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Friday, November 10, 2006

It’s Not Just A Question Of Signing Cheques, Etc

This is probably a sure-fire way to make myself political toast with Labour colleagues but I actually feel rather sorry for Baron Sainsbury of Turville and find the gloating at his resignation distasteful.

Why?

1) Well for a start off he left the Social Democratic Party, to which he had been giving significant financial support, and changed allegiance to the Labour Party following the failure of the SDP to make substantial progress. This shows that he was a man of great principle, in no way a political opportunist.

2) Like Tony and me and all decent Labour supporters, he supported the war in Iraq for the purest of geopolitical and humanitarian motives, in no way connected with the plans of J Sainsbury to pre-empt Tesco and establish a chain of massive supermarkets in the major Iraqi cities as part of the reconstruction effort.

3) If you are going to have Sainsburys in the House of Lords as well as the high street (and I'd rather we were now 6 years into a Terry Leahy membership of the Upper House) I would rather they were pragmatic ones that believed in spreading ready-meals to the masses than M&S food snobs or "green" cynics issuing millions of plastic carrier bags and then offering to collect a few of them up again for the publicity. Companies in this country should be focused just on self-interest rather than some higher ideological ends.

4) As a junior Minister in the government, he's the fall guy for his boss in Downing Street who in a European political system would be the one resigning... no, hell, what am I saying?

5) He actually did the traditional job of giving £millions to the Labour Party very well - helping to fund three stunning election victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005. What he is being blamed for is the subsequent failure to convince anyone that his donations, like his resignation this morning, was for personal rather than political reasons and not linked to the cash for peerages inquiry.

My hunch is history will say David Sainsbury and his family made all of us a lot fatter and happier by pumping us all full of reprocessed mechanically separated meat and E-additives. Well, he certainly made me fatter and happier in the days before I switch allegience to Tesco. Whether David played any role in removing Saddam from power so he wasn't around to refresh his WMD arsenal and marry it with N Korean missile technology is a proposition that only history will confirm or reject. In any event I'm sure that if Sainsbury's could have packaged guided missiles at a price point sufficiently attractive to the family shopper, they would have done so themselves.

There are a lot of Afghans and Iraqis (particularly Kurds and Shiites) living near to the Dalston and Clapton stores who have a lot to thank Sainsbury's for. I hope they don't switch their allegience to Macaroon.

As for the title of this posting well, of course, it's drawn from a quote from the great man himself. In "Confessions Of A 'Hands-On' Donor", an interview in June 2005 with Alliance, the leading magazine on philanthropy and social investment, he said: "If you really want philanthropic giving to make an impact, it’s not just a question of signing cheques, you have to make a commitment of time and effort to make sure it really runs effectively."

Well, it looks like the commitment of time and effort to make sure things really run effectively has truly run clean out of the door, as has the erstwhile Labour Party donor Baron Sainsbury of Turville, before the metaphorical s**t truly hits the fan.

1 comment:

jonathan wilkinson said...

Another recent resignee, one Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, once said:

"Remember: A’s hire A’s and B’s hire C’s."

Who, may one enquire, hired you as Hackney Labour Group Chief Whip?