Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guardian Hack: “I’m a Dodger”

A classic snippet from Kevin Maguire’s column that Guido thought deserved more than New Statesman’s niche, and still declining, audience:

“Boris Johnson’s pledge to take the last of London’s bendy buses off the road by Christmas could prove costly for Zoe Williams, the Mayor of London’s foe-in-chief at the Guardian.Williams, I discovered, is a self-confessed fare dodger. Your columnist’s eye was directed to a hitherto overlooked admission in the pages of her rag. “I actually had a lot of affection for bendy buses, mainly because evading your fare was so easy that to pay was almost missing the point,” wrote Williams in May. “We used to call it ‘freebussing’. I said that to the photographer and she said: ‘But they only came in a few years ago. You weren’t 12 . . . You weren’t even a student. You were . . .’ I was 31. Can I be arrested for saying this? Ach, I will just pretend it was a joke.”

Do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do from a Guardian hack? Well, well. Perhaps Rusbridger can use the same “it was just a joke” line when it comes to their investment and tax affairs

Khan “In Touch” On Prisons

“By abolishing indeterminate sentences, the Government shows how out of touch they are on crime and law and order” screams a press release from Labour’s Sadiq Khan. Something he must know rather a lot about given that this week we learn that a third personal friend has done time in Wandsworth nick – the prison in his very own constituency. Khan used an interview with the Standard to put a positive spin on yet another dodgy connection:

“Shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan was being shown around Wandsworth Prison by the governor when a voice rang out from behind the locked gates: “Saadiq! Saadiq!” Mr Khan stopped instantly in his tracks. Only childhood friends pronounced his name in that way. “I spun round,” recalled Mr Khan, “and I recognised him straight off as one of my best friends from when I was 12 and lived on the Henry Prince Estate in Tooting. We used to play football and cycle round together for hours.”

Was his other childhood friend Babar Ahmed there too?  We are still waiting for an explanation from Khan about his relationship with a chum who just happened to build a couple of websites for Chechen and Afghan insurgents. Silence…

The press release  goes on: “the public want to be protected from serious violent offenders and safe in the knowledge that they won’t be released from prison.”  Is that not a bit rich coming from a man who spent most of his life before parliament trying to get dangerous types freed?  Sadiq wasn’t very tough on crime when he was helping Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s Reza Pankhurst. Then we had his cosy love in with Ali Dizaei, maybe he could become an advisor on policing? Either way he’s certainly “in touch” on prisons…

St Paul’s Occupiers Raise Offence Stakes

Not content irritating their own country, it seems the assorted communists, hippies and misfits that are occupying St Paul’s are about to trigger a diplomatic incident. The New York Times has the first clue:

“As they have for 50 years, Americans in London packed St. Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday for an annual Thanksgiving service… Four marines from the detachment at the U.S. Embassy in London, three of them veterans of the Iraq war, carried the Stars and Stripes and the Marine Corps colors across the marbled floor beneath the cathedral’s dome and laid them before the altar. As the banners were borne out again at the service’s end, the congregation of 3,500, many of them families with small children, raised a moving crescendo for the last verse of “America the Beautiful.”

This year that could be a bit of a problem. Guido hears that concern is growing at the US Embassy about the security surrounding the event pencilled in for November 24. Given that the Ambassador and other dignitaries will be there, a full scale security operation takes place. Officially the Embassy have refused to comment on security issues, but a source familiar with the situation has confirmed that even on a normal year bags would be screened, metal barriers put in place, and armed guards stationed around the area. Obviously with the hippy encampment outside the threat level is dramatically increased. Even if these obstacles are over come, Guido isn’t sure that the occupiers coming face to face with the US Marines in their full regalia is going to do the Special Relationship any favours…

Guido put this news to City of London Councilman Alex Deane who said:

“It’s shocking to think that the presence of these squatters may mean that our longstanding allies and friends, who stood beside us when our country was in peril, may be prevented from marking their national celebration at an historic ceremony. I urge the self-appointed “protesters” to clear the site voluntarily. They’re given to mindlessly chanting that “this is what democracy looks like” – so, just maybe, it will mean something to them that we all want our American friends to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in time-honoured fashion.”

