ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

the Noble Interviews / "Lords" Browne and Howell

Updated on May 9, 2016
vrdm profile image

Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....

Lord Howell

Two Lords a Leaping

We meet at a motorway service area, in a chain cafe with its elegant fittings and European themed atmosphere. The handsome, smart-suited men striding purposefully across the well trodden floors, for some reason occasionally looking surreptitiously over their shoulders, are the subjects of my interview today. They shake my hand firmly and sit down opposite me, without first going to the counter to be served. There is an air of quiet certainty, confidence, and authority about them.

Lord Browne

DM: Hello my lords.. May I call you Browne and Howell?

Both: Of course, of course, whatever works..

DM: You don't want coffee?

There is a moment's hesitation as they look awkwardly at each other.

LB: Actually, we rather assumed you would be buying.

DM: Ah, of course, how silly of me. Wealthy people don't buy rounds do they?

Both: (chuckling) No, no, of course not.

There is a pause as I go up and queue for a couple of takeaway lattes.

Both: Ta. Thanks.

DM: (resuming my seat) Browne you are the former boss of BP who got out of the hot seat in time to take up a chairmanship at Cuadrilla, the shale gas explorer. How's that going?

LB: Well, to be honest, lately we've been taking a lot of flack for the fracking (titters briefly) and it's not pleasant to be tarred with the same brush as, er, the rest of the main stream energy industry. We are after all experimenting and our ultimate objective is not to serve ourselves but to serve, selflessly, our shareholders (who pay our bonuses) and to keep the lights of the world switched on.

DM: You also hold a "senior advisory role" with the current government?

LB: I can see where you're going with that one but, no, there is absolutely no conflict of interest. I have corporate experience and expertise which the government wants - and I give it to them. It's as simple as that.

DM: Howell you too hold one of these roles?

LH: Yes I do, but as the good Lord has pointed out, it is simply a matter of making one's accumulated wisdom available to the government of the day.

DM: In fact, you are also Chancellor George Osborne's father in law?

LH: Yes yes, but really (sounding vaguely exasperated) what has that got to do with developing policy in a democratic government. All of us, at this level, have gone to the same schools, worked for the same law practices and banks, joined the same exclusive clubs, but that's because we're chums and good mates. You wouldn't expect us to abandon our friends simply because we have acquired high office would you?

DM: No no of course not. I am entirely in sympathy with your predicament. I am simply pointing out what a reasonably informed, literate, and objective observer (granted there are not a lot of these left in this country) might be led to conclude by scurrilous elements of the social networks.

LB: Well the social networks are meaningless of course. The only valid news is covered in respectable national newspapers and television stations. We know this because we and our chums own and control these institutions and impregnate them with our standards and respectability.

DM: Apparently there are some 60 (unelected) "non-executives" like yourselves sitting in various departments throughout WhiteHall and that you Brownie are the overall lead for this group. In fact, you have a desk at the Cabinet Office do you not?

LB: Yes that's true. We represent the cream of the nation's corporate talent and our expertise is assisting these departments to conduct themselves in a more "business like" manner. The importance of this mission is underlined by the size and location of my desk.

DM: Howell, last month your son-in-law announced "tax and planning changes which will put Britain at the forefront of exploiting shale gas". I'm guessing this is in large part down to your own diligent lobbying, but have you no concerns for the water table?

LH: First of all, I do not "lobby". I simply present my expert views when called upon - be it at dinner parties or on the loo as George happens to be passing. Secondly, drinking water won't be affected because, as everyone knows, drinking water is in bottles.

DM: Elsie Walker, from the campaigning group "Frack Off", has been quoted as saying, "It doesn't take a genius or a cynic to realise that those who stand to make a serious amount of money from the success of a particular industry should be nowhere near those who will be making decisions that will influence the future health of that industry."

LB: Nonsense. If I may quote our own Cabinet Office spokesperson, "All non-exec directors declare their interests to their departments to ensure that there is no conflict of interest." I rest my case.

DM: It's been a pleasure Lords.

LH: Likewise I'm sure.

LB: Any chance of another coffee?


© 2013 Deacon Martin

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)