What Does Conservatism Mean to David Cameron?

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Peter Oborne has just interviewed him for Radio 4.  Dave is projecting an image of “progressive conservativism”, a kind of modernised Tory wet with added euroscepticism and a green aura. Then there are elements of traditional Tory philosophy as well as a healthy dash of anti-utopianism.  Does it all hang together intellectually?

Guido Goes Native on the iPhone and Blackberry

gf-iphoneGuido is now available in an iPhone and Blackberry friendly formats (the blog is already available via subscription to Amazon Kindle owners). For the moment the mobile versions are advertising free.

Guido is contemplating placing a start-up advert on the page for 10 seconds the first time co-conspirators log on to the blog on the mobiles, once a day.  This could perhaps be switched off for a modest annual fee.  Unlike the BBC and the Guardian this blog works on a for-profit basis, so a revenue free distribution model is not sustainable.  Am genuinely interested in what readers think is realistic.  Would you rather the adverts appeared in between posts?  Would you prefer the option of an ad free platform?  What price (if any) would you be willing to pay?  Westminster-based Blackberry users are obviously an attractive audience to advertisers who want to reach the powerful.

What do co-conspirators think?

Oooops

Was down the pub during PMQs.  Anything interesting happen?

How the BBC Lobbies Politicians

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has laid into the BBC in recent months with surprising gusto for an ex-Beeboid.  How does the corporate affairs lobbying team get him back on side must be a vexing issue for them.   Well the aging groover is a pop fan.  Free tickets to see Robbie Williams, minister?  Bradshaw was seen shaking his booty at the Robbie Williams concert last night…

+++ Rennard Admits Flipping Main Residence in 2007 ++++++ Ruling : No Definition of 'Main Address' +++

Shhh, Don't Tell Anyone We're in StockwellIn a very odd ruling following a complaint made by the Sunlight Centre about Lord Rennard to the House of Lords Clerk of the Parliaments’ Office, the Clerk has decided that in “the absence of any definition of main address in the current guidance to the House of Lords’ Members Expenses Scheme, I have come to the conclusion that I should not uphold the complaint.”

Guido takes this to mean that no peer will be found to have broken the rules regarding main residence.  This ruling will certainly will be grabbed by Baroness Uddin as a get out of jail free clause.  Stunning.

Griffin Loses the Plot

Nick Griffin, echoing off-the-record Labour minister’s attacks on military leaders, today attacks “Those Tory generals who today attacked the British National Party should remember that at the Nuremburg Trials, the politicians and generals accused of waging illegal aggressive wars were all charged — and hanged — together.”

“Sir Richard and Sir Mike fall squarely into this bracket, and they must not think that they will escape culpability for pursuing the illegal wars in Iran and Afghanistan… These two gentlemen are Tories who have seen the traditional Conservative vote in the army, from private level up to senior officers, dissolve away and turn into BNP votes”.

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What Griffin doesn’t seem to get is that on Thursday he will be under the spotlight and he will, Guido suspects, fall apart, live on national TV. His biggest ever platform will fall away from under him…

+++ PSBR New September Record £14.8 Billion +++

Data released today showed that public sector net borrowing rose to £14.8 billion in September, the highest ever level of borrowing on record for the month, increasing from £8.7 billion a year ago. Gordon’s big and bloated government is overspending by £493 million a day or £20 million an hour, 24 hours a day, every day. More money is going out on the costs of failure – welfare payments – than is coming in from income tax.

Irish Speaker Resigns in Expenses Scandal

irish-speakerJohn O’Donoghue, the Ceann Comhairle (speaker) of Dáil Éireann the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament), was forced out of office last week in an expenses scandal arising from Freedom of Information requests exposing his troughing to the tune of €200,000.  He became the first Ceann Comhairle to be forced out of office in Irish history.  The picture of his robe of office draped over the chair is set to become iconic.

With the usual sense of exaggerated self-entitlement that is characteristic of politicians the world over, he tried in his resignation speech to justify his nights in Cannes hotels and trips to international horse race meetings as in the Irish national interest.  FoI revelations that he had taken a private Lear jet from Dublin to Cardiff for the Heineken Cup rugby match, before heading on to Cannes for the film festival and then to London for a Ryder Cup promotional event before returning home to Kerry in a trip that is estimated to have cost the taxpayer in the region of €32,450, did for him.

The Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen shares his fate with his British counterpart, Gordon Brown. Like the Prime Mentalist he is the former finance minister, like Gordon he is unelected and without a personal mandate, having succeeded his more politically skilled predecessor, Bertie Ahern.  Like the former Chancellor he can’t escape political responsibility for the state of the economy. The parallels across the Irish Sea are remarkable.

Media Rant?

ldnewsPerhaps Clegg could get Legg to look into Liz Barker’s home address?  The Baroness seems to be suffering from amnesia

GuyNews TV : Who Is To Blame?

To get the upcoming weekly Guy News broadcast on Friday, you will have to click on the link in the new weekly Guidogram email.  This week we’ll have an outside broadcasts from Guy News reporters.

Subscribe to the Guidogram or wait the whole weekend until Monday for the video…

guidogram2

Hello Turkeys, Meet Christmas

pork-spotlightPaul Waugh’s story that five unamed Labour MPs in ‘safe’ seats are threatening to resign and cause by-elections is a great wheeze. All five of them, we are told, are planning to stand down at the next election anyway.  They will resign in protest if Gordon doesn’t curb Legg’s review.  Waugh reports a cowardly off the record MP as saying “It’s Gordon’s nightmare – by-elections in safe seats in the depths of winter..”.

Guido says go on then turkeys*, what are you waiting for, Christmas?  Come out into the spotlight, show us your principles…

*Yes, it is a picture of a piggy, not a turkey. The cartoonist has gone missing.

Nick Herbert Reported to Standards Commissioner

The League Against Cruel Sports has reported Nick Herbert to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner on the grounds that he received £24,500 in seven separate donations following the announcement that it would be a Conservatives manifesto commitment to hold a free vote on whether or not to repeal the Hunting Act.  Not sure this will have much success given that it came (a) after the announcement (b) Simon Hart, CEO of the Countryside Alliance is the Tory candidate for Carmarthen West & South PembrokeshireNick Herbert was merely confirming a widely anticipated Conservative policy.

The League also seem to have overlooked the £1 million given to Labour by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 1996, at about the time Brian Davies attended a “private dinner party” where Tony Blair was a fellow guest. The largest single donation the party had ever received up to that point resulted from that dinner. Now that was cash-for-policy…

Is Frank Field Really So Saintly?

Frank Field's halo slipsOn his blog Frank Field is complaining that he has been unfairly treated by the Legg investigation into MPs’ expenses.  Guido was more than willing to give Frank the benefit of the doubt, after all he voted for opening MPs’ expenses to Freedom of Information requests and the Telegraph described him as a ‘saint’.  As he himself says, his expense claims were on the low side:

For the last five years, I claimed, for my home in Birkenhead: £11,250; £12,006; £11,509; £9,573 and, for the year ending April 2009 my claim was £7,303, 30% of the total allowance. I did not claim anything approaching the maximum annual £24k simply because I did not need to claim such an amount.

He has been asked to pay back £7,000, he has paid back only £117 for an accidental double claim.  Frank complains:

Imagine that you have been driving, perfectly legally, through a 30 mile an hour zone at a speed of 25 mph. Imagine then your reaction when, five years later, you receive multiple fines as a decision has been taken to change, retrospectively, the speed limit to 20.

Up to a point, bear in mind that with no family to provide for, Mr Field has extraordinarily low housing costs.  Was he perhaps exceeding the limit when he claimed £119.00 for a trouser press in March ’07?  Was it “wholly, necessarily, and exclusively” in the performance of his parliamentary duties?  Field often claimed the round figure of £1,000 a month without providing any receipts, he does this so often as to make Guido wonder was it really £1,000 exactly?  Was it perhaps a little less than the round figure?  With no receipts how will we ever know?

Do taxpayers really need to buy him a flat-screen TV (plus TV license £135), was his coffee maker (£49.95) “wholly, necessarily, and exclusively” for the performance of parliamentary duties? Were the hundreds of pounds  worth of luxury bed linen especially necessary for his work?  Frank should pay up and reflect on the lives of his tax-paying constituents, lest his halo becomes tarnished.

