Alan Simpson MP - Hero
Alan is the virtually unknown but he is one of the brightest stars of Parliament. His quiet work was recently marked with a national environmental award. That’s part of the story. As secretary of Labour’s Left Wing Campaign Group, he has transformed their image.
Alan is no backwards-looking surly resentful left -winger of parliamentary myth. He is witty, resourceful and creative. His radical original ideas are conveyed to the House in intelligent humourous persuasive style.
His concept of the threat of world ‘corporate feudalism’ inspired his early opposition to Multinational Agreement on Investment and Genetically Modified Food. Without credit or acknowledgement he led both campaigns brilliantly.
He also has charm, guile and humour. He began one recent withering critique of Government foreign policy with
"an unashamed admirer of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, I believe that the greatest contributions that we could make as a Government would be the intellectual ability and clarity of mind that he would bring to the European dialogue."
He has called for "a change to the international financial architecture so that we can introduce a transactions tax on speculative capital" and action to ensure that “the footloose polluter pays more.” He said "we cannot pursue a common European policy that rewards the environmentally profligate and penalises those who operate within our domestic and European environmental standards.”
He has been fierce opponent of New Labour’s timidity. In a Commons oral question to Tony Blair he said,
"Surely if there is an act of remembrance that the country owes to the generation of today's pensioners, it is to do the one thing that the Tories in government steadfastly refused to do-namely, to restore the value of the state pension and its link with earnings."
Challenging lone parents benefits cuts he said,
“The Bill, which continues to include cuts in lone parent benefit entitlement, is shabby, vindictive, unprincipled and unsupportable. I know that that is right because those are the words that we used when the issue was first raised by the motley crew of the Conservative Government when they mooted the cuts in lone parent benefit entitlement. “
Alan is still playing football and combined his sporting and other interests in the question:
"Does she accept that it is absurd that, if I buy arnica for my football bruising from a company that has the original product licence the packaging tells me that the product is for bruising, whereas the packaging of arnica produced by a newer company cannot tell me that?"
History may judge that his major contribution in the five years he has been in parliament has been to lead the opposition to MAI which he described as,
"One of the most unprincipled and disgraceful documents that I have come across. It is genuinely revolutionary in the sense that it would for the first time place the rights of companies above those of countries and the rights of shareholders above those of citizens. It would give companies the right to sue countries and shareholders the right to sue citizens, but not the reverse. A surrender of national sovereignty has been written into the agreement, which has truly frightening implications."
Alan laces his serious comment with agreeable humour including this homespun anecdote
"When I was at school, kids used to say to each other, 'Do you know what the second sign of madness is? Hairs on the palms of your hands.' The unsuspecting would look at the palms of their hands, breathe a sigh of relief and ask, 'What is the first sign?' They would be told, 'Looking for them.'"
We will hear a great deal about Alan.