Dick of the Year: John Hemming
This is a nomination for the Bright Green #dick2010 award by Stuart Neyton .
John Hemming, Lib Dem MP
It may perhaps seem strange to direct student anger over the outrageous tripling of tuition fees at a backbench MP, but LibDem John Hemming’s reaction to the protests stands out as being a particularly dickish moment this year.
The millionaire businessman previously caused outrage getting caught up in the expenses scandal , using taxpayers’ money to pay off loans on his business property. Not to mention tabloid furore  over his infidelity. Being elected on such a wafer-thin majority, you’d expect him to be slightly more careful with his actions and conscious of his constituents’ concerns. 2010, however, saw him hit a new low over the fees fiasco.
Several students occupied  his constituency office to remind him of the pre-election pledge he and every other LibDem signed to not vote for an increase in tuition fees, after which he and 28 of his colleagues voted in favour of landing future students with debts in excess of £40,000. His reasoning? To “punish ” the protesters.
Maintaining the status quo is a bizarre “reward” for students largely unaffected by the tripling of fees, protesting for the next generation’s right to not be straddled with huge debts at the start of their working lives.
In an insulting attack on students’ understanding of the changes, he went on to suggest he would be thanked  in the future for this. Yeh, thanks a lot, dick.
Good to see you’re reading everything and posting rationally.
And not just randomly posting bile.
Yep, kudos to you mate for writing the article. I’m a fellow Scottish student. Maybe karma exists and the ‘dick’ gets his now.
@Mignonette, I understand a few hundreds of lurkers have those screenshots. I’d like to see how Hemming can destroy them all to prove his innocence.
The allegations about John Hemming MP (Re disclosure of court protected identities) ARE TRUE and I have the print outs of the threads on Mumsnet where Hemming made them.
This is not a trivial matter. It has been reported to the Police and the social services/courts.
Good for you for braving a nasty little bullying man who uses his wealth to suppress freedom of the press.
May all the corrupt officials all around the world may soon be punished before the law. Corruption is poisonous and gives a lethal effect in the society.
Glad to have read your article. Corruption is a cancer to every organization. May the law serve its justice to those who are guilty of this crime.
Some more evidence of John Hemming being partronising and condescending while, at the same time, avoiding answering the protesters’ questions
Firstly thank you Mr Hemming for responding and continuing to debate on the issues raised. I’ll say now that i didn’t even vote for you in this (much better cases were made for even bigger dicks).
But I find your attacks on the occupiers for their assumed class quite insulting. Besides the fact that not every student even from an “upper middle class” background is financially dependent on their parents, tuition fees are only one part of a wider campaign on education funding. Defending EMA isn’t an interest vested in the upper middle classes. The cuts to arts, humanities and social sciences will affect everyone (i’m speaking as a physics student here). And your claims that the increase in fees is “progressive” are ridiculous.
For a start one of the reasons for the increase is the ideological slashing of the higher education budget to supposedly pay off debts caused by the speculative banking crisis. That’s a problem with the free-for-all capitalist economic system we have. The crisis wasn’t caused by students, or the homeless, or the working people dependent upon public services you’re cutting. Surely as a government you should be going after corporate tax avoiders rather than students and the poor? Savings can also be made in other areas: road building, airline subsidies, withdrawing from Afghanistan, trident, reforming patent laws so pharmaceutical companies can’t drain the NHS, renationalising rail, water, gas etc; as well as additional tax revenue generated by introducing a robin hood tax, legalising soft drugs, ending charitable status for profit-making businesses, carbon taxes on heavy polluters.
I agree that richer students should pay more for their education. Which is why i am opposed to any non-means tested fees which proportionally mean students who get the highest-paid jobs as a result of their degrees pay the least. That’s the current system, the Browne proposals will do little to change that and silly ideas like the graduate tax will more likely than not end up being a regressive flat tax on graduates’ incomes, assuming they’re the only people in society who get anything out of higher education. If income tax could fund my education until turned 18, it sure as hell can fund another 3-4 years, like it does in Scotland and much of the rest of Europe.
The Browne proposals clearly weren’t in line with NUS policy as you have suggested, or the NUS wouldn’t be opposed so strongly to them (although its leadership has been very weak on the funding issue). And they absolutely weren’t in line with the Lib Dem manifesto commitments to abolish tuition fees completely.
