Taxi for Boris

Very amused to be handed this receipt by a London cabbie. Apparently the campaign is giving away the books of receipts free to cabbies. Ambient marketing…

How Much Did Hugh Muir Pocket Courtesy of Ken?

The Guardian’s diarist, Hugh Muir, gave Boris a good going over yesterday in his diary column, all but accusing him of being a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Only on Saturday another Hugh Muir piece also appeared in the Guardian, headlined Boris Johnson Faces Conflict of Interest Charge Over Office, over Boris taking free office space from a Ken hating business.

Conflict of interest charges are serious indeed and should be answered. So how much did Hugh Muir get for his contribution to a report commissioned by Ken – The Search for Common Ground? We know it cost the Mayor’s taxpayers £22,000. We know of course it had a foreword by Mayor Ken. What we don’t know is how much of the taxpayers £22,000 Hugh pocketed courtesy of Ken.

Guido has tried to contact him to find out, but no reply so far. Hugh’s article on Boris concluded that Boris “should know there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Quite, so how much did Hugh get from Ken Livingstone?

Lobbyist Regulator to Investigate Morgan the Organ Further

The Spin Industry’s APPC Management Committee (background here) has decided to consider and investigate the complaint against Morgan Allen Moore further. The Committee is looking for more information about the conduct of MAM and Morgan the Organ. Further evidence and consideration of specific charges under the APPC Code of Conduct will be considered at a meeting on February 4.

So you have another 24 hours to put in any further complaints…

Sleaze, Sleaze, Sleaze and More Sleaze

The Conway family firm will presumably go into liquidation come the next election. Guido understands that Derek is not unpopular in his constituency, nevertheless having a candidate who is known to have enriched himself out of the public purse to the degree that his family has, will provide ready capital to his opponents.

Duncan Borrowman, his LibDem challenger has complained not only to the police about Derek, but about his son to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

More sleaze due today : Lord Hoyle is up in front of a Lords disciplinary committee this afternoon. He got caught taking cash for introducing an arms company lobbyist to the minister in charge of weapons purchases in the Lords.

Doug Hoyle was a former Labour MP and government whip before hopping on the unelected gravy train, although not a hereditary peer his son Lindsay is the MP for Chorley, so the family will suckle on the teat of the taxpayer for many years to come. If Doug is found guilty of abusing his position will Gordon Brown remove the Labour whip from him? Has the moral compass lost all sense of direction?

So Gordon, What About Wendy? Harman? Johnson?

Did Dave dither? He says he slept on it and thought better, well he may have thought better not to lose votes, better not to annoy the activists, better to upset David Davis than Guido and Tim Montgomerie – who knows?

The important thing is, he has now dealt with the sleaze issue decisively. What is Gordon going to do? After the Abrahams scandal broke Gordon demanded the resignation of Peter Watt. He told the monthly press conference immediately afterwards that undeclared donations were unlawful and unacceptable and that was why Watt had to go.

Since then we have had Hain – he went – but we still have Harman, Johnson and Wendy. Why haven’t they gone? They broke the law. Why are they still lawmakers and ministers of the crown?

Had a Liquid Lunch

Looks like we should have ordered champagne….

Leaked NIS ID Cards Document

Guido has uploaded the entire document annotated by NO2ID.

Some points of interest:
1) [Page 4, bullet point 3] Despite current assertions they are sticking with fingerprints, the strategy clearly includes options to gather personal information and issue ID cards WITHOUT fingerprints, e.g. “rising 16 year olds could be sent pre-populated forms for the Inclusion card… which would only need to be signed and returned”.

2) [Page 4, bullet point 5] Indication that up to 10% of the population will be called in for ‘interrogation’ (ID interviews).

3) [Page 3, bullet point 1] Language suggests it will effectively be compulsory to *carry* the card – counter to Ministerial assertion.

4) [Page 5,’Next Steps’, bullet point 1] Initial target groups (“trusted relationships”) to be identified and confirmed by end of January 2008 – i.e. within the next 48 hours!

