Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lib Dem Willie Rennie MP: Happy Burns Night

Poor old Rabbie Burns looky-likey Willie Rennie has been in very hot water ever since he was elected in astonishing fashion to parliament as Gordon Brown's own MP.

It is hard to see how he will survive any further election after his shameless hypocrisy has been exposed including in The Daily Record, in The Times, who were picking up Guido, who was picking up Fib Dems, and of course the story has since been here, there and everywhere.

Essentially Willie (here seen on his election, possibly after premature and excessive celebration or sorrow drowning) has been campaigning hard in Parliament for cluster bombs to be banned. Few would disagree.

But since his election and appointment to the Defence Select Committee our hero has actually visited a weapons factory owned by cluster bomb makers Raytheon Scotland Limited (RSL). And it turns out that the PR and lobbying firm which organised that trip and which represents bomb makers Raytheon was until recently Willie Rennie's main employer, and indeed part owned (10%) by him.

Today (24th) Fib Dems have tenuously spotted Willie missing an arms export debate yesterday (23rd) and have neatly summarised the back story with links including the McEwan Purvis release on the arms factory visit.

There was one small slip, pointed out in the comments, as the factory Rennie visited is not in his own constituency or even in an adjacent one.
A strange decision to dabble in another MPs territory, particularly given the contentious goods being produced there.

Was Rennie at the back of the queue when the nous was being handed out? Let's hope he pushes to the front for his Haggis, neaps, tatties and whisky. The condemned man is supposed to enjoy a hearty meal after all.

Here at Labour of Love we have been especially interested in this gruesome story since Manchester Withington MP the Lib Dem John Leech stood up beside Willie to metaphorically hold his hand as both asked the exact same question in the House in November.

How could Leech be so stupid when this disgraceful story had already been out for around six months?

Perhaps he thought it was complete bull - just as many of the stories he himself places in the papers are shameless fibs? But it is not. Willie is Bang Bang to rights.

Perhaps Leech thinks it is OK to profit from promoting cluster bombs as part owner and senior employee of a PR and lobbying concern, to knowingly visit their arms factory in a trip organised by that very PR and lobbying firm, yet to still campaign vociferously against their lethal wares? No problem there then.

There is still some uncertainty about Willie Rennie's current involvement with McEwan Purvis and hence with Raytheon. Source Watch lists him as one of four Principals, and Willie's own political CV also says he still works for them.

Labour of Love checked the House of Commons register of members interests and updates dated
9 January 2007, 11 December 2006, 27 November 2006, 6 November 2006, 19 September 2006,
25 July 2006, 21 June 2006, 12 May 2006, and
24 March 2006.

Every single one of these says:

RENNIE, Willie (Dunfermline and West Fife) Nil. ("Queen of the South, Nil" adds anonymous in comments).

As we all sit down for our traditional Burns' Night supper we must accept that Willie Rennie is declaring absolutely no Members Interests, because he has no campaign supporters to acknowledge, has had no trips or entertainment, has no Directorships, has no paid employment apart from his MP's whack and expenses, has no fees, and so on. Willie has "nothing to declare" and is pure as the driven snow even now settling in his constituency.

His own Willie's Fibs website must be incorrect and he must have done no paid PR or lobbying work on behalf of McEwan Purvis since his election. Though obviously he has been to the factory. Which they turned into a PR coup for arms manufacturers everywhere. McEwan Purvis' own website has unfortunately been on hold while this not-isolated Scottish Lib Dem crisis has escalated. Isn't Ming going to be merciless on this one? He missed a chance in a recent reshuffle. Though like most of these Lib Dem Shadow Ministers and Front Bench spokesmen there is a tad of shameless exaggeration and flirting with the truth going on. Could Ming reshuffle a back bencher with some third degree jobbie?

Willie Rennie has certainly transferred his shares (nominally on 10 February 2006), divided equally between the two remaining Principals placing them at 85:15. Until 2003 when a Mr Purvis was elected a Lib Dem MSP there were according to Source Watch five Principals. Mr McEwan now holds 85% of the equity.

This has been Burns Night (a fantastic BBC site this, including recipes) which comes but once a year. Sadly, thanks to Mr Rennie's friends at Raytheon, promoted by his old friends at McEwan Purvis, any night can and will be burns night in danger zones throughout the world. As the BBC might put in their side bar it is Burns, Daily Burns, ..., Burns Supper, Burns on the Web, Your Burns, Burns Country.

Thank goodness for the arms industry and those who promote them! For Auld Lang Syne indeed.


Anonymous said...

Should that be Willie Rennie Nil, Queen of the South Nil?

Anonymous said...

Chris, Cheers for pointing out the gaffe...the truth only makes the story better. Will fix it up. Don't worry, i will be ever vigilant exposing the endless fibs from the libs