Margaret Hodge eh? She really socks it to big bad corporations, doesn’t she? Remember her run-in with Google? “Evil”, she called them.
This is the same Margaret Hodge who, 20-odd years ago, denounced evidence of child abuse, presented on her watch as Leader of Islington Council, as “gutter journalism”.
In 2003, when Tony Blair appointed her Minister For Children, some questioned her suitability for the role given her record at Islington. One critic of this appointment, Demetrious Panton – himself a victim of sexual abuse in an Islington “care” home – was dismissed by her as “extremely disturbed”. Well, you would be, wouldn’t you, after being sexually abused and then told the evidence provided was “sensationalist”?
Hodge, by the way, had to apologise for this remark in The High Court. She had gleaned the information that Panton was “extremely disturbed” from Bernie Bain, who ran the children’s home in which Panton was abused at the age of 10.
Bain, it turned out, was himself “a brutal sexual abuser”. Eventually he was arrested in Morocco and jailed there. Once freed, he was deported to Holland. He slipped through a technical loophole to avoid extradition back to the UK where he would undoubtedly have been tried and jailed again.
He committed suicide in Thailand in 2000. It is believed he continued abusing children up until he killed himself.
I struggle to think of a clearer example of “evil”. Certainly a multinational’s entirely legal accounting processes can surely not be considered in the same league? (If Hodge thinks there’s something illegal going on with Google, that is a different matter. But she made no such accusation).
Margaret Hodge, who missed and then dismissed the real evil at the heart of her empire, has clearly learned no humility. Using the legal shelter that comes with Parliamentary privilege, she spoke to Google’s Matt Brittin as if he was something the cat had brought in. “Don’t irritate me,” she said, taking on the persona of a slightly annoyed Hulk (‘You won’t like me when I’m irritated’).
The problem for Hodge and politicians like her around the world is that, in relation to Google and all other international corporations, the world is changing in ways that make their laws inept and unenforceable.
Rather than face reality, they prefer to grandstand for the public and the media. Unfortunately for Margaret Hodge, some of us have long memories. And even those who don’t, know true evil when they see it.
Margaret Hodge proved conclusively, over a 12 year period (from dismissing claims of sexual abuse to apologising in The High Court) that she doesn’t know it when she sees it. But she sees it where she wants to, even if it’s legal and above board.
Evil is as evil does, Margaret. Even Forrest Gump knew that.