Daily Mail accuses “grasping politicians of pocketing spinster’s £500,000 legacy”. Let’s have some facts first, please.

mail grasping politicians front page - 14 aug 13This morning’s Mail Online has a shocking headline: Grasping politicians pocket spinster’s £500,000 legacy she bequeathed to government to spend ‘as they may think fit’. The newspaper’s front page also splashes on the story (right).

This follows the story we reported here yesterday of Miss Joan Edwards, who had apparently bequeathed £520k to the two Coalition partners as the current governing parties. This was divided 80:20 between them, with the Lib Dems getting almost £100k.

The Mail disputes that interpretation, asserting instead that she intended to leave the money as a bequest to the nation. They say the will’s wording was not (as claimed in newspaper reports yesterday) for the money to be passed “to whoever was the party of government of the day” but that it should be passed to “whichever Government is in office at the date of my death”. On that basis, the paper accuses the Conservatives and Lib Dems of deception bordering on fraud.

My Twitter timeline today suggests two things. First, everyone believes the Daily Mail when it suits them. Secondly, that there are a surprising number of people who think they’re experts on legacy bequests.

I’ve handled a few in my time in my fund-raising day-job. What normally happens is this: you receive a letter from the executors of the estate informing you that your organisation is a beneficiary under the terms of the will. This seems to be what happened here, according to the Mail’s own report: ‘A Tory source briefed: ‘This money was donated out of the blue.’’

The power for deciding what happens rests with the executors, the persons legally charged with dealing with the estate. In this case, the executors are solicitors, so they should know the law (possibly better than the Mail’s reporters).

The key line in the Mail article is this one: ‘Somewhere along the line, somebody decided what she meant by this was for her hard-earned cash to fund the Conservatives’ and Lib Dems’ campaigns to win the next election.’ They do not report anything which suggests that decision was taken by the Tories or Lib Dems: indeed, legally it simply couldn’t have been.

I haven’t seen the full wording of the will, and the Mail only quotes an excerpt. The paper claims to have a copy, but as it hasn’t been fully settled yet (and therefore the executors haven’t yet filed it) that seems unlikely.

It may well be that the will’s wording has been mis-interpreted. None of us knows. Depending on any ambiguity in the will’s wording it may be impossible for us to know.

But if there is fault (and I stress the word ‘if’) it’s most likely to lie either/both with the solicitor who drafted a will which didn’t reflect their client’s true intentions, and/or with the executors who didn’t interpret them accurately. What I suggest is highly unlikely is that the Mail’s implication that the Tories and Lib Dems swindled the estate is in any way accurate.

A Lib Dem official I’ve been in touch with this morning who dealt with the bequest said: “I followed our legal advice and established they had talked to the Treasury solicitors about whether it was government bequest before I entered into the discussion about a split with the Tories.”

There may well be questions to be asked in this case. But the Mail’s cheap accusation of “grasping politicians” is very unlikely to be anywhere near the truth in this case.

Update 2: the Lib Dems have announced they will hand over the party’s share of the bequest to the Treasury. See my story here. However, let’s be clear: the implication of the Mail’s story — that the Lib Dems tried to swindle a spinster out of her legacy — is wrong, pure and simple.

Update: Lib Dem pensions minister Steve Webb was asked about the case this morning:

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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48 Comments

  • Stephen, regardless of how the will was interpreted, both the Lib Dems and Conservatives had the opportunity to turn down a direct donation and suggest the money be spent on the nation, rather than on themselves.

    They didn’t.

    Now, regardless of how legally correct the decision was, or how relatively small the sum, it looks grubby and unprincipled, taking an old woman’s inheritance and spending it on yourselves, rather than on the nation.

  • “…in this case.” 🙂

  • “What I suggest is highly unlikely is that the Mail’s implication that the Tories and Lib Dems swindled the estate is in any way accurate.”

    Why? Approaching this from a point of view of trying to understand the wishes the deceased lady, why on earth would should she want to leave her estate to whichever party happens to be in government to spend on themselves? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Leaving it to the government of the day to spend how they see fit does make sense, especially against a back-drop of a government and press forever telling us how bad the public finances are. She probably thought she would be doing a little bit towards helping sort out the problem.

  • ‘This money was donated out of the blue.’

    That’s quite a convincing explanation – that the executors are Tory sympathisers.

