There is something deeply uncomfortable about the way Labour government members retire from the Cabinet to the backbenches and then take on a well paid position as consultants to the industry which came under the control of the ministry they recently led.
The latest to make the move is John Reid. The former Defence Secretary has just picked up a plum job as a consultant to G4S Security Services, with a credit crunch busting payslip of £50,000. Last year G4S bought out private security company ArmorGroup, which was involved in mine clearance, convoy protection and ‘kidnap and extortion insurance’ in Iraq.
Dr Reid has certainly made an interesting transformation from Leninist PhD student to New Labour businessman, specialising in Iraqi security. Presumably there is a big need for the services of these private security companies in Iraq, following the illegal invasion which turned into the biggest foreign policy disaster since Munich.
I wonder, however, what Labour MPs think of Dr Reid’s profiting from the security industry. Perhaps the following early day motion initially proposed in January last year, gives an indication:
This House is concerned by the exponential growth of private military and security companies (PMSCs) since the invasion of Iraq; is disturbed by the substantial rise of reported incidents of civilian killings and human rights abuses by PMSC guards in Iraq who remain unregulated and unaccountable; further notes that problems posed by proliferation of PMSCs were highlighted in a Green Paper in February 2002 that originated in a request from the Foreign Affairs Committee but that, six years later, there is still no United Kingdom legislation regulating PMSCs; believes that self-regulation by the industry is not appropriate in this instance; and urges the Government to bring forward legislative proposals for the control of the PMSC sector as an urgent priority.
Proposer of the motion is none other than David Anderson, MP for Blaydon constituency where I happen to live. It was signed by 92 MPs in total, 53 of whom were Labour.
You can read more about Dr Reid’s consultancy on: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1111702/John-shot-fired-Reids-50-000-Iraq-security-job.html.