The Forgetful Fat Cat

As the TUC prepare to go on another pointless walk this weekend, Guido couldn’t help but chuckle when he read the London Loves Business interview with union boss Bill Hayes this evening. It turns out the £97,000-a-year fat cat is paid so much he has lost count:

“It’s not £97,000. Off the top of my head, I’d have to look it up. I don’t think [it’s more]. Without looking at my payslip, I don’t know, I don’t know – but it’s good pay.”

Union bosses are so rich they don’t know how much they earn. Guido wonders how many of those paying him through their subs can say the same?

Luciana Berger’s Dodgy Dormant Donation

Luciana Berger is shocked that Guido would possibly see a link between her pushing for property development tax cuts in the Commons and taking money from property developers:

“It is clearly defamatory to suggest there is any link between the donation to my constituency party and my question in parliament. My question in the Commons was motivated by a constituent’s concern about the availability of private rented accommodation. It was completely unconnected to any donation to me or Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Party.”

The notion that it’s all hunky-dory because the donation was to her local party and not directly to her bank account is laughable. And note that she only mentions one donation – we raised twoNow, while we have your attention Luciana, perhaps you could explain another donation that has caught our eye…

According the Electoral Commission in April 2011, Berger’s Liverpool Wavertree CLP received £5,000 from a company called ‘Purple Apple Facilities Management’. According to Companies House, as of 31 March 2010 Purple Apple was “dormant” and it was later dissolved. HMRC say “dormant” is a term for “any company or organisation that is not active, trading or carrying on business activity”. Now the problem for Luciana lies in Section 54 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. A company is only permissible as a donor if it is a company which “is carrying on business in the United Kingdom”. Purple Apple were not however carrying out any business in the UK. So why was Luciana’s team accepting donations from them?

Guidogram Going Out Shortly

The Guidogram round-up of the week is going out shortly.

Thousands of Westminster insiders read the Guidogram, everyone from Downing Street insiders to Fleet Street never miss it. Make sure you get the low-down on how expenses-hungry MPs have been rent-swapping in order to trouser taxpayers’ cash, and get all the latest on Luciana Berger’s dodgy dormant donations.

Join the conspiracy and become a subscriber to the Guidogram, free, to keep in the loop. You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…

Quota of the Day: Female Tory MEPs Have Short Memories

How encouraging to see Tory MEPs Vicky Ford and Marina Yannakoudakis speak out against an EU diktat proposing to force companies to introduce a 40% quota for female board members. Ford has voiced her opposition in no uncertain terms: “yes diverse boards are a good thing, but rigid quotas go too far for me.” Marina also chipped in“I oppose compulsory quotas. Quotas for women distort equality.”

Funny then that back in 2008 both Vicky and Marina received fewer votes than their male rivals and owe their seats in the European Parliament, that’s right, to a quota. Both MEPs only won seats due to the preferential ranking system for women used in the elections. One Brussels insider tells Guido:

“The sheer audaciousness of Ford and Yannakoudakis is astounding.  It sticks in my gut to see these two superannuated flibbertigibbets attempting to derive political capital out of quotas – the very same process that handed them their seats.”

Quite…

David Blanchflower’s Terrible Tips

Whenever Gordon Brown’s favourite former appointee to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, David Blanchflower, makes a prediction, it’s probably a safe bet to expect the exact opposite to come true. Back in 2009 the out-of-luck economist looked into his evidently faulty crystal ball and predicted that unemployment would top 5 million if the Tories came into power. As of yesterday it stands at 2.53 million and falling. David is very nearly 100% wrong – quite a wide margin of error.

He forecast that unemployment would surge past 3 million to 3.4 million in 2010. It peaked at 2.5 million in 2010.

On Tuesday Blanchflower was at it again, wagering that the new set of unemployment figures would bring bad news:

Lo and behold once again the opposite happened, with unemployment dropping by 50,000 to below 8%. Keep trying David, you might get one right eventually…

Breaking: Panorama Running Savile Newsnight Report Monday

Ouch! 

Did Boris and Dave Dance Eton Style?

Revealed: How MPs are Rent-Swapping

Another batch of politicians, another expenses scandal. This morning’s Telegraph reveals that John Bercow is attempting under the cover of “security reasons” to cover-up the publication of another round explosive expenses documents that would expose a property merry-go-round between rent-swapping MPs.

Here Guido gives the “How-To” low-down on how sleazy MPs are swapping their rent to line their own pockets:

The first and most simple method of rent-swapping involves the MPs who make money renting out their own previously taxpayer-funded properties while claiming expenses to rent out homes nearby. According to The Telegraph Chris Bryant rents out his mansion flat in Bloomsbury while claiming £2,000 expenses for rent on another London property. We have repeatedly asked him for an explanation this morning without receiving any reply. The Speaker claims the truth cannot be released because it would pose a security risk. Laughable, Guido and anyone else who wants to know, already knows where he lives.

The second, far more serious, category of rent-swapping covers a handful of MPs suspected of renting out properties to each other, effectively an “I’ll pay yours if you pay mine” scheme. MPs are banned from renting homes to relatives but a loophole in the rules allows them to trouser huge sums of money by renting out properties to other current and former MPs. Bercow cites security reasons for not revealing the address or names of landlords, but there is absolutely no reason why he cannot release the names of the MPs involved in this form of rent-swapping. It is a cover up.

There is also potentially a third category: the so-called “phantom” rent swap. This involves the possibility of MPs telling the authorities they have moved when in reality they have not, and then swapping their rent on the quiet.

If these people were claiming housing benefit “Rent Swapping” like this would fall into the category of benefit fraud plain and simple, it is in the parlance of welfare fraud investigators a “contrived tenancy” punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Stay tuned. There is more to come…

Luciana Berger’s Cash Questions

It’s a pretty rare event nowadays that someone stands up in the Commons and asks the Chancellor to cut taxes, even more so when the question comes from the opposition Labour benches. Guido was surprised to learn that the shadow climate change minister, lovely Luciana Berger, suggested George Osborne should accelerate plans to cut tax for property developers back in October 2010:

“To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals to make entrepreneurs’ relief from capital gains tax available to those who rent out property in the private rented sector.”

A tax cut for property developers, an interesting idea you might think.[…] Read the rest

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