Tag Archives: margaret hodge

Waste of public money and adventures in foreign journalism – an evening at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Jim Naughtie introduces Margaret Hodge

My spiritual home in August is usually Charlotte Square in Edinburgh at the heart of the Edinburgh Book Festival.

This year, I didn’t manage to get there at all until the very last night.

I showed up at 6pm after work without much hope of getting tickets for anything at that late stage. How wrong could I be?

I managed to buy returned tickets for both Margaret Hodge, the former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee and the amazing foreign correspondent John Simpson.

Margaret Hodge was there to talk about her book, Called to Account, and she  told us about an encounter with her predecessor just after she was elected PAC Chair. David Davis, before he became a fully paid up member of the establishment,  told her to go after Vodaphone on tax.

Keen to track down evidence of a deal between HMRC and the corporate giant, she summoned a senior HMRC official who denied everything. A suggestion from a committee colleague that the official be put on oath led to a 20 minute hunt for a Bible.

She outlined a few areas where public money could be better spent. The MOD apparently spends a fortune on polo lessons. That’s the charging around on horses clunking balls with mallets, not the mint with the hole.

A telling moment was when she changed her mind on the Private Finance Initiative which her party saddled us with. She thought they were a good idea but now sees them as a complete con, with NHS trusts having to pay off their debt before they pay a single doctor.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

The Garden Bridge – or Johnson’s folly

If you live outside London you might be unaware of the on-going row over the proposal for a Garden Bridge. The concept was supported by Boris Johnson, with celebrity endorsement. The project envisaged a pedestrian bridge located between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges, designed as a park.

The Mayor of London published a report last week, authored by Margaret Hodge, which identified major problems with the project and recommended that it should be scrapped. Costs have increased from £60m to over £200m, and the procurement processes were deeply flawed. What is more, the project was “driven more by electoral cycles than value for taxpayers’ money.”

Hodge said:

In the present climate, with continuing pressures on public spending, it is difficult to justify further public investment in the Garden Bridge.

Caroline Pidgeon had this to say about it:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Chris White writes: Hodge’s troubling amnesia

Margaret Hodge was on the Today programme yesterday morning on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee. She lambasted the Government for its policies on the widening of the M25. Money had been wasted, we were told, because the option of using the hard shoulder had not been pursued. Moreover a shocking £80 million had been spent on consultants. She was also disobliging about PFI.

Many may agree with this. But what was not said was ‘Which Government?’ Ms Hodge carefully said ‘They’ at all times. What she meant of course was ‘We’. It was the Labour Government of which she was …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

Barking campaign update

The Barking campaign is remarkable. Most notable have not been the antics, or should that be the absence, of Nick Griffin. Instead, it has been the response of the other main candidates – Margaret Hodge (Labour) and Simon Marcus (Conservative) – to the issue of immigration.

Hodge and Marcus have both rightfully slammed Griffin and the BNP, but then courted BNP voters and potential BNP voters with anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Asked about immigration by Eddie Nestor, host of a BBC Radio London one hour debate on Barking (April 16th), Hodge had not one positive word to say about immigrants. Instead, her analysis was …

Posted in General Election | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments
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  • User AvatarIan 17th Feb - 9:58am
    p.p.s. It might have been useful to have someone from the West Country where the batch of seats the party once held as strongholds have...
  • User AvatarIan 17th Feb - 9:51am
    p.s. if we are recommending books that shed light on the political big picture of our times, I strongly recommend "The light that failed" by...
  • User AvatarIan 17th Feb - 9:48am
    This looks good - if rather large and potentially unwieldy. Do we have anything on process and timescale?
  • User AvatarAdrian Mark Sanders 17th Feb - 9:45am
    @Thomas I don't think we are in any disagreement although I would be interested in an expanse of what economic patriotism really means. I'm certainly...
  • User AvatarIan 17th Feb - 9:43am
    Hopefully this is good news. Just remember that most of the idiotic decisions of the 2019 campaign surely went through the same committee - not...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 17th Feb - 8:55am
    @Geoffrey Dron So, you mean “Common Market, Yes and European Superstate, No”? I would buy that and I reckon that a majority of Brits and...