I’ve had a number of false starts this week in trying to write something about the collapse of Carillion, mainly because at least in some quarters the story has been told far better than I could tell it. The big let down, apart from the right wing press, has been politicians.
The fall out will be tremendous because the collapse leads everywhere. Scores of thousands of jobs will go in the public and private sectors and countless small firms, who have not been paid, will go to the wall. In my view, tragedy is not too strong a word. Meanwhile, in the House of Commons…
I tuned in for Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) this week and what I heard was a shouting match between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. My loyal reader will be aware of my view that May is the second worst PM of my lifetime (Cameron was the worst for taking us out of the EU) and Corbyn by far the worst leader of both Labour and her majesty’s opposition. They didn’t disprove my feelings this week. Corbyn ranted and raved whilst the robotic May displayed her tin ear to terrifying effect. Corbyn said something along the lines that the collapse of Carillion was down to wilful incompetence on an industrial scale. May replied that he had not actually asked a question and sat down again. How we laughed. Not.
The whole point of PMQs under May is that Corbyn and other MPs ask questions and May answers different ones. According to a recent study, May answers something like 14% of questions directly, the rest she avoids. No wonder the public hates politicians. But this is worse.
May thought it was all a game, a bit of a laugh; but hang on a minute. What if you are one of those who stands to lose their job or their business? This is anything but a laugh. It is about putting bread on the table, it is about keeping the house they live in. It is more important than the grandstanding of some tinpot third rate politician.
PMQs is a hideous occasion anyway. I wish speaker John Bercow could intervene and say something like, “The prime minister has not answered the question. I am instructing her to give a straight yes or no answer and PMQs will carry on until she does.” May’s behaviour, which is as we said tin-eared, is unacceptable. She is there not as some dictator, but as someone we have elected to do stuff on our behalf.
The red tops barely covered Carillion at all, preferring instead, in a masterful act of distraction, to concentrate on Prince William’s £180 haircut. Now I like Bill Windsor as much as any young royal, but his follicle issues are not something on which I wish to dwell. I am very sorry for the workers and the small business people whose lives are about to be ruined, ruled by people who don’t give a toss about them.