Are you and your Lib Dem colleagues still in favour of the principle of free higher education? If so do you honestly believe voting to triple fees has made that goal a step closer?
Once again thank you for taking the time to engage!
Mr Hemming, in the land of politicians deny, deny, deny is the key action.
You not helping yourself when saying requiring denial is not a reasonable basis for establishing the facts. If this is the case why are you being so active on the denial of misuse of expenses allegations? Is that more important perhaps?
You left no doubt in listeners ears that your intentions were based upon perceptions and feelings rather than political thinking.
Your party has cravenly joined itself at the hip with the most disgraceful bunch of wealthy politicians who are hell bent on making the poorest in society suffer and you seem to be working as a team of masochists taking all the punishment for the decisions taken.
Did you fiddle your expenses or in any way use tax payers money to fund any business activity? If not what triggered these allegations? What have you done (if anything) to make the press think something might be amiss?
Clearly most people are uninterested in citing any evidence for their claims.
The proposals from the government in respect of tuition fees move from a general subsidy for all graduates to a greater subsidy for the lower earning graduates and lesser subsidy for the higher earning graduates. Hence the protestors are protesting to protect the upper middle class.
It is a progressive graduate contribution much like that proposed by the NUS.
The interpretation I place on the NUS pledge is that the contribution from graduates or students should not increase until the system is fairer. That appears to be exactly the same interpretation as the NUS who have themselves proposed that graduates should pay more, but that the system should be progressive.
My office was closed by the protest. This was two hours after the protestors were warned that they had prevented the operation of the office. They drove at least one constituent out of the office with the chanting and prevented us from dealing with people’s confidential cases. This was trampling on the politically and economically weak.
I won’t be commenting any further here. I do, however, debate issues on the net.
If you are still reading these comments, Mr Hemming, I commend you for your perseverance!
I recently wrote an article in my student newspaper (which I can forward to people if they are interested) outlining the reasons why I, an openly upper middle class white male physics student who isn’t being affected by the cuts and fee rises, was out protesting with everyone else. It certainly was not to “protest the vested interests of the upper middle class”. In fact, it was quite the opposite!
Soon, the unions will come out and protest against job cuts, at which point people will argue that they are arguing in their own interests, so I know that it is important for people like me to be out there with them for the ideological reasons against the cuts. The only way widespread opposition to the cuts can be shown is if all parts of society are out protesting, not just those being affected.
(I apologise for the spelling errors. Unfortunately, I could not afford a decent education.)
In the inital repsonse Mr Hemming opens his repsonse with “Two things” and then proceeds to list three.
From your opening line Mr Hemming I think you have proved your attention to accuracy questionable.
I understand that you are in a caolition and the conservatives will not let you do what you originally pledged as a party, however, by not opposing it you are hpyocrites.
What offends me most about the Liberal Democrats is that your support of the complete opposite view to your campaign pledge on this issue has done more to prevent young people voting than apathy ever has.
It’s going to be interesting when the upper middle classes really DO start doing these kind of things in response to cuts in support for their families, increased fuel bills and such like. The “upper middle class” students that protested at your office aren’t even protesting for themselves… their economic background, whatever it is is irrelevant.
Oh and Mr Hemming, if you decide to cite Mr Clegg’s comments that the protesters ought to read the proposals before objecting can we please assume that we have read the proposals and still object. The notion that all of us who protested didnt know what we were protesting against is offensive
Vested interest of the upper middle classes?
Wow are you wrong! I am certainly not upper middle class, nor are many of the people I went to college with, and yet I and many of them still felt that we ought to peacefully protest against the government plans, and this is what we did. From my experience at the demonstrations there were very few protesters who were trying to look after the upper middle class – how are kids losing their EMAs (btw, wasnt one of the Prime Minister’s campaign points that he would not cut the EMAs) and worried that they wouldnt be able to afford university when faced with the prospect of such high levels of depts, how are these kids protecting interests of the upper middle classes?
Sorry, It seems I didn’t finish my sentence there. I meant it to read:
This is not how a promise works. If you promise to buy someone chocolates, but you happen to know they also enjoy sherbert, you have NOT fulfilled your promise to buy chocolate if you buy them sherbert.
