In an article in today's 'Sunday Telegraph' entitled 'Peter Hain's mother, 80, is on his payroll', it is reported that,
"Owen Paterson, the shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland whose wife Rose is paid almost £30,000 year to work for him, said: "If you can find me a Cambridge graduate who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of my constituency, who is willing to work long and anti-social hours at very short notice for that sort of salary then good luck. Until then, my wife is the best person for the job."
Hat tip - Tim Worstall.
I commented on Tim's blog that,
"This is a disturbing comment. Is he saying that education to Cambridge standard is necessary to do the job for which he’s employed his wife? If this is the case, then it must apply to all other MP’s, so only those whose staff are educated to Oxbridge standard are properly servicing their constituents. This conclusion seems perverse. Or is he saying that he weighted the fact that his wife is a Cambridge graduate into a job spec which he presumably wrote? This begs the question as to what Mrs. Paterson would be using her Cambridge degree for were she not working for her husband. Did she pursue a career after Cambridge, which she gave up in order to work for her husband? Was she in fact working at all at the point she went onto his payroll?"
A brief Google search against Paterson, the member for North Shropshire, reveals that "(h)e married the Hon. Rose Ridley in 1980".
A few quick searches against 'the Hon. Rose Ridley' reveal an 'Hon. Rose Emily Ridley' who is the daughter of the 4th Viscount Ridley KG, the sister of Matt Ridley and the niece of the late Nicholas Ridley.
If Mrs. Paterson is in fact a different Hon. Rose Ridley then apologies to all concerned. Whatever her background, I'm sure that the lady works very hard in the interests of her husband's constituents. But if she is the aforesaid daughter of the Northumbrian aristocracy, I also think it's fair to say that the quality of the Sunday Telegraph's reporting has been at best sub-prime; Mrs. Paterson would probably seem to come from a slightly more elevated station than most MP's wives, and given that her husband pays her a very good salary from public funds when her brother's just presided over a bank collapse one might have thought their relationship to be of some public interest.
And Paterson's remark whiffs of the type of Tory arrogance that's killed the party in Scotland.