Yesterday, on Tuesday 2nd March, Andrew Mitchell the Secretary of State for International Development, made a statement to the House of Commons on the overseas aid review.
Denis was agitated from the start and interjected from his seat in breach of etiquette, but was nevertheless responded to. It is recorded in Hansard thus:
Mr Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Independent): What about trade unions?
Mr Mitchell: The right hon. Gentleman mentions trade unions from a sedentary position. Let me make it clear that the trade unions, for the work they do, will be able to apply to the global poverty action fund, and I look forward to their doing so.
Much later in proceedings the Speaker called him and we were treated to a display of vintage MacShane hyperbole:
Mr Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Independent): The Prime Minister, both in Kuwait last week and yesterday, has held up freedom of association as something that Britain should support, so this attack on the International Labour Organisation will horrify every trade union worker around the world. Britain founded the ILO, and in the 1980s the ILO was central to getting rid of Soviet communism and apartheid in South Africa. I know that the Secretary of State has to represent Lazard and the banking community, but this attack on working people around the world is shameful.
Mr Mitchell: That may have been a little over the top. First, we are not withdrawing from the ILO. We have made it clear that we will not be making any voluntary contributions to it. We remain a member of the ILO, but the subscription is paid for by the Department for Work and Pensions. Where countries find that the ILO is able to provide a specific service that offers value for money and effectiveness, they will be able to take on its services.
For students of these things, Mitchell’s reply as well as being pretty dismissive, also contains a deliberate and calculated insult. Fewer and fewer parliamentarians are prepared to refer to Denis, as etiquette requires, by the title ‘The right hon. Gentleman’.
I wonder why?