Leading Article: Minister for low expectations

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"Newsflash +++ John Ruddock MP, has been appointed Minister for the Armed Forces. He will not be receiving the usual ministerial salary. Mr Ruddock was an environment spokesman in opposition. Harry Harman, Secretary of State said: 'John has a strong record on defence issues. He will play a key role in our work.' "

As a probing, independent newspaper we naturally need to ask some questions about this. If John's record is so strong, and potential contribution so significant, how come he's not being paid? Is he being punished for something? What can poor John have done wrong? Or does the party no longer value defence? Maybe it didn't want an armed forces minister at all but felt bound by a manifesto commitment. In which case, why is John putting up with it? It's obvious he'll be fighting an uphill battle and he can't relish taking on extra work (usually deemed worth an additional pounds 20,000 on top of an MP's salary) with such a vote of no confidence. Will the other chaps take him seriously? When it comes to competing for money for his sector, won't they assume he's a bit of a soft touch? And though it's kind of the Secretary of State to claim he will "play a key role", won't he be a bit like the work experience lad sitting in to find out how the grown-ups do things?

If we were John we'd say: "You must be kidding."

CORRECTION +++ For John read Joan, for armed forces read women. Ah! Now it makes sense. If we were Joan, we'd do what women have always done. More of the work for less of the money.

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