+++ Kitty Usher Resigns Over Expenses +++

Downing Street Spins Malik is Different from McNulty

Tony McNulty resigned from the government when he came under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over £60,000 claimed on a second home, where his parents live.

Malik Reported to Parliamentary Standards commissionerYesterday the PM’s spokesman, Michael Ellam, was asked whether the Prime Minister thought it was premature and unwise to bring Shahid Malik back into Government so quickly.  He was also asked why it was right for Shahid Malik to step down while Sir Philip Mawer held an inquiry, but not while  John Lyon held one?  Ellam gave some waffle which didn’t really make sense.

McNultyMcNulty admitted in his letter of resignation that “It has been immensely difficult for me to give full attention to my job as Minister for London and for Employment and Welfare Reform with this issue hanging over my head.” Malik on the other hand wants us to believe he can give his ministerial duties his full attention despite being under investigation for corruption. 

Why is he different from McNulty?  Why is John Lyon’s investigation less important than Sir Philip Mawer’s investigation – which had less damning evidence to consider?

You Twitter If You Want To

Hazel Twitter

Under pressure Hazel Blears has set up a Twitter account. “YouTube is no substitute for knocking on doors” she once famously said and Twittering is not going to stop a deselection either.  Poor Hazel, she only has 9 followers…

Drug Pushing Lobbyists of the World Unite!

The news that sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan, formerly of the now defunct Morgan Allen Moore, who was retained by Peter Hain in his disastrously dodgy bid for Labour deputy leader has taken his team of spin merchants to the huge American spin shop Burson-Marsteller is a little worrying. Morgan Allen Moore was described by PR Week last year as a “scandal-hit outfit”, becoming the first firm ever to be kicked out of the industry’s self regulatory group.  PR Week reports that

Morgan’s new ‘market access’ practice at Burson-Marsteller will advise healthcare clients on issues related to product marketing and access to the NHS.

Back in the not so distant past Morgan was hired to push a drug responsible for widespread deaths and crippling illness. Ortho Biotech, a division of Johnson & Johnson, retained Morgan Allen Moore in 2001 to push its anaemia drug, Eprex.  Eprex is currently being investigated by the FDA because of the high number of patients who have suffered strokes and died as a consequence of taking the drug. Eprex was withdrawn in September 2001 (“Eprex vials to be withdrawn”, Chemist and Druggist, 22 September 2001, page 28 – not online) because of fears over its safety. On 14 July 2002, the Financial Times reported that

“Eprex has been linked to a rare but devastating condition known as antibody-mediated pure red blood cell aplasia or PRCA. The condition is triggered when the body produces antibodies against its own EPO, shutting down red blood cell production. The only treatment for PRCA is regular, life-long blood transfusions”.

Burson-Marstellar – a company which was itself also investigated by the APPC for having a secret client in 2007 – represents, amongst others, Digene Corp, a company principally specialising in the production of a test for HPV, the virus that causes genital warts in women.  A marriage made in hell, some might say…

PMQs Live Chat : Heat is On

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Clegg Breaks Ranks on Nuclear Options

Nick Clegg has broken ranks with the political establishment on Trident, telling Nick Robinson “We have to be realistic and candid about what we can and can’t afford as a nation”.

Nuclear CleggDuring the Cold War the logic of Trident and other nuclear missile systems was compelling, now the threat is from terrorists and rogue states the case for Trident is nowhere near as strong.  The Russian nuclear arsenal is much reduced from the Soviet era, so any future threat response imaginable need not be made to meet an over-whelming massive multiple warhead nuclear attack from a hostile superpower.

Yet the Tory and Labour party establishments remain committed to the U.S. supplied Trident system.  The £100 billion price tag for a system that isn’t really independent is too much in these circumstances.  Britain needs a much reduced smaller bespoke system along the lines of the French force de frappe.  Something more akin to smart missiles which can be launched from air, land or sea.

Nick Clegg has asked Ming to review the LibDem approach to strategic defence.  The military top brass will always demand expensive new toys, just as trade union leaders always demand pay rises.  The Tories are also reviewing defence matters.  £100 billion is a lot of money to pay for the wrong insurance policy.

Bonkers MPs Should Lose Seats

Brown is BonkersAlistair Campbell thinks MPs detained under the Mental Health Act should not automatically lose their seats. The BBC reports him saying that such a “simple and symbolic” rule change would be a “powerful” way to lift the taboo around mental health which exists in politics. Campbell said many MPs including members of Tony Blair’s government had had mental problems. Yes, someone did once say that Gordon Brown was “psychologically flawed”Sorry, but Guido really doesn’t want bonkers politicians running the country anymore…

+++ Shahid Malik Being Investigated +++

Malik Reported to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner
Standards Commissioner today confirms he is investigating if Malik’s parliamentary expenses were used to defray his personal expenses.  He has written to Malik asking him to explain himself…

UPDATE : Letter is now up on Sunlight COP’s site.

Government Paying Banks to Help Sell Gilts

You might have got the impression that the economy is turning. In reality the debt crisis is now in phase two and the government can’t easily find buyers for gilts.* In what is a rare shame for a triple-A rated […]

+ READ MORE +

Candid Polly’s Contradictions

Polly has written an article on ‘candour’ today

Osborne’s plans will be set out “in due course”, he says, but watch out: “Some savings will only become apparent when we have the chance to look at the books in

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Kelly Review of MP’s Expenses

The Committee on Standards in Public Life Review of MPs’ Expenses kicks off today with opening evidence from “witnesses”; Harriet Harman MP, Alan Duncan MP and David Heath MP.  Surely they are “the accused”?

Sir Christopher Kelly invited evidence from […]

+ READ MORE +

Best Idea for MPs’ Second Homes Crisis Solution

Guido loves this idea from the Taxpayers’ Alliance on how to solve the problem of MPs’ second homes: house them in the Olympic Village after the Olympics.

There will be a legacy of 3,000 homes after the Olympics, so […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

William Hague on Tony Blair…

“To the political law that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time he added Blair’s law – that you can make a very serious attempt at it.”

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