Tuesday, 16 January 2007

On the integrity of Peter Hain's New Unionism

Over a coffee in my kitchen last week, before that panicky propaganda onslaught about Wales staying in the UK was unleashed in the Western Mail, a friend told me about a meeting he had a few years ago with the Right Honourable Peter Hain MP.

When he became Secretary of State for Wales in 2002, Peter held a reception for the great and the good of the Welsh music scene, following on from the example set by his boss, Tony Blair. My friend, being both Welsh and a rock star, was invited along with his fellow band members.

When my friend got to the ‘meet and greet’, the Secretary of State gripped his hand firmly, as you would a close associate, and maintaining a vice-like grip, deftly manoeuvred my friend into the best position for the photographers to get the ‘glad-shot’. Before parting, he handed my friend a business card, impressing upon him the idea that he shouldn’t hesitate to call if ever he had a problem. Then, with a few images of my friend’s tacit support duly harvested, Peter turned his attention to inducting the next celebrity-best-friend-of-the-moment.

My friend instinctively counted his fingers and, finding everything still in place, joined a party at which all had a good time, apparently at the expense of the Welsh Office.

Now, my friend never came across anything he thought worth bothering his new friend Peter with, but his dad had a problem in the village, which needed political support. So his dad called the number on the card and left a message. No reply. He wrote a letter. No reply. He sent an email. Nothing came back.

I suppose this could be the result of a series of administrative mishaps but it is just as likely to indicate that Peter Hain is without integrity.

So when he writes about the potential ‘Balkanisation’ of Britain if Wales and Scotland were to break free of England, you’d be safe to assume that he’s actually trying to scare you into believing the party line. And when he mentions that public spending is £1,000 per head greater in Wales than elsewhere in Britain, you might be right to assume it’s a bald-faced lie designed to further propagate the myth that Wales is financially dependent upon England.

Ask yourself this question. Is Peter Hain providing this information for your benefit, or is he doing it for reasons of self-interest or the interests of his party? Because if it’s the latter, then this amounts to corruption, ‘sleaze’ in other words, and he has no place being in public office.

In reality, there’s nothing to fear except, perhaps, the consequences of placing power in the hands of disingenuous people like Peter Hain and Tony Blair. Let’s have a debate about whether we want to be ‘Montenegro’ to England’s ‘Greater Serbia’ with all of the relevant information available for public scrutiny. Then, when it comes to elections, we need to look for people with integrity… and beg them to become politicians.

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