Wednesday 20 July 2016

The greater of two evils

Poor Owen Smith.  People are being a bit beastly to him over a press release which he issued some years ago when he was working as a lobbyist for Pfizer.  It certainly seems to be clear that the press release in question expressed support for greater privatisation in the NHS; I can’t see how anyone can seriously deny that.  But the man himself has also been absolutely clear that he has always believed in the idea that the NHS should be free.  The problem is that people are having difficulty reconciling those two statements.
However, in fairness to him, it seems perfectly simple to reconcile the two things; at that time, he was speaking for his employer and expressing the employer’s opinion, but now he’s speaking as a politician and expressing his own views.  All perfectly straightforward and obvious.
The part I don’t understand though is this: why would anyone think that being willing to argue and lobby for a privatisation which you fervently oppose simply because you’re being paid to do so is somehow a lesser sin than actually supporting privatisation because you think it’s the right thing to do?  I’d have thought that was a bigger problem for a politician claiming to be principled, not a lesser one.


Democritus said...

One is tempted to reverse the question. Why on Earth does an intelligent man with a young family throw up a good job with one of the biggest medical R&D companies in the World to take an insecure position with crap pay and precious few observable outputs?

Also worth bearing in mind the timeline here. Before his selection for Blaenau Gwent by-election Owen was (I think) Paul Murphy's SPAD - a job he had to resign from the same day. Having lost to Dai Davies he was clearly in line for selections elsewhere and didn't know the parliament would last until 2010. There are only so many employment options for someone in such a situation ...

The Bell Whether said...

If this was a novel, 'The Smith Identity' then there would have been a top secret meeting at Pfizer at which 'young gun' Smith would have received his orders as a 'sleeper' agent.
Your mission Smith, should you choose to accept it, is to penetrate the ranks of the labour party and await your order to wake. You will be 'activated' at a time when arrangements have been made for you gain control of the Parliamentary Labour Party. How you do this is up to you and no mention must be made henceforth about Pfizer-ever.
You must assume the role of a working class socialist politician. I know this will be difficult for you but we will provide you with the best trainers in the business- some of whom are locally based in the constituency we have chosen for you in a deprived area of Englandinwales.
Your objective will be no less than the hostile'takeover' of the Labour party and ensure that our NHS targets are implemented. If you succeed in this then we will ensure your speedy elevation to our New York HQ in a senior director role. If you fail, well, we all know what happens don't we? Hanging upside down by one leg from a bridge over the the River Taf awaits.
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