Friday, October 16, 2009

Jonah Jinxs Leyland

jonah_leylandYesterday afternoon Jonah Brown visited Leyland Trucks in Leyland in the North West to support the South Ribble Labour MP.   To those who follow Jonah’s travels is it no surprise that same night Labour were humiliated in the Leyland St Mary’s local by-election – a seat they once held.  The result was:

Con 709
Lab 239

A swing to the Tories from two years ago when they gained the council – recording 65% of the vote across the whole constituency. The one-eyed son of the manse is working his electoral curse at local and national level for Labour…

Last Night at the Opera

tristan-und-isolde-royal-opera-houseOvert Opera fan Nick Brown, the government Chief Whip, was well placed last night at the Royal Opera House in the front row of the stalls circle before 5 pm (yes thats when it started) for the new production of Tristan und Isolde. He was in a party with lobbyist Peter Bingle of  spin merchants Bell Pottinger.  Perhaps Gordon should have cause to worry that his Chief Henchman was watching a tale of the betrayal of King Marke by Tristan and Isolde in the company of a Conservative enemy.

George Osborne and his wife were sitting in the stalls on their own, presumably having paid for their own tickets.  At four hours and fifty five minutes Guido would have paid not to attend…

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another Trougher Bites the Dust : Wilshire to Stand Down

wilshireAccording to Nick Robinson the Tory chief whip Patrick McLoughlin, gave the Wilshire the bullet. He is sticking to the “it was all within the rules” / “approved by the Fees Office” line.

In reality, like in so many other cases, the £3,250 a month in parliamentary office allowances to Wilshire’s company Moorlands Research Services was completely outside the spirit of the rules and the Fees Office was wrong to make the payment.  Goodbye and good riddance.

+++ Sun’s George Pascoe-Watson Goes to Spin for Portland +++

Vote Reformer of the Year : Heather Brooke

Heather BrookeThe Reform think tank is inviting nominations for the “reformer of the year”.  Looking down the list there is one candidate who deserves to win.  Heather Brooke, the Freedom of Information campaigner who fought the Speaker and parliament to reveal the true venality of the political class deserves your voteIf it was not for her the troughing would still be going on unseen by the public today…

See also : Expenses Freedom of Information : Villains and Heroes

Dishonourable MPs Can No Longer Be Trusted to Self Regulate

wilshireTory MP David Wilshire has been paying £105,000 expenses to run a company he owns.  He has referred himself to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner before Guido could.  In due course the Committee on Standards and Privileges will let him off with a slap on the wrist and he will not be the first six-figure expense trougher to be let off. The Wintertons and Jacqui Smith got the naughty step treatment from the Committtee of fellow MPs and paid not a penny back. Crime without punishment seems to be the operating principle, probably because MPs are thinking “there but for the grace of God go I”.

There is a Latin legal maxim: “nemo debet esse iudex in propria causa”, meaning no one should be judge in his own cause.  The idea that MPs can be trusted to follow “fundamental principles of propriety” and self regulate according to the Green Book is laughable and it is now seen by the public as laughable.  This has to change.  The forthcoming Kelly Report to the Committee on Standards in Public Life needs to resolve this with tough transparency measures.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ed Vaizey’s Three Hour Lunch with Tracey Emin

Scotts VaizeyPhoto credit : a co-conspirator.

Just got off the phone a few minutes ago with Ed Vaizey. Guido called him via the Maitre’d of Scott’s of Mayfair.  When he came to the phone he demanded to know which table Guido was sitting at.  Alas Ed, some of us have work to do.

His lunch partner – Tracey Emin – must be very entertaining.  Guido makes it that he is into his third hour of lunch since a co-conspirator alerted Guido.  The call went like this:

Ed What table are you at? I was just bemoaning that MPs can’t get away with anything.

Guido You do know there is a recession on?  Get back to work.

EV I am going back to vote.

GF Can you hear the division bell in Mayfair?

EV I know what time the vote is…

GF Look it is alright for me to take a three hour lunch, I pay your wages.

EV It was not a three hour lunch.

GF Get back to work.

Just another tough day in the life of a hardworking public servant…


Legg : A Question of “Fundamental Principles of Propriety”

Sir Thomas Legg has outlined his approach to expenses in a note to MPs which is now in the public domain.  Legg confirms that payment of the second homes allowance under the Green Book rules was subject to “fundamental principles of propriety”:

#WeLoveLeggThe fundamental principles required MPs personally to ensure that their use of the ACA was: (a) necessary for the performance of their parliamentary duties; (b) not extravagant or luxurious; (c) in accordance with the Nolan principles of selflessness, accountability, honesty and leadership; (d) strictly in accordance with the rules governing the allowance; (e) above reproach; (f) took account of the need to obtain value for money; and (g) avoided any appearance of benefit, or a subsidy from public funds, or diversion of public money for the benefit of a political organisation. These principles together amount to a general requirement of propriety.

