Square peg, round hole…

29 03 2009

What does David Ford mean here?

This Burnside/New Century/Goodwin story must have looked like an easy shot to Ford. But alas, he’s taken some disconnected and unrelated information and biffed it all together like it was Play-Doh. D’oh!

There is no guilt of admission, or even guilt by association. In fact there’s no guilt of anything. With the possible exception of Fred the Shred, no one has done anything wrong. What we have is the most amazing contortions from Fordy as he desperately tries to link everyone together. God, it’s like reading the back of the ‘Days of Our Lives’ boxset.

So what’s going on here? Well, for one thing, The Observer has gone on a whistle-stop tour of the theory of six degrees of separation.

  • David Burnside knows Reg Empey.
  • Fred Goodwin might know David Burnside.
  • Therefore Reg Empey must explain Fred’s behaviour.

It then builds the case, not painstakingly, incrementally with evidence – but by great leaps and bounds.

So, here goes: The Tories and the UUP recently agreed to cooperate at the next election. David Burnside has always been in favour of Tory link up. Therefore Tories approach to banking abuse is hypocritical.

So they’re all in on it!

Let’s take this from the top. David Burnside is a PR guy. He’s a PR guy that supplies services to the marketplace. Because the marketplace is kinda big, he’ll necessarily represent a wide range of people, organisations and interests. As do a lot of other consultancies.

So here comes Fred Goodwin. No one would deny that he is clearly in need of some professional advice. So he is in the market for a PR company. And, erm, that’s it.

David Ford slams the relationship that has yet to be confirmed and suggests Burnside’s work as a private individual – whatever it actually might be (as there’s no hint from the story) – reveals hypocrisy behind the “high-profile stand that the Tories have taken against abuse of the banking system”.

But surely it doesn’t? In fact it has nothing to do with the Tories or anyone else for that matter. Explain yourself Fordy!

He explains: “Mr Burnside played a key role in bringing the Tories and the UUP together. So perhaps it’s as well that he is standing down from the Assembly.”

So in the political sphere, and for a period of some considerable time, Burnside has argued for the UUP and the Tories to work together. In the business sphere, and within just the past number of months, Burnside may represent Fred Goodwin. So why does he need to stand down from the Assembly?

Addressing the UUP leader, Ford said: “Perhaps Sir Reg should be clarifying the Ulster Unionist position on the behaviour of those associated with the RBS, given the bank’s ownership of the Ulster Bank.

“The Ulster Bank has behaved completely honourably but it was plunged into danger by the behaviour of the likes of Goodwin and others.”

Why does David Burnside’s refusal to deny that Fred Goodwin is a client in his private consultancy present complications or implicate the UUP Leader in explaining Fred’s behaviour or Party policy? So how many filters should be applied to business development at New Century, and how many statements like this need to be issued for a position to be considered clear? This particular thread to the Fred Goodwin story lies beyond what any right-thinking person might expect to lie within the competence of the UUP (and the Tory Party for that matter).

The fact is that this story is recycled. This particular piece of churnalism could have come from this particular diary piece in The Daily Mail. Should McDonald now go to Rupert Murdock, as Phil Hall’s former boss, and suggest News International clarifies its position on Fred Goodwin?

McDonald has a story, but without confirmation or meaty quotes from main players he’s got a flat, speculative one that’s at least three weeks old. So to lend it all some currency and spark he tries kindling a political row between 2 rivals in South Antrim. Understandable, but it’s just a bit desperate and forced. And from David Ford’s point of view, this all serves to illustrate how some ‘media opportunities’ should be politely declined.

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