Forget loyalty Nick, let us know what you think

PUBLISHED: 17:48 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:23 25 August 2010

LOYALTY, typically a virtue, can lose its value somewhat when it comes at the cost of ignoring those you serve.

LOYALTY, typically a virtue, can lose its value somewhat when it comes at the cost of ignoring those you serve.

Nick Raynsford, Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, told our reporter last week that he wouldn't discuss whether the government was falling apart because it wasn't a "local issue".

With outstanding loyalty to the government he was once part of, the MP decided he was above disclosing his opinion to the public, unlike neighbouring Labour MPs.

Yet when asked whether he would talk to a Times reporter but not a Kentish Times reporter on the issue, the tact changed a little. "I wouldn't talk to anyone about it. The speculation is extremely unhelpful," he concluded, as amiably as one might when essentially saying "sod off". We should hardly be surprised, as many will remember the communication skills he had with the Fire Brigades Union as Local Government Minister, where the lack of any mature negotiation led to almost permanent strikes in 2003.

But seeing that members of his party have faced their own internal disputes this year, we thought the MP might inform those who elected him what was going on. Who better to tell us with some certainty whether the people charged with steering our country through the credit crunch are up to the job?

Oh, but hang on - it was "unhelpful" for the beleaguered Prime Minister and party, wasn't it? Perhaps Mr Raynsford should think about diverting all calls whenever something bad happens.

This is an attitude the Times has encountered before, namely when a black man died in police custody. Nigerian Frank Ogboru, 43, suffocated in September 2006 while being arrested by police in Woolwich.

When it emerged in April that no charges would be brought against the officers involved, there were outraged calls for a trial to be conducted on principle. Five months earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to follow up the death of Paul Coker, a black man who died in a Plumstead police cell.

But would Mr Raynsford be drawn into discussing whether his black constituents should feel it was "the same old story"? No. After quietly saying he didn't wish to make a comment on the matter, the MP said: "They have looked at this very closely and if they decided there are no formal criminal charges, then I have no doubt of it."

It's times like these when you wonder if absolute loyalty and trust border on having your head stuck in the sand.

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