Anyone who has difficulties comprehending the tizz over the West Coast franchise is not alone, but — for want of a better explanation — should watch, with interest, Beardy Branson’s interview on this evening’s Channel Four News:
First, take note of Branson’s harrumphs, umms and aahs. He knows he is back in the game; and his intent here is not annoying anyone more than necessary. Still, he is about as skilled a communicator and interviewee as they come. So: a reasonable conclusion: he knows more — or, unbriefed, a lot lot less — than he says here.
What is more politically significant, if not dynamite, is the revelation that the Department of Transport has been sitting on the acknowledged errors of reading the accounts since … 10th August. That puts both Justine Greening and the present Secretary of State into the crosshairs.
Consider also the post Michael White has on the Guardian site:
Having heard her successor, the ex-miner Patrick McLoughlin, make a decent fist of an apology on Radio 4 — hours after officials revealed they had made errors in calculating rival bids from Virgin the FirstGroup – my initial reaction was, no, the secretary of state is not responsible for errors made by his/her accountants even though they are constitutionally required to take responsibility for all that goes on in the department.
Then I remembered a relevant fact. It just so happens that by training and professional background Greening, 42, is, yes, an accountant and finance manager whose background includes working for such giants of the trade as Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Big Pharma’s GlaxoSmithKline and Centrica.
So, the questions stare us in the face:
- When was the Ministry told she (and it has to be “she”) had the numbers wrong? If not 10th August, when?
- Was “ex-miner Patrick McLoughlin” told of this whoops-oh-nasty when he was “promoted”?
- Was Ms Greening pushed sideways because of the same?
- Why was this festering pustule squeezed only at last night’s midnight hour?
- Where is the fine Italian hand of “Dave” in all this? If you don’t get the point there, consider White’s nudge:
In his combative Today programme interview with Evan Davis on Wednesday morning, Ed Miliband used an interesting word to describe the latest shambles to beset the government: a lack of “grip”. A team that knows its direction of travel can overcome difficulties like this, the Labour leader said, but not if it’s aimless. David Cameron once hugged huskies and hoodies but now seems uninterested in either, he added.
Remember, unlike most recent Labour leaders, Miliband does have experience of government, both as a special adviser and, later, a minister in the cabinet office – heart of Whitehall…
Oh, to hell with it! — If it wasn’t flaws, technical or significant or whatever —
- Did money change hands?