  • Tony Dawson 14th Aug '13 - 8:42am

    IF (big ‘if’?) the newspaper’s quote from the will is accurate then there is no ambiguity at all and there can be no real criticism of the will drafters. “The Government” is The Government. Her Majesty’s Government, even. Possibly the executors role might come under a little scrutiny. And if the Treasury Solicitors knew anything about this will, what were they doing not contesting such an allocation?

    I agree that the party officers do not appear to be at any fault in accepting this money in good faith from the executors but, given our past trouble in regard to cash receipts, the Liberal Democrats should hurry to beat the Tories to give our ‘share’ of this cash back to the nation.

  • Tony Dawson 14th Aug '13 - 8:46am

    “the executors are solicitors, so they should know the law”

    If only. The range of quality in solicitors is no different to that in doctors, plumbers or policemen.

    (my lawyer writes) That is not to imply any criticism whatsoever about the knowledge or skill or capability of this firm of solicitors! 😉

  • Not just the Daily Mail:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/14/tories-lib-dems-urged-return-bequest

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10241681/NHS-should-receive-spinsters-520000-donation-says-former-watchdog.html

    The pressure is mounting rapidly. When are either you or your party likely to give in to reason and decency, Stephen Tall?

  • Lewis Duckworth 14th Aug '13 - 9:24am

    Does anyone believe that the intention of this spinster was to give money direct to the parties, to use for party expenses, rather than for the public good? If you reckon public opinion will go along with your preferred interpretation, think again. I reckon Labour and UKIP could really profit from all this.

  • If you were a decent party in power for the service of this country during such austerity you would have had the moral gumption to ensure this money was spent in the people/services most in need. That you chose to see it as a party donation rather than for the government in power speaks volumes about the LibDems moral compass. No longer will you get my vote. ACTIONS speak louder than words.

  • This story seems very odd though, there is a report that the solicitors contacted the Treasury for what to do. It seems a very odd step when trying to interpret an ambiguous clause in a will to take advice from a potential beneficiary.

    All that said this seems like a very strange interpretation – assuming the Daily Mail has the correct wording – by the executors! (not claiming to know anything about this though- and relying on common sense in wills cases isn’t that reliable from what I do know!).

    To leave a bequest to the governing party of the day would be quite unusual so you would expect the professional drafting of such a clause to be done with a fair degree of accuracy.

  • Lewis Duckworth 14th Aug '13 - 10:22am

    As an economist sceptical about the effectiveness of large chunks of government spending, I would advise that this money should be used for the benefit of young Britons, by retiring government debt.

  • The link from Steve to the Guardian story shows the will and the words are ‘… for whichever Government is in office at the date of my death for the Government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit.’

    It says everything about Tories and Lib Dems that what they think fit is to pocket the money for their own parties. We expect that attitude from the Tories, but now everyone is seeing that the Lib Dems have people within their ranks who are just as bad as any Tory. As the saying goes if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.

  • This is not a problem for the recipients, although if the wording is correct I would assume that there may need to be a repayment. What is clear is that the Daily Facist gives no evidence, only innuendo, that there was any wrongdoing on behalf of either party.

  • @ Steve

    “Approaching this from a point of view of trying to understand the wishes the deceased lady, why on earth would should she want to leave her estate to whichever party happens to be in government to spend on themselves? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. ”

    I assume you must have known her intimately to be so certain as to what she meant. All you are doing is guessing,

    @ Lewis Duckworth

    “Does anyone believe that the intention of this spinster was to give money direct to the parties, to use for party expenses, rather than for the public good?”

    That was the executor’s interpretation.

    @ Verity

    “That you chose to see it as a party donation rather than for the government in power speaks volumes about the LibDems moral compass”.

    Once again, that was the executor’s interpretation.

  • There are very few occasions when a call for calm assessment and more complete facts isn’t the correct response, so my disagreement with Stephen should be taken with that as read. When we know more, blame can be apportioned as carefully and methodically as Ms Edwards’ bequest.

    Ultimately, the distribution lies with the executors. They are (apparently) to release a statement today. If the AGO is correct, and TSol didn’t advise on the proper construction, then we need to see what they did say in correspondence. We’d also need to know if advice was sought from Counsel. Determining the identity of the correct beneficiary for a more-than half-a-million pound bequest would surely justify the cost of even a QC’s opinion.

