Thursday, November 08, 2007

All Aboard The Gravy Train from the UN non-stop to London

Over at the Spectator web site you can read a fascinating article about 'Lord' Mark Malloch Brown the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN. His appointment by Gordon Brown was one of the first in his new 'government of all the talents' approach when he became PM. Now apart from the fact that in a democracy we’re supposed to have some say in who is in our government, but let's not get bogged down in detail, his Lordship appears to be over stepping the mark.

The article opens with a brilliantly worded paragraph that just forces you to read on.

In February 2006 Mark Malloch Brown, then the UN Secretary General’s chief of staff, was interviewed by Claudia Rosett at the UN, and found himself increasingly furious at the line of questioning about his housing arrangements in New York. Malloch Brown had caused controversy with his decision to live on the smart country estate of George Soros, the financier who forced Britain out of the ERM in 1992, and a major donor to left-wing causes. Finally, the UN mandarin barked that he was doing ‘God’s work’ before storming out of the interview. Malloch Brown might well consider himself to be on a mission from God. But, now, as then, he lives more like a mediaeval cardinal than an ascetic monk.

On top of all the other perks of position that have fallen into 'Lord' MMB's lap there's the question of his London home that we're paying for. The article describes it thus...

Malloch Brown’s living arrangements in this country are exceedingly grand, and provided by the taxpayer. Only three members of the government have grace-and-favour residences in London. Malloch Brown is one of them, the other two are the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. David Miliband and his growing family have yet to use 1 Carlton Gardens, the Foreign Secretary’s London residence. Yet Malloch Brown, astonishingly, has secured one of the three government flats in Admiralty House, where John Prescott used to live. In so doing, this newcomer has leapfrogged 20 full members of the Cabinet who notionally enjoy seniority over him...Malloch Brown’s return from abroad is given as the explanation for him receiving a grace-and-favour flat. Others hint that he secured it because he has four children under 16. If so, Ruth Kelly — with four pre-teen children — should surely have had first pick.

The Treasury’s National Assets Register values the Admiralty House accommodation at £7.76 million and as worth more than the flats above No. 10 and 11 Downing Street. It is, indeed, fit for a Lord, and one with tastes which are the opposite of frugal.

Gordon Brown is either a fool or naive. This government is proving to be just as wedded to the politics of the gravy train as Tony Blair and his cronies.


David Lorraine said...

I served under Mark Malloch Brown in 1979/80 when he was a UN Field Officer in charge of setting up Cambodian refugee camps at the height of one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. In the midst of vicious border fighting one quickly learns exactly what lies at the core of your leader’s motivation and character.

We have not met since, yet, despite various wars and aid projects since, I have yet to meet anyone with his outstanding dedication and skills set to seek resolutions for the world’s disenfranchised: leadership, intellect, diplomacy, expertise and, oh yes, in their protection striking courage and cool at the point of an angry gun.

So some cheap shot ‘hacks’ do the world’s poor and oppressed a great disservice when, for the sake of petty egos and a dirty vendetta, they try to drive out one of the few men who has the necessary experience in conflict resolution and development, coupled with a strong position on the world stage, from which to fight their corner.

And for what! Whether an ex World Bank VP, Head of UNDP and No 2 at the UN is good enough to bed down in Prescott’s flat? What childish tosh! Is that it? The World has bigger issues. And what cheek is Bush and Bolton’s claim that for Mark to be anti Bush makes him anti American, which supposes, Clinton down, that most of the world may be anti American too.

Nor am I alarmed that a UN Deputy Secretary General was opposed to war, the Gulf or any; should disagree with Bush’s neo-conservative world politics; stayed loyal to the man whose deputy he was; attempted damage limitation to protect the organisation he served, or is a friend of one of the world’s great philanthropists. Indeed, had he done anything but, our cheap shot hacks may have had a case.

Gordon Brown’s appointment was a master-stroke that gave me real hope that fresh politics may be afoot. And, of course, it was not done as some petty snub to America but in response to his commitments on Africa, poverty, conflict resolution and development.

I, for one, hope that Mark Malloch Brown may be allowed to get on with the job making a positive difference in tackling the many tasks that urgently need his many skills.

Richard Havers said...

David, I respect your views about a man that you know, personally, far better than I do - because I know him not at all. However, my point remains. He is unelected, and my issue is with Gordon Brown's bringing into government people who have no 'right' to be there. It's an argument that I'm sure we'll agree to disagree upon. However, as I said I respect your view and won't take issue with the points that you make - despite disagreeing with several of them.