Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Exclusive : Embarrassed Congress Buses in Staffers to Listen to Gordon

This just came over from a Washington D.C. co-conspirator. It is a memo sent to Congressional staff by email this morning by the Congressional and Senatorial authorities.

Gordon is not exactly a room filler…

On Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 11:00 a.m., The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will address a Joint Meeting of Congress. Permanent Congressional staff who are appropriately attired and displaying a Congressional ID will be permitted to attend the speech as space allows.

Permanent Congressional staff may begin assembling in the Hall of Columns (first floor of The Capitol near the South Door) at 10:00 a.m. Chamber security staff will seat Congressional staff on the House floor as space allows. Chiefs of Staff should proceed to the front of the staff line in the Hall of Columns and identify themselves as such so they may be seated first.

Should you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Office of the Sergeant at Arms office at 224-2341.

How embarrassing that they have to pack the chamber with staffers…

How Many Standing Ovations Will Congress Give Brown?

Guido never tires of reminding his Labour minded friends that they got rid of a three-time election winning political genius and replaced him with Gordon Brown. They took a leader who instinctively understood the dynamics of a personal or political situation and replaced Blair with a man who suffers from social autism and an unceasing ability to make himself look an embarrassing twat.

The Americans are a polite and courteous people, they will undoubtedly give Brown a standing ovation. Congress however is not an audience that can be manipulated by party apparatchiks and placemen “spontaneously” clapping. Nevertheless when Blair turned on the charm and upped the oratory to the US Congress they gave him 19 standing ovations. How many standing ovations do you think Gordon will receive?

UPDATE : Those young staffer’s legs have a lot of energy in them. By Gordon’s standards that was one of his better speeches. Guido counted even the half-hearted stand-ups ,making it 17, BBC reckons 18. Adam Boulton reckoned only half-a-dozen or so proper standing ovations.

Prize Competition : 
What is the White House Head of Protocol Thinking?

The Prime Mentalist arrived at the White House yesterday and was welcomed by Gladys Boluda, who as the US State Department’s Chief of Protocol, is too polite to point out to Gordon that he was about to meet the most powerful man on the planet with his trousers tucked into his sock.

The wittiest entry in the comments describing what she is thinking wins a copy of John Laughland’s A History of Political Trials: From Charles I to Saddam Hussein and a copy of The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze. Entries close midday Friday.

Via Nigel Fletcher from the Downing Street Flickr feed. Many thanks to the Downing Street digital team for this, you are not a complete waste of taxpayers money after all.

Spelman Ruling Establishes Important Principle

Guido argued strongly ahead of the decision that whatever the Standards and Privileges Committee ruled exactly, Spelman should have to pay back the cash she fiddled from her parliamentary expenses to pay the nanny. Given that the Committee of MPs invariably gives MPs under investigation the benefit of the doubt it seemed likely that she would get away with some claim ignorance of the rules, cite some ambiguity, claim it was a technical or administrative over-sight or whatever. These people are politicians after all, spin and blame avoidance are their way of life.

Nevertheless, even though it was ruled that she had “inadvertently” fiddled the money, she has been ordered to pay some of the money back on the basis that the taxpayer was paying the higher rate for a nanny not the rate for a parliamentary assistant and she therefore has to repay the difference.

They gave her the benefit of the doubt. Spelman ironically contradicted herself in her own evidence and shot herself in the foot. [Full report here.]

Mrs Spelman told us that Mrs Haynes “would have been most interested in the take-home pay received for her employment as a whole.” In our view, this does not help Mrs Spelman’s case. Rather, it tends to support the Commissioner’s view that Mrs Haynes would have been unlikely to have worked as Mrs Spelman’s nanny without some separate financial remuneration. The fact that Mrs Haynes was paid nothing as Mrs Spelman’s nanny while she was also working and being paid as Mrs Spelman’s administration assistant, but after giving up the latter role was paid a salary as nanny of £13,000, is in our view telling.

Many would say that just demonstrates what a poor advocate she is, others would say she was just being honest. Nevertheless she hired her own nanny subsequently at the rate she was previously paying Tina Haynes out of our taxes.

Guido regards this as a victory over the piggies, it established the principle that wrongfully claimed expenses – even if “inadvertently” claimed – must be repaid. Take note Jacqui. So now what do we do about the Wintertons?

Deputy PMQs Which Started in America Globally Locally

Say that Again, Where Did the Problem Start?

Gordon was like a puppy on heat in the Oval office, clearly relieved that Obama managed to squeeze in his photo-op in between lunch and seeing the Boy Scouts of America. Here is what Gordon told the squashed in Lobby
“This is a global problem. It needs global solutions. There is a global banking collapse that we are dealing with. If we could have the same standards and the same rules that we are about to apply in the USA and in Britain to apply to other countries around the world, the same standards of disclosure and accountability and remuneration, I think the confidence in the banking system will be restored.”

For some reason he didn’t say the phrase about the problem “which started in America”. He did however ignore the questioner* who asked him would he apologise.

*Guido is sometimes harsh on Nick Robinson, but that was a blinder, Gordon looked winded as if punched in the solar plexus. We can but dream….

