This is not about me, it’s about them. We are a team.

The BBC’s Today Programme interviewed Philip Green last Friday. Green, who whose foreign-domiciled spouse owns the Arcadia group of clothing retailers of which Green is the boss, has been appointed by the UK coalition government to advise on a review of government spending. It’s been reported that Green’s familial company ownership arrangements reduce his tax obligations under UK law; naturally, the Today Programme invited him to comment on this. Green then made use of an article in the Mail on Sunday to respond:

For whatever people may think, this is not about me, it’s about them. We are a team. I might be the strategist but I can’t do this on my own. There will always be people who will criticise. Since the announcement was made on Friday, I have received my fair share of backbiting. I was asked on to Radio 4’s Today programme to speak about our new role but such was the lack of focus, the interviewer seemed more interested in my friendship with Naomi Campbell. Perhaps when I finish this job, my next could be to review the strategy and costs of the BBC.

Apart from being appalling in itself, this sort of apparently casual threat making has consequences. One of those consequences is that if Green goes on to talk about ‘efficiency savings’ in any area of government spending, we’ll have to consider that it might be nothing more than bullying tit-for-tat. Maybe a decision on a particular saving will have been been carefully thought through. Or maybe it’ll just have been that a civil servant said something that offended Green. Thwack. In other words, the guy has disqualified himself from his own, uh, team.

Also, while on the topic of the coalition’s jaw-dropping, bullet-in-the-foot public appointments, what’s with the ‘social mobility tsar’? Which direction of social mobility are we talking about here?


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