Sad ex-SpAd Slacker

Matthew Burchell, Hain’s former special adviser, is finding the pace outside of the public sector a little bracing. A month after becoming unemployed he has yet to get round to writing his CV if this status update on Facebook is anything to go by. If you are hoping Matthew to return by the side of a vindicated Hain, forget it. It seems that it is getting very messy for the Tango man…

Working for Peter Hain is going to be something you would rather not have on your CV, so it can’t be easy for Matthew. Let this be a warning to all uppity snotty SpAds…

Guido finds those huge 4×4 faintly ridiculous outside the school gates. The only hazardous road surfaces they navigate are the speed bumps. Clearly Ken thinks they are popular with the Boris-Voting-Classes and sees them as a chance to hike taxes and indulge in a little Bash-the-Rich populism. All par for the course with Ken.

Later this morning Ken will announce that big-engine cars in the centre of London are so grave a threat to life as we know it, that they will be charged £25 per day to exist. The new congestion-cum-enviro-cum-spite charge will be called the Emissions Related Congestion Charge – ERCC

However, it has been established that the massive jams and diesel-fired pollution seen in East and North London does not actually exist. So there will be no need for any extension of the charging zone….

Non-Dom Policy Damned By Tory Treasurer

Michael Spencer, the demi-billionaire Tory treasurer and boss of the City money broking powerhouse ICAP, had an article in The Times criticising Brown and Darling’s plans to drive foreign businessman out of London to Monaco.

Guido suspects that Spencer doesn’t think Osborne’s own plans for non-doms are so brilliant either, he implausibly says the Tory version of the policy was “broadly welcomed” when he took City soundings. Broadly welcomed by whom?

Phil Hammond is defending the plans rather meekly, whereas Michael Fallon, a Tory member of the Treasury Select Committee, tells the FT bluntly “Chasing non-doms out of London is a huge mistake … Why do we want to lose all that business to Luxembourg or Dublin or Geneva?”

The US Embassy has made their view known and is lobbying hard to persuade the Treasury to change the wording of its legislation to ensure the charge falls within the scope of the double taxation treaty. The Chancellor’s plans will actually cost the Treasury money, according to a study by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners: the £30,000 annual levy will cost £2.1 billion a year as many residents will leave the country. The 116,000 non-doms are mostly not tycoons but bank, hedge fund and private equity staff who bring investment and prosperity. The problem for the Tories with having their policy stolen by Gordon is that they can’t attack his even worse version without highlighting the problems with their own. The Treasury and Osborne should realise that the elasticity in the Laffer Curve applies even more to foreigners.

What is the “Forward Risk Horizon Scanning Unit”?

Could a Downing Street lackey leak to us what this new unit is all about? Guido is a little uncertain if the unit’s name he has been given is precisely correct, sounds like a PR man’s creation doesn’t it? Is Stephen Carter the father of the unit? Does it actually exist as more than a coffee and doughnuts meeting?

Is it part of the not-another-relaunch “Brown Phase 2” that Riddell is waffling about this morning? Is it just a “There May Be Trouble Ahead, Lets Figure Out Our Excuses Unit”? Enquiring bloggers want to know…

Gordon Jinx Hits Manchester United

Every international football and rugby match Gordon has attended since he has become PM has led to a defeat for England or Scotland. His Jonah-like jinx now seemingly extends to club matches. On a day of high emotion at Old Trafford, in front of survivors of the Munich crash and the families of the victims, Brown turned up. The result? Manchester United lost at home for the first time against City in 34 years!

Is this a good sign for the blues?

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Due to the quantity of political sleaze being reported Guido is introducing a Pigs in Shit rating system for guidance on the misdemeanors of porcine politicians.

Politically motivated mud throwing, technical reporting error / potentially honest mistake.

