Sunday, November 26, 2006

Michael Mates to retire- 'did the buggers get him down' at last?

'Does inflation bother you?', asked the reporter.
'Er, only after mealtimes...', he replied.
picture copyright The Guardian (gasp!).
One person who does know something about Ireland is the former Northern Ireland minister Michael Mates. Contrary to popular opinion, I always thought that he was actually quite a good minister but in the tide of sleaze that engulfed the last Major government (some genuine, much imagined), he was forced to resign after giving a watch to fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir with the memorable inscription 'Don't let the buggers get you down'!
Those with short memories can read up on it at
The outgoing minister had been appointed to the Northern Ireland office following the 1992 general election - his first government post in nearly 20 years as an MP. As a pro-European, wet(ish), former Dragoon Guards Officer, Margaret Thatcher chose not to promote him into her governments. Perhaps it was inevitable he would led the Tory rebellion over the poll tax and then played a key role in the toppling of then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. He was a key member of Michael Heseltine's campaign team, making him a persona non grata among some Conservative MPs.
It wasn't to be the last time. He was appointed a Privy Councillor in February 2003, when he was nominated by the Prime Minister to be a member of the Butler review of intelligence after the Iraq invasion, a position some tories felt he should have not accepted.
Less controversially, he has been a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee since 1994. From 2001 to 2005, he was Chairman of the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs, a position it was aclaimed he was to have held with some success on all sides of the house.
Mr Mates has aparently had a rethink about his future since The Telegraph story on the a-list
He represents the seat of East Hampshire which will be the subject of my next post!


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