    As to the role of the parties, I’d normally agree that this wasn’t their concern. If they conducted their PPERA checks to ensure Ms Edwards was a permissible donor, they’d be within the law, and I could see that they might accept the money without knowing the wording – they might have taken the executors’ interpretation (party in Gvt) as the actual wording. If they had done so, I’d be in full agreement with Stephen, and whilst embarrassing, this would suggest no actual wrongdoing by the parties at all.

    It’s the reported quote in this article that actually makes the case against the parties though:
    “I followed our legal advice and established they had talked to the Treasury solicitors about whether it was government bequest before I entered into the discussion about a split with the Tories.”

    So the parties were aware before accepting the money that it was ambiguous as to whether or not it was for them or the government. At that point, they were on notice that their due diligence would require them to see the precise wording. Also, the discussion about the split happened between LibDems and Tories – it was not simply imposed by the executors.

    I think that degree of involvement – at very least complicity in the executors’ construction of the will (which I happen to think is almost unarguable) and then being involved with the quantification of the shares – means that the parties cannot plead innocence. At best, their decision may be found to be perfectly lawful, but with their admission that, before accepting, they were aware of the possibility of it being public money, I’m struggling to see how this is defensible either morally or politically.

  • @ATF
    “I assume you must have known her intimately to be so certain as to what she meant. ”

    Please explain how this sentence in the will could possibly be interpreted as being ambiguous:

    “whichever Government is in office at the date of my death for the Government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit”.

    To my mind, that is not an ambiguous statement.

    Furthermore, the argument I presented relating to the highly irregular behaviour assumed in the interpretation of the lady’s request is in no way undermined by the fact that I did not know her. Bequests to the government by individuals happen frequently. A bequest to whichever party is in power would be extremely unusual if not unique. It is very far outside the expected, normal behaviour of those leaving a bequest.

  • So, the Lib Dems are handing back the money. I’m just waiting for Stephen Tall to admit he was wrong now.

  • This saga is all very stomach wrenching for me.

    On a personal level, I do not believe that the lady’s wish was to leave her entire estate to the “governing party” of the day
    but of course without seeing the lady’s last will and testament in its entirety, we can never be entirely sure.
    I have just noticed that the guardian has published the lady’s will here http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/14/tories-lib-dems-urged-return-bequest

    It does seem clear to me, well my interpretation of it anyway. That she left her estate to whichever “government” was in office at the time of her death to spend as they see fit.

    How the coalition can interpret this as a donation to a political party in government is beyond me.

    It feels like grave robbing to me.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Aug '13 - 11:16am

    Now the full wording of the will has been displayed, I agree, the interpretation of it that it should go to the political parties whose Members of Parliament sit on the government side is an eccentric one, and does not seem to me to be in accord with either the most obvious legal reading of the words, or the most obvious reading trying to interpret it in terms of the way such a person might be thinking. It seems to me obvious this person wanted her property to go to state ownership after death, in effect 100% inheritance tax, very worthy and philanthropic.

    However, this sort of confusion of terminology is very general. One of the things I dislike is how often now the word “Coalition” is used now in contexts where before 2010 the word “Government” would have been used. The two words do not mean at all the same thing. “Government” is the established state authority, “Coalition” is a combination of two political parties to manage the Government. It is no more correct to use the word “Coalition” when what you actually mean is “Government” than it would have been for 1997 to 2010 to use the phrase “Labour Party” when what you actually mean was “Government”. Perhaps the confusion has contributed to the solicitors in question making this eccentric interpretation. Perhaps an analysis of the Daily Mail could be made to see how often it has contributed to this confusion by using the word “Coalition” in a context where “Government” would be correct.

    It is of course correct that the political parties themselves would not have been involved in making this decision, it would have been the solicitors handling the will. The interpretation put on its handling by the Mail is malicious.

    The malicious attacks from the Mail on this are part of an anti-democratic agenda. The message that anything to do with politicians and democracy is bad is constantly pushed by the Mail and similar. So, if all politics and politicians are bad, how would the Mail like our country to be governed? Well, I think we know the Mail has form on this. But, seriously, I think people who push the “politicians are bad” line SHOULD be asked the question “OK, so how would you like the country to be governed, what is YOUR alternative?”. Aristocracy? Military dictatorship? Colony of some other country? The reality for our right-wing media is that they want our country to be a colony of the international financial elite, that is why they attack politics and democracy remorselessly, because it is the only thing that stands in the way of that.

