Lovely poster of Michelle Mone from @pennyamott
I suspect everyone has already heard about Michelle Mone and her alleged involvement with the PPE scandal that has come to light at last. In this case, Michelle Mone, a Tory peer, seems to be inextricably linked to PPE Medpro, a company that, until the pandemic broke out, didn’t exist. The main contention here is that Mone specifically lobbied using the government’s “VIP” lane to get PPE Medpro awarded a contract for providing PPE because they could do so quickly. As such, I thought I would have a Moan about Mone and PPE Medpro.
So far, sounds good – we were in a crisis after all, so why is this a problem?
Well, the problems start to arise when you look at the details.
PPE Medpro Experience
As mentioned above, PPE Medpro was a brand new company. In fact, they had no history whatsoever of manufacturing and sourcing PPE. One would therefore be forgiven for completely discounting them as a potential supplier because they just didn’t have the track record to back up their proposal. One might also be forgiven for taking a look at their proposal and arguing that – despite their lack of track record – they were well placed to provide said equipment.
Value for Money
One of the greatest arguments for government procurement is to be able to show decent value for money for the taxpayer. If PPE Medpro had approached the government with an excellent deal, this would be a good reason to bypass the usual tendering process, as the taxpayer would ultimately be better off.
Example of PPE being worn
In this case, however, the underlying items in the contract were purchased by PPE Medprod for far less than they were then sold on to the government for. In fact, the Guardian reported in March 2022 that the items sold to the UK government for £122m were actually bought for £46m. It is genuinely hard to believe that a new small company would be able to achieve such favourable terms compared to the entire UK government, so that markup of £76m comes across as frankly greedy profit-gouging.
Quality of PPE
The above might be excusable if this particular source represented the best quality PPE known to man. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The gowns making up a good proportion of this order (£122m) were never used, as the quality was deemed to be below acceptable standards for frontline workers. In fact, the government has had to pay more to store these useless items since the provision. You might think that failing to come up to code would be grounds for the contract to be voided and the payment returns, but apparently not. The government is still in mediation with PPE Medpro to get money back for these useless items that were specifically bought at the insistence of a Tory peer.
A Genuine Mistake?
Did Michelle Mone make an honest mistake here? Did she really think that this company was best-placed compared to existing providers of this type of equipment? In short, no, she was not that stupid. Instead it seems she was greedy.
Recent reports show that, of the c. £200m paid to PPE Medpro, some £65m was paid out to Douglas Barrowman, Michelle Mone’s husband. From that, he then made a payment of some £29m into her personal control.
This brings the whole issue to a close in my eyes. In essence, Michelle Mone did not make an honest mistake, she deliberately recommended a firm that she and her family would personally benefit from and since taking taxpayer money has so far refused to give it back despite the products purchased being defective.
In short, she is a great example of why the House of Lords is utterly unfit for purpose. She is entitled to sit there for life and will never be subject to an election, but will have influence over the UK and its finances for years to come. For this reason, part of my personal manifesto is the abolition of the House of Lords*.
* incidentally my goal to abolish the House of Lords predates Kier Starmer’s announcement this week to do the same. However, his plan is to replace the House with an elected body, while my own view is that we should still fill a second chamber with experienced experts, but we should almost completely eliminate their actual political power. This would put the power in the hands of a single elected chamber, with some form of oversight or expertise from a fairly academic chamber with minimal actual power.
Ian, thank you once again for your support. It means a lot.
Thank you so much for [creating this petition] and so amazingly quickly!!!
You did a brilliant job on both the blog and petition. Some of the NHS staff were even impressed with the speed at which you addressed this, and I have had varying positive comments from friends who have read your post.
Hazeena A – Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner Resident
Having worked with Ian I can say that I found him incredibly transparent and honest which I think would be rare and much needed in today political arena. He is also very clever, direct and a great communicator.
Sheena Y, former co-worker
Ian is a very smart individual, but more importantly is honest and truly cares about people.
He is an unselfish individual and would absolutely have the public’s best interests at heart.
Andy H, brother
I met Ian a few months ago for the first time and straight away I felt confortable with him and I thought: ” Ok I would trust that guy”.
Luca M, fellow speakers’ club member
Throughout the 12 years I have known Ian, he has always demonstrated to be very bright, kind and upright. I’ve seen all of these attributes in his personal life, for instance, in our sport association he volunteered as treasurer where he improved the overall system and costs as well as championing charitable giving & generous donations. He’ll definitely make a difference in a bigger role in politics.
Francisco V, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friend
You have the moral integrity and high standards in all aspects of the requirements of your potential constituents. You will stand up to injustice and defend those deemed to have had injustice against them. You are committed to environmental change and to look after the less well off in society.
Irene H, mother
First and foremost, your personal ethos of kindness and care for others is your top qualification. That you are also highly driven with a need to be productive, and understand very complex matters such as financial systems, makes you stand out.
Graham C, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friend
You are one of the most principled people that I know. You are committed to making changes that support the most vulnerable in our society and you don’t give up when you know you’re fighting for what’s right.
Unlike the rest of us who are disillusioned with the lack of honesty, morals, and the unfair and outdated ‘public schoolboy network’ displayed by this government, you have decided to stand up and make a difference.
Your constituents couldn’t have a better candidate.
Helen C, Aunt
Having known Ian for a number of years during which we worked closely as Financial Advisers, I am confident that he would make an excellent MP. Ian is an intelligent man who has the ability to absorb, understand and manage complex information quickly; I have, on many occasions, witnessed him do this whilst retaining the ability to explain it, in a manner which is easy to understand.
I have seen Ian display the courage of his convictions on a professional level, where he has put the clients needs before that of the company and have no doubt he would carry this attitude into public life.
Ian and I have disagreed on politics in the past, but he has always listened carefully to any position and taken time to offer a thoughtful response. If he became an MP I am sure his constituents would benefit from an effective and hard working representative.
Miles H, former co-worker