Me and Mr Jones

LISTENING to (Lord) Digby Jones on Any Questions tonight, I was struck by how serious and respected a figure he is.

And I found myself – somewhat to my own surprise – regretting his departure from the government. I was never entirely comfortable with a minister refusing to join the Labour Party or accept the Labour whip. But I suppose what matters more is how effective you’ve been in your department and, in his case, representing British interests abroad. And Digby, by all accounts, did that extremely well.

Tonight he was critical of the government in a measured sort of way, but he also helped put the current worldwide downturn in perspective. And the audience listened. 

I’ve met Digby only once – in 2003 during a select committee trip to Atlanta, Georgia, when I found myself in conversation with him at a reception held in honour of the visiting MPs. He was keen to discuss the Iraq war, which had only recently started, and wanted to know how I had voted in the Commons. I told him that I had supported the war and the prime minister, and he clearly approved of this. Then my friend and colleague, Parmjit Dhanda, joined us. Knowing that he had voted rather diffrently from me, I introduced Parmjit to Digby and said: “Digby, this is Parmjit, the MP for Gloucester. He voted against the war.” I heard Digby’s sharp intake of breath as he prepared to unleash a volley. Then I left them to it.

Parmjit, looking a bit shell-shocked following his grilling by Digby, told me later: “Thanks very much for that. Bastard.”


Filed under Economy, Government

6 responses to “Me and Mr Jones

  1. Unlike the former CBI director, Parmjit continues to serve thanks to the mandate of his electors rather than the patronage of others and is entitled, therefore, to tell Jones to stick his criticism of the Iraq war vote where his party card doesn’t shine.

  2. Rapunzel

    In the midst of all the current gloom and doom and hysteria and outright pessimism, it was good to listen to someone who was prepared to speak intelligently, and look, albeit ever so cautiously, for signs of hope.

    Although, I gather at least two of the other guests have sent him off the That Yacht!

  3. Johnny Norfolk

    Digby Jones was, and is totaly misguided in thinking that it copuld, and supporting a Labour run economy.

    Tom every Labour government has run up massive debt and left it to to someone else to sort out ( The Tories) This time it is worse than ever.

    I have no respect for him whatsoever as he should have known better.

  4. Chris' Wills

    Well if 44.7% of the votes, in a 62.8% turnout (28.1% of the electorate voted for him) cast is a mandate, then Parmjit has a mandate.

    Don’t misunderstand; I do prefer the 1st past the post system to any of the other options (allows for independents to stand and possibly win, rather than the party lists used in many other systems. STV is silly as well) but claiming a mandate is debatable.

    I suspect, given his towing the government line on everthing, that Parmjit will rise within the present NuLabor system where independent thought is frowned upon.

    Tom, why didn’t you hang around to listen to the conversation? Dropping someone in it and then not watching the splash.

  5. I can’t believe PD would have used such mild unparliamentarily language. Go on, type what he really said – you know you want to…

  6. Chris,

    “I suspect, given his towing the government line on everthing, that Parmjit will rise within the present NuLabor system where independent thought is frowned upon.”

    ‘Towing the government line on everything’ is a rather odd criticism of an MP who Tom mentioned because he, um, voted against the Iraq war…

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