Thieves with Snouts in the Trough

Thieves with Snouts in the Trough illustrated by Penrose and Harding

John Penrose wins his seat

John Penrose became the Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare in 2005. Since 2017, he has served in the Cabinet Office as the government’s Anti-Corruption Minister. His job is to make sure there are no thieves with snouts in the trough.

In undeveloped nations and Banana Republics, petty dictators and charismatic popularists funnel juicy government contracts to friends and family. They syphon off money into secret bank accounts in the Bahamas. They really are thieves with snouts in the trough.

Thieves with Snouts in the Trough illustrated with a cartoon

by David Trumble

In Britain, we have John Penrose to look after taxpayer’s money. Privately educated, he attended Cambridge and received an MBA from Columbia University. He was a Bank Trading Floor risk manager for JP Morgan and a management consultant at McKinsey & Co from 1992 to 1994.

John knows all about money. He understands risk. He’s the right man with the right values to ensure our money – your money – is spent wisely, openly, fairly, with oversight.

Harding to the Rescue

Thieves with Snouts in the Trough illustrated by Dido Harding

Baroness Harding

At the height of the pandemic, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock appointed Baroness Dido Harding as the head of the NHS Test & Trace programme. Dido Harding, is a former chief executive of the TalkTalk Group where she faced calls for her resignation after a cyber-attack revealed the details of up to four million customers. The company was subsequently fined £400,000 for negligence.

The Baroness, doing her best, spent £37 billion on a Test & Trace system that did not work. As a parliamentary report showed in March 2021 the unimaginable cost of Test & Trace failed to deliver the central promise of averting another lockdown.’

With £37 billion, you could have trained a million nurses, given junior doctors the wage increase they demand and deserve and built a thousand new hospitals. During this building and training boom, John Penrose would have been there to make sure there were no thieves with snouts in the trough.

Among Harding’s awards was a £12 billion (BILLION) handout to Serco to run their version of Test & Trace. Serco is a major contractor for the provision of government services, mostly in the sectors of health, transport, justice, immigration and defence.

The CEO of Serco is Rupert Soames, brother of former Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, the grandsons of Winston Churchill. Back in April 1995, the Churchill family received the very first £12.5m from the Heritage Lottery good causes fund to buy the war leader’s collection of pre-1945 letters and speeches for the nation. How lucky we were t get them and for such a mall sum, too.

Rupert Soames is married to Conservative donor Camilla Dunne, whose daughter, Daisy Soames is a god-daughter of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The former head of Serco PR is the Health Minister, Edward Argar MP.

There was no bidding process for this handout of £12 billion to Serco to create an effective Test & Trace and Serco has not been asked to give any of the money back. Not that Baroness Dido Harding is being investigated by the government’s Anti-Corruption Minister John Penrose.

She’s married to him.

As Jacob Rees-Mogg pointed out, Conservative MPs do not need to wear masks during debates because they know each other. The party’s “convivial, fraternal spirit” meant they were acting in line with government Covid guidance.

Cover of the book Sex, Surrealism, Dali and Me


Incidentally, my memoir on the artist Salvador Dali – Sex, Surrealism, Dali and Me – is FREE on Amazon Prime to download. Also in paperback and audible. 


Posted in Blog.


  1. £37bn is such an enormous amount of money, it’s hard to get your head round it. However, just to put things in perspective, if you spent it on people, you could employ 740,000 at a rate of £50,000 a year (inc on-costs). That’s :
    • five times the entire British armed forces
    • five times the entire police force
    • two and a half times the number of nurses in the NHS
    • three times the number of secondary school teachers
    • and three times the cost of building the channel tunnel (at current prices)


  2. I lived for just under a decade in a so-called banana republic where crops of coffee and bananas embellished a beautiful landscape populated by folk who were mostly tolerant of a young, foreign single mother and helped her get housed and established. Coups (bloodless for the most part) came and went. I didn’t feel threatened there … Yet I feel, now, quite threatened here.

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