Ending MPs' Taxpayer Funded Booze Subsidy

Hidden subsidies cost the taxpayers millions of pounds in order to finance the lifestyles of MPs, yet the fearless political reporters of the Lobby don’t seem too keen on reporting this hidden subsidy. Could it be because they too enjoy the taxpayer subsidised bars of the Parliamentary Estate?

The Speaker says he wants to bring prices in to line with High Street prices. In another piece of evidence based blogging you won’t see in the newspapers Guido has been fearlessly investigating what exactly are the prevailing market conditions around Westminster.

As the chart below shows, the average price of a pint of a Guinness is £3.45.  MPs pay a mere £2.20 for a pint and the taxpayers make up the difference. Prices would have to rise 57% for them to match what the public pays in and around the Westminster area. They still know how to look after themselves don’t they?

MPs have no excuse for this subsidy and last Tuesday’s scenes of mass drunkeness hardly reflect well on Parliament. The first thing they should do to discourage that sort of behaviour is put the prices up to market rates, cheap drink has after all literally been their downfall. In these austere times of public sector cutbacks is it simply not justifiable for MPs to expect us to subsidise their drinking. Time please, drink up gentlemen, lets be having you

Beauty and the Beeb

Tim Hames, the Speaker’s unprecedented spinner, announced he was off last week. Which is unfortunate for the Squeaker as he looks like he could need someone to help with handling the press come Thursday night…

Question Time’s producers, ever in search of controversy, like to rile people with their choice of guest. This week they have a member of Ed Ball’s campaign team who failed to become a councillor invited on the show. She calls herself a “writer and broadcaster” these days, but Guido has only ever seen a blog post (about Balls) and an interview on This Week, not sure being on Twitter constitutes being a professional writer. It seems even Labour aren’t stupid enough to let the proven liability become an official spokesman. Burnham is on the same night…

Has she really done anything in her own right rather than as the Speaker’s wife?  Perhaps some other failed council candidates, with Twitter accounts, backing someone in the Labour leadership, should ask to be on Question Time. That seems to be the criteria…

Quote of the Day

Ed Balls tells the BBC that

“I didn’t sit with senior politicians when I was seven, eight and nine in North London parties but you know, that’s a difference for me.”

Let Them Surf Net

Foxy go-getter and entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, the coalition’s “Champion for Digital Inclusion”, wants everyone to get online.

Speaking with Dave and IDS this morning, much fuss was made about making sure no child is left behind online, that 90% of jobs now need computers skills and some 10 million people in the UK have never used the net. While that may be true, have Dave and Martha really got their priorities sorted?

While yes, some kids don’t have broadband, that can be the least of their worries  –  more are functionally illiterate. The government’s own survey showed that 20%  of children leave school ‘functionally illiterate and innumerate’. Although it may not be as sexy a policy as digital inclusion, Guido suspects it is a lot more important, what good is connecting them to the internet going to be if they can’t read and write? Well apart from the far more visual XXX-rated internet-based research of course…

The NHS's Protected Doctors (Spin)

While the “front-line services” of the NHS may well be protected from the axe, it seems the Department of Health’s bloated “first-line of defence” could be ripe for a squeeze. Why exactly does Andrew Lansley and his ministers require more press officers and PR civil servants than the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office?

The list – 31 in total – range from a 10 strong news-desk, to strategic planners and multiple layers of spin. The Department has four full-time speech-writers – could some of the other 27 spinners not yell down the phone and occasionally type? Lansley has had his accident prone days and is known to put his foot in it, yet his old media team used to fit in the back of a transit van, but he still made it to government.

When other departments are slashing the public services they provide, having that many media-manipulators clucking around in the ring-fenced pen is absurd.

Spotted by Liam Murray.

Rich & Mark's Monday Morning View

All in the bar together.



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Heidi Alexander sums up Labour’s approach to aspiration:

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