Richard Murphy, a campaigner and accountant at Tax Research, says it is true “Margaret is not an expert and she does muddle things up sometimes,” but her strength has been to ask the questions that any reasonable person might do without being intimidated.
“She sees over and beyond that,” Murphy says. “That is where she has been amazingly effective. Companies and HMRC rely on the detail to say they have stayed within the letter of the law. But Margaret points out that the outcome is not what parliament intended and therefore something must be wrong. She has upset the cosy relationship between HMRC and big business.”
“Not an expert and does muddle things up at times”…..
By 1994, she had entered parliament and soon co-nominated her neighbour Tony Blair for the leadership of the party – a move that appears to have earned some loyalty. As children’s minister, she faced serious calls to quit over accusations Islington council had ignored allegations of child abuse.
While defending herself and her staff, it emerged she had once written to the BBC dismissing one victim as “an extremely disturbed person”. She later issued a full apology and paid £10,000 in a settlement. This episode was formative and she is said to believe it has made her better at her PAC job – more sceptical about what those in authority know about the organisations they run.