There is no reason why this should not be abolished and a more honest and transparent picture of the compensation package of MPs given to the public. At the very least Alistair Darling should announce today that it will be taxed in the normal way as a benefit. Guido does not see why MPs should be treated differently from other self-employed business people who have to account for every penny to the revenue commissioners.
*Guido is guesstimating, we do not know the details of the payment system and the authorities are resisting FoI requests.
“The Tories are isolated in Europe. Their position is the biggest foreign policy failure since the 1930s.”
So the Tory plan to pull out of the EPP factional grouping arrangements is worse than Suez, Vietnam or the Iraq War? This is the view of the Miliband’s personal Special Adviser? Obviously Madlin has a deep sense of historical perspective…
You can download the full briefing here, Guido has digitally disguised the source of the leak because it has a warning on every page stating:
PLP briefings are the property of the Labour party. They are confidential and are for the use of registered members only. Any publishing or dissemination of PLP political briefing is prohibited and may be unlawful.
With New Labour’s characteristic inability to distinguish between party and state they seem to fail to realise that a document produced by a civil servant, in office hours at the taxpayer’s expense should by rights not be the property of the Labour Party. So sue Guido…
*Madlin is the daughter of Blairite MP Barry Sheerman. Another no doubt meritocratic appointment from the people’s party.
UPDATE : Guido accepts that there is a loophole provision in the Code permitting SpAds to produce briefings for MPs on government policy. This is not a briefing on government policy, it is a crib sheet on Tory policy and positions intended to be used to attack the Conservative position in media interviews and in the chamber. This breaches the spirit and the letter of the Code. There is in any case no way a taxpayer funded document produced by civil servants can become the exclusive property of the PLP. These type of briefing documents should be produced by Labour HQ at their own expense, not the taxpayers expense. If the PLP would care to test this proposition in court Guido is more than ready.
Here is the news you won’t read in the papers or hear from broadcast by our fearless Lobby lushes:-
The total subsidy paid by the taxpayer to the press gallery bar and restaurant last year was £201,100. They drink at the taxpayers expense to the tune of a £1,000 every working day. They really are taking the piss getting pissed at the public’s expense.
Perhaps he has good reason to explain Tory economic policy out of sight, being too timid to put the case for tax relief for the struggling middle classes and reducing state over-spending. The Tories basically accept that because of the dire fiscal position Chancellor Osborne will stick with Gordon Brown’s tax and spending plans. As we tip towards worldwide recession and a global financial crisis the Tories are advocating “tax hikes on alcopops!” and the LibDems “tax cuts for smoothies!” Pathetically unambitious.
He also gave £2,500 to Gordon’s leadership non-campaign.
UPDATE : If he has been brought in to clean-up Labour’s finances post the Abrahams scandal this will be tricky. Chris Grayling points out that he was a secret just-below-the-£1000 reporting threshold donor of £990 to Wendy Alexander’s campaign. He was with Peter Watt, the disgraced former Secretary-General of the Labour Party, director of a fund which has donated £110,000 to the Labour Party and a leading figure in an unincorporated association (LFIG) which has given hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Labour Party without revealing the original sources of funds – just like the Tory supporting Midlands Industrial Council. Does that fill you full of confidence that Gordon really means to be more transparent and straight about political funding?
The point of Guido giving this background is to highlight that during all this long unbroken period of economic growth, Gordon failed to pay down the government debt – a truly prudent Chancellor would have done it at some strong point in the economic cycle. He did however forecast the budget surplus this year to be of some £9 billion, in fact the budget will probably be in deficit £9 billion. As Michael Fallon points out, despite many predictions to the contrary, the budget has never been in surplus* under this government. Gordon’s imprudence over the last 5 years alone has led to £69 billion in unplanned and unfunded spending hikes. The public sector has been bloated by a governing Labour party beholden to public sector unions for funding.
Who pays for this unfunded spending? Middle class taxpayers of course. The interest on the government’s ballooning debts consumes an ever increasing share of tax revenues. The nationalisation of Northern Rock further smashed the golden rule by £110 billion. We are now heading for G.F.T.** in a weakened fiscal position compared to other major economies. Alastair’s response? The word from the Treasury is that they plan to fiddle the statistics so that the golden rule will magically become unbroken. An illusion that will fool no-one.
Remember this when the new Chancellor talks about budgetary control or prudence in his budget speech. Treat any promises of future surpluses as a bad joke. Any “Green” tax hikes should be seen as what they really are, an excuse to tax the middle classes even more. The truth is Labour’s out of control unfunded over-spending hikes have added to Britain’s economic woes.
The budget should:
- Focus on a growth-package to boost real incomes based on reducing the tax burden for those on low and middle incomes.
- A boost for small businesses with reductions in corporation tax to Irish levels (12.5%).
- A civil service recruitment freeze. We don’t need any more bureaucrats.
Instead we will probably get higher consumer taxes to pay for higher government spending.
**Global Financial Turbulence in the vernacular of the Treasury.
Guido wants to know about the Labour government’s unfunded spending commitments:These are the figures from the ONS, in 2003 Gordon made unfunded spending commitments of £36 billion, in 2004 £41 billion, in 2005 £38 billion, in 2006 £34 billion. This was during a time of strong economic performance when Gordon should have been paying down the national debt with budget surpluses. His prolific spending meant that he failed to balance the budget.
Last year he smashed the golden rule with £110 billion to be added to the PSBR after the nationalisation of Northern Rock plus the usual annual unfunded overspend of some £40 billion. To which we can add the off balance sheet fiddles like £725 billion of public sector pensions unfunded, not forgetting the £110 billion in payments due to companies in the next three decades under PFI and £18 billion of debt held by Network Rail and the figure is nearer £1.4 trillion, which is well over 100% of GDP. So the amount of unfunded spending commitments has now reached £1.4 trillion. Yvette Cooper is accusing George Osborne of proposing unfunded tax reductions which are small change in comparison.
Colin Eldridge a cabinet member of the award winning* Liverpool council, runs a local laundry business. He has a contract with the Crowne Plaza conference hotel. He is urging guests to use as many towels and bathrobes as possible to boost his profits. Not very green!
*The award was for the worst run metropolitan council.
I was busking in Croydon in November (ish) and Boris Johnson came up to me and posed in front of me for pictures. He didn’t really speak to me. When he left, a passer by came up to me and said did he give you that £20 and I said what £20? When I looked in my guitar case there was nothing there and I thought that was a bit odd.Fantastic. Guido hunted around for the picture. Guido asked if she knew anyone who had the picture. She suggested Guido contact her PR company. A busker with a PR agent?
Claire has a nice MySpace site and an album coming out shortly which needs publicity…
UPDATE : Have now got hold of the photographer for the local paper – he says Boris threw some change in the hat – there never was any note. Ken backing bloggers are of course running with the spin…
Unlike politicians they aren’t able to vote themselves a pay rise…