Quite a high bar for our porcine political class.  Guido has heard a rumour – so far not denied – that Legg has asked for re-payment of the £108,000 wrongly claimed by those gold-plated troughers, the Wintertons.  Back in June 2008 Guido highlighted their massive six-figure fiddle.  The Standards and Privileges Committee ruled that they had wrongly claimed £108,000 in rent which they paid to a family trust on a property they had previously owned.  They were the trustees of the trust and the beneficiaries were their children.  Despite being found guilty of brazenly manipulating the system this was, as in the case of Jacqui Smith, another crime without punishment from their fellow MPs.  The Standards and Privileges Committee did not require the Wintertons to repay a single penny.

wintertons_flashbackThe level of impropriety which anyone with commonsense can see has taken place is verging on grand larceny.  When MPs say Legg is “acting retrospectively” what they really mean is that they didn’t expect to be held to basic, fundamental principles of propriety.  They thought they would get away with it…

Live Blog : PMQs Back to School

Some Media Advice to Sir Thomas Legg : Don’t Get Filkinned

Yesterday Sky News chased Sir Thomas Legg around Whitehall with a camera crew, trying to get comment from him.  He politely demurred from giving them an interview or answering any questions.  This is a mistake.  It frustrates the broadcast media when they can’t get access to the players.  Legg needs to fight his case in the media or the political class will succeed in doing to him what they did to Elizabeth Filkin, the former Parliamentary Standards Commissioner hounded out of office by Speaker Martin, aided and abetted by that ridiculous blowhard Sir Stuart Bell.  MPs have got where they are by deviousness and their ability to crush opposition.  Sir Thomas has taken on hundreds of these vipers…

Guido suspects that Legg is being overwhelmed by the backlash – as far as Sir Stuart Bell is concerned he clearly didn’t understand the brief given to him by Gordon Brown – he was supposed to produce a whitewash which illuminated only “a few bad apples”.  He wasn’t supposed to hose down the whole porcine political class.  They are squealing because you are making them pay for their years of troughing at the public’s expense.

Legg LettersOnly a few months ago MPs from all sides were claiming they “did not understand the rules” and they were blaming their misdemeanors on “the system”.  Now that Legg is enforcing the rules within reasonably generous parameters, they claim he is retrospectively changing the rules.  The same MPs who only a few months ago claimed they did not understand the rules now suddenly have a detailed understanding of the expenses criteria. Bullshit.

They also claim that the Fees Office approved everything. The Clerks in the Fees Office had no authority to exercise fine judgement on the rules – MPs jealously kept that right only for themselves. The Clerks just rejected some of the most ridiculous claims. This argument is specious, MPs signed every month that their expense claims were made “wholly, exclusively and necessarily”The Fees  Office merely took them at their word and on their honour.

Public opinion is behind Legg.  MPs still don’t get it: they should never have been claiming for groceries, moats, ironing, porn, duck houses, Sky sports, digital cameras and all the rest in the first place.  If you want to stand at the next election, deliver the repayments.

Sir Thomas has one fearsome weapon at his disposal. If MPs won’t pay the public purse back, tell the public.  You can name and shame miscreants.  Do it to them before they do you in…


Seen Elsewhere

“Adjustments” Not Cuts | Gary Gibbon
British Minister in Watch Gaffe | Straits Times
New Tory, New Danger | Laura Perrins
UKIP Could Work With Dave If Price is Right | Douglas Carswell
Cops Catch Crims With B.O. Test | Techno Guido
Bashir’s “False Account” to His Own Lawyers | Times
Injustice of Tax Avoidance Hysteria | City AM
The New Puritans | Alex Wickham
UKIP on 23% With Survation | Mirror
UKIP Could Deal With Dave | Douglas Carswell
Tories Would Lower Benefit Cap | Telegraph


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George Galloway says of his former Respect candidate the UKIP MEP turned Tory, Amjad Bashir…

“Clearly Bashir does not have any real political principles or commitment, only naked opportunism and self-interest. He represents the revolving door principle in politics. The Tories are welcome to him because he will cause them embarrassment. Fortunately Respect was able to act before he did it to us.”


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