Toking Councillor Reaches New High

Good on Labour’s Farooq Ahmed for declaring he will remain a councillor in Rochdale, despite being grassed up by his own team for smoking a spliff. Having been booted out of the Labour Party, he was going to resign his office, yet now declares he has “overwhelming support from the local community”. Surely the LibDems will welcome him with open arms?

Osborne Doesn’t Want to See Guido Naked

Last month Guido declared that if Osborne doesn’t risk any more British taxes to the IMF, then he would run naked from the EU HQ around Smith Square on St Patrick’s Day. The Chancellor promised back in October: “Britain will not be putting money into the bail-out fund either directly or through the IMF”. Well it looks like Guido’s dignity has been saved:

“My attitude is first of all I’m very happy at any point to explain this to parliament, if I needed to seek and felt it was right to offer something more than the current parliamentary limit allows… Of course, that wouldn’t be my decision it would be parliament’s decision. But let’s hear what the IMF proposal is first, let’s hear what the G20 responses are. If we need specific parliamentary approval for it, then we will seek it.”

This isn’t the first time a convenient short-term promise from Osborne has been quietly forgotten…

Can You Belize It: Dods Buys Rival DeHavilland
Ashcroft Pours in Another £6m – Increases Stake to 42.9%

In July last year Dods Plc, which Lord Ashcroft controlled 23% of at the time, bought PoliticsHome from two companies owned by Lord Ashcroft. In November Loss-making ePolitix.com and the House Magazine were merged with loss-making PoliticsHome. Today it seems Dods have made a real purchase rather than merely streamlining the paperwork. They are buying their rival DeHavilland Political Intelligence from Emap for £12.8 million. A merger is only a matter of time…

Given that Ashcroft has already made losses in the region of £5 million since his sojourn into the online political world began two years ago, a money-making plan is long overdue:

Dods will be placing two hundred million new ordinary shares at 5.5p each. Ashcroft has already increased his stake in the company to 42.9% by buying over half of them. Another £6 million ploughed in…

Hungry for Taxes: Compare and Contrast Today’s Menus

Hungry? Well have a look at what our Honourable Members are lunching on today in their private dining room:

Lunch Thursday 12 January 2012
STARTERS
Artichokes, ratatouille and olives with basil dressing £2.05 (£1.55)
Braised pork belly with black pudding bonbon, apple salad £2.70 (£2.05)
Halibut and soft boiled quail egg with carrot dressing (wf) £4.15 (£3.15)
MAINS
Rib eye steak with hand cut chips and béarnaise sauce £7.80 (£5.92)
Haddock and leek fish cake with tomato and dill cream £6.75 (£5.13)
Chickpea and lentil curry with red onion fritter £6.75 (£5.13)
PUDDINGS & CHEESE
Chocolate and orange torte £2.05 (£1.56)
Fresh fruit salad (wf h v) £2.05 (£1.56)
Home-made ice creams and sorbets (v) £2.05 (£1.56)
Fine cheese with biscuits – ask for today’s selection £3.10 (£2.35)

Then compare the cost of the extra taxpayer subsidy (highlighted in red) to what you spent on your own lunch today. And the rip-off doesn’t stop there. Now compare the above menu to the other prices that are being offered to mere members of the public, in the very same building, right now:

MAINS
Rump of lamb with creamed white beans, spinach and shallots £15.85
Corn fed chicken with wild mushrooms and puy lentils (wf) £13.55
Whole grilled plaice with lemon and caper butter,  vegetables  £12.25
Smoked haddock and leek fish cake with tomato and dill cream £12.25
Potato and halloumi parcel with sauté bok choi, pepper sauce £10.45
Basil tofu and roasted vegetables with herb sauce £10.45

One price for them, one for us. Oink oink…

UPDATE: Meanwhile in another part of town, another taxpayer funded lunch. Here’s what we paid 90p to provide at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital:

Who do you think is more deserving of a subsidy?

Pic via @ajbonner

RMT’s Bob Crow on Lord Astor attacking HS2…

“If you wanted hard and fast evidence that the opposition to the modernisation of Britain’s railways is coming from the toffs and the landed gentry then I give you Lord Astor’s comments today as an open and shut case. If the likes of Lord Astor had had their way there would have been no development of infra-structure and communications in this country on the grounds that it would upset the wealthy landowners and we would still be living in a feudal society.”

It’s All Gone Wonga
Is Ed in a Ruddy Mess?

Despite an on camera promise in October, Ed Miliband has failed to release the list of businessmen and lobbyists he dined with at a secret “off the record” supper organised by Roland Rudd the shady spinmeister. His agency Finsbury has a whole host of “predators” as clients, including at the online loan sharks Wonga.

There is growing concern in Labour circles that Ed is not putting his full weight behind Stella Creasy’s ill thought out campaign to outlaw these companies, that she claims, target the vulnerable. Ed has given the campaign the nod, but Guido hears that there is disappointment that it has remained a backbench attack. Some were expecting it to be referenced in Tuesday’s speech. Is Ed pulling his punches because of his behind-the-scenes relationship with Roland Rudd? Proper lefty blogger Carl Packman certainly thinks so. Guido will go further: Did this meeting of “independently minded senior business leaders”, aka Rudd’s clients, include anyone from, or representing, Wonga? We’re still waiting for Ed to keep his promise to let us know who he supped Rudd’s champagne with…

Peace and Harman-y

As Westminster gets back into gear and the first drinks parties of the year spill out onto pavements, it’s amazing who you bump into on the Embankment. Former stand-up comedienne Ayesha Hazarika and her new/old boss Harriet Harman weren’t very happy with Guido’s pre-Christmas report on Ayesha’s move out of Ed’s office and back to Harman’s. Ayesha made specific denials of allegations not even made…

Blog reader Harriet couldn’t seem to bring herself to fully engage, choosing instead to lob words in from the sneering sideline, without direct eye contact. “Poison” she declared. “Lies” she hissed. How ungrateful, not even a word of thanks for all our hard work with DUEMA

Ayesha wanted Guido to know that she was still very much involved with Ed’s PMQs prep, and had even contributed jokes yesterday, not something you would have thought you would want to boast about on your CV. Alas the only place you can actually read her jokes is on Paul Waugh’s blog, as they didn’t quite make the cut for Hansard…



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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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