Friday, December 07, 2007

What is John Hutton hiding?

As a child of the 1990 and the Alastair Campbell driven cynicism that has infected so many of us I can't help but be suspicious of some of the absurdity that gets uttered by Government ministers in answer to questions. When they're not hiding behind the "it will cost too much to answer" defence, they seem to hide behind completely non-answers and this simply causes a raised eyebrow because you do a Paxman and think "why is this lying bastard lying too me?"

Some people have said that the Paxman Rule of Political Questioning has been the death of the politics, that aggressive questioning that assumes something is being hidden is the cause of the problem because most politicians are not in it for themselves. The latter point may very well be true in many cases, but the criticism of the Paxman Rule is in no way helped along by deliberately evasive "answers" to very straightforward questions.

Take for example yesterday's when the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, John Hutton, was asked by David Simpson "on how many occasions he has accepted corporate hospitality in the last 12 months". All Hutton had to do was give a number but did he? Of course he didn't. What he said was, "Chapter 7 of the Ministerial Code sets out the rules on the registration of hospitality."

Notice the way he doesn't actually say that he has followed the rules? Usually when these questions come up the stock response is to say everything is done in "accordance with the Ministerial Code". Hutton hasn't said that, he's just said "this is what the code says". It may be cynical of me, but I wonder what the man at the DTI BERR is hiding?
You can read Chapter Seven of the Ministerial Code here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a constituent of his. I've emailed the local paper. I don't expect it to get in there but I think it ought to. Certainly sounds dodgy. If people keep asking perhaps we'll get an answer.