Barry Gardiner gets grumpy and follows in the footsteps of Jacob Rees Mogg
The shadow international trade secretary accused John Humphrys of pettifogging. More than once.
It’s fair to say that Barry Gardiner is one Labour front bencher who is not afraid to give the BBC a piece of his mind from time to time.
On one recent appearance on Newsnight, the shadow international trade secretary expressed his disgust with the corporation after they introduced him as shadow international development secretary. The Brent North MP who happens to be the son of an Olympic footballer was also appalled when presenter Kirsty Wark suggested that a Labour policy was uncosted.
And now he has taken the fight to the top during a grumpy on air clash with John Humphrys. Appearing on the Today programme, Gardiner (who is also shadow minister for international climate change) trumped Labour's plan to create 400,000 green jobs by 2030 and blasted the presenter for daring to ask how much taxpayers might spend on Labour's so-called green energy revolution.
“It doesn’t cost the government. It is business that does these things, it is investors that put the money into these things… We have a 26 trillion dollar boost to the economy and you are pettifogging over pennies,” he told Humphrys.
Gardiner went on: “What you are doing is pettifogging over pennies when it actually comes to looking at the global economy and the way we need to take advantage of this opportunity… if we’re to keep this planet fit for human habitation.”
The Cambridge Dictionary describes pettifogging as giving “too much attention to small unimportant details in a way that shows a limited mind”. It is not a word that Gardiner tends to use in the House of Commons – unlike a certain Tory opponent.
Predictably, parliamentary records show that Jacob Rees Mogg is the MP who has has deployed the verb most frequently while speaking in the Commons in recent times.
In the last three years, the cultivated Conservative MP has used it four times, including when he declared that “our national anthem has come about over time without needing pettifogging regulation, bureaucracy or any of those things that we dislike”.
Rees Mogg also used the P word in 2016 when he lamented David Cameron’s failure to achieve fundamental reform of Britain’s role in the EU. “If we look from a further distance at what the Prime Minister has said over a number of years, what he promised in his Bloomberg speech and what we put in our manifesto, we see that they were not about pettifogging changes around the edges; they were about fundamental reform and the reassertion of sovereignty,” he said.