Strictly No Laughing

Guido can’t decide whether the British public are a sympathetic bunch who want to help some one out, or a cruel rabble who want to elongate someone’s humiliation for their own viewing pleasure. Either way Anton Du Beke must be missing old partner Kate Garraway.

It turns out that despite her atrocious Strictly Come Dancing performance on Saturday, which saw the lowest ever score for a salsa, Anne Widdecombe still topped the viewers vote for the person they didn’t want to go home. The boffins at Survation, a specialist pollster who gauge this sort of thing, seem to think the public feel sorry for the former Tory MP and feel she could become a John Sergeant type figure. Guido can’t think why people would want to see more of this:

He has his suspicions though…

Khan We Have A Straight Answer Please?

As an up and coming human rights lawyer specialising in anti-establishment cases, you can understand why Sadiq Khan might have been interested in getting as many controversial briefs as possible. However Khan’s two visits to the terror suspect Guido referred to yesterday, Babar Ahmed,were made ,he claimed at the time, in his capacity as a “friend”. The Sir Christopher Rose Report into why Khan was bugged on those visits concluded that he made no effort to reveal to prison security that he was an MP. Despite this, two years later the then Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman misinformed the lobby by saying Khan was there “acting as a local MP”.

Gordon Brown’s spokesman and Babar Ahmad’s own sister Sara have claimed that Khan and Babar were friends since their childhood. However Khan told constituents in 2006 that he had only known him for a fifteen years and told Parliament that it was even less time. But what did he tell the prison authorities?

When he was filling out an application to visit Babar Ahmad in 2005 Khan told the prison that he had known Ahmad “since they were 12 or 13 years old; they were locals and attended the same mosque”. That’s wasn’t what Khan was saying publicly a year later.

If it was a honest mistake then clear it up and have Hansard corrected, but as it stands Khan has mislead the House of Commons. Along with the deliberate removal of details of their relationship from his own website, Khan is looking very slippery here. There is a big difference between meeting someone as a boy of 12 and a man of 21.

Still the questions remain:

  • Given Khan did not tell the prison authorities he was an MP when visiting Ahmad in 2005, why was the PMOS briefed, presumably by Khan himself, that he was there on parliamentary business?
  • Why did Khan try to downplay the extent of his friendship with Ahmad in 2006 only to have the truth revealed by Sir Christopher Rose, Sara Ahmad and the PMOS in 2008?

For a lawyer he can certainly be careless with the facts, hardly appropriate for the Justice Department…

Luvvies Line Pockets

In February 2005 Screen International reported that  the UK Film Council’s John Woodward had awarded “£11.5 million to Arts Alliance to manage UK digital Screen network”. The article is not online sadly, but it goes on to explain:

“Taking a huge step in creating the western world’s biggest digital cinema network, Government-backed support body UK Film Council has selected an offshoot of venture capitalist Arts Alliance to install a nationwide digital circuit of 250 screens. Under the £11.5m contract, Arts Alliance is to spearhead the installation, training, servicing and upgrades over an 18-month roll-out period and for a further four years.”

The British taxpayer paid the Arts Alliance’s set up and running costs and yet will see none of the profit. However it seems the Alliance are being generous in rewarding those that made the deal happen. Not the taxpayer, but instead former UK Film Council chief John Woodward. The man who negotiated and signed off the deal with the Arts Alliance has been given a job as their managing director now that the future of the UK Film Council is looking grim. A coincidence no doubt…

“Handycock” Faces Probing

Guido understands that official complaints have gone in against LibDem letch Mike Hancock MP. Portsmouth co-conspirators are talking openly locally about their “sex pest MP”. As regular readers will know, during the election Hancock got an injunction to stop his opponent Les Cummings from printing leaflets in which he made serious allegations of sexual misbehaviour against the MP. Given Hancock discontinued his action last week and ended up paying costs, there are those that are expecting this story to go nuclear imminently as Cummings returns to his keyboard…

This month has seen allegations that Hancock attempted to seduce a mentally ill constituent, wining and dining her in the Commons and bombarding her with gifts and racy text messages. Guido understands that Hancock has this morning been  reported to the local authority by horrified fellow councillors, and to the Parliamentary Standard’s Commissioner by fellow MPs. The gist of the complaint seems to be:

“Failing to treat people with respect and conducting himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or his authority into disrepute and using his position as a member to improperly secure for himself, or any other person, an advantage.”

Guido understands the texts messages are hugely humiliating for the Honourable Member and could be set to emerge in full this weekend…

Polly Spins for Hubby Again

Polly is pushing her warped logic to the maximum in her column today suggesting that just because one department spends more money on boxes of paper, Whitehall needs more quangos to regulate costs and other such daft ideas. Quoting the National Audit Office, the Tuscan-typer is clearly still scathing about the scrapping if the Audit Commission and the subsequent loss of her husband’s job as their spinner.

Despite attacking Philip Green’s wife in the rant, yet again Polly feels no need to declare an interest that she is continuing to fight her husband’s lost battle. She does however manage to squeeze his name in eventually – in a plug for their new co-authored book at the bottom of the article.

Guido’s Advice to Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson has been very self deprecating about his economic knowledge, promising to get a text-book to brush up. He faces George Osborne at the Dispatch box for the first time today.

In truth to be Shadow Chancellor does not require a knowledge of neo-classical endogenous growth theory. He needs to just pick a few issues with which to harry the government. Guido checked Alan Johnson’s website to discover a flavour of his approach to economics. Unfortunately he doesn’t appear to have one. All Guido could find under the “business and economy” heading was a press release about the PBR dating back to December 2009.

Since Alan seems devoid of his own ideas, perhaps he could borrow some ideas from his fellow progressive Barack Obama? Obama is giving individuals a progressive tax break this year of 6.2% of earned income up to $400 for individuals and up to $800 for couples, phased out at an income of $75,000. Obama is also giving parents a $1,000 tax break per child (in France it is €5,000) that would please the squeezed middle-classes.

Barack Obama says that the the one thing you don’t do in a recession is raise personal taxes, taking money out of the economy. Alan Johnson should stand foursquare against Osborne’s VAT hike. The Coalition has no mandate for it, in fact half of them campaigned against it. If the economy double dips next year as a result of consumer spending being crushed, Johnson needs to position himself to be able to pin the blame on Osborne’s VAT hike…



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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