“Block Boris” Says Ken’s Transport for London Commissar

As panic starts to grip Ken and the London Labour Party things are getting pretty desperate. Gordon lies at PMQs regularly that Boris wants to cut police numbers – as if a Tory mayor would ever cut back on coppers. Now Ken is pulling whatever levers he can to hold on to power. London’s transport commissar, Peter Hendy, has ordered his spin team to counter the popular Boris message on killer bendy-buses. Transport for London has also told taxi drivers not to issue receipts with “Back Boris” logos. Guido understands that 50,000 books of these receipts have already been snapped up by cabbies. This is a mistake by Ken, cabbies are not ones to succumb to authority. Petty diktaks like this will only get their backs up and ensure they do back Boris.
More sinister are the implicit threats to police funding hinted at if police sources don’t stop telling the truth about the appalling safety record of Ken’s bendy-buses. Ken clearly favours his friend Castro’s policing methods, where the police follow the party line…

UPDATE : In the comments there was some dispute about whether Hendy threatened police funding. Here is the quote from an email: “The statements clearly come from the Met traffic officers involved in the investigation (and are manifestly incorrect). It makes me inclined to cut support for TOCU in future budgets as clearly their support for us is limited to taking money and is one way.”

TOCU is the Transport Operational Command Unit, the Met division charged with tackling road safety and bus crime. Funded by TfL, it has 1,200 police officers, community support officers and traffic wardens and is a key part of the Met’s anti-crime strategy.

Steve Richards Offered Editorship of New Statesman

Sam Coates says the Indy’s Steve Richards is to be the next editor of the New Statesman. Maybe. Guido understands he was offered the job and has been “thinking about it”. He has not however as yet formally accepted the worst job in political journalism – working for Geoffrey Robinson…

LibDemVoice has a copy of a press release from Nick Clegg about the speaker blocking the full publication of MP’s expenses in full.

“There are legitimate grounds for appealing the decision to publish private addresses. However, there is no earthly reason why the rest of the information should not be published immediately.

“Any delay will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.”

So Guido called Nick Clegg’s office.

GF : I see from Nick’s press release that he thinks MPs should publish their full expenses immediately. When is he going to publish his expenses?
Tim : I don’t know. Can I get his press officer Hannah to call you?

So Guido called Lynne Featherstone, who is very strong on the issue

GF : When is Lynne going to publish her expenses in full?
Ian : Err, don’t know. I’ll ask her.
GF : Great, get back to me.

Guido called Ed Davey’s Office.

GF : When is Ed going to publish his expenses in full?
Kerry : He will as soon as he can. We have had staffing problems and he has been very busy with the Lisbon Treaty.

So Ed Davey is going to publish his expenses in full. Just as well because his leader says any delay will “will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.” The LibDems are talking the talk, can they walk the walk? Don’t delay…

UPDATE 16.15 : Clegg’s office has just called to say he will be publishing his expenses in full the week after next. They were not clear if all LibDem MPs will be doing the same.

Where’s Gordon?™ “PM Got Lost” Says Her Majesty

Remember when he locked himself in a bathroom and had to be rescued by Blair? Or when he first became PM and was found at 5 a.m. downstairs in his dressing gown by armed police who had rushed to the scene outside his office after he forgot his security code? Mr Bean is the best description.

Like a Vampire, “Destroy Parliament” Clause Returns

UPDATE 14.45 : Lots of claims that the article below incorrectly interprets the Act. No definitive legalistic answer on this point as yet. So proceed with caution.

UPDATE 16.25 : Head of Legal says stand down from the barricades.

The victorious Save Parliament Campaign needs to come out of mothballs again. SpyBlog has spotted that hidden in the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill is a little clause to legally permit a Ministerial dictatorship:

Part 6
FINAL PROVISION
43 Power to make consequential provision

(1) A Minister of the Crown, or two or more Ministers of the Crown acting jointly, may by order make such provision as the Minister or Ministers consider appropriate in consequence of this Act.

(2) An order under subsection (1) may —

    (a) amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by or an Act;

    (b) include transitional or saving provision.

(3) An order under subsection (1) is to be made by statutory instrument.

(4) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which amends or repeals a provision of an Act may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which does not amend or repeal a provision of an Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

Full details on the excellent SpyBlog.

