Monday 24 March 2014

Hereditary Socialism - More on Stephen Kinnock

Stephen Kinnock's selection as Labour candidate in Aberafan at the next election has attracted less than flattering attention in the Danish press, whereas the response from the mainstream UK media has been decidedly muted.

Michael Bjerre, writing in Berlingske, manages to capture the sense of resignation and powerlessness felt by many locals as he spoke to people in the Working Men's Social Club:

"It doesn't matter what we think", said one. "In the case of Stephen Kinnock, it was decided at the top - by the party in London and the union - that it was him they want to see elected."

Another man, aged 69, said he was the third generation in his family always to have voted Labour, "but I don't think for a minute that we'll see him again once he's been elected. He's not from round here".

The union concerned is Community, headed up by General Secretary Roy Rickhuss who was elected unopposed in January 2014 (no, I'd never heard of him either). Rickhuss is a member of Labour's National Constitutional Committee, and Kinnock secured the union's backing.

So ordinary voters can only look on as they watch a carve-up of their constituency by party and union bosses, with strings being pulled from the House of Lords.

Stephen Kinnock, we learn elsewhere, set up some sort of home for himself in the constituency a few weeks ago (alongside his homes in Copenhagen and London) and has been busy talking to the BBC:

BBC News - Stephen Kinnock to be 'truly active' if elected Aberavon MP

the Left Futures blog and the decidedly un-left leaning Guido Fawkes.

Sending children to be educated in the private sector is just as controversial for Danish Social Democrats as it is for British Labour politicians, and Kinnock's first response was to react with a combination of bluster and contempt at such disgraceful and misleading suggestions.

Within days he was having to apologise for misleading the press on the matter. The fees he and his wife pay to send their daughter to school turned out to be twice as much as he had previously said.

Kinnock argues that the school, which they chose for "private reasons", is not like Eton or Harrow. True enough, but then there are no Danish equivalents of Eton or Harrow for Kinnock to send his children to. Berlingske notes coolly that in his interviews Kinnock downplayed the fact that the Ingrid Jespersen Gymnasieskole is one of the most sought after private schools in Copenhagen, while trying to give the impression that it was really just like a normal state school.

Labour supporters may be surprised to hear that "Gymnasieskole" translates as grammar school.

Back in Wales, Aberavon has one of the highest pecentages of children living in poverty in the country.

Jyllands Posten, like Berlingske, Børsen and Politiken a serious daily newspaper (just imagine that - a small county not much bigger than Wales which manages to sustain a clutch of high quality daily newspapers!), provides a handy run-down on Stephen Kinnock's biographical details to date.

It includes the following summary of developments concerning his tax affairs:

  • In 2009 the Danish tax authorities investigated his tax status because of his job in Switzerland.
  • The Copenhagen tax office approved his tax payments in September 2010, but there were accusations subsequently that Kinnock had been given favourable treatment, according to tabloid daily BT.
  • Details of the tax affairs of Stephen Kinnock and his wife, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, were leaked to the press. A commission has been investigating the leaks.
  • The commission has also been looking into whether ministers, special advisers or other officials have been involved in handling the affair. A report is expected in the autumn.
After Michael Sheen's bravura performances as Tony Blair and Jesus, is Port Talbot's most famous son now preparing to re-enact the rise and rise of Stephen Kinnock?


Anonymous said...

Just a sort-of leftie UKIP Farage-type man then! Create the job and milk it for all its worth without giving anything back

Anonymous said...

Hmm, he's based in London, is married to the Danish Prime Minister, and pays his tax in Switzerland...

Sounds like a Labour man through and through.

Anonymous said...

And just how much tax?

Anonymous said...

You could say the same for the leader of plaid in the council..Peter Hughes Griffiths KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY, but his son has altered his name ??

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @7.30 It's not unheard of for sons and daughters to follow their parents into politics. Llŷr did it on his own merits without help from the House of Lords or the unions, and he did not have to be parachuted in because he was already here.

Anonymous said...

Nor is he domiciled in Switzerland!

Hopkin said...

It will be interesting to see the calibre of candidate that Plaid Cymru field in Aberafan. Paul Nicholls-Jones again - or maybe a Rhun Ap Iorwerth clone?