Fellow Councilman Matthew Richardson added: “These part time squatters should hang their heads in shame that they have disgraced the memory of those who gave them the rights they so wilfully and selfishly abuse.” When the US Ambassador Louis B. Susman addressed the service last year he hammered home one point in particular:

“It is an honor to celebrate Thanksgiving, which is so special to Americans, in a place so venerated by the British people. Like many of you, I can remember those iconic images of St. Paul’s, standing dark and defiant amid the smoke, sirens and searchlights of the London Blitz, as if steadfast in the knowledge that this would pass, and victory would come.”

Not this year it seems…

Video: Aidan Burley’s Pilgrim Bashing

Prezz A Manger

Prezza’s spending wasn’t confined to the land of Oz. Guido has now seen Prescott’s government credit card bill from 2004 through to 2006. It seems he was a big fan of upmarket Westminster canteen Shepherds and has spent £2,073  in Pret a Manger, including £240 in one sitting.  Prezza enjoyed the high and low life, with The Cinnamon Club and Clacket Lane Service Station all featuring. What government business was the Deputy Prime Minister doing in a Morrisons supermarket cafe? Three hundred quid steak dinners on the taxpayer? Why not…

How anyone managed to spend £400 in Mr Chus Chinese in Hull beggars belief…

UPDATE: You can see the food and drink section of the bill here. Next up leisure activities…

Prezza’s Aussie ATM Binge

Prezza’s spending on government credit cards knows no bounds. The Telegraph have gone big on the £456 he spent at the Star City casino in Sydney, the  £490 at Doyle’s seafood restaurant in Watson’s Bay and £75 at an aquarium in 2004. However Guido understands there is even more to come on this one. Why for example is there an entry for “Miscellaneous Cash” from an Australian hole-in-the-wall:

28/11/04 £3.10 CASH ADVANCE HANDLING FEE
28/11/04 £154.86 LCA

Leaving aside the obvious financial malpractice of withdrawing cash on a credit card, especially in a foreign country, why on earth was this happening in the first place. What was the £160 spent on and where are the receipts?

Pilgrims Harangued

Guido is waiting for the video, but last night’s adjournment debate was certainly one of the more lively ones in recent history. Instead of a backbencher and a Minister discussing seagulls, Aidan Burley’s rampage against the “Spanish practices of taxpayer-funded trade union officials pulled a solid crowd and sent Labour’s union heavies off the scale. Eric Pickles appeared on the frontbench which is a good sign that he will keep his promises…

Burley’s whole speech is here and well worth a read, especially given that the term Pilgrim has now been cemented in official record:

By way of an example, the excellent, independent and non-taxpayer funded campaigning website order-order, or the Guido Fawkes blog, has been highlighting the practice of paying union officials out of the taxpayer purse. Following its campaign, full-time taxpayer-funded trade union officials have become known as “Pilgrims” in the media, after Guido Fawkes exposed one such full-time union rep named Jane Pilgrim as a full-time trade union organiser working in the NHS for Unison. She came to public attention in 2011 after criticising the Government’s health policies. Despite being billed as a nurse, she was found to be a full-time trade union official, being paid £40,000 by the hospital. She is now under investigation by both St George’s hospital and Unison for running a private health consultancy—called The Pilgrim Way—on the side, creating a conflict of interests. As the website states: “There is no justification for the taxpayer paying a lobbying organisation to fight for an unsustainable mess in the interests of a vocal minority group. We don’t pay the arms dealers and the tobacco lobbyists’ staffing bills”.

Guido is tempted to bike a copy of Hansard down to St Georges Tooting…


Seen Elsewhere

5 Things We Learned From Guido’s Party | GQ
Revealed: Guido Fawkes Anniversary Dinner Guestlist | Peter Oborne
More Owen Jones Errors | Michael Ezra
Why Should Men Get Equal Maternity Leave? | Laura Keynes
Dentists Have Last Laugh Over Sneering Keynes | FT
Why’s Clegg Giving Men Paternity Leave? | Conservative Women
Cam Cannot Stem EU Immigration | David Keighley
9 Mansion Tax Questions for Ed Balls | TPA
Politicians are Lying to You About Immigration | Alex Wickham
Give Journalists Public Interest Defence in Law | Guardian
Cameron is Going to Have to Deal With UKIP | Dan Hodges


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Great to hear Carswell call for inclusive policies and that UKIP must stand for first and second generation immigrants as much as the English.


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