Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Oh, that Hutton!

I've been out of it for a few days, so when I heard that mumble-mumble Hutton had been appointed to chair a government inquiry into the cost of public sector pensions, and that John Prescott had called him a traitor for it, I thought "fair comment". I thought they meant Will Hutton; that nice, liberal, social democratic journalist, and I was a bit puzzled that he should take such a job. In fact, of course, they meant the former Labour minister John Hutton, whose existence I have completely overlooked.

At the risk of repeating a libel, I thought I'd post here the opinion of the website Argyll News on the appointment of John Hutton to the job of f***ing over, sorry, reforming public sector pensions.

The particular beef that Argyll News has with Hutton is the subsidy Hutton gave to Vestas wind turbine company which induced it to move production from Argyll to the Isle of Wight, but it's also true to say that they just don't like him:

Pensions review: the problem with Labour’s John Hutton

Tuesday, 22nd June, 2010

The row over former Labour minister John Hutton doing the Pensions Review for the coalition Government has overlooked the fact that he is – John Hutton.

That’s the problem.

Calling him a ‘collaborator’ is unreconstructed tribalism.

Thinking about who he is is more to the point.

Hutton is an egotistical, opportunist careerist who has successfully sold his self-valuation in defiance of the evidence.

He was the obvious Labour figure to ask to get involved because his single interest is John Hutton. Standing down at the election because he had no desire to be in opposition, this puts him back in the headlines in a paid job.

Whatever he recommends in the pensions situation will never weigh with him in the balance with his self-interest.

Cross-party collaboration is what the public want to see. But John Hutton?

This is the man who ‘paid’ Vestas a British government subsidy to leave Campbeltown in Argyll and go to the Isle of Wight. (Not, thanks to Jim Mather, that Argyll didn’t do very much better with the energetic Skykon.)

And this is the man who, in his brief stint as Defence Secretary refused – in the face of serious new evidence - to grant an independent inquiry into the 1994 Chinook crash on the Mull of Kintyre.
Wikipedia adds to our picture the information that when he went to Oxford, Hutton joined the Conservative, Liberal and Labour Associations - very ecumenical. He was a close associate of Tony Blair. He once told the BBC anonymously that Gordon Brown would be a "fucking disaster" as prime minister - he got that right, then.

In June 2010 it was announced that Hutton would join the board of US nuclear power company Hyperion Power Generation. The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments stipulated that he should not lobby his former department for 12 months.
Sounds like he knows - and cares - a lot about pensions.

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