you confirm Mr Parsons’ appointment was made personally by the Prime Minister himself, rather than you or any of your officials?

b) Can you advise me how long the post of “Official Photographer to the Prime Minister” has been in existence?

c) Can you advise me what consultation there has been between the Prime Minister, yourself and other officials prior to this appointment?

d) Can you advise me whether interviews for the post conformed to the requirements of the Civil Service code? How many people applied for the job? Where was it advertised and how many people were interviewed? Are you satisfied that there was open competition for the position?

e) Who will own the copyright to the photographs taken by Mr Parsons? Will they be the property of Mr Parsons, the Prime Minister or the Crown?

f) Will the Prime Minister have copy approval before the publication of any photographs taken by Mr Parsons?

g) The Mirror’s report quotes a Downing Street “source” saying that Mr Parsons will also be attached to the Cabinet Office. Can you confirm this, and advise me how often, and on what occasions, you or your staff have received requests for reportage photographs of current Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude?

h) Can you advise me what political restrictions will be placed upon Mr Parsons, and the dissemination of his work?

Yours sincerely
Tom Watson
Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East

It will be interesting to see if Mr Watson gets an answer that actually means something

In the same blog article, I complained about a Gardening Leave package for the Northern Rock Chairman, which meant that his fabulous salary, together with pension rights and car, would continue to May 1, 2011, when he starts his new job. This was to be funded by the bank which is a nationalised company.
I'm pleased to report that the furore over this matter has persuaded Mr Hoffman to waive the payments. Well done to him for belatedly coming to his senses... I doubt (modestly) if Munguin's Republic can take all of the credit for this....


  1. Cameron Etonian born and bred is only acting as his class would expect....

    You didn't for one moment believe 'all in it together' meant Cameron was going to cut back on his 'perks of the job).

    His class would consider your complaint as most bizarre bit like the Junior under-Gardner criticising the guest list for the estates Grand Ball.

    I put a comment on the Tory Diary a few days ago to Paul Goodman saying

    Cameron and Cleggy as Old Etonians believe

    'Fairness comes out of a bottle of Bollingers'

    quite good i thought?

    anyway he went completely mental over the use of class to attack them and then deleted everything of mine and threw me of the site(again)

  2. Don't worry Niko. I bet you've been thrown out of better places.

    Class is a fair thing to attack in a way, although it's sad that it is so important in this country today.

    But they act as if they have no earthly idea of what it is to be poor... and they don't.

    I would never say that because someone was born with a gold spoon in their mouth and went to Eton and Oxford, and used their connection with the Queen to get a good seat, that that means that they can't be a good Prime minister for ALL the people, but whoever it is has to know about ALL the people. They have to understand how appalling people’s lives are and that it’s no use saying ... oh what they need is a job.

    It’s not the answer to everything. Well you know all that anyway, so I’ll shut up.

  3. PS I won't throw you off here Niko... No matter if you say horrid things about my Eck...

  4. Tris

    If you say Class the toffs and their supporters claim you are using an old out of date argument,
    Although they themselves as a class are absolutely single minded in maintaining their class interests.

    David Camerons Cabinet are mostly private school and Oxbridge-educated. Labour has a fair few as well its like you can choose who you like as long as they come from oxbridge.

  5. You're totally right there Niko...

    Did I say that....really?

  6. Awww isn't that so sweet?

    How did you hyperlink that CH?

  7. Hat tip to Ed Iglehart from tipiglen I have been unable to find his instruction page but will post it if I do.

    As a shortcut highlight my link and rt click and select "view source selection". Don't include "rel="nofollow" in your link. Trial and error is my way of learning, good luck.

  8. Niko,

    What has the man's form of education got to do with it? Do public school boys not somehow care about poverty, value for money, efficient government etc as much as a bunnet Hussler like yourself? ;)

  9. I just think they are even less aware of the realities of it than people who lived in ordinary homes and went to the local school, and an ordinary universtiy.

    Not of course all public school boys, but ectremely priviliged ones like Eton boys, Harrow Boys, Westminster boys...etc

    And of course some people go go "up" to Oxford live perfectly normal lives, but folk whose daddies can afford to pay for restaurants to be put back together on a regualr basis must have lived unbelievably priviliged lives, with money to burn.

    A drug addict on a housing estate, or a family with an alcoholic wife beater for a father living in 3 squalid tiny damp rooms in a tower block with no chance of work must be unimaginable to them.

    I don't think they are cruel. They just don't know what they are doing to people with whom they have absolutely no point of contact. They might as well be from Mars.

  10. "I just think they are even less aware of the realities of it than people who lived in ordinary homes and went to the local school, and an ordinary universtiy."

    Classist crap Tris. Sorry for being blunt, but that is crap.

    Clement Atlee, Beverage, Harold MacMillan - for example - were all 'public school boys', and they were awares enough to establish the welfare state!

  11. In that case there must be something wrong with Camerclegg because they seemt to be totally unaware Dean

  12. Tris,

    What do you mean? The 'Camerclegg' leadership is setting out under IDS and Frank Fields [plus John Hutton] the most controvercial, and overdue reform of pensions and benefits/welfare - designed to ensure the future capacity of state provision!

    So I repeat, what on earth has their schooling got to do with it?

  13. Their backgrounds rather than their schooling per se mean that they can't begin to have any idea of how the people at the bottom live. They never have and never will understand.

    They may have some good ideas about the broad picture but they clearly have no perception about what their work will mean to some individuals... not even just will mean, is already meaning at the moment.

    It's as alien to them as Mars is to me Dean, you won't convince me otherwise.

    They can't imagine wearing hand me downs out of Primark and having shoes that let in and socks that have holes; they can't imagine being hungry and cold in their own homes, with parents that are lying in a pool of urine having take too much Ket or Chrystal Meths and no clean clothes to put on. They can't imagine having to move the used condoms and sringes and wade through litter and dog mess to get to school in the morning... they can't imagine not having a bath or a shower every day because there's no money for hot water...

    They can't even begin to imagine it.