Thursday, January 22, 2009

+++ Hain Slammed by Standards and Privileges Committee +++

Guido is reading the report:
  • Hain blames Steve Morgan for the original failure to register donations.
  • Accepts he was personally at fault after campaign ended.

Committee concludes:

We agree with the Commissioner that Mr Hain’s failure to register donations on this scale is both serious and substantial. We are bound to take this into account, notwithstanding the facts that Mr Hain has apologised unreservedly, and that he acted with commendable speed to rectify his omissions once he discovered them, without waiting for others to invite him to do so. Because of the seriousness and scale of this breach and noting the considerable, justified public concern that it has created, we would ordinarily have been minded to propose a heavier penalty. However, we accept that there was no intention to deceive and Mr Hain has already paid a high price for his omissions. We therefore recommend that Mr Hain apologise by means of a personal statement on the floor of the House.

Expense Cover-Up – What Really Happened

Margaret Beckett was embarassed on the BBC’s Daily Politics yesterday after PMQs, by vehemently insisting it was clear the Prime Mentalist had just promised a free vote on the expenses Statutory Instrument. Beckett was all over the place and Brillo had some sport out of her discomfort.

In the morning at the Lobby briefing, Downing Street briefed that the expenses Statutory Instrument was to be a whipped vote, yet during PMQs Brown seemed to announce a free vote, until finally it was confirmed at the afternoon Lobby briefing that it had been withdrawn. Downing Street blames Harriet Harman in her capacity as the Leader of the House of Commons.

Guido suspects that the return to a dithering shambles in government spin owes something to the “deputy PM” Lord Mandelson being in India trying to smooth over the mess left by Miliband – though the Indian PM is refusing to meet him in a deliberate snub.

The mySociety organised online campaign against the MPs expenses cover-up saw 90% of MPs contacted by voters opposed to the move. Thousands were mobilised very quickly. Despite this a back room deal was still all set to go ahead until Dave vetoed it.

Shadow Leader of the House Alan Duncan now claims that the Tories rejected the moves on principle, it is fair to say that on this issue Cameron has “got religion” and thinks the old ways are finished. (The LibDems have always been sound on transparency.) However an old school axis of expense fiddlers exists which is cross party. Tory bed blockers and Labour backbenchers all have a highly developed sense of entitlement to pocketing the taxpayer’s money. This particular alliance with Labour, quietly sorted out by Sir Michael Spicer, chairman of the 1922 Committee, in his capacity as shop steward for Tory MPs had agreed a nod and a wink deal with Labour to get the motion passed. Cameron scuppered the deal when he ordered that all Tory MPs be whipped to vote against it. Brown only U-turned after it became clear that the deal was off.

Has Oxygen Deprivation Brain-Damaged Kawczynski?

He may at 6 foot, 8 1/2 inches be the tallest MP in parliament, but is Guido the only one who thinks Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski handing over a constitutent’s letter (without a warrant) to a policeman shows that he is an idiot?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gordon’s Unfunded Spending

The UK budget deficit for December alone was £11.4 billion. The numbers are so big that you have to break them down. The government is overspending - tax receipts minus expenditure – by over £14 million an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

At PMQs Gordon seemed to boast about his plans to overspend. This is not sustainable.

Exclusive : LibDem is New Boss"Get Yer Evening Standard! Evening Standard! Only a Quid!"

Ex-KGB man turned oligarch, Alexander Lebedev, is said to have paid a nominal £1 for a stake of 75.1% in the London Evening Boris. Which kind of supports Guido’s thesis that the newspaper business is a dying business.

This might not be good news for Boris, the paper has been a staunch supporter of him, Lebedev’s consigliere, Justin Byam Shaw, will become deputy chairman. The wheeler dealer is fondly known as Justin Byem Sellem and is presumably a supporter of the LibDems since Guido understands he donated money to Nick Clegg’s leadership campaign – although strangely Guido can find no record of this on the Electoral Commission register. Boris might not be able to count on slavish support in the future…

What is the betting that Lebedev will buy the Indy next? Any takers?