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

+++ Spelman Must Repay Only £9,600 "Over-Payment" for Nanny Assistant +++

MPs Push Through Two Rule Changes to Hide Fiddles

It is a legal requirement that on the ballot paper an MP gives his home address. It is a connection that allows voters to know where their representative lives. It carries a risk of course, all celebrities would prefer nutters not to know where they live, but that is the price for being in the public eye.

The link has survived the threats of anarchist bombers, fears of Nazi invasion and IRA terrorism, survived until now. Ask yourself why MPs yesterday voted to keep their home addresses secret for the first time in parliamentary history. Is it really over fears for security? Is it actually because they want to keep things private and make it more difficult to discover that they are fiddling their expenses or have us know in what style they live at our expense? Isn’t it really because they want to keep on troughing out of sight.

That is not all, Guido wants to remind co-conspirators that because so many MPs are getting caught fiddling the main home / second home allowance – Julian Lewis is the latest – MPs are also planning to change the rules in the Green Book to make the fiddle permissible. Take a moment to take that in.

The Speaker appointed committee supposedly to look into tightening up the rules and improving transparency has recommended that the biggest and most expensive fiddle committed by MPs be made permissible. It is a Kafkaesque joke at our expense. It will no longer be a blatant fiddle by MPs defrauding the taxpayer, it will be within the rules.

Also the provision in the rules that “any allowance for overnight costs arising from Parliamentary duties in London may not be used for accommodation expenses in respect of a residence designated by an hon Member as his main residence for tax purposes” will not be included in the new Green Book. So the pigs will be able to maximise their capital gains exemption on their HMRC defined primary residence and maximise their expense claims on their self-determined primary residence for ripping off the taxpayer. Only venal MPs would fix the laws for themselves so that they can profitably legally have two different primary residences.

They might as well just spit in our faces and send us the bill for cleaning up.

Flashback : Brown Visits America – 2008 v 2009

2008 Gordon lands in America in the morning and the dollar crashes to an all time historic low by lunchtime:

2009 Gordon lands in Washington and the Dow crashes to an historic low by teatime:

Once again the Jonah effect is felt transatlantic, God punishes all those who come into contact with the accursed one-eyed son of the manse.

Mr Brown Goes to Washington

This is pure comedy; Ben Brogan reflects on the gift of a pencil holder (?) made from wood from HMS Gannet:

…I wonder what Mr Obama will make of the fact that the only action it saw was in Sudan when it shelled rebels against the British empire. He’s also getting Sir Martin Gilbert’s seven volume biography of Churchill, which will help him find out more about how the Mau-Mau were successfully suppressed in Kenya by the British Emp… Oh, I’m sure it will be fine.

It was of course Churchill who ordered the suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s; Obama’s grandfather was detained as a subversive for six months at that time. Hopefully Obama will see the funny side. Already in Washington, Adam Boulton said yesterday that

… observers will be on the look out for any hint of a patronising slight from the President. For example Downing Street is hoping for a joint news conference with the President as was routine with Bush and Clinton…

On landing outside snowbound Washington after a 7 hour transatlantic flight, while Brown was getting his post-flight make-up done onboard, the rest of the Lobby learnt there is to be no press conference with Obama.

Brogan says there will just be

… a quick question or two on the fly, not the standing podium-to-podium with the Messiah image that Mr Brown imagined. The joint presser is usually a given on these trips, so this is odd.

Over at the Telegraph Toby Harnden mocks

Mr Brown might be forgiven for thinking that his friend, rival and predecessor Tony Blair would not have been treated the same way by his bosom buddy President George W. Bush. After all, there are 132 rooms in the White House at least some of which, presumably, are currently be free of snow.

On the other hand, President Obama is terribly busy this Tuesday. The White House schedule tells us that he is delivering remarks at the Department of Transportation to deliver remarks about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is also speaking at the Department of Interior to mark its 160th anniversary.

There’s a conflab with Pentagon chief Bob Gates. Oh, and Mr Obama will also meet “a delegation from the Boy Scouts of America and receive their 2008 Report to the Nation” in the Oval Office.

Mr Brown might lament that despite the so-called “special relationship” Britain is now getting the same treatment as the President of Uruguay but he need not despair. I’m told there’s a chance he might get drinks with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening.

The Boy Scouts of America obviously are better prepared than the Downing Street boys…


Seen Elsewhere

Does Europe Really Want Britain to Quit? | Nick Wood
Immigration Nation | Hopi Sen
Tories Choose Anti-Israel Candidate in Rochester | JC
Osborne’s Daycare Obsession is a Time Bomb | Kathy Gyngell
BBC Marr Pinko Trying to Ban the Queen | Speccie
Eric Hobsbawm: Companion of Dishonour | Standpoint
Guido Party Gossip | Iain Dale
Russell Brand Comes Out as 9/11 Truther | Guardian
Health Revolution is Underway | Fraser Nelson
UKIP Gets Professional | Red Box
Kelly Tolhurst Wins Rochester Open Primary | BBC


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Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Cameron’s refusal to pay the £1.7 billion EU bill by December 1st:

“Well, then he’s gonna pay on December 2nd”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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