Definitely dodgy, unethical rule bending

Potentially fraudulent or criminal activity

Wee Wendy in New Funding Row

Wendy is facing another investigation by the Electoral Commission into a claim that she channelled £12,000 through the Scottish Industry Forum (SIF) a Labour front organisation to fund her constituency office. A Scottish Conservative party fundraiser, claims he was misled into contributing to her office at a fundraiser.
Purnell Fiddles Primary Residence to Dodge Tax

This is the classic property trick by politicians. Claim the mortgage subsidy allowance by saying your London home is your second home and the constituency home is your primary residence. When the MP comes to sell the London property this is a problem, only primary residences qualify to escape capital gains tax. Guido highlighted the primary/second home trick in December 2005 (see Four Lords a Fiddlin’). Guido is not going to give Purnell three pigs for fraudulent misrepresentation because he is so slippery he probably would escape prosecution.
David Davis Campaign Donation Declared by Lieutenants
A businessman who gave £20,000 to “essentially” support Basher Davis’ bid for the Tory crown had his donation declared by Andrew Mitchell and Nick Herbert. They say they used the money to support a researcher who worked on the Davis campaign.
Multi-Millionaire Paxman Pays Staff Below Minimum Wage
Well, well, well – according to his ex-staff he paid them £200 for a forty hour week, gave them no payslips, no contract and no agreed holidays. He treated them with his characteristic arrogance and high handedness. Answer the question Paxo – Did you pay tax and national insurance on their wages? The Screws story also re-hashes some of his affairs.
Peers Fiddle Tens of Thousands in Allowances

Labour peer Baroness Billingham, who has a flat in Hampstead and a country house in Suffolk claimed £26,983 in 2006-07 in overnight allowances inexplicably. Another Labour peer and former senior trade unionist Lord Brett, who lists his address in Who’s Who as a flat in Dolphin Square declares his main residence as his home in Cumbria allowing him to claim £27,887 last year. This scam is outright fiddling which Guido pointed to years ago.
Michael Ancram Claims £20,000 to Paint House
Yet more piggery, the multi-millionaire 13th Marquess of Lothian and Earl, Michael Ancram explains that the taxpayer had to paint his property and remove moss from the garden. Why?

Derek Draper’s Missus is Tangoing With Someone Else

Woolas Warns Against “Inbred Muslims”Cryer Says Pakistanis Have “Medieval Culture”

In comments that sound like BNP propaganda, the Environment Minister Phil Woolas blamed immigrants from rural Pakistan for a rise in birth defect rates due to the inter-marriage of cousins. Researchers say that the NHS is seeing 9 times the rate of abnormalities from Pakistani children.

Woolas got backing from Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley, who described Pakistani culture as medieval. “This is to do with a medieval culture where you keep wealth within the family… If you go into a paediatric ward in Bradford or Keighley you will find more than half of the kids there are from the Asian community. Since Asians only represent 20%-30% of the population, you can see that they are over represented.”

This may well all be true. If it had been pointed out by a Tory MP, Labour MPs would be screaming “racist”. Muslims Pakistanis might jusifiably be feeling put upon currently…

BBC Finally Wakes Up to Snouts in the Trough

Nick Robinson, the BBC’s chief political correspondent, blogged yesterday that
The fact that MPs can claim expenses of £250 without a receipt has already been greeted with widespread incredulity. The fact we learnt today is likely to be greeted with even more. MPs can, apparently, also claim £400 a month for food without receipts.

Guido actually reported (MPs Get Fat on Your Taxes) the £20 per diem allowance back in October 2005. Do try to keep up Nick…

The above graphic from last December shows that MPs get £20 per day, no receipts required. That is 12 times as much as a fighting soldier has spent on him for food.

Can it be any clearer where their real priorities lie?

UPDATE : It is worth reading in full Sam Coates’ write-up of the Information Commissioner’s tribunal where the parliamentary resources director tries to justify not letting us know how MPs spend public money feathering their nests.

Friday* Caption Contest (Not Me Edition)

*Delayed due to very long, very liquid lunch.

