Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Due to the quantity of political sleaze being reported Guido has introduced a simple Pigs in Shit rating system for guidance on the misdemeanors of porcine politicians (guide here).

Tory MEP Sir Robert Atkins Flew to Son’s Wedding on EU Expenses
His wife, Dulcie, is employed as a secretary and his son, James, worked for him in Brussels until 2004.

Ed Balls & Yvette Cooper
This morning on Sky Adam Boulton asked Ed Balls about the double claiming for mortgages by him and his wife, “it’s complicated” was the reply. Tell us Ed, where is your primary residence really Ed? (He is a reader of this blog).


Boris uncovers Ken’s Wasted Millions


Has Guido missed any sleaze? Answers in the comments please – will update above.

Coaching the Witness and Double Standards

Guido is getting a lot of abuse from the ConservativeHomies for objecting to Spelman’s Nanny on the State. Oh well, guess they won’t vote Guido a Conservative Movement Award this year. C’est la vie.

So here are four points her defenders need to answer:-

  1. The nanny’s latest statement (being distributed by CCHQ) matches almost word for word Spelman’s carefully drafted statement. Coincidence? All her own words? In Court that would be called “coaching the witness”, for obvious reasons judges don’t like it.

  2. If Spelman was doing nothing wrong, why did she stop the arrangement? If she later thought it wrong, why did she not pay back the money? Either it was proper and there was no need to stop the arrangement, or it was improper and she should have paid back the money.
  3. A lot of low income single mothers are jailed for fiddling benefits. A year’s salary for a nanny is a significant sum – circa £20,000 – more than a single mother gets on benefits. Why should this benefits fiddle at the taxpayer’s expense be treated differently? Why should a struggling single mother fiddling benefits go to jail, but a powerful, wealthy married mother doing the same be praised for her integrity?

  4. What kind of “constituency secretary” doesn’t type a single letter?

Answers in the comments please.

Spelman Goes for the Hain Defence

She has just given a door-step statement justifying herself saying she didn’t at the time think it was wrong. She also says she will refer herself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner (after she has been caught). Come off it – this is a variation on the “Hain Defence” tactic – when you have been caught, turn yourself in. Why only now?

In 2003 she told The Observer “Sleaze was a particular turn-off to female voters and I can quite understand that. They also, in 1997, felt that the Conservative Party was out of touch and arrogant.” It would be a full four years before she took the first chance available to fiddle her expenses…

UPDATE : Those claiming that the children were at school in May 1997 so the nanny was free for six hours during the day should note that the youngest son was pre-nursery age (2 1/2 years old, born December 1994).

Tories are Making a Strategic Error

George Osborne on the Today show this morning defended the integrity of Tory chairman Caroline Spelman over the Nanny-on-the-State charges from Michael Crick. Does anybody believe the spin being proffered that the nanny was also the constituency secretary – who in that case was looking after the kids when she was supposedly performing her six-hours-a-day of taxpayer funded duties?

It is just not at all credible, stop pushing this line, it compounds matters.

Caroline Spelman will very likely have to answer to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, because if a complaint has not already been made by a Labour MP it will be made by one of Guido’s co-conspirators on Monday. Quite rightly.

Can Spelman credibly lecture wayward MEPs on their expenses now? Can she now credibly defend and advance Cameron’s genuinely hardline policy on expense fiddling? The answer is a resounding “no”. If senior Tories publicly defend her or make excuses, as Osborne has just done, they will re-contaminate the Tory brand.