5) [Page 4, bullet point 6] They are explicitly pursuing a policy of “coercion” not compulsion because universal compulsion “cannot be delivered quickly due to the need for inevitably controversial and time consuming primary legislation and would pose serious political, enforcement and resource challenges.”

Poll : Should Conway Go?

Guido is running a poll until midnight in the right-hand-column. Should Conway lose the Tory whip?

Conservatives Want Conway Gone Away

Over at ConservativeHome the grassroots are united. Derek Conway should go. Many activists saying that they don’t want to be on an equal sleaze footing with Labour.

“The silence from the party leadership is deafening and very depressing” complains one activist, “There is no excuse for Conway’s actions I really will protest long and hard if Cameron does not withdraw the whip and call for his constituency party to deselect Conway.” The grassroots are looking for decisive leadership “David Cameron now MUST taken action to clean up the mess.” Mark Fulford summarises the attitude of many “David Cameron: the clock is ticking. Derek Conway is undermining trust in Conservatives and has to be thrown out, now. No ifs, no buts.”

Usually loyal Conservative bloggers are also giving Conway the thumbs down. Over on CentreRight, Alex Deane frames it not in terms of tactics or strategy, rather as a question of old fashioned right and wrong. Tim Montgomerie says Cameron is making the wrong choice. Shane Greer wants Conway to stand down. Conservative Party Reptile wants “serious measures”, A Tory Blog wants him to consider his position. Dave has to “show some cojones in contrast to Brown” says the Englishman, Letters from a Tory is disheartened and disbelieving. Loyally, Dale says he is not going to join in the public kicking of his friend. But he doesn’t defend Derek either.

Cameron’s office say that he will keep the party whip according to Ben Brogan, claiming the punishment is for the Commons to decide, washing his hands in the same way Gordon said it was a matter for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to deal with Peter Hain. Not good enough, show leadership, don’t dither. Politicians just don’t seem to get how everyone outside the Westminster Village is disgusted with their self-serving ways. They are their own judges and jurors. They are more often than not guilty of venality yet they almost always get off…

Cameron should dump Derek, not dither indecisively as more and more sleaze drips out, Conway is a repeat offender according to the Mail’s front page. The Tory brand risks becoming re-contaminated…

(Great headline in the Mail, where do they get their ideas?)

The view of Guido’s readers is clear, Derek Conway’s financial arrangements are unacceptable. If Cameron does nothing, it is a case of accepting politics as usual. Fiddling thousands of pounds off the taxpayers to finance your son’s education is not acceptable. Lawmakers can not be law breakers.

Cameron has the power to withdraw the whip from Conway, his constituency party have the power to withdraw their support for him as a candidate. What is it to be?

Incidentally, do you think we will see articles from Sir Michael White et al explaining that it is a trivial amount of money? Will we see those who have been writing apologia on behalf of Hain, Harman, Johnson and Wendy Alexander doing the same for Derek Conway? Don’t hold your breath…

Derek Conway Should Repay the £40,000

Tory MP Derek Conway has got caught out and he is being given a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. He paid some £40,000 over four years to his son to finance his way through university out of your taxes. There is not a scrap of evidence, apart from Conway’s say-so, that his son did any work in return. Nobody outside the Conway family is willing to back up the claim that the son did any work.

The Select Committee on Standards and Privileges is recommending Conway pay back some £13,000 that it reckons was over-paid. Reading between the lines they suspect, but have been unable to prove, that no work was done whatsoever. Can you think of another profession where if £40,000 was paid to a family member for nothing in return the police would not be called in?

UPDATE : Duncan Borrowman, LibDem candidate for Conway’s seat has written to the police demanding an investigation.