Slaughter Loses the Plot

Andy Slaughter MP appears to have finally flipped his lid. He stormed out of an interview yesterday on “The Week in Westminster” after telling I Want a Referendum Chairman Derek Scott to “fuck off” during the interview. The presenter (Mark Darcy) told Scott he had never seen anything like it in his career. A sanitised version is being aired tonight. If a digitised version should accidentally be emailed to Guido he would be grateful.
Slaughter is also incomprehensibly threatening to report the I Want a Referendum campaign to the police for “election campaigning” in his constituency. This is the same campaign backed by Labour MPs Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Gisella Stuart…

UK Government Bails Out Less Indebted Liberia

Guido gets Treasury press releases, yesterday one caught his eye:
UK helps Liberia take big step towards debt clearance
The UK today assisted Liberia in taking a big step towards poverty reduction by helping it clear the arrears on debt it owes….

Alistair Darling went on to boast about how great this was for Liberia, which he described as a “HIPC”, a Heavily Indebted Poor Country. The 3 million inhabitants of Liberia have a government debt of $4.5 billion dollars, some £2.3 billion pounds or £767 per head.

Yesterday the ONS added £52 billion to the PSBR for Northern Rock taking the government’s admitted debts to 42% of GDP, busting Gordon’s already fiddled 40% golden rule. Gordon claims government debts stand at £536 billion, add in his off balance sheet fiddles like £725 billion of public sector pensions, £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. Now add on the private debts of credit card maxed-out Britons and the total debt is something like £2.7 trillion. Over £100,000 per household in Britain.

Which makes it seem very odd that Alistair Darling is bailing out the heavily indebted poor Liberians who have a tiny fraction of the debts that Labour has run up for Britons.

Digby Says Taxing Non-Doms is a Dud

Digby Jones is a pro-business Thatcherite so going into Gordon’s big tent was always going to involve him holding his nose. In the morning’s FT he says he wasn’t consulted over Labour’s copycat plan to tax foreign businessman, that it is not popular with businessman he meets as he tries to drum up inward investment. Shooting the golden goose is crazy, wealthy foreigners boost the economy. Osborne should know better. Digby knows it, the City knows it, but they don’t have any votes.

Wee Wendy Prosecution “Not in the Public Interest”

The killer line in the Electoral Commission’s determination is:

In respect of a possible offence under Section 56, the Commission has concluded that, while Wendy Alexander did not take all reasonable steps in seeking to comply with the relevant legislation, she did take significant steps. Having considered all the circumstances, the Commission has decided that it is not appropriate or in the public interest to report this matter to the Procurator Fiscal.”

So if you don’t declare £950 of income on your tax return and get caught, try to use this as a defence. “I did declare most of my income, but I forgot about the £950 from the offshore source. It won’t be in the public interest to prosecute…”

UPDATE 16:30 : “I welcome the Electoral Commission’s announcement today, clearing me of intentional wrongdoing. My honesty and integrity have been confirmed by this judgment.” No it does not Wendy. If you did not deliberately solicit a string of donations from £999 to £950, just below the reporting threshold, we might believe you had some integrity. The list of undeclared donations included; GMB Scotland £999, Michael D Rutterford £999, Neil Davidson £995, Nicholas Kuenssberg £995, John Lyons £995, Phoenix Car Company £995, Strathvale Holdings Limited £995, City Refrigeration Holdings Limited £995, David J Pitt Watson £990, Paul Green £950. That is a pattern of deceit and a deliberate attempt to avoid donor transparency.

Make Your Own Boris Finger-Puppet

Via Weird Wide Web

Gordon Tells Court His “Manifesto Pledges are Not Subject to Legitimate Expectation”

Guido thought that this attempt to take Gordon Brown to Court by a UKIP member for breach of contract over not holding a referendum on the EU Constitution was crazy. It was in the manifesto and a manifesto commitment is a promise.[…]


Tip offs: 0709 284 0531

Quote of the Day

Trump jokes about media bias…

“The media is even more biased against me than ever before. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it. It’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My Wife Melania gives the exact same speech! And people get on her case! And I don’t get it! I don’t know Why!”

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