Thursday, April 10, 2008

No News from the New Statesman

The Staggers remains rudderless and loss making. Geoffrey Robinson has gone on holiday for a fortnight, so don’t expect any news until he gets back. Meanwhile over at the loss making Indy, Roger Alton is taking over as editor. They don’t call it the Dead-Tree-Press for nothing…

Gordon Begs and Rages at Gen-Sec Elect "Don’t Walk Away"

Guido has previously speculated about whether or not the Labour Party was actually legally solvent. It is noticeable that loan after loan has fallen due and not been repaid. The money has been rolled over, reportedly with some reluctance by some lenders. The party is up to its neck in debt to the Co-Op Bank and and the unions via money laundered through Unity Trust Bank. The latter bank has lent so much money to the Labour Party against a small capital base that the FSA put it on the high risk loan register and demanded monthly report monitoring of the risk.

David Pitt-Watson, as a calculating City risk taker, would have been well aware of the risk. The Labour Party is now classed by credit agencies as a dangerously high credit risk. As an unincorporated association the bulk of assets and debts are in law owned by trustees for the Labour Party, which is £20 million in debt and the members of the NEC are personally liable. If an aggrieved creditor were to call in the debts, it would be them who would be on the hook. David Pitt-Watson is worth millions, which a canny creditor might think worth pursuing. Ben Brogan has been briefed by Downing Street that, as speculated first on LabourHome and followed up by the Guardian, this is the reason Pitt-Watson has had second thoughts about the job. Brogan says that it will take until the autumn for “DPW” to “sort his affairs”.

Well it is certainly more plausible than the original spin from Downing Street that the delay was due to “contractual reasons” related to his previous appointment. To be honest, Guido never believed that line and this seems a bit too convenient as well.

Taking the explanation at face value is hard to do. Setting up a discretionary trust to protect your assets from creditors takes weeks not months, it also has the benefit of putting your assets out of the Chancellor’s reach. Wonder how the Labour Party rank-and-file will feel about a multi-millionaire general secretary of the party who has such little faith in his own skills and the party’s ability to raise funds that he hides his own money from creditors whilst putting his assets beyond the reach of the tax man? Not exactly “for the many, not the few” is it?

Incidentally, is this story LabourHome’s first proper scoop? Does it redeem Alex Hilton’s reputation?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Brown Dithers Over OlympicsNow Not Going, but Not Boycotting Either

Two weeks ago the line from Downing Street was:

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Britain will not boycott the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics.

After being humiliated by Kevin Rudd, (the Aussie PM) and Chinese Goons in Downing Street Gordon can’t now straight forwardly answer this simple question:

Q. Will you boycott the opening ceremony of the Chinese Olympics in protest at their policies in Tibet?

A. No I will not be boycotting the opening ceremony, I will not, however, be attending.

It is the will he / won’t he farce of the signing of the Lisbon treaty all over again. Trying to have it both ways because he is afraid to decide. This from the man who has his name on two books on “courage”.

He is however thinking of attending the closing ceremony. A couple of weeks ago we were told he would be attending because the “Dalai Lama himself.. yada yada yada bullshit spin and dither”. Why can’t he just be decisive one way or the other?

UPDATE : After Channel 4 News led on this story yesterday evening both Ben Brogan on the Daily Mail and Nick Robinson were clearly telephoned by the Brownies last night to be briefed that the position was always that the Ditherer was not going to the opening ceremony. A point they have faithfully conveyed. Something that, as far as Guido can determine, we were never told by them before. So the Press Association and many others got it wrong two weeks ago. We were never at war with Eurasia, Eurasia has always been our ally.

Charles Clarke Cashes In

Charles Clarke has been given a position by KPMG. Which is nice of them, it is of course entirely unrelated to the millions of pounds of contracts he gave when he was Secretary of State at the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) and the Home Office.

The DfES paid £1.3 million to KPMG in 2004 while the Home Office paid the company £90,000 for a review of the costing methodology of the ID Cards programme in 2005, both during Clarke’s tenure as the minister in charge.

Former Blairites cashing in on their ministerial experience with companies they regulated is becoming the norm:

  • Patricia Hewitt, former Health Secretary, is now a special consultant at Alliance Boots, owner of Boots the pharmacist. UPDATE : Forgot BT – she of course knows something about crap, too big organisations from her NHS days. She was instrumental in awarding a contract for the huge NHS Spine project to BT.
  • Alan Milburn, another former Health Secretary, is on the Healthcare Advisory Boards of Lloydspharmacy and PepsiCo.
  • Ian McCartney, a former minister at the department in charge of nuclear policy, the DTI, is an adviser to Fluor Corporation, part of a consortium that is bidding to run Sellafield
  • Richard Caborn, another former trade minister, is an advisor to AMEC UK, another company bidding to run Sellafield.
Isn’t it amazing how they never have any business experience when they go into government – not even a whelk stall – but when they come out of government they soon gain some.