Barred Campaign Photos

Masses of broadcast and print media coverage for the campaign to bar Alistair Darling from pubs. First photo of a pub displaying the “Barred” poster comes from the Jolly Brewer in Lincoln. So no chance of Alistair Darling getting a round in there. Was there ever a chance of him getting a round in?

Send more poster sighting pictures to Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com.

Print out the downloaded the poster (pdf) from here. Some cracking entries already in for the sing-a-long campaign song competition. Closes Friday, 5pm.

Picture via John Trenchard.

Barred by the Blogosphere from Bars and Pubs

Cameron picked up on this at PMQs as has the BBC and the Telegraph. Guido first saw it on the Devil’s blog, he hat-tips the Reactionary Snob. The Wardman Wire has an amusingly po-faced audio report from the BBC. The Devil-designed A4 poster download is suitable for pub windows. The mandatory Facebook group is up here.

Guido will give a prize of a copy of John McCain’s new book Hard Call: Courageous Decisions by Inspiring People to anyone who comes up with a decent campaign sing along in a pub song. Entries in the comments…

Hain’s Future Picture Cloudy

Guido previously suggested that Peter Hain could find an alternative career as a politico-celebrity endorser of commercial services.

Alas perhaps this is not to be, Hain’s ringing commerical endorsement of Picture Financial Services plc has not helped the business. It closed to new business in February as it got into financial difficulties and is now rumoured to be about to change hands in a fire-sale for 1p.

Not exactly the picture of success envisioned by Hain in his endorsement.

Elsewhere Morgan Allan Moore, the spin firm that ran Hain’s leadership campaign and secured his endorsements for clients who were donors, had lined up to be taken over in a multi-million pound deal. Alas as the company has become mired in an ethical standards inquiry that deal has been aborted. Hain has not brought good fortune to his friends.

Most serious of all, the ongoing police investigation has, it is rumoured, uncovered some interesting spending by Hain’s campaign that might not please the GMB brothers.

Guido suspects the union members will not appreciate the way their hard-earned subs were spent by the champagne swilling radical…

Chris Bryant on Gaydar

Chris Bryant MP is on More 4 News tomorrow talking about the wonders of the internet.

Here is his take on the benefits of progress through technology:

“30, 40 years ago most gay men and lesbians around the country and if you lived in a rural area or a district like mine in the South Wales valley as soon as they knew they were gay they would disappear off to Cardiff or one of the big cities and nowadays they can go online and find one another on the internet”

Before gayers would have to go nightclubs, now as Chris demonstrates here, they can just upload their photo online. Progress…

When Ken Met the Chinese

On a trip to Beijing in April 2006, Ken Livingstone shamefully compared the 1990 Poll Tax riots in Trafalgar Square with the massacre of hundreds of peacefully protesting students in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Not really a valid comparison is it? The Met Police didn’t shoot or kill anyone. The violent Poll Tax Riots were a response to the policies of a democratically elected government whereas hundreds of peacefully protesting Chinese citizens were murdered by a dictatorship in Tiananmen Square. Of all Ken’s many pitiful apologies for dictators like Chavez and Castro, this was just about the lowest.

The Olympic Torch will be in London on April 6. Guido will be supporting the Free Tibet Campaign’s Freedom Torch Relay in Argyle Square on that day. That burning Olympic torch should not pass through London unhindered while the flame of freedom is extinguished in Tibet.

F o I Me? No Hypocrisy Says Robinson

Nick Robinson has acknowledged Guido’s FoI request for his expenses on his own blog. He doesn’t get drawn on the whys and wherefores of the issue instead he just gives a politician’s answer referring readers to the BBC’s official reason for refusing. He doesn’t say why he thinks he shouldn’t tell his paymasters his expenses yet MPs should.

Your request falls outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act because the BBC and the other public service broadcasters are covered by the Act only in respect of information held for purposes “other than those of journalism, art or literature”

Well that argument seems flawed on two counts. Firstly the cost of a bottle of wine ordered by Nick at the telly taxpayer’s expense is not information held for the purposes of journalism. It is information held, by law, for the purposes of accounting. Guido has not FoI’d Nick’s notes of the lunch, he simply wants to know how many pound notes a bottle of wine poured down the throat of a politician costs the licence payers. Guido has not requested the names of his dining partners either. There is therefore no journalistic reason to keep the cost of a bottle of wine secret is there? It is public money after all.