    When people moan about money going to political parties, as is coming across here with words like “taking an old woman’s inheritance and spending it on yourselves, rather than on the nation” they should be asked “OK, so how would YOU want democracy to be paid for?”. People expect to have literature delivered by the candidates in elections and moan if they don’t get it, they expect to have carefully worked out policy ideas in election manifestos. So how do they think this is going to happen if the parties have no money to pay for it? Most of us involved in our party put in huge amounts of our time and effort and money into ensuring that when elections take place there are candidates from our party and voters are given some information on them to enable them to make a choice. Yet we are accused of being selfish for doing this, accused of “spending money on yourselves” by people who wouldn’t lift a finger to keep democracy working in this country. Where does the selfishness really lay there?

  • Looking forward to all those knee-jerk condemnations being withdrawn …

  • Like a stopped clock telling the right time twice a day, the DM is right on this one. Their agenda is another issue. They ran a story about Prince Charles’s private summits with the cabinet the other day. Most of their on-line readers appeared to think it was a good thing he was speaking his mind and that someone needed to put the government in place. Presumably they would prefer an autocratic monarchy.

  • @Sid Cumberland
    “Looking forward to all those knee-jerk condemnations being withdrawn …”

    I’m looking forward to all those knee-jerk defensive arguments being withdrawn. Besides, I don’t think this has started yet. It does appear that there might have been a collusion in deliberately misrepresenting this lady’s wishes. Furthermore, it appears that a deliberate lie was given to the press about what was stated in her will. I would regard the situation as serious and damaging. Simply giving the money back to the intended recipient isn’t enough to make this go away.

  • @Steve

    I agree with your last post.

    The only reason the parties have given this money back is because of the backlash of public opinion and the revelations by the Daily mail.

    Would the coalition parties have returned this money to the “government coffers” had they not been exposed. Absolutely not.

    The government spin doctors attempted to mislead the public by saying this was a “political donation” and not a “government donation”

    I do not think this looks very good for either coalition parties, in fact it stinks and it just goes to show that lessons have not been learned from previous scandals

  • @ Steve

    In reference to the points you raised, from Sky:

    “According to documents lodged with the Bristol District Probate Registry, the executors were James Davis and Peter Wood of Bristol-based law firm Davis Wood Solicitors and the will drafted in 2001.
    Jim Murphy Labour Jim Murphy: ‘It looks dodgy as hell’

    The firm insisted the solicitor responsible had “specifically checked” with Ms Edwards about the “unusual nature of her proposed bequest” when it was first made.

    “It was confirmed by Miss Edwards at the time of her instructions that her estate was to be left to whichever political party formed the Government at the date of her death,” it said.”

  • @ATF

    The executors would say that wouldn’t they. They are doing nothing more than claiming that they got it right. They say that it was her wish for the governing ‘party’ to receive the money but they failed to put the word ‘party’ in the will which simply (from my point of view) just makes them look incompetent. However, we have no way of verifying with the deceased that what they say about her wishes is true. If it was her wish for the money to go the the government – which is (a) much more likely as most donors to political parties want to give to a specific party and (b) the will mentions the government and doesn’t mention the word ‘party’ – then they are (again to my point of view – they can try suing me if they wish, but they haven’t got a leg to stand on) equally incompetent.

  • The two parties should not waste it on government, but donate it to the local donkey sanctuary or cat home which will use it more effectively and probably be more in line with what was really meant…:) It seems to me to be axiomatic that someone who wants to leave their worldly possessions to the state can not make a will 🙂

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Aug '13 - 4:55pm

    Steve

    The executors would say that wouldn’t they. They are doing nothing more than claiming that they got it right. They say that it was her wish for the governing ‘party’ to receive the money but they failed to put the word ‘party’ in the will which simply (from my point of view) just makes them look incompetent.

    The story that’s being put around to attack the Liberal Democrats was that the money and instructions were passed to the government, and government ministers interpreted it that way. If that were the case, surely the executors of the will would be the first to get upset about what is clearly a misinterpretation. If it was an act of greed by government ministers to interpret it that way, surely it would be in the best interest of the solicitors to make clear they just contacted the government and had no part in this interpretation. The fact that they have jumped in defence of it suggests very much to me that they are the ones to blame for this interpretation, and the parties are maybe incompetent for not looking at the actual word before acting but not guilty of what they have been accused of.

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    “The story that’s being put around to attack the Liberal Democrats was that the money and instructions were passed to the government, and government ministers interpreted it that way.”