Exclusive : Leaked Email Reveals Another Undeclared Hain Donation

The Association of Professional Political Consultants emergency meeting of its management committee scheduled for today will consider a complaint about Steve Morgan of Morgan Allen Moore, (“MAM”) the public aff­airs firm linked to the Peter Hain’s donations.
Morgan the Organ not only made a £5,000 donation to the fake think-tank and allowed the Hain4Labour campaign to use MAM off­ices. Cheques to Hain4Labour were sent via the Cardiff offices of MAM before ending up in the campaign coffers. The fake Progressive Polices Forum think tank shares a London address with MAM as well. 

These actions breach the APPC code of conduct, which states that members

must keep strictly separate from their duties and activities as political consultants any personal activity or inv­olvement on behalf of a pol­itical party. 

Steve Morgan is presumably going to try and claim that this was all done in a personal capacity. Herein lies a problem, the Hain4Labour campaign had use of MAM staff. For example Kate Lewis, head of MAM’s Cardiff office was working on the campaign – which also begs the question why no donation in kind was registered? Her services do not come cheap and would not fall below the non-declarable £1000 threshold.

From: “Steve Morgan”
To: “Geraint Davies”, “Kate Lewis”, “Hugh Roberts”, “Andrew Stallard”, “Wayne David”, “CARBERRY, Joe”, “Albert Owen”, “Chris Ruane”, “Huw ID”, “Eluned Morgan”

Subject: Meeting
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 16:20

Thanks for coming to the meeting with Peter on Saturday we’re really glad to have you on board and grateful for your support for Peter’s campaign.

There are two items we need to deal with immediately.

1. First meeting date.

If everyone’s ( MPs are welcome but there’s no whip!!) happy to meet in Cardiff for an hour over lunch we can use my offices down on the Bay. Can you make either the 8th, 13th or 14th of March?

2. Wales-wide network.

We talked about getting a key supporter in every constituency. If you know of anyone who can fill these roles for us can you let me know (with contact details please) before we meet. Can you also let me know which constituencies you’re in.

Thanks

Steve

The significance of this email is twofold; it was sent from Morgan the Organ’s MAM office and demonstrates that MAM was effectively Hain’s campaign base and that MAM staff such as Kate Lewis were running the campaign. This clearly breaks the APPC’s Code of Conduct. 

It also means that there is yet another undeclared to the Electoral Commission benefit-in-kind donation probably worth tens of thousands of pounds…

Hain Alternative Jobs Competition Winner

There was one diamond in the rough out of the competition entries from BrianSJ:
I think that Peter Hain would be ideal as the next James Bond. Bond has very little time for bean counters and paperwork, he has a high opinion of himself and he bends a few rules if that helps. The tan and man of the world looks are perfect for the part.

He needs a Quantum of Solace just now. He could star in:

Diamonds Are From Sponsors
Dr No If No Buts
The Man with the Golden Face
Tomorrow Never Lies
Goldfinger in the Till
Goldenlie

(Hopefully) You Only Live Once

The World is Not Enough, Thunderballs etc are fine as titles.

Cassandra suggested Dye Another Day, alas there is only one winner, so if Brian emails Guido with his postal address a copy of The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze will be sent to him.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

+++ SKY REPORTING ALAN JOHNSON UNDECLARED & PROXY DONATIONS +++

UPDATE 12:00 Sunday : Guido is taking a break this weekend from sifting through sleaze. Take the opportunity below in the comments to do what Guido would do. See if there are reasons why Alan Johnson might cook the books?
Look at Johnson’s donors, are there any with a possible conflict of interest with his ministerial position, people who do business or represent businesses or are associated with government contractors?

Are there people with dodgy histories? What was their motive in giving cash to Johnson? Consider this a little experiment in distributed journalism and research. Good luck, remember the Dead-Tree-Press will be reading and looking for leads. Last week identifiable traffic from newsroom offices surged and contributed to the 30,000 a day readership…

Guido is Off to Google UK HQ Tomorrow

Guido will be among the geeks.gov.uk on Saturday trying to rein in some of the starry-eyed types from the eGovernment crowd. As someone who was around for the first internet boom, and only lost half his NAV in the tech crash, it will be Guido’s self-appointed role to try and keep them all on terra firma, particularly the ones spending your taxes.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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