One of the Labour MPs with the highest opinion of himself in the current Parliament is Sion Simon, MP for Birmingham Erdington. He was on the “Today programme this morning on Radio 4 attempting to defend the Learning and Skills Council’s incompetence that has left dozens of Further Education colleges facing bankruptcy. Incredibly, under Gordon Brown Sion Simon was promoted to be the Minister responsible for Further Education.
You can listen to the Radio 4 interview here. I listened to it in the car on the way to work this morning and was amazed at how useless Simon was. He clearly didn’t know his subject and was completely flummoxed under what was quite gentle pressure from John Humphreys.
This is not Sion Simon’s first media faux pas. Last year he produced a “spoof” video mocking David Cameron and making offensive remarks about his wife and children. When cornered in a BBC interview he attempted to bluster his way out of it:
Watch this clip with Simon interviewed on Sky when he is rude and offensive to the female Sky interviewer, even at one point telling her to “be quiet while I speak”:
Sion Simon is a clearly incompetent and obnoxious individual and it says a lot about Gordon Brown that he appointed him as a junior Minister in his Government. It is even more incredulous that he should be put onto the Today programme so clearly unprepared up against the fearsome John Humphreys.
At the beginning of this year news began to filter out into the public domain of problems within the Childrens’ Services department at Reading Borough Council. Allegations of bullying and unprofessional conduct were swirling around and the department was clearly not a happy ship.
An Ofsted inspection then found Reading’s protection of vulnerable children to be “Inadequate” and the Labour Lead Member for Childrens’ Services (and husband of the Council Leader) Cllr Pete Ruhemann, was forced to resign before he faced a Conservative no confidence motion. An investigation was begun with all party support to find out what had gone wrong in the department and two senior members of staff were allowed a “leave of absence”.
Now the local paper the Reading Evening Post has printed a story that the same two senior members of staff entered the Council offices while on leave of absence and shredded huge quantities of files relating to their case work. It is suspected that the files related directly to the matters under investigation.
This raises several very serious questions. Why were staff members allowed unsupervised access to confidential case-work files when they were on a leave of absence? Why were they allowed enough time to shred such a huge quantity of material without anyone stopping them? Why have the Police not been called in to investigate their actions? Why has it taken two weeks and a leak to the local press before opposition Councillors were made aware of this?
Two members of staff have potentially compromised an independent investigation into serious allegations of misconduct within the Council. This is one of the most shocking events in my time on the Council and I know that my colleague Cllr Jamie Chowdhary has questioned Chief Executive Michael Coughlin about these matters.
Our investigations continue.