Taking the pith


One of the great things about British politics, and the southern Seanad really can’t compare here, is in the job opportunities available to failed politicians. If you’ve failed at a relatively high level, you can then not only get into the Lords, pick up some lucrative directorships or make money on the after-dinner speaking circuit, but the government will find you some berth on the European gravy train or heading up a quango.

Take failed Labour leader Neil Kinnock. He, of course, got packed off to Brussels as a European commissioner. But I hadn’t heard about him for quite a while until last night, when he popped up on Channel 4 News to discuss the ongoing diplomatic row with Russia. Somewhat to my surprise, it turns out that Lord Kinnock is head of the British Council. What qualifies him for that job beats me, but there you go.

For failed Lib Dem leaders, on the other hand, there may be a specialist niche developing as colonial governors. I refer of course to Comber man Paddy Pantsdown. You’ll recall Paddy’s stint as King of Bosnia, where he distinguished himself mainly by sabotaging the peace accord he was supposed to be implementing, while sacking elected politicians who wanted the accord implemented. And, having shown that novel approach to peacemaking, word reaches us that Lord Pantsdown is now to be appointed UN special envoy to Afghanistan, as if the Afghans hadn’t suffered enough. Paddy had best watch out he doesn’t get kidnapped by mad mullahs, or end up with his head shrunken.

From the way the Lib Dems are going through leaders these days, it’s almost a pity that there aren’t many British colonies left. I suppose we must trust in the Yanks to create more protectorates. Perhaps W will have a crack at Iran before he leaves office, or perhaps when Hillary becomes empress she can pick up Bill’s legacy by having some more comic-opera wars in the Balkans. Do I hear Lord Kennedy of Skopje, or possibly Lord Campbell of Novi Pazar?


  1. Idris said,

    January 18, 2008 at 9:35 am

    What’s this about Ashdown sabotaging the peace accord? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was what happened, but I’d appreciate more detail, if possible. . .

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    January 18, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Well, Dayton had all sorts of provisions for decentralised government, which was what you needed to get either the Serbs or the Croats to sign it. Ashdown spent a lot of time unilaterally abolishing bits and pieces of autonomy, especially in Republika Srpska, and trying to get back to a centralised system. You can make an argument for that, but it wasn’t what he was theoretically there to do.

  3. ejh said,

    January 25, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Somewhat to my surprise, it turns out that Lord Kinnock is head of the British Council. What qualifies him for that job beats me, but there you go.

    So was he in the job because of his son or was his son in his job because of him?

  4. splinteredsunrise said,

    January 25, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Ah, now that would be a chicken and egg question. It looks a bit nepotistic at any rate.

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