UPDATE : Saint Frank seems to think we should pay for his shoes as wellHe obviously doesn’t walk on water…

Picture credit : Red Rag

Patrician Scotland

target-baronessThe Attorney General is known as Patrician Scotland due to her airs and graces.  As we now know she is too high and mighty to actually bother with observing employment laws (which she introduced) when it comes to her own servants.

PatricianIt seems that the government’s exhortations to follow the low carbon path are not for her either.  She has insisted, to the embarrassment of her mandarins, on a ministerial Jaguar which is a privilege usually reserved for a handful of senior cabinet ministers.  Despite ranking only entitling her to a Prius with the Department for Transport confirming she was only entitled to a car with CO2 emissions less than 130 g/km and her predecessor, Lord Goldsmith, using a crappy Rover 75, she insisted she wanted a Jaguar. The Jaguar XJ has emissions of 209 g/km.

Ministers availed themselves of ministerial cars to the tune of £8 million last year.  Bet the Tories can’t wait…

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze

You have to admire the audacity of these troughers, or is just desperation? The Sunday Herald reveals that

“a handful of Labour MPs are trying to block the police ­investigation into the ­possible criminal abuse of Commons expenses, It is understood the group has warned the Metropolitian Police that probes into expenses may breach “­parliamentary privilege”, the ancient right that protects proceedings in Parliament, which notably allows freedom of speech in the Commons chamber. A senior Labour source confirmed some MPs have taken legal advice on whether parliamentary privilege extends to expenses, potentially putting them off-limits to the police.”

They are trying to claim that an MP committing fraud is immune from prosecution due to parliamentary privilege.  Ridiculous.

Guido’s guess is that the Tory MP (and whip) John Baron’s expenses might benefit from further investigation. His mortgage seems to have gone up as interest rates have gone down.  His local paper the Echo reports that a local Tory councillor has resigned in disgust.  His home is 35 miles from Westminster.

Elizabeth_BarkerThe LibDems like to posture as morally superior to their parliamentary colleagues on matters of probity.  This may be true in the Commons, however in the Lords their peers trough like the best of them.  Lord Rennard, the former CEO of the party, is already under investigation for claiming overnight allowances for being away from home, when to all intents and purposes his main home is minutes away from Westminster over the Thames in Vauxhall.  Now it transpires that the frontbench health spokeswoman Baroness Barker followed her leader.  Just like Rennard she has been living and working in London and claiming the away from home overnight allowance to the tune of £70,000 in expenses from the House of Lords.  She is refusing to say where her main residence was when she made the claims.  The Sunday Times suggests she has always lived in Merton, not Sussex as she indicated to them.  She seems strangely unable to remember her home address…

Elsewhere in somewhat unsurprising news documents reveal Jack Straw tried to conceal expense revelations.  Wonder why?

In the Mail the neighbours of Jacqui Smith’s sister feel vindicated that despite her sister’s smears against them they were proved to be telling the truth.  A survey of  Jacqui Smith’s Redditch constitutents for the Mail reveals that the majority want her to pay back the money, resign and be prosecuted:

Chris Galley of the Sunlight Centre tells the Express he will see Jacqui in Court.  You can donate towards making that happen here.

UPDATE : Maybe St Frank ain’t so saintly after all.  Trouser press, flat-screen TVs, linen etc. and £1,000 a month in unreceipted expenses.  Hmmm…

Saturday Seven Up

7upIf you were not one of the 112,122 visitors viewing 443,257 blog pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:

  1. Guardian Gagged from Reporting Parliament
  2. Ed Vaizey’s Three Hour Lunch with Tracey Emin
  3. Sunday Sleaze
  4. 60 Million of Us, 646 of Them
  5. +++ Guardian Gag Attempt Dropped +++
  6. MPs’ Standards Committee Says :
    Jacqui Can Keep Every Penny She Fiddled if She Says ‘Sorry’
  7. Jacqui Smith : Crime Without Punishment

You are either in front of Guido, or behind…[…]

+ READ MORE +



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