    I’m 99% confident that the executors are responsible for misinterpreting her will in the sense that she wanted the money to go to government and they came to the conclusion that she wanted it to go to the party that happened to be in power. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are Liberal Democrats that might not be implicated. If officials knew the wording of the will at the time the money was received then I believe there is a case to answer. Simply going along with the misinterpretation of the executors and putting your hands up and saying ‘not me, boss’ isn’t a sufficient excuse to my mind. Serious scrutiny should be applied to such large gifts. Secondly, there is the issue of the quote provided to City AM that misrepresented what Joan Edwards had written in her will. Where did this originate and was it a deliberate attempt to mislead?

  • David Cooper 14th Aug '13 - 7:18pm

    Do we have laws, or is this country run according to random second guessing from the Daily Mail?

    The executors decided how her money would be apportioned. It is not the job of political parties to second guess the decisions of executors, and certainly not at the behest of the Daily Mail. It is just possible that the executors knew Ms Edwards rather better than the editor of the Mail.

    If the leadership of the Libdems has now handed the money over to the Treasury, then they have done this with no justification apart from their own personal judgement of what reads well in the press. In effect they have handed over £100,000 to a random beneficiary chosen at their personal whim which in my book stinks of malfeasance in office.

  • @David Cooper
    “In effect they have handed over £100,000 to a random beneficiary chosen at their personal whim which in my book stinks of malfeasance in office.”

    She unambiguously left the money to the government according to her will. The people who actually knew her the best have clearly stated that she would not have wanted the money to go to party funds:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/14/joan-edwards-quiet-dignified-hated-fuss

  • Why not publish all the information regarding this will and then we will know what was intended?

    The problem is we are seeing the sanctimonious Liberal Democrats tieing themselves in knots to justify keeping 100K which is a significant contribution, in fact the largest I think?

    We have seen loads of negative comments about union funding of Labour on these boards but very little about the Tories.

    This is not a small amount this is a huge contribution and should have been treated with absolute care. I have no idea who is finally responsable but I am sure this could and should have been handled better

    Whatever the Mail’s motives the will is a legal, public document and, although ambiguous to some extent, never mention ‘Party’ but ‘Government’. The British Government is independent of Party

    Imagine if Labour had done this I imagine that the response of the LD on here would have been totally different

  • David Cooper 14th Aug '13 - 8:33pm

    @Steve
    “The people who actually knew her the best have clearly stated that she would not have wanted the money to go to party funds”

    Garbage. The Guardian article you mention quotes a random collection of neighbors who happened to be there when the journalist knocked their door. It even quotes the new resident of her house, who might have never met her. None of them are in a position to override the executors.

    Edwards entrusted the executors to interpret her will . Not you, not political parties, and certainly not the Daily Mail. It is utterly wrong that this money, which is a legitimate bequest to political parties, should be given to the treasury, unless the executors say that they have made a mistake. And at that point they would have some explaining to do. If the executors have acted wrongly, that is a problem for the Law Society, not the Libdems or for that matter the Tories.

    You are engaging in shabby popularism.

  • David Cooper 14th Aug '13 - 9:20pm

    @Alrich
    Just why on earth do you think that “the Government” became the trustees of Ms Edwards estate? And do you imagine “the Government” is in the business of handing over donations to political parties.

    It was Ms Edwards executors who implemented the will and disbursed property and legacies. Until the decision of the executors is shown to be wrong, the legacy should stand. Both parties should have kept the money, and had a duty to the members to keep it. I am furious that it has been returned.

  • John Carlisle 15th Aug '13 - 9:56am

    Give the money to the Treasury! That is the last place it should go. They interfere with other departments, taking over initatives they have no idea about; mismanage the economy; and use the fact that they are the only department that does not provide a service to the public, but allocate money or not as a blatant use of power.
    I would rather it went to The Monster Raving Loony party than the Treasury; but would prefer the original intention of the donor be honoured – and she did not specify the Treasury.

  • Ian Sanderson

    There is a copy of the will so the exact wording is known

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/14/lib-dems-tories-bequest-joan-edwards

    “whichever government is in office at the date of my death for the government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit”.

    Let us deal with your points:

    “This seems to me a great case of people taking up positions without the full facts. It may well be so that she wanted it to go to a party/parties, because well funded parties on all sides are an essential part of the democratic process.”

