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When Margaret Hodge went off on one about the ‘Big 4′ professional services firms this morning, she awkwardly forgot that half the shadow cabinet have employed staffers from PricewaterhouseCoopers during the last year. Could there be anything else languishing deep down in Hodge’s memory that she needs reminding of? Something that happened before she became an MP, perhaps? Maybe to do with a past career choice?
Between 1992 and 1994 Hodge worked as a senior consultant for, you guessed it, PriceWaterhouse, as they were known before the 1998 merger with Coopers & Lybrand. Guido would ask what her duties were, but she’d probably just dodge the question…
The Liberal Democrats are claiming that their vicious briefing against their coalition partners was sent out “in error”. Apparently it was an update to an old briefing. Guido is calling bullsh*t. Firstly the briefing was deliberately sent from a party branded account, separately from a coalition friendly briefing moments before. When the LibDems slag off the Tories they do it with the bird logo. When they are behaving they do it, rather splendidly, with a blue version of their logo:
Secondly it went out on their website. Hardly a case of bad trigger finger. They have quietly deleted it online now, but have not corrected their original email. They tell Guido “we may feel the need to issue a print retraction” in due course, but for the time being they are only telling anyone who asks. When it was put it to the masters of spin that their explanation did not “have the ring of truth to it” they promptly and swiftly cleared the whole matter up: “well… [PAUSE] that’s what we are saying.” Not just Balls that is having a bad day…
Luckily Brian Leveson is off to Oz so he can clamp down on this blagging of private information…
Clegg was shaking his head during the mansion tax discussion in the House and he’s clearly still smarting. LibDem HQ have just sent out a stinging briefing against their coalition buddies:
Conservatives tax cuts for the richest
The only tax cuts the Conservatives support are ones for the very rich. At the General Election, their priority was to cut inheritance tax for millionaires. In the Coalition, Liberal Democrats have blocked these plans and instead we are cutting taxes for millions.
A full house of criticism for Ed Balls dire response to the Autumn Statement. He fluffed his first line and it was all downhill from there…
Ed Balls sounds a bit uncharacteristically floundery. #AS2012
— Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) December 5, 2012
Must be nightmarishly difficult to respond on these occasions and Balls is usually a v strong performer. But he's having a shocker today
— Iain Martin (@iainmartin1) December 5, 2012
Ed Balls hopeless. National debt is going to be higher at end of Parl. Of course it is. Deficit inherited from Lab £156bn a year.
— John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul) December 5, 2012
— kiranstacey (@kiranstacey) December 5, 2012
Balls repeatedly stumbling over still-falling deficit sounds like he cant actually believe it. Whole line of attack was re-rise of deficit
— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) December 5, 2012
Labour MPs remarkably quiet. Shadow Chancellor needs more support
— Tom McTague (@TomMcTague) December 5, 2012
Ed Balls is finding this tough going – House rowdiness is almost drowning him out, and he appears more shaken than usual.#autumnstatement
— anita anand (@tweeter_anita) December 5, 2012
Not Ed Balls finest performance so far.
— David Ottewell (@davidottewell) December 5, 2012
Balls is normally bravura on these occasions but this is very flat
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) December 5, 2012
Andrew Neil: "Ed Balls taking 20mins to reply to George Osborne's 15 minute statement" … miaow
— Brendan Miller (@Brendan__Miller) December 5, 2012
He had an open goal, all he had to do was keep it simple…
Question-dodging Margaret Hodge had some nerve asking the PM about tax avoidance today, and when she got her phone out to tweet afterwards the irony knew no bounds:
— Margaret Hodge MP (@margarethodge) December 5, 2012
Never mind the fact that she still hasn’t answered Guido’s repeated questions about her own tax arrangements. Come on Margaret, what was that about failing to answer questions?
Comments in the comments please…
Paragon of tax virtue Margaret Hodge is still dodging Guido’s questions over her own Stemcor arrangements, but that didn’t stop her from popping up on the Today programme this morning to call on the government to stop using professional services firms:
“I think using the power of the public purse to purchase contracts is an important power that we have and the big 4 are getting more and more government business as this government chooses to outsource a lot of back office activities so there is a lot of financial payroll. All sorts of activity taking place, audit of local authorities, audit of foundation trusts. Lot of work out there And I think if the big 4 want to access that work they have got to show that they are responsible companies who act properly and who don’t support anybody in trying to avoid tax in an aggressive way.”
Tut, tut, good on Hodge for nobly standing up to the likes of PricewaterhouseCoopers. What a shame that two-faced tax-avoidance campaigner Chuka Umunna doesn’t agree. Chuka recently announced that until January 2013 he is lucky enough to have a PwC analyst working for him, with their £20,000 wage kindly paid for by the company.
He isn’t the only one, Rachel Reeves also has a PwC research assistant on board, as did Ed Balls earlier this year. Surely the shadow cabinet will want to take heed of what the chair of the Public Accounts Committee says and dispense with the services of these aggressive tax dodging enabling firms…
“For as many years as Britain has had a centralised civil service we have been rather good at collecting information. From the first censuses in 1801 to the creation of the Central Statistical Office by Winston Churchill, the amount of information gathered and held by Government has exponentially increased as our society has become more complex. Today we hold raw information on everything from pupil performance by class, crime levels on every street in the country and the success rate for every single operation in your local hospital. We can even tell at the touch of a button how late your train into work is likely to be.”
Big Brother is watching you…
PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian
Drug Laws Don’t Work | Times
Our Moral Duty to Cut Taxes | David Cameron
Greens Ahead of LibDems | Guardian
Channel 4 to Spoof UKIP Election Win | Guardian
The Threat to Press Freedom | Paul Dacre
White House Scoop Strategy | Post
Labour Council Retweets BNP Endorsement | HandF Forum
David Cameron drug policy reformer and leadership contender in 2005…
“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”