Thursday, September 21, 2023

Head & Shoulders


Matthew Steeples argues that Sir Malcolm Rifkind and his breed should be consigned to ‘politics past’


In 2003, I attended an event at a large house in Kensington’s Phillimore Gardens. At the gathering Sir Malcolm Rifkind gave a speech. When it was over – and boy did he go on – I met him along with an American heiress who had happened to come with me. She congratulated the politician on what he had said but observed: “Gee… You’ve got a bad case of dandruff. You need Head & Shoulders”.


Sir Malcolm Rifkind Head & Shoulders
Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a man an American heiress suggested would do well to start using Head & Shoulders shampoo


Though this comment naturally didn’t go down well and the flustered politician swiftly moved on, it stuck with me and now that Sir Malcolm has announced his ‘decision’ to stand down, it is time that David Cameron dispatched other so-called ‘Tory grandees’.


Stuck in the past yet frequently and inappropriately wheeled out for comment, supposed “big beasts” including Kenneth Clarke, David Mellor and Michael Heseltine should be consigned to history. They represent nothing but an era in government that the Conservative Party should forget and one that was tarnished by an especially weak Prime Minister, John Major.


In defending Sir Malcolm’s legacy yesterday, Mellor bizarrely backed his former colleague in telling Sky News: “You know the Houses of Parliament, I know the Houses of Parliament… Being an MP isn’t a full-time job… To be a backbench MP, if you’ve got a well organised office, it’s not a full-time job”. This arrogant remark sums up how out of touch this obnoxious man truly is and it yet again proves exactly why Cameron should focus on MPs of the future rather than those of the past.



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    1. Perhaps it is isn’t a full time job they should command a lesser remuneration for their services then. Completely agree with everything in this post. In the digital age, it is good to see investigative journalism still triumphs. Shame Sir M stooped so low – he should take inspiration from his son, who represents a more modern and engaging commentator

      • David Cameron said in a statement; The establishment is entitled to a lot of money and are under no obligation to work for it. Work is for peasants.

    2. Point taken,
      However, I have a real issue with people who feel that Senior Ministers should have this as their one and only job.
      People who are elected to lead the Country, surely need a solid business background.
      Matthew Staples contradicts his own argument, on the one hand, he feels that it should be a one an only job and the Tory Dinosaurs should be put out to Grass, as they are out of touch with modern times, Then goes on to infer that people with a more up to date opinion,/ethic, should be appointed to the Role.
      Surely a successful business leader, devoting time to both the real time world and parliament is the ideal mix.
      if you put people in a box, they lose touch of the bigger picture, Look at Marks & Spencer, when they used to recruit from within, they lost direction and finally brought in a team that had exposure outside M&S.
      The real problem I feel is id people really think that £60k is too much as MP’s pay, however, it is not, given the nature of the role, The PM is only on circa £120k, come on, when Labour were in power, were they the Turkeys that voted for Christmas???? No!

      • There is nothing contradictory in what I have said in this article. I argued the case for Cameron to ditch old has beens and nothing more. That these people hold the attitude that being a representative of 70,000 people and paid handsomely for it doesn’t represent full-time work speaks volumes. If they believe that, they should jolly well go and do something else.

    3. A more serious issue is that many “modern” MPs have no experience of work at all. They start as political advisors, get a safe seat and are set for life. Have Milliband or Cameron had proper jobs? The answer is to have a minimum age limit of 35 for MPs. It was 50 in the ancienr world

    4. I agree in part, that they should not trivialise the role, however, remember, when Mr Rifkind boasted of having time on his hands, he was likely to be trying to impress the Lady Journalist who interviewed him. No fool like an Old Fool comes to mind…..
      By the way, really impressed with the Steeple Times, I didn’t realise I was speaking to its Proprietor.


      • Thank you for your kind comments. If you haven’t already, please do subscribe to get our daily newsletter.

        As regards Sir Malcolm, you are entirely right in your final comment. His legacy now is utterly destroyed. A silly, silly man.

    5. David Cameron worked in public relations for seven years at Carlton Television before becoming an MP in 2001.

      Ed Balls,worked as a journalist for four years before serving a 10 Year apprenticeship to Gordon Brown, very little learned in the ten year stint then…, except a good old knifing job done on Tony Blair…..
      Ed Ball’s must surely be the most untrusted man in Politics, god forbid if labour get into power(with the SNP) and this devious character gets his hands on the Economy……

    6. Matthew is entirey correct about the use of Kensington as a dumping ground for old political elephants.
      Rifkind, in common with his predecessors did sweet FA. He was lazy and self serving.
      Conservative HQ should keep their noses out of this and local people should chose a local candidate.
      Someone like th fantastic Victoria Borwick

    7. Second jobs would be okay where the job had no involvement in political influence.

      But most employers of politicians, however they pay, whether it be commission, consultancy fee or whatever, will have considered their employees’ political influence in coming to an agreement.

      Give all MPs a month’s amnesty to declare all rewards gained in a second job with an agreement not to prosecute except in criminal circumstances.

      I suspect a high percentage of MPs will have consultancies or jobs which they should be forced to “jack in” and return any monies earned.


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