In the old TV series The Dukes of Hazard a fat politician called Boss Hogg ran a town with the help of his moronic family and friends.
Obviously the TV show was fiction. The very idea of overweight, bullying politicians throwing their weight around with the help of "local" born and inbred "good 'ol boys" who treat "coloured folk" and outsiders in a certain way would be an insult to democracy.
In the ficticious, moonshine drinking, Hazard County it was "who you knew" that helped get a job in politics.
Are there any similarities to TV's Hazard County in Paul Rowen MP's Rochdale?
Reading between the lines of his latest "Letter from Parliament" is most illuminating.
Firstly, there is no mention that Paul's letter isn't from Parliament.
Paul is in Keen-ya. Apparently sunning himself whilst doing charidee work at children's homes.
Does anyone picture portly Paul Rowen in a pith helmet whilst on a colonial verandah, G&T in hand? The Happy Valley of Kenya has a reputation for "fun and games". Were table tennis paddles packed in Paul's trunk? Or will Rochdale's current MP be too busy having slap up meals at various african Rotary clubs?
Will he be planning a trip to the bush? Is he popping over to Uganda to conduct some business in his second paid job working for a property company called Corinya?
At least if in east africa,
Paul Rowen isn't currently sipping his G&T
on a Rochdale Gravy Train.
But the biggest gaffe in Paul latest "Letter from Parliament" is the astonishing revelation of his admission policy for his Westminster interns. Just like Hazard County or Royston Vasey, it appears to be a very "local" matter:
Paul is a bit tender on the intern issue after the revelation that his Parliamentary expenses included 40p for a banana. An 'unpaid intern' was immediately blamed for the fruity claim that was "within the rules".
So how do young Rochdale people become Parliamentary interns for Paul Rowen. Unlike Hazard County, surely this is not a "job for the boys"?
"I've been very lucky over the last few months to have had a number of young people from Rochdale working as interns in both my London office and in Rochdale. These have included Natassa Malik whose father is a good friend of Sir Cyril Smith, Adam Barber who is the son of my GP and Tom Barlow who is studying A Levels at Oldham Six Form College".
So, it seems to help if daddy is a "good friend" of Cyril Smith or daddy holds Paul Rowen's confidential medical records?
But what about a paid job with Paul Rowen? A job that uses public money? A job that is even advertised for with public money?
Paul Rowen's Parliamentary Incidental Expenses Provision claims for 2008 show an invoice to MEN Media Ltd for £196.81. These were for taxpayer funded adverts in the Rochdale Observer (Saturday and Wednesday), Heywood Advertiser, Rochdale Express and Jobs North West.
(pages 1-3 0f 234 in the 2007/8 IEP pdf file)
The ad's catchline states"Paul Rowen MP Requires a Part Time Secretary/Casework Ass"
We presume the "Ass" is short for assistant rather than Rochdale's current MP being cheeky with public money to advertise for a part time american arse.
We will give that one the benefit of the doubt.
So there we have it. All above board and within the expense rules. Paul Rowen claims money to advertise for a "Casework Ass". MEN Media get the cash, interviews ensue and the best man wins?
So just who got the job as a Paul Rowen MP "Casework Ass" ?
Surely it wasn't John Swarbrick- the "scruffy old man" seen with "agent" Adam Power photographing grafitti recently ?
John Swarbrick had been working for "mystery sheik" right-hand-man Cllr Elwyn Watkins.
Dubbed the 'Scartlet Pimple' because his Healey Ward residents seek him here, there and everywhere but Elwyn is often missing "in Saudi". It is rumoured that John Swarbrick fell out with Elwyn so he stopped working for the busy fella who is also Lib Dem PPC for Oldham.
Then John Swarbrick pops up in the Drake Street Rochdale Lib Dem HQ/Paul Rowen's constituency office, and as "Home Truths" on the Rochdale Online forum.
Is John Swarbrick a Paul Rowen part time "Caseworker Ass" ?
Were the £196.81 for MEN job adverts a waste of time?
Is this an example of "jobs for the boys" in Hazard County?