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What's In A Name?

Posted by James O'Brien on September 03, 2012 at 13:52PM

Grant Shapps, the housing minister tipped for elevation to the Cabinet in the looming reshuffle, has several names.

There's the one we know, the one he used to seek election and the one he goes under when talking to Parliament and media alike. That name is Grant Shapps. Then there's the one under which he flogged software packages of an ethically questionable nature using snake-oil salesmanship like "20,000 in 20 Days Or Your Money Back!" That name is Michael Green.

Then there's the one which he used when contributing to internet forums discussing the self-styled "internet marketing guru" Michael Green (remember him) and his products. That name is Sebastian Fox, who is supposedly an employee of HowToCorp, which is the company 'owned' by Michael Green, which is the pseudonym adopted by Housing Minister Grant Shapps because he 'wanted to keep the business separate from his political work.'

The question, of course, is why? Or rather whys? Why would he use a false name? Why would he want to keep his business 'separate' from his political work? Why would he stop at three names? Are there more? Is George Osborne also a figment of Grant Shapps' febrile imagination?

There is a tendency among Conservatives of his (and, indeed, my) generation to view the British public as a cashflow stream to be milked and an electorate to be misled and/or ignored - both, of course, in pursuit of personal wealth and power. It is, however, hard to think of a more egregious example of this condition than the one apparently provided by Shapps.

Surely, you only keep your name off a product from which you seek to profit if there is something dodgy or shameful about it. If, in other words, you would rather people did not know that you were involved in selling it. Grant/Michael/Sebastian thus emerges as a man who is happy to take your money for something but would rather you did not know his name.

It makes him at best dissembling, at worst downright dishonest and should surely exclude him from Westminster let alone the Cabinet. Alas, under a Prime Minister whose career and very survival depends upon deceiving and patronising the British public, it will probably enhance his Cabinet credentials.