Caroline Spelman should first of all admit the truth and apologise. Pay back the money defrauded. Accept that she can’t after this credibly be the public face of the Conservative Party’s anti-sleaze agenda. It was only three months ago that Cameron gave a keynote speech blaming the loss of public faith in political institutions on the loss of trust in politicians:

Our Parliament is scorned. Our parties are shrinking … Let’s be clear what they think of us: “you lie and you spin, you fiddle your expenses and you break your promises.” To describe this disengagement and cynicism as a ‘mood’ is to underestimate both the depth and the intensity of the breakdown

Dave needs to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk”. In Ireland in the mid-1990s the Progressive Democrats, a liberal centre-right party, came from nowhere to a decade of power on the back of a “clean hands, anti-corruption” platform. In the government coalition with Fianna Fáil they ended up turning a blind eye to Bertie Ahern’s personal financial fiddles. They were consequently wiped out electorally after voters lost faith in their “clean hands” brand. Don’t underestimate the danger here…

Spelman Had Nanny on the State

Conservatives are supposed to be opposed to the Nanny State, but Caroline Spelman had the state pay for her nanny as soon as she arrived in parliament in 1997. She had not even been an MP for a year when she started fiddling the system according to Michael Crick. She had a tax free nanny provided by taxpayers by the simple expedient of claiming the nanny was her constituency secretary.

No messing about, as soon as she got elected to the trough she started pigging out. It is endemic in the political class regardless of what colour rosette they wear. Geoff Hoon fiddles his mortage allowance, Tony Blair too abused it (as Cherie implicitly confessed in her new book), Nick Clegg amazingly makes an expenses claim that – to the penny – matches the maximum legally allowed. Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper fiddle their combined allowances and lie about their primary residence. They are almost all at it, they see it as a perk of the job. None are prosecuted, so it will go on. Let us be clear about this, it is not another “technical breach of the rules”, Spelman was stealing from the taxpayers.

Stanley Johnson Seen Staring at Porno Pictures in Soho

As was Guido last night. We were both at the private view for Blue Period, an exhibition of pleasantly pervy artwork by Jonathan Yeo. Inspired by his famous Bush portrait Yeo has done some more portraits which look traditional, but on closer inspection are for top-shelf viewing only.

As Guido was leaving (early, before the booze had even run out) Yeo cheerfully said “thanks for all the old magazines”. Mrs Fawkes gave a look…

Third Tory MEP John Purvis Pathetically Tries to Blame His £110,000 Annual Fiddle on Lack of Clear Rules

John Purvis’ press officer has just called Guido with this official statement from him:
“I have asked the Quaestors to investigate the reason that I did not receive clarification from the European Parliament about my arrangements for paying staff, even though I specifically asked for it as far back as January 2007. I will not be commenting further until they get back to me.”

Blaming the authorities is just not good enough and won’t wash, so allow Guido to assist CCHQ’s Hugh Thomas and the European Parliament’s Quaestors in their respective investigations.

Exhibit A

Article (52) of the EU’s Financial Regulations clearly states:

1. All financial actors and any other person involved in budget implementation, management, audit or control shall be prohibited from taking any action which may bring their own interests into conflict with those of the Communities. Should such a case arise, the person in question must refrain from such actions and refer the matter to the competent authority.

2. There is a conflict of interests where the impartial and objective exercise of the functions of a financial actor or other person, as referred to in paragraph 1, is compromised for reasons involving family, emotional life, political or national affinity, economic interest or any other shared interest with the beneficiary.

So Guido asked him a few obvious questions this morning about his contract with Purvis & Company:

click to enlarge

Guido has found out some of the answers already, you can probably guess some of the answers yourself. (No doubt the mainstream media will finish the job.) He has essentially, just like Den Dover and Giles Chichester broken the rules. Lack of clarity? It is obvious to a 12-year old that what they have been up to is unethical. Paying taxpayers money to their family fiddles and/or gaming the rules for personal profit? Plain and simple crooked behaviour. Whoops-a-daisies “in good faith” don’t cut it with Guido…

+++ ConHom : Den Dover Sacked as Tory MEP’s Chief Whip +++

UPDATE : ConservativeHome has the scoop here.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Silence from Brussels

The Tories have just announced that they are sending an investigation team to find out what the hell is going on with Tory MEPs. Hugh Thomas is the Tory’s new Head of Compliance (a qualified barrister and an ordained minister

[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ Tories Send CCHQ Compliance Hit Squad to Brussels +++

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Friday Caption Contest

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Sky News ask a “Labour representative” where the local St George’s Day events are. He replies:

“You’re better off asking the UKIP candidate” 

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