Through the looking glass…
Through the looking glass…
Though it’s not getting much coverage, apparently this morning Labour “launched an assault on tax havens in the Channel Islands, accusing them of letting people dodge taxes by hiding behind front companies and trusts.” With Operation – Keep – Ed – Off – the – Airwaves – for – the – Sake – of – the – Poll – Ratings in full swing, it was left to Chuka Umunna to do the lap of Millbank.
You might ask how someone who cannot even convince his own mother on the issue is in any position to lecture others on it. Chuka denies that offshore trusts were used to protect his inheritance, yet the Mail reported last year that the family used a complex structure of companies based in Jersey, and traced back to one RBC Trust, to purchase a million pound home:
“RBC, also based on the Channel Island, boasts it is one of the ‘top ten’ largest wealth managers in the world, offering services to ‘high net worth clients’ including ‘planning for and mitigating income, capital gains or inheritance taxes’”
And it’s particularly grating to be lectured on the evils of capitalism by someone who has clearly done so well out of it. Chuka’s spokesman confirmed to Guido earlier that his sharp look comes at a price. He tried to justify his bespoke Alexandra Wood suits, by saying “lots of Conservative MPs” are also draped by the “up and coming” tailor. Having spoken to the shop today, Guido can confirm that you don’t get much change from a grand for their cheapest number and a two piece wool would set you back around £1,200. Wood boasts:
“We are proud to have now made half of Mr Umunna’s wardrobe, about which he is immensely happy. We started designing his suits when he was working for Herbert Smith and now it is a privelege to be making suits for the man so frequently commented upon.”
So it’s not just one suit…
The average council tax bill in Chuka’s constituency is £1,235.11, something that many of his constituents will struggle to meet, yet he can blow the same, multiple times over, on just “half” of his wardrobe…
Guido is happy to welcome Jacking Ashley into the Don’t Unseat Ed Miliband Association, but he’s not sure she’s doing the cause any favours with this morning’s hysterical hyperbole. While discussing Ed’s critics she compares their behaviour to US Marines urinating on dead Afghans:
“It’s a game that the Westminster village has always enjoyed. Nick Clegg was last year’s victim, now it’s Ed’s turn. If enough pundits treat him as the US marines treated the Afghan dead, and if the public notices and reflects this contempt back through opinion polls, then somehow or other he might collapse.”
They even link back to the Guardian’s own coverage of the incident, just in case you missed this gloriously unsubtle point. Guido is still trying to work out whether the comparison with holding the Leader of the Opposition to account was done with a straight face. He has a feeling it was…
Up in front of the Leveson Inquiry today the Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace showed a fundamental lack of understanding about how the web worked by suggesting that if Guido signed up to some sort of kite-mark code our traffic would increase. He went on to refer to “out and out cowboys” of the blogosphere who the Inquiry has “had some problems with already“. Guido didn’t break the law publishing Campbell’s testimony, unlike Richard Wallace during his showbiz editor career period…
Leveson has already heard that as Piers Morgan’s showbiz editor, Wallace was up to his neck in phone-hacking. He’s been at the newspaper for twenty years, at a time when they have published mocked-up torture photos and the Trinity Mirror Group used the services of Steve Wittamore more than any other media organisation. During Wallace’s evidence giving Counsel for the Inquiry pointed to 681 invoices from Whittamore to the Mirror, hundreds of those illegal invoices would have been approved by Wallace himself. He admitted today that he has not sacked anyone for illegal activity, like aiding, abetting or procuring illegally blagged information, despite the Information Commissioner making the names available. He clearly doesn’t want another former employee speaking their mind…
Our story about how the Daily Mirror came to have the Ulrika/Sven story – which was undoubtedly phone hacked – has just been referred to at the Inquiry during Wallace’s evidence (covered here). It was, as he himself admits, Wallace himself who presented it to the then editor Piers Morgan. He has just admitted to the Inquiry counsel that if, as he now claims, he “can’t remember the circumstances” of how the story was obtained, he can’t therefore rule out it was hacked. Even those who quibble about the provenance of the story merely quibble about from whom it was hacked.
More recently the Daily Mirror, under Wallace’s seemingly spotless editorial lead, destroyed the life of Chris Jefferies and paid a heavy financial price in doing so. Without any foundation whatsoever they painted an innocent neighbour of a murder victim out to be the perpetrator. They were also fined £50,000 for contempt of court over their atrociously slapdash reporting of the Joanna Yeates murder case.
Who is the real cowboy Mr Wallace?
The Telegraph is reporting that the popular reality-based Labour MP Tom Harris has been “forced to resign” after posting a Downfall spoof video that mocked Joan McAlpine MSP, the First Minster’s close friend and adviser. Harris was Labour’s latest Twitter Tsar, though he’s hardly the most loyal supporter of the leadership, so Guido doesn’t imagine there are many tears being shed on the inside. The video wasn’t even very funny…
Regular readers will be aware of the final battle between outgoing Tory MEP Roger Helmer and CCHQ. Helmer was meant to resign at the beginning of the month, but has refused to budge until Rupert Matthews, the next person on the East Midlands Tory list, has been confirmed as his successor. Tory Chairman Sayeeda Warsi has been pushing for a woman to be parachuted in instead, but it seems she is losing the fight. Guido’s eyes and ears in Strasbourg report that Matthews will be out there this week for meetings with Martin Callanan the Tory group leader, the Whips and assorted allies. Guido understands that he will even be at the enthronement of the new EU Parliament President, for his sins. It’s looking increasingly tough for Warsi to halt this now…
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I’m Sorry | Colin Brazier
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Why Blair Will Worry Ed | Steve Richards
Owen Paterson lifts the lid on the Green Blob:
“I received more death threats in a few months at Defra than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland.”