SENSIBLE JOURNALISTS DO NOT FALL PREY to their own journalism. A lifetime’s experience in the black art of pontificating provides little more than a smattering of knowledge of a great number of subjects: we are, in other words, jacks of all trades and masters of none,
So when, 24 hours after publishing a teasing suggestion that the MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed , Anne-Marie Trevelyan, had been an unlikely and unsuitable secretary of state for international development, this commentator was relieved to receive support for that view from an impressively expert source.
“David, you’ve got the measure of A-M Trevelyan,” wrote Chris Mullin. Less welcome for any journalist, perhaps, were the words that immediately followed.
“I attach a piece I wrote in the March issue of London Review of Books celebrating her appointment,” he wrote, and I followed the link to its painful conclusion: ‘By far the worst appointment made by Boris Johnson in his cabinet reshuffle last month was that of Anne-Marie Trevelyan as secretary of state for international development.’ You can read the full article HERE.
Okay, folks: unassailable proof that I had been beaten to the blindingly obvious three months earlier that punctured my professional pride, particularly as the writer was so much better informed than I. His Twitter ‘handle’ – @chrismullinexmp – should tell you why: Chris, a journalist and author of the Westminster-based Harry Perkins novels, is best remembered as the Labour MP for Sunderland South from 1987 to 2010 and a minister in two Blair governments.
Now retired to smell the roses with wife Ngoc in the garden of their beautiful Northumberland home, Chris concentrates on publishing his wonderful Pepys-like diaries and writing more novels, the latest of which (The Friends of Harry Perkins) is selling like hot cakes at every good bookstore.
If I might take any comfort at all from traipsing along in the Great Man’s footsteps it is that like any good tabloid man my essay on my MP’s shortcomings was a good deal shorter than his, but then his insight gave him a lot more to say on the subject.
Ms Trevelyan’s career ambition and blind loyalty to Boris are upsetting more readers than me and Chris Mullin: Mrs Banks becomes daily more agitated at not receiving a reply to her SECOND letter demanding details of Anne-Marie’s postbag on the Dominic Cummings’ corona-cation in Durham, as is reader Shaun Beattie who wrote:
“Anne-Marie seems totally opposed to all reasonable policies and arguments if they are at odds with the party line.
“When I email her I get long-winded replies that say what a cracking job the government is doing (LOL!) but never answer my queries; when I tackled her over her support for Dominic Cummings I received no reply.”
My columnist colleague Eric Musgrave is no fan, either. He was horrified by AMT’s recent performance on Radio 4’s Any Questions? Recently and writes elsewhere:
“I really do think the UK deserves better than the sorry lot that sits in Westminster these days.
Towards the end of a recent Any Questions? I was struck by how bad a speaker was one of the commentators. It turned out to be our local MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.”
Apparently our MP was challenged by a fellow guest, Dragon’s Den panellist Theo Paphitis, owner of the Rymans stationery chain, who queried the “mixed messages” given out by her government which insists shoppers stay 2m apart apart while at the same time allowing travel on packed Tube trains.
Columnist Musgrave then supplies a verbatim transcript of her response with all of the ‘umms , errs, aahs and y’knows’ left in, which you can read – and hear – for yourself HERE.
This is not meant to be a one-sided attack on Ms Trevelyan; I would willingly give her – or any reader – the right of reply. But an MP, however ambitious, who allows (anti-)social distance to grow between her and the constituents is falling down on the job.
Last word to Chris Mullin, back where we began with his rather damning judgment on our departing secretary of state for international development:
“An ardent Brexiteer, Trevelyan has no known interest in overseas development; just about her only previous public utterance on the subject was an observation that ‘charity begins at home.’” You can, as I pointed out earlier, read the full article HERE.
Of course, you might prefer to drop her an email yourself. If you do, tell her Mrs B and Mr Beattie are still awaiting replies to their letters, would you?