Clarke’s appointment was given the all clear by the relevant advisory committee. So that is alright then…

Socialist Worker : "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, In! In! In!"

Not quite their new chant, but the latest edition of Socialist Worker, (the required reading for mockney speaking, public school educated, lefty students) does compare Gordon unfavourably to Margaret Thatcher. He cuts taxes for the bosses and raises taxes on the workers…

Maggie, say the Trotskyites, cut taxes for those on low incomes, Gordon hammers taxes onto the low paid. So can we expect the SWP to update their old chant?

Pound Plunging Means Europhiles Rejoice

This chart makes europhiles moist with excitement…A lot of eurosceptics have a nightmare scenario in which the plunging pound reaches parity with euro. At this point, they believe, swapping pounds for euros would be easier for the political class to sell to fundamentally eurosceptical British voters. It is no big deal the europhiles will claim, “prices will remain unchanged”.
The pound has now plunged to an all-time low against the euro, it bought €1.50 last year and now buys €1.25. At this rate of decline sterling could easily hit parity before the next general election. So a by-product of UK inflation getting out of control, growth faltering and house prices slumping could be joining the European Monetary Union and anchoring our economy to the Bundesbank. You have been warned…

Talking of warnings, only on Saturday Gordon was pontificating that the IMF needed to become “an early warning system”, well yesterday the IMF warned UK house prices could fall 10% this year. Got that Gordon?

+++ Law Lords Unanimously Dismiss Appeal for Iraq Inquiry +++

Naughty Naughtie

Did James Naughtie really just describe Gordon’s political situation as “a circle out of which he cannot jerk himself”. Yes, he did.

You Won’t Read This in the British Press

Andrew Gilligan deservedly won the Journalist of the Year award last night at the self-congratulatory British Press Awards. Who else in the political reporting world deserved an award for actual investigative work? Maybe Johnathan Oliver for the Scoop of the Year, unearthing the David Abrahams proxy funding scandal.

As for the rest of the Lobby – Guido is distinctly unimpressed with most of them. Why do thirsty Lobby hacks have an annual taxpayer subsidy of £210,000 for their bar? Where is the public interest in this subsidy? What other profession needs a bar at their place of work? The only other business that Guido can think of that gets leads in bars is the oldest profession.

Why can’t News International and Associated Press pay for their own office space and telephone lines instead of sponging subsidies* off the taxpayer? They are hugely profitable businesses.

The lossmaking Indy, Guardian and Telegraph collectively make less profits than Guido does, so perhaps they need their offices subsidised by the people who refuse to buy their papers. Or perhaps there are just too many newspapers and not enough readers willing to pay for them? The Lobby is full of drunken hypocrites recycling spin from the party machines. A cull of their numbers would hardly be a loss to the world.

Peter Oborne in his Triumph of the Political Class characterises the Lobby system as having produced a tame “client media”. He is absolutely right, the Lobby is far too cosily embedded in the politico-media system, far too close to their subjects, with the likes of Nick Robinson flashing his taxpayer-financed credit card to pour the better vintages down the throats of ministers who have their lunch on the BBC telly-taxpayers. The same ministers have their groceries sent to their mortgage subsidised home paid for out of the costs allowance fiddle by low income taxpayers who have just had their tax rate doubled. The system stinks, those who are supposed to be watching over politicians benefit from the system staying the same.

Too much public money is sloshing around Westminster effectively keeping them cosy together. No wonder Nick Robinson and Michael Martin don’t want us to see their expenses – they are the biggest beneficiaries of keeping taxpayers in the dark. At the British Press Awards last night Cameron began with “I haven’t come here to try and suck up to you” then went on to paraphrase H. L. Mencken saying that the relationship between newspapers and politicians should be “fractious, edgy and confrontational”. H. L. Mencken actually said that the relationship between a journalist and a politician should be like that between “a dog and a lampost”, journalists should be pissing on politicians not getting pissed with ‘em…

*No taxpayers are harmed in the making of this blog.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

£1,000 Offered for Jacqui Smith’s Fingerprints

click to enlarge
Guido previously offered dinner as a reward and now the good people at NO2ID and Privacy International are offering £1,000. Unlike them Guido won’t ask you to donate the reward to charity. There are sommeliers waiting…

Seen Elsewhere

Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome
UKIPers Will Come Home in 2015 | Sun


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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