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Admirable politicians 8 & 9:  Barry Gardiner and Angela Rayner

Steve Beauchampé sends a welcome lead, enabling Labour MP Barry Gardiner to be added to Political Concern’s ‘Admirable politician’ category – the first since May 2014, when MEP Molly Scott Cato was featured as the 7th.

Steve’s link to a Sunday interview on Sky News was accompanied by the comments that “(Gardiner) handles the interview with ease, batting away her questions. I increasingly find him arguably the most impressive member of the Shadow Cabinet”.


As Shadow Secretary for International Trade, Barry Gardiner spoke to Sophy Ridge on her Sunday politics programme about Labour’s difficult week following the Party’s Copeland by-election loss.

barry-gardinerCalmly and with authority, he discussed the nuclear issues affecting the Copeland vote and Jeremy Corbyn’s misrepresented position on nuclear power.

He spoke compellingly on Labour’s forcefully expressed parliamentary concerns about new proposals for business rates, funding formulas and disability benefits – later moving on to analyse the divisive effect of Brexit.

This positive news brought to mind that a few hours earlier, listening to the Sunday repeat of Question Time, Labour’s shadow minister for education Angela Rayner was outstanding. She becomes the 9th admirable politician.

She had all the relevant facts at her fingertips and was able to present them in a way which confounded Conservative minister Justine Greening – no mean feat.

The Telegraph reports that some of her Conservative opponents have asked whether she has the qualifications to fulfil her responsibilities as shadow education secretary. “I may not have a degree – but I have a Masters in real life,” she replied.

angela-raynerAngela grew up on a Stockport council estate, brought up by a mother who couldn’t read or write.

Her life was, she has said, heading in the wrong direction until: “Labour’s Sure Start centres gave me and my friends, and our children, the support we needed to grow and develop”.

And without the NHS, she proclaims, her son Charlie, who was born prematurely, would not be alive today.

Barry and Angela are some of Jeremy Corbyn’s most able colleagues – towers of strength.

New readers: a search will reveal that in order of date, starting with MEP Molly Scott Cato in 2014, the other admirable politicians featured were John Hemming, Andrew George, Margaret Hodge, Tony Benn, Salma Yacoob and Irish senator David Norris.




MP Margaret Hodge – admirable politician

Margaret Hodge: an admirable Chair of the Public Accounts Committee

By chance, tuning into the BBC Parliament channel’s televised proceedings of 18th March scrutinising the ‘Use of NHS Consultants and Severance Clauses’ went some way to restoring confidence in the calibre of MPs, so sadly shaken by the foolish & loutish behaviour of many in Prime Minister’s Questions and the less than statesmanlike performances of the prime minister and leader of the opposition.

margaret hodgeAbove all, this restoration was compelled by Margaret Hodge as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, incisively holding Sir David Nicholson and others to account, quoting the relevant sections of the Treasury’s “Managing Public Money” which lay down “some specific rules and conventions about how certain things are handled”and never letting the prevaricators ‘off the hook’.

The exchanges recorded were from Q149- Q184 in an uncorrected transcript in Hansard: MANAGEMENT OF HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS AND TERMINATION AGREEMENTS IN THE NHS.

The rare accolade of ‘admirable politician’ has been given on this website to three people:
  • Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George for his years leading the campaign to create a watchdog to protect smaller farmers and growers from the unethical practices of supermarket buyers,
  • Old Labour stalwart Tony Benn – quoting from his 2011 Salter Lecture
  • and the similarly principled and eloquent former Respect Party leader, Salma Yacoob.
Three other admirable MPs from the Conservative, Green and Labour parties, respectively, will be featured in due course.