“innocent people who faced real problems … suffering as a result of some self-indulgent fools”
“… the middle class protestors who trampled on the weak by shutting down my office.
It did me personally no harm. It only hurt the weak.”
I put it to you, Mr. Hemming, that the protesters were NOT barring access to your office and were, in fact, allowing people to come and go as they willed. It was, however, the decision of you and your staff to close the office early due to the protest.
“Given that this fits with the NUS proposals and the pledge I signed was the NUS pledge I find the arguments that we have abandoned that pledge hard to accept.”
This is not how a promise works. If you promise to buy someone chocolates, but you happen to know they also enjoy sherbert, you have NOT fulfilled your promise to buy chocolate.
>I don’t have a problem arguing about other aspects of government policy, but won’t do it randomly on the net.
So I take it that arguing here, on Bright Green Scot, is a sign of how much you, Mr Hemming, value the input, the dialogue, the intellectual stimulation and ethical rigour of the Scottish Greens in your constituency? And that, despite the obvious geographical issues – remarkable!
However, it seems to me that the only person posting here who is convinced that the ConDem government is NOT doing huge damage to the economy, the education system (in England, at least), the health service, social care – in sum: the social underpinnings of our whole society, is you, Mr Hemming…
the sound of you shovelling would be quite amusing if it were not all so serious. the sheer blinkered foulness of your arguments and ignorant contention that the protesters are both guilty, have no real problems and are protesting about upper middle class issues entirely misses the wave of unified disgust at your society wrecking proposals.
the classless solidarity on the streets is quite breathtaking in it’s awareness and passion. keep digging please keep digging. as the chants go, there’s more of us than you!
Try citing some evidence.
In many ways it would appear that despite all the talk of fairness it will be the Lib Dems who oversea some dismantling of the welfare state at the expense of the weak.
The argument is about the behaviour of those protestors who shut down my office in an an attempt to protest the vested interests of the upper middle classs.
I don’t have a problem arguing about other aspects of government policy, but won’t do it randomly on the net.
As far as the issue of homelessness is concerned the government plans an increase … yes an increase … in the quantity of social housing.
However, the underlying question is whether or not I was right to be angry about the middle class protestors who trampled on the weak by shutting down my office.
It did me personally no harm. It only hurt the weak.
So there won’t be a rise in homelessness, loss of jobs or a wide range of problems for those with disabilities or who rely on help from charity workers who are also getting cut? That is what I am taking from your “No”. If you would like to provide some evidence against this, I am willing to be persuaded.
If you are fighting to free those wrongly imprisoned by various foreign governments, then that is admirable, and I am sure will be supported even by those who disagree with your policies – as long as you do not use it as a way to change the subject away from your actions and words on more domestic matters, which I believe is the reason for this post in the first place
>Doesn’t that pretty well sum up what will
>happen as a result of a majority of the
No. One of the people who we were dealing with at the time was wrongly imprisoned in Saudia Arabia for criticising the government (not the UK government).
They didn’t care about the individual even though they had been warned that they were causing problems. We did get him released that day, but they delayed action.
To quote the ‘honorable’ gentleman Mr Hemmings: “innocent people who faced real problems … suffering as a result of some self-indulgent fools”. Doesn’t that pretty well sum up what will happen as a result of a majority of the governments cuts?
Ah, keep digging, Mr Hemming! Your P45 is being readied for the next election, along with those of many other LibDem MPs. It’s just a shame your time in office is being characterised by so many P45s being issued to so many other people on the way…
Fair enough. If we don’t deliver on scrapping debt you would have a good case for using that as a basis upon which you change your vote.
That is what democracy is about.
I do think, however, that requiring people to deny things is not a good basis for reliable information.
I, when I voted on this issue in the House of Commons, did not vote that way to punish the protesting students. That is clear. It is, in fact, clear from the full transcript of the interview that I was not intending to do so.
However, various reports (including the original post) have argued that I did state that I would be doing so. Which is clearly not the case.
@ John Hemming
The words “punish students” did not come from your mouth, that much is true. Equally there were no words from you rejecting the interviewer’s assertion. Your general tone spoke volumes and the impression I received, whether you intended to convey it or not, was that you felt the protesters should be spited for their actions and that voting in favour of the fee increase was a good way to spite them. Granted, what lies between the lines may not carry much weight in legal terms, but it will certainly help influence an electorate.
