When people heard about the PPE profiteering – notably Michelle Mone – that went on during the coronavirus pandemic, most people immediately knew it was wrong – and not just wrong, corrupt. Would you believe the BBC‘s political figurehead Laura Kuenssberg has found something other than blatant corruption to blame the fiasco on?
Mone PPE: how odd she would lie
Kuenssberg and her panel of guests on Sunday With… on 21 January were discussing Tory baroness Mone, who was involved in a very prominent PPE scandal (as summarised here by the Guardian):
The Department of Health and Social Care granted a newly formed company, PPE Medpro Ltd, two contracts worth a total of £203m in May and June 2020. The first, for £80.85m, was to supply 210m face masks, and the second was to supply 25m sterile surgical gowns, for which the government paid £122m.
The contracts were processed via the “VIP lane”, which gave high priority and fast-tracked PPE offers from companies introduced by people with connections to the government…
PPE Medpro had clear links to Barrowman’s Knox group, but after the contracts were published in the autumn of 2020, and in response to questions from the Guardian, Mone and Barrowman fiercely denied being involved.
Turns out they were involved and stood to make tens of millions – something they later confessed to.
Odd that they’d lie, no? Almost as if they always knew it was wrong, and they didn’t need hindsight in the first place.
Kuenssberg was speaking to guest Tom Hunter, who like Michelle Mone is a Scottish ‘entrepreneur’ (i.e. someone who’s very good at making money from other people’s labour). Kuenssberg asked him:
Do you think she’s been treated fairly? She’s very clear that she’s been made a scapegoat.
Given the widespread nature of the PPE scandal, there’s a strong argument to be made that she’s a scapegoat. However, that doesn’t mean she’s being treated unfairly – just that everyone else is being treated more favourably than they deserve.
Or do you look at her and think ‘it’s just a terribly sad mess, but she may have made mistakes’ – what do you think?
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that Kuenssberg provided Hunter with a choice of two answers – said answers being:
- Mone was unfairly scapegoated.
- Mone made mistakes.
Personally, we think it’s a weird interview technique to provide ready-made answers – some might say a leading technique. Putting that to one side, surely it should have been a choice between:
- She was treated unfairly/she made mistakes/she accidentally did a multi-million pound deal somehow.
- She’s corrupt/she done it on purpose/she’s a wrong ‘un.
Against BBC etiquette, Hunter responded with some thoughts of his own:
I think she’s her own worst enemy. I think she has – in her interview with yourself – you know – it was a car crash interview. Why did she decide to do it – you must be very persuasive.
Kuenssberg laughed deeply at this, although her face did turn suddenly serious – perhaps realising it wouldn’t do to have politicians thinking she’s making a mug of them. While politicians on her show do frequently come off terribly, that’s 99% their own doing; they’d come across much worse if it wasn’t for Kuenssberg’s interventions.
But she is not the only one who benefitted. If I had been running the government – thank god I’m not – I would have said can you help us, but I’m putting a cap on the profits you can make. Because there’s something above profit here. Our country is in dire straits; we need your help as entrepreneur, but let’s cap the profits.
An unhappy Kuenssberg responded (bold and all-caps added for emphasis):
ALRIGHT, WELL HINDSIGHT MIGHT BE A WONDERFUL THING.
Yes, Laura – absolutely no one had ever raised the alarm about capitalism run amok before the pandemic. Famously, Karl Marx didn’t write Das Kapital until 2023, and buy ‘wrote’ we of course mean ‘lip synced it on Tik Tok’, because no one writes books anymore.
Sadly, we also didn’t have words like ‘corruption’, ‘cronyism’, or ‘blatant malfeasance’ either. If we had, maybe the people in charge would have said to themselves, ‘perhaps this corrupt cronyism we’re doing is actually a blatant malfeasance’.
People had some things to say, anyway:
Mone PPE: Kuenssberg covers again
‘Hindsight’ applies to situations like when you drive down a country road only to discover it’s flooded and you can’t pass. It doesn’t apply to a situation in which you drive into a river you’ve always known was there because you thought it would be a quicker route to the other side.
It’s funny that ‘hindsight’ only functions as a talking point in relation to the misdeeds of the wealthy – like the Mone PPE scandal. And by ‘funny’, we of course mean ‘blatantly crooked’.
Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, Kuenssberg will one day look back at her career and realise what an absolute joke it was.
Featured image via BBC