‘Little Europeans’ Fighting Foreigners
EU Withdraws Xenophobic Advert

This badly judged advert about nasty foreigners in Asia, Africa and the Americas was launched by the EU and then immediately withdrawn because of overwhelming bad feedback. It reveals the EU’s closed protectionist mindset.

Hat-tip: ASI Blog.

Welcome to Blog-Land

Rumbles in the blogging world today as the upstarts over at The Commentator have managed to sign James Delingpole to write for them as well as the Telegraph Blogs. Given that HM’s Official Blogroll are already suffering from the loss of Toby Young to the Sun on Sunday, Guido does not imagine this has gone down very well over in Victoria. With Delingpole consistently topping the weekly Telegraph online rankings, this could be a big break through for the newbie site. Rumour has it we will be hearing a lot more from Delingpole in the coming years, from an official podium… 

The Truth about Boris and his Telegraph Column

While we are on the subject of “part time Mayors”, Alex Singleton, a former hack at the Telegraph, gets in touch to put Boris’ “second job” in perspective:

“When I edited Boris, he would ring me at 10:45am on a Sunday and we would discuss what had been in the news and he’d be given a green light to write on something. By 2pm, or 2:30pm, he’d file his copy on email. This would worry the hell out of me because his articles came from some random person’s email address – the address of whoever he was having Sunday lunch with. As you can see, the claim that his Telegraph column ate into his working week it utterly untrue. He is paid well because he is a genius writer: the public loves his columns, which sell a lot of copies of the paper.”

Guido wonders how long Ken would spend on his Indy column…

Bryant’s Undeclared Billionaire’s Bung

Section 72 of the Common’s Declaration of Members’ Interests states that “any relevant financial interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, should be declared in debate, or other proceeding.” Section 74 says that it “is the responsibility of the Member, having regard to the rules of the House, to judge whether a financial interest is sufficiently relevant to a particular debate, proceeding, meeting or other activity to require a declaration.”

As head of the All Party Group on Russia you should would expect Chris Bryant to raise Russian issues more than most, and he has been one of the most vocal Putin critics. He even testified against Hancock’s suspected spy lover.

However since October Bryant has declared nearly £14,000 in payments from the Independent newspaper owned by Russian oligarch and fellow Putin critic, Alexander Lebedev. Since the billionaire signed Chris up, he has mentioned Russia on dozens of occasions in the House without a single declaration required in the rules above. Given his ongoing quest for strict probity in public office, it’s odd that he hasn’t mentioned this…

Bryant argued to Guido that the Indy is technically owned by a British citizen (Lebedev Jr,) but this is extremely disingenuous given that bachelor Evgeny only recently got British citizenship. A technicality that doesn’t alter the fact that Bryant is paid thousands by a Russian with political pretensions and ambitions…

PM’s spokesman says…

“I’m scouring back copies of the FT to see where Peston’s next scoop is coming from.”

Sun, Skis and Private Security

With the rumours being confirmed yesterday that two Sun journos have been hospitailised after attempting to take their own lives, anger is boiling over at Wapping and directed at Will Lewis and Simon Greenberg of the Management Standards Committee.

Though Guido has chased them this morning, the MSC’s spinners refuse to deny that some members of “the committee” were on a skiing trip together on January 28, while four senior Sun journos were being nicked. Having handed over the evidence to the Met, they sloped off, so to speak. No wonder Will Lewis has called in a private security firm for his own protection, as revealed this morning by a man refusing to be silenced

Exclusive: Gov Response to Ken Slams Company Tax

Ken wrote to the Prime Minister asking for a change in the law so that the Mayor of London could only have one job. The reply fell under the purview of Grant Shapps:

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your letter of 27 February 2012 to the Prime Minister; he has asked me to reply on his behalf as the Greater London Authority Act is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

I have considered your request carefully, but my department has no plans to amend legislation in this way.

I believe the electorate are best placed to make judgments on whether elected representatives are able to pursue other interests in their spare time. Indeed, it would be quite illiberal to pass laws restricting and regulating what individuals can do in their evenings and on weekends.

Indeed, the effect of your proposed regulations would have meant you were unable to serve as Mayor of London when you were first elected in 2000, since you were a Member of Parliament, had paid columns in The Independent and the Evening Standard, had a book contract with Victor Gollancz, and received five-figure sums from after-dinner speaking agencies. Subsequently, during the period you were Mayor, you had a continuing commercial interest in Localaction Ltd, receiving payments for television, radio and writing.

In this context, I view your new-found interest in this issue to be wholly inconsistent and a further argument against ill-thought-out regulation. Calling for regulation on ‘full-time mayors’ whilst running a part-time company is as consistent as calling for a clampdown on tax dodging whilst using a company to avoid paying income tax.

Obviously, outside interests must open and transparent – and the Coalition Government has taken steps through the Localism Act 2011 and the new local government Transparency Code to entrench such transparency in law. I would note that the Greater London Authority has been at the forefront of promoting the transparency agenda in the last four years, such as being the first local government body to start publishing its spending online.

Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government

Well Guido laughed…

PMQs LIVE: Please No More NHS Edition

Mr Scoop Scooped

Given that Robert Peston’s “exclusive” Cable letter was actually in the FT last month, the timing of yesterday’s “leak” looks strange. Most coverage has focused on Cable’s unease about the economy and the government’s lack of a “compelling vision”[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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