Secondly the BBC has given dozens of FoI responses to requests about expense claim requests in the past. So why is this one different? There is a clear public interest in the voters and licence payers discovering how lavish are the contents of the trough that the politico-media nexus dines at – the public pays for the “trebles all round”. Guido revealed a few weeks ago that the Lobby’s journalists have their own bar subsidised by taxpayers to the tune of £1,000 every working day. Is it any wonder that for so long they have gone easy on MPs when they are guilty of sharing the same trough?

Not Emily, Not Cathy

Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis has emailed back to say that she hasn’t dined Chez Cameron and she isn’t the source of the Nancy Cameron story. Guido now paging Daisy McAndrew, Kirsty Wark, Martha Kearney….

Politico-Geeky Plea

Tom Steinberg is a very reasonable man but he has clearly pulled his hair out. He has had a hand in a few of those handy mySociety utility projects like TheyWorkForYou.com and WriteToThem.com. He not unreasonably wants the parliamentary authorities to publish bills in an internet-friendly format.

Not a partisan point, not a big budget issue. The geeks want it to be in a format that is fit for the 21st century… they have an online petition (of course). Guido usually ignores online petitions (like the government) however this one he has signed up to. Tell the bureaucrats to lose the quils and get with the XML. You can too here.

UPDATE : Oops, Tom says it is not a petition, it is an “action email list”.

UPDATE II : Cameron is backing the Free Our Bills campaign – see here.

Don’t Read All About It :Robinson’s Boozing Expenses are a State Secret

Nick Robinson was on the Today show and has a blog up this morning about the progress of openness campaigners in finding out about MP’s expenses. Ironically Guido was just about to blog about his progress in trying to find out about Nick’s own expenses. The BBC reckons it would be unfair for us to know how much Nick Robinson spends on boozing with politicians. Guido thinks it unfair that British TV viewers have to pay for it against their will. Why pay the licence fee if they won’t tell you what they spend it on?

Mr Guido Fawkes
March 20, 2008

Dear Mr Fawkes

RFI20080192 – Freedom of Information request

Thank you for your email of 26 February 2008 requesting a full, itemised account of the expenses of the BBC’s Political Editor, Nick Robinson, and in particular any itemised receipts for Shepherds, Le Caprice and The Atrium restaurants. The reference number for your request is RFI20080192.

Your request falls outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act because the BBC and the other public service broadcasters are covered by the Act only in respect of information held for purposes “other than those of journalism, art or literature” (see Schedule I, Part VI of the Act). We are not therefore obliged to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.

The BBC considers that this includes information about the costs involved in creating its output, including expenses incurred during this process. Information which is not subject to disclosure under the Act because of Schedule I might otherwise be exempt from disclosure because of the application of other provisions of the Act. The BBC notes the recent decision notice of the Information Commissioner (ref. FS50085710): in that case the Commissioner considered that payments (including expenses) made to talent did fall within the scope of the Act. However, the Commissioner decided that the information was exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) of the Act as he felt that the payment information constituted personal data and that its disclosure would breach the first data protection principle in the Data Protection Act, being ‘fair and lawful processing’. The Commissioner considered that the individuals in that case had a reasonable expectation that their personal data would not be disclosed and it would therefore be unfair to do so.

The BBC does not agree with the Commissioner’s decision on the scope of the Act and reserves its position on the matter; however, the BBC onsiders that in the event of a similar finding by the Commissioner in this case, the information you have requested would also be exempt under the Act under section 40(2) as the information constitutes personal data and disclosure would breach the First Principle (fair and lawful processing). The expenses claimed by this individual do not relate to the performance of a public function which involves spending public money or taking influential policy decisions. The individual involved would not expect the type of information requested to be disclosed to third parties, and therefore to do so would be unfair.

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Harris
Head of Editorial
Compliance, BBC News

So just remember this evasion next time Nick gets on his high horse about expenses and public money. Of course Nick could voluntarily publish his expenses, exactly how much booze does it take to loosen Damian McBride’s tongue?
UPDATE : Guido’s further thoughts on this are here.

Support the Gypsies!

So they buy a piece of land, fence it off, install a septic tank and connect the utilities. It is their property. So what if they haven’t got authorisation from the planning commissars, it has no immediate neighbouring residential property. This is not a case of illegal squatting. They have just done a bit of green belt development, something the government says we will increasingly have to accept. Good luck to ’em.

As for Tessa Jowell’s husband David Mills complaining that the gypsies broke the planning rules – he is one to talk about law breaking…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

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