Engage all you will but from my perspective, sir, you and others like you need to ensure that your wellies and overtrousers are in good order as you are presently micturating into the teeth of a force 9. Shallow as I may be, it was a single issue that swung my vote to Lib Dem last election. I suspect you can guess which one. Hopefully you’ll sympathise when, next time around, I take a leaf out of your little book of subtexts and use my vote as a punishment.
The transcript of more of the interview is available on my weblog together with further comments as to the limit on protest.
It is, however, quite clear that I did not say that the students had to be punished. I discussed the issues that would affect how I would vote.
I was angry at the time that innocent people who faced real problems were suffering as a result of some self-indulgent fools who had shut down my office. I continue to be unhappy about the protestors having no concern as to the impact of their protest on those people economically and politically weaker than them.
I have also commented on my weblog in the new year message about the government financial strategy.
I am not going to debate the wider financial issues here, but am happy to debate them on my own weblog (or one of the online fora that I normally discuss things on)
This is really funny! That John Hemming is prepared to comment here in this way ON NEW YEAR’S DAY is surely a ploy – he’s trying to make sure that even if he doesn’t win ‘dick of the year 2010’, he is a front-runner for 2011! If he keeps going with these delusional arguments, I have to say, he’ll easily be my favourite for 2011!!! 🙂
And by the way, I heard the radio broadcast live, and he clearly thought of this as punishment. Denying it here is perhaps just the same for him as signing a pledge against university fees and then tripling them – integrity is just not something this kind of LibDem is very familiar with.
Or you could just not spend £3bn on needless NHS reforms, chase the £25bn lost annually through tax avoidance, stick to your promise to end trident (there it is again), tax executive salaries more heavily, or pull out of Afghanistan…
You keep talking about the deficit, and the health of the economy. But what is the national economy for if not to maintain quality of life for its people? Yet it’s your excuse for privatising education, dismantling the health service, slashing social care budgets, and cutting welfare for the poorest. Well who does that benefit? Do the people on the receiving end of that feel the benefit of a ‘healthy economy.’
It is chop logic. The fact that you are saving more money by cutting benefits than you are by taxing bankers speaks volumes about the priorities of your government, and no amount of quibbling over detail will change that.
The proposal is that an organisation pays all of the fees up front. That organisation is funded in part from general taxation and in part from a capped graduate (tax/contribution).
I am trying to get this structured so that the graduates don’t have debt, but simply have the contractual liability to pay the capped tax.
If the graduates were making no contribution other than general taxation then there would be two issues
a) A need for additional general taxation
b) It would not be possible to hypothecate the graduate contribution against the government debt and the costs would add to the deficit.
It is the b) issue that really has not come across in the debating.
“Try to engage with the argument as to where the money comes from.”
The IFS have said that most graduates won’t pay for the full cost of their loans. In which case, it’ll be the state picking up the tab for these fees.
Why not go one step further, and just have the government paying ALL of students’ fees up front?
The point about the proposed scheme is that it will be of no cost to those people who participate in the scheme. Those who don’t earn much won’t pay anything. As earnings go up they will pay more. For the majority of graduates (54.2%) what they will pay is basically entirely linked to their income and not affected by whether the university gets 6Kpa or 9Kpa.
Try to engage with the argument as to where the money comes from. I agree with the argument that the ideal source would be general taxation, but having what is in effect a capped graduate tax is not that bad as a proposal.
The marginal tax rates for graduates are less than I personally paid after graduation.
Jesus, quibbling over what free means. It means “free to those who use it”, not “of no cost to anyone”. “Free beer!” doesn’t require you to say “wow, the first beer ever produced at zero cost: it’s a miracle!” I fear for the NHS and every other public service if you Orange Book clowns can’t or won’t grasp this basic premise.
Also, if you wanted to avoid the “punish the dirty protesters” line of attack, the answer on PM to Eddie Mair’s question would have been no. Please don’t argue with the actual recording.
So now the country must suffer another round of millionaires trying to rebrand economic liberalism as progressive. There is truly no difference between you, the Tories and the dire New Labour scum you replaced. May your party rot in hell.