UPDATE 16.30 : Nick Clegg’s office have been in touch to say Justin Byam Shaw gave £3,000 to Clegg’s leadership campaign and it is on the Electoral Register. Clegg has two separate entries, one as leader and another as an MP. Guido was looking at the wrong one. Doh!

Miliband Slips on Another Banana Skin

David Miliband travels the world stepping from one banana skin to another. After insulting Manmohan Singh in his own drawing room,* resulting in the worst diplomatic flap with India in living memory, the Indian PM has Guido understands, written a frank letter to Gordon Brown conveying New Delhi’s disappointment over the behaviour and comments of the “arrogant” Foreign Secretary.

Miliband gave a speech a few days ago, perhaps hoping to curry favour with the incoming administration, by dissing and disavowing the outgoing George Bush’s “War on Terror”. Miliband said the notion of the “War on Terror” is misleading and mistaken. That would be the “War on Terror” which British soldiers are dying fighting.
So what did Obama say about the subject yesterday? He said;
Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred…. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

Obama will fight on, perhaps without Miliband.

*The Militwat once publicly lectured Guido on how to blog at a New Statesman event. So Guido knows how Manmohan Singh feels.

Economic Recovery Needs the Audacity of Hope

The City, home of eternal optimists, has begun to seriously price in the all too real risk of national bankruptcy. It would be the first time Britain has defaulted on the national debt since the dark ages. An historic legacy for the former chancellor who, ironically, once claimed to be prudent.
Guido had lunch with a Labour MP recently, when the conversation turned to the economy it became clear that the City and finance were a foreign place, far away, not really understood. The important thing was that there were new hospitals and schools. That the lights may go out with teachers and nurses left unpaid as result of New Labour’s Peronismo policies was not contemplated.

In contrast the writers on the Telegraph have gone into apocalyptic group-think; Simon Heffer wants the IMF in immediately to deal with the insanity of Brown, horrified that £37 billion has been wasted on the banks “a sum larger than our defence budget”, Iain Martin reckons history will see Gordon Brown as the Neville Chamberlain of economics, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard warns of the perilous mismatch between Britain’s foreign reserves at £61 billion (less than Thailand’s reserves) when our foreign liabilities are $4.4 trillion.

Clearly the dire economic situation is of an historic and epic magnitude. Brown is doing the only thing he knows, throwing taxpayer’s money down the plug-hole. The opposition response has been slow to coherence, now under the slogan of sound money they tentatively advocate fiscal responsibility coupled with measures to boost business lending. When seeking to blame Brown for the perilous debt situation, they need to avoid being relentlessly negative, Labour will accuse them of “talking down the economy”. It is a long dark tunnel, yet the opposition needs to offer some optimism and hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change Has Come

One Last Encore

Guido won’t be live blogging the inauguration (yawn), turn up the volume, play this one last time as loud as possible and annoy your office lefties before Dubya exits in the helicopter. Guido notices that Brillo’s sidekick, Anita Anand, is providing the impartial political coverage for which the BBC is famous…

Limo for Mr Maguire


Seen Elsewhere

Yes Side Emphatically Won Campaign | Speccie
Joyce Thacker on Sick Leave | Doncaster Free Press
Claire Perry Slams ‘Goodies’ for Scots | Sun
Westminster Truce Shatters | Times
Boris: Prime Minister By Monday | James Ford
Tories Say Don’t Bribe the Scots | Times
Dave Can’t Stay if Scots Go | Laura Perrins
BBC Crew Attacked in Russia | BBC
English Parliament Would Rescue Cameron | Tim Montgomerie
Hodge Confesses to Second Bike Crash | Standard
Hodge Biker Smash | Telegraph


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The Prime Minister feels the pressure:

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