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Self-confessed teen-fondler Mike Hancock is up to his old tricks again. The randy LibDem MP for Portsmouth doubles up on his expense claims by serving as a city councillor as well and it’s in that job that he is now dodging disciplinary action over allegations of impropriety. Due to face a local hearing about his inappropriate behaviour concerning a vulnerable young constituent, Hancock produced a doctor’s note saying he was too unwell to attend for at least a month.
He was not however too unwell to attend an all-expenses paid junket in Strasbourg the week before, or front up a Sunday Mirror campaign last weekend…
Well you cannot accuse the LibDems of failing to pull out all the stops for Eastleigh. It now seems they have even taken to paying their few remaining supporters to make the journey to the frontline. “We can provide reasonable travel expenses, accommodation and £10 for food per day” they tell keen weirdy-beardy activists. If they lose and try to spin that the seat was not winnable after Huhne, remind them of this.
Pity those poor long-suffering secretaries and researchers of LibDem ministers. Bag-carriers working for Danny Alexander, Jeremy Browne and Lynne Featherstone have been sent on a course specialising in “dealing with challenging behaviour” over the last few months. Overall MPs have spent more than £10,000 on sending their staffers on the programme, all at the expense of the taxpayer. None of Gordon’s staff are on the list, but then they could probably teach the course.
As Guido reported in his Sun column yesterday – and the Sunday Mirror “exclusively” revealed on page 2 – Dave has been on a secret no photo-op visit to a food bank. The PM was regularly coming under heavy fire for claiming the six-fold rise in food banks across the country was a sign of the Big Society in action and eventually promised to pop down to one. Last week he wrote to Luciana Berger, telling her he had “visited a local food bank on 9 February 2013”. For some reason he forgot to invite the usual camera crew along…
You have to wonder what made outgoing young Tory chairman and wannabe MP Ben Howlett, who once publicly praised Gerry Adams as a “conviction politician”, think he stood a chance of becoming the member for Eastbourne. The seat was held by Ian Gow, Thatcher’s ally who was assassinated by the IRA in 1990. Unsurprisingly the local Conservative Association gave him short shrift at their selection meeting on Saturday. Better luck next time…
It is sounding increasingly like Hague could abandon the long-term British foreign policy position and ease sanctions against Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s cronies. EU sanctions will lapse on Wednesday and the Belgians are putting a spanner in the works thanks to their interests in the diamond market. Guido hears that the FCO could give in this week. Mugabe’s diamond mining business, and its Mining Minister Obert Mpofu, are being considered for unfreezing of assets and lifting of travel bans.
Mpofu, a man of meagre means until diamonds were discovered in Zimbabwe in 2006, is said to have spent $20,000,000 of his own fortune on cars, property and gifts in Zimbabwe last year. The rest he just squandered. The ZMDC state mining firm that he runs is also a potential business partner hundreds British businesses queuing at the door of Zimbabwe. While it may be tempting for Hague to allow Mpofu and his ilk to come to the spend their cash here, and Britain has a financial interest in seeing restrictions lifted, it comes at a price: ZMDC is the funding vehicle for Mugabe’s election machine and police state. Agree to lift sanctions now and the FCO will not have a leg to stand on over the Zimbabwean presidential elections, scheduled for July. You reap what you sow…
UPDATE: The Telegraph’s man in Brussels has more on why the Belgians want the restrictions lifted.
The BBC’s James Purnell gives his assessment of Tom Watson:
“a cancer at the heart of the Labour Party”
As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, there is some truth to the much-levelled charge that Downing Street is overrun with “kids”. The PM’s team is smaller and younger than at any point in the last ten years. The Prime Minister’s Office currently employs 181 staffers, almost 50 fewer than at the peak of Tony Blair’s government. Their average age is 39, lower than any point in the last ten years other than 2004/5, when it was the same. And they’ve been getting younger since Dave took office…
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A ‘senior Conservative party official’ passes judgement on Theresa May:
“She is boring. A technocrat. She is Philip Hammond with a fanny. Not interesting, but rendered interesting by circumstance. And that circumstance is that she is a woman. And in an age when the Prime Minister gets it in the neck for refusing to wear a fucking T-shirt that says he is a feminist, that is a rocket boost right underneath you.”