Another quantity of things
Your post as it reads currently says “using taxpayers’ money to pay off loans on his business property” which is not actually true.
In law it is not sufficient to record that there is a controversy. However, I am not threatening legal action against you.
The transcript you link to does not have me as saying that my vote on the issue is to “punish” the protestors. That was what the presenter said.
A fuller transcript is available on my weblog.
Again if you read my weblog you will see links to the NUS website where they propose a “progressive graduate contribution”, but with a tuition fee of 5K rather than 6-9K.
Effectively the changes the government are proposing are to reduce the subsidy to the wealthier graduates and increase it for the less well off.
Given that this fits with the NUS proposals and the pledge I signed was the NUS pledge I find the arguments that we have abandoned that pledge hard to accept. I accept that there are two interpretations of the NUS pledge, but that which indicates that there should be no increase in the funds for universities is irrational.
That you disagree with the claims made by the Times has now been recorded in the comments here. I think that should be sufficient. All the article here sad is that there has been controversy about your expenses. I think, whether the allegations themselves are true or not, that point holds.
The transcript is referenced in the article, if it’s incorrect please take that up with the blog we link to.
Free education is generally taken to mean no direct graduate contribution. You’re welcome to disagree with that position but I for one believe HE should be funded through general taxation and students do understand the differences and what the government are proposing.
Anyway, I didn’t write the article and shouldn’t really comment on the intention of our contributors, and you’re not going to win, or even come close I think. Sorry.
You know very well what is meant when protesters say free education Mr Hemming. It’s what you had when you went to university, remember? It’s what you promised voters before the election. Don’t act soft: dick you may be, stupid you are not.
You know what really annoys me about Lib Dems like you? It’s that you haven’t even got the decency to acknowledge that you broke a promise. You haven’t even apologised! Instead your awful leader calls protesters ‘dreamers,’ and you have the nerve to self-righteously (and fatuously) punish those who feel betrayed by you! It beggars belief.
Don’t you dare come back to this thread playing the ‘there’s no money left’ card, because no one with half a brain believes that. If there was no money, (to pluck an example out of thin air) the government wouldn’t be spending £3bn on shambolic NHS reforms after Cameron promised – there’s that word again – not to subject the NHS to any more ‘disruptive reorganisations’ in 2006. Not only that, the front end costs of tuition fee plans are astronomical, which somewhat gives lie to the deficit emergency line you and your colluders have been touting.
I’m more angry with the Tories than you. They’ve got the kicking boots on: you just smelt power and decided to give them a polish. Nevertheless, you and your party are finished – and there will be no cosy opening in the Tory party for you like there will be for Clegg. Good. You deserve to be punished.
Nine more things.
a) Things have been said about me that are not true by The Times. It is most sensible that I deal directly with The Times. I would expect anyone who is interested in the truth to leave them to have the dispute. It would be nice if you were to edit the post in the mean time, but my attention is focussed on The Times.
b) I would be interested in the transcript that you have. I did my own. That is on my weblog. I have also looked at the limits of protest.
c) There is no such thing as “free education” unless you are not paying the tutors. Someone has to pay for it. The question is the balance between individuals, graduates collectively and general taxation. That is the basis upon which to consider the government’s proposals.
Well done Mr Hemming! I’m now ruling you out of the running as you’ve engaged with the post. Mind you the competition is pretty stiff.
a) Is that a threat?
b) Why are you talking about the Times when the reference to expenses in the article is from the Birmingham Post?
c) The ‘punish’ comment comes from a transcript of an interview you gave on Radio 4, not from a headline.
d) Whether you call it debt or call it a contribution or an additional tax or whatever doesn’t really change the reality. Students understand the plans and we want free education, so yes I do disagree with you.
a) The allegations about expenses are being discussed between me and The Times at the moment as what you report is untrue. The Times have taken down the web page. It would be good for you to remove that reference as well.
b) Do not rely on headlines as to an accurate representation of what people have said. I have not said that the students needed to be punished. I have put on my weblog details of my view as to the limits of protest and when protest can be counterproductive.
c) What I have said is that if the government can scrap student debt then the students and graduates would be grateful for that. I would be surprised if you would disagree with that statement.