    Why not say that then? Why give it to the Government and not the Opposition? She never says the word ‘Party’ in her bequest

    “If that was what she said in her will, it would be quite wrong for the parties concerned to send the money back, because it would be a breach of their democratic duty to the people to campaign for their points of view. If she merely wanted the money to go to the Treasury, that is what she should have said.”

    So she should have said it should go to the treasury but because she didn’t t should go to the specific parties of Government even though it didn’t mention them either? Don’t understand the logic

    Instead of looking at the commentators have a look at the moral stance of your own party that accepted this and trousered the money. Either the party did not do any due diligence on the source of the money and just took it, or they understood the ambiguity but decided the best thing to do with it is to keep it for electioneering. Sorry but I find it disgraceful

  • I have been an executor and my recollection is that donations were sent with a cover letter, not with a copy of the will.

  • Ton Harms

    It may have been in your case – I don’t know

    In this case though, political party funding and a big donation, wouldn’t you expect that the beneficiaries would have looked where this money came from, and looking at the will would be a good place to start. Or do the LD and Tories just take the money without checking?

    Secondly, the executors said that the will have been discussed with Government legal officers so I assume a copy would have been seen and I again find it difficult to believe the beneficiaries didn’t see a copy

  • David Cooper 15th Aug '13 - 1:32pm

    @bcrombie

    By your logic every political party and every charity would have to employ team of lawyers whose only function would to vet how executors have interpreted wills in they are given a legacy, and clarify any possible ambiguity. The only benefit would be more employment for lawyers, and the process would be so expensive that it would become pointless leaving legacies. Has the Daily Mail recently brought some shares in a law firm?

  • David Cooper

    Rot!

    The largest single donation to the party from an unknown benefactor is just accepted without being checked? Perhaps that is how the LD do things

    If it was for a fiver or a tenner perhaps but for 100K – how many donations of this size does your party get?

  • What brcrombie says (with regards to David Cooper’s comment)

    You didn’t need to be lawyer and you didn’t need more than one minute of time to read the particular Will in question. There was only one relevant sentence with regards to the beneficiary and it is inconceivable that nobody had time to quickly read it, especially given the size of the bequest. If there was any doubt arising from that brief inspection then it might have been necessary to get a lawyer to quickly scan it. What wasn’t needed was a permanently employed team of lawyers on stand-by just to look at large bequests that only come in once every few decades.

  • Sadie Smith 16th Aug '13 - 3:21pm

    Political Parties do get donations.
    But there are odd circumstances. I have argued (with no status) with an executor who I thought was being mean to my motherinlaw under a well meaning, clear but disastrous will; Martyn wanted to add two bequests but rather than have solicitor come out, left it to me. I know that recipients got a carefully worded letter which suggested but did not quite say a bequest and that the money was taken from what was left to me. And my solicitor has a letter stating my wishes about triggering early release of a very modest bequest in my will. This las has limited power. Talk to solicitors and expect them to ask questions; it is their job.

  • Lets face it, politicians are on the whole a thoroughly grasping bunch, the expenses scandal demonstrated this in spades. The legacy doesn’t demonstrate the same. The fault was with the executors and lawyers. The idea that they “know the law” is comedic though. You only ever get interpretations.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 17th Aug '13 - 9:24am

    Alistair,

    “Let’s face it, politicians are on the whole a thoroughly grasping bunch.”

    That’s a thoroughly depressing generalisation on your part and, whilst I wouldn’t ask you to justify it for fear of being further depressed by your answer, it does make me wonder when someone stops being ‘the general public’ and becomes ‘a politician’.

  • daft ha'p'orth 20th Aug '13 - 12:40am

    @Mark Valladares
    “it does make me wonder when someone stops being ‘the general public’ and becomes ‘a politician’.”
    That’s surely precisely the point. Caracatus said on another thread that the Lib Dems “remind me of a council group that has gone native. They have forgotten why they were elected and instead put their faith in repeating a list of achievements[…]”
    People in any field stop being ‘members of the general public’ the moment they start to believe their own hype. Politics just happens to involve a lot of hype.

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    If anyone is interested in keeping up with events in Syria may I recommend https://mobile.twitter.com/desyracuse Agathocle deSyracuse @deSyracuse Historian, Conflict analyst, #Map maker, #MiddleEast, #Syria....
  • User Avatarfrankie 18th Oct - 9:50pm
    There isn't anything special about people John that means they can or cannot handle democracy. We tend to think we are special because we live...