I’m getting peeved with the ill-informed rubbish littering the Internet the past couple of days (and still rumbling on today), regarding Lord Patten of Barnes (Chris Patten as was), particularly this which has spawned lots of imitators, especially on Twitter.
The basic argument seems to be that because Patten has business links to a bunch of healthcare companies, that he might possibly profit from the carpet-bagging of the NHS. However, ending the “argument” against Patten with:-
Lord Patten of Barnes didn’t vote on the Health and Social Care bill, but that he was allowed to if he so wanted to, highlights the democratic hole in the Lords rules, which fails to prevent voting despite clear conflicts of interest.
…surely negates the argument – he simply can’t be condemned because he could have done something but didn’t – that’s patently absurd.
Patten acted perfectly properly, both legally and ethically, by taking part in neither the NHS debates or in the voting. And as one of the commenters on the above blog post pointed out, the Lord Patten – there are two of them – who did vote was NOT Lord Patten of Barnes who, as you can see from my link, was absent throughout!
The fact that being absent from the House of Lords is Patten’s norm means little other than he probably has enough to do running the BBC Trust (not the BBC, as wrongly claimed in the above article – that would be the Director General), and diminishes not at all the fact that he did absolutely nothing to advance the NHS bill.
That the companies he’s involved with might profit is not his concern. After all, any members of the public, or any pension funds, who have investments in these same companies – you don’t hear anyone bitching about them – will also profit.
Association with or investment in healthcare companies is not a crime – fucking up the NHS so you can personally profit from such investments, as numerous MPs and peers did, isn’t either, but it bloody well should be!
The real problem, in both Upper and Lower houses, lies with all those MPs and Members of the House of Lords who did have a financial interest in the passing of the bill, will almost certainly profit from it, and who therefore voted in favour.
Those people should, at the very least, have abstained from the various debates, and from voting, unless they were prepared to argue and vote against the bill (yeah, right), in which case nobody could complain.
Worse still are the lies told to the Lords by Lord Freud (who was a lying arsehole when he was David Freud, and said in the Telegraph that most IB claimants were frauds, has mended his ways not at all, and was the prime mover in the “Hate the Disabled” campaign ramped up to insane levels by Cameron and by IDS’s Lie Factory), and to the Commons by Lansley and Cameron, both in lying directly to the House and in refusing to release the risk register which would undoubtedly have trashed the NHS bill. (Note: The order to release the risk register came from a tribunal, not the crown court, and appears to be unenforceable.)
We should be extremely concerned that it is NOT an offence for MPs, ministers and the prime minister to lie to Parliament, and that they regularly do so with impunity, just as they lie to the right-wing press for publication – this is, by any measure, vastly more serious, than any offences Patten conspicuously failed to commit.