Glenrothes : Electoral Commission Questions "Transparency"

More hanging chad type issues in Glenrothes where surprisingly Labour, against trend, held the seat with a 6,737 majority against a strong SNP effort. Guido has previously reported on suspicious levels of postal ghost votes and the subsequent disappearance of the register despite the legal requirement to keep the register for a year.

Now the Electoral Commission is weighing in with a report :

“We do have some concerns that the count was not as transparent as it could have been, due to the layout of tables in the hall. One table where votes were being counted was not clearly within the view of candidates, agents or other observers.Also, the central tables where the votes for each candidate were collated were situated behind the returning officer’s platform and obscured from view.”

The report also said the first opening of returned postal votes were not opened until the day before polling day meaning a problem with the electronic scanning equipment used to adjudicate postal votes could not be resolved in good time. That by-election was very fishy.

Hilton on Morphine, Making as Much Sense as Usual

Have just spoken with Alex Hilton (the blogger formally known as Recess Monkey). He seems to be optimistic he will be home for the weekend. Clearly Draper will have to smear him with something more lethal than bacterial meningitis.
Do not worry too much for him on his hospital sick-bed, at one point it was surrounded by his girlfriend, his mother and three ex-girlfriends. According to his updated Facebook status –
Alex Hilton wonders if inspiration can be drawn from drug and pain induced hallucinations.

Do you think perhaps the socialist simian will dream an opiate laden fantasy that Margaret Thatcher has died? Again.

Don’t Try to Wrong-Foot Prezza

Some say Prezza is over sensitive to criticism. Chris Mullins has mocked his ministerial career (Mullins was his junior minister) in his new book A View From The Foothills about the occasion he came to the office in mismatched shoes. Prezza swiftly jabs back on his blog:


Anyway, I wonder if he mentions in his book about the time when I was called by security to the front of the department’s building to deal with a tramp. I turned up to discover security refusing to let in a man dressed in a thick overcoat, scarf, gloves and a wooly Russian cap that covered his face and ears. I turned round to security and had to tell them:
“That’s no tramp, that’s my junior minister – Chris Mullin.”

That left hook is still swinging…

UPDATE : Lot of justified scepticism in the comments as to the veracity of Prezza’s account. Still funny.

Ashcroft Should Just Come Clean

Guido has said it before and he’ll say it again: Ashcroft should just publicly come clean on his status. If he wants to take a substantial role in public life that is the price he has to pay. Presumably the Electoral Commission thinks there is a possible case to answer. Thinking about the set-up – as Guido understands it – he could well be providing his support to the Tories in the way he does via Bearwood so as to avoid having to use taxed funds. Guido has a hunch that Ashcroft is paying some UK taxes on personal funds he remits into the UK, if however he wrote a personal cheque to the Tories it would have to be out of remitted and therefore taxed income, this way it is tax free. This is just a hunch which could go a long way to explaining the set-up.

Whilst they are at it, the Electoral Commission might want to also take a look at the non-domiciled backing for Labour from the likes of Lakshmi Mittal, Ronnie Cohen and Swaraj Paul – which totals nearly £10 million. Wonder if the complainant, John Mann MP, has thought this through..

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

The Sunday Herald reports that Chancellor Alistair Darling claimed tens of thousands of taxpayers money for his designated “second home” at the same time as renting out a flat in London. He actually has some five homes to choose from.

John Reid, the former home secretary, Charles Kennedy and government whip Tommy McAvoy exploited the same perk to build their own personal property portfolio.

You the taxpayer subsidised them building up a property portfolio. This scam is rife.

Gordon Brown faces censure by the Standards Commissioner, for failing to declare £1,600 in rent from subletting his constituency office to Labour Party allies. He claims from the taxpayer for the cost of the offices that he sublet.

David Miliband has been indulging in more creative accounting to avoid inheritance taxes – he should just wait for Osborne to become chancellor. How does the son of a Marxist professor end up living in a £1.3 million home without ever having a proper job outside politics?

Even some Labour MPs think Jacqui Smith is troughing it too much with her second home fiddle and they stay for three nights a week in London hotels for less than a £100 a night. Costing taxpayers much less than she claims to stay at her sisters…

Who Wants to be a Millionaire MEP?

No one is really surprised by MEP’s expense fiddles. The Taxpayers’ Alliance has got a leaked copy of the confidential Galvin Report into Euro-fiddles. The Galvin Report, named after Robert Galvin, the EU Internal Audit Official whose name is on its front cover, was written at the end of 2006 as an audit of the expenses and allowances claimed by a sample of more than 160 MEPs.. Some of the brazen fiddles are just complete p*ss-takes. The Taxpayers’ Alliance shows how it is possible to become a millionaire in a single term as an MEP with shrewd claiming of expenses and allowances. See the summary here [pdf]. British MEPs will be taking home 47% more after June 2009, nice work if you can get it…

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday SleazeThe Sunday Mirror has been digging all week into the Shadow Cabinet trying to find someone on the Tory frontbench “doing a Jacqui”. To do that they would need to find someone claiming a lodging as their main home. If they have found a Tory frontbencher “doing a Jacqui” they deserve everything they get. Guido is willing to bet they have found them almost all claiming the mortgage subsidy. The question is have any of them done a scam as brazen as Jacqui’s fiddle?

UPDATE : Rumour is that Chris Grayling has claimed over £100,000 in expenses over 7 years for an ex-council flat in Victoria costing just over £100,000. It might be within the rules, but it don’t smell good…

Dougie Follows Hazel in Attacking Infighting

With Alan Johnson, Harriet Harman and Ed Balls now openly raising their own profiles and jockeying for position, Gordon looks increasingly like a lame duck PM. Dougie Alexander has used the same trick as Hazel of a “speech in his

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Friday Caption Competition

N.B. Derek is watching, Guido is going to lunch. After last week, please be nice and don’t wind him up. Have asked him if he would stand in for Guido and do comment moderation. No reply so far.

UPDATED :

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Hazel’s Honestyl

Hazel Blears has used the time honoured device of a “speech to her constituency” to deliver an uncomfortably honest message to her party.

My message to my colleagues is simple: get a grip. Our first loyalty is to the British

[…]

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Happy Birthday Gordon Brown

58 years old today. We would have got you a card, but Woolies seems to have closed down. Was going to get you a DVD as a present, the collected speeches of Obama seemed like an inspirational idea. Unfortunately Zaavi

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former Labour MP Dame Anne Begg:

“[Iain Duncan Smith] took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair. Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.'”

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