Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Michael Trend Precedent is Worrying for Jacqui Smith

Sir Michael White reckons that Jacqui Snith will get away with it. Guido, ever the optimist, is not so sure. The atmosphere currently is very unsympathetic to expense fiddles by politicians, particularly fiddles on this scale. The Michael Trend precedent is not encouraging for Jacqui, nor is is the precedent established by Mr & Mrs Balls.

You may wonder how that is so – after all Ed and Yvette got away with their fiddle. Yes they did, but only after arguing that their constituency home was their main residence. They claimed that they spent more time at the constituency home and therefore that was their primary residence, allowing them to claim expenses for their more expensive London home. That argument was accepted by the authorities.

Jacqui wants us to accept the opposite. That her main home is her sister’s London home where she lodges, so she can claim for her more expensive constituency home. She will have to show that she spends more time at the London flat than seeing her own kids. Crucially, is it three or is it four days a week that she spends away from her kids? The Balls’ argued successfully that in the recess and school holidays they spent the majority of the time away from London, it is hard to believe that Jacqui would stay in London when parliament is in recess and remain away from her family. Why would she do that when she was previously a whip? There would be no reason to stay away from her family and constituency.
That recent Balls precedent is going to be a difficult obstacle. However the Michael Trend precedent is even more worrying for Jacqui. In 2003 the Tory MP was found guilty of abusing the allowances system and ordered to repay £90,277, he was also suspended from parliament and stood down in disgrace at the following election. His crime was to claim the same allowance as Jacqui has when he was staying with a friend in London. Trend claimed he “believed that I could properly continue to designate London as ‘home’ for the purposes of ACA, even though, in domestic terms, Windsor had become my “main residence”.” This is apparently Jacqui’s position. It was not accepted. There was no doubt in the Standard’s Committee’s minds that there was no “real scope for doubt that the words “main residence” were intended to have other than their natural meaning.”

The Committee ruled that “Mr Trend should have recognised that, by claiming Additional Costs Allowance in relation to his Windsor home, the taxpayer was meeting some of the core running costs of what was in reality his main residence. He should have realised that this was wrong. Accordingly, we agree with the Commissioner that Mr Trend was negligent and has breached the Code of Conduct by making improper use of the Additional Costs Allowance and by failing strictly to observe the administrative rules relating to the Allowance.”

It is hard to see how, in these parallel circumstances, Jacqui Smith should not suffer the same fate. Ordered to repay the fiddled £116,000 and suspended from parliament. In which case she will have to resign as Home Secretary.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Draper’s Champagne Socialism : Do the Union Members Approve?

Guido approves of the decadent way DraperList hands out champagne willy nilly to encourage readers to comment and sign up for Derek’s twitterings. Co-conspirators here are lucky if they get a T-shirt. Just hope the poor credit-crunched minimum-wage-paid members of the union which funds his ego trip – Unite – are as understanding. As these Twitters show, Draper is literally p*ssing their money away for his own egotistical reasons:

just before i go to bed i have decided to give a bottle of champagne to my 1000th follower.
did i really decide this last night? must have been a bit pissed. oh well, a promise is a promise

Hard to see how it serves the workers interests to pay out their dues to Draper’s fans in the form of champagne…

Guardianista Accuses Boss of Too Much Testosterone

Sorry to bore on about Guardianista hypocrisy, but it just keeps coming. Jackie Ashley (Mrs Marr) writes this morning under the headline To Chop City Bonuses, Start by Cutting the Testosterone. Leaving aside the casual sexist stereotyping, is it really true? After all her boss the Guardian Media Group chief executive, Carolyn McCall, was paid a package of £827,000, comprising a salary of £424,000, plus a bonus of £385,000 and benefits in kind of £18,000.

Does she have too much testosterone?

In Defence of Some Banker’s Bonuses

Brokers and Traders have contracts like everyone else, they usually have performance related pay. When Guido was a trader he was recompensed with a share of the profits. There was no basic salary, no pension plan, no company car, no expense account, medical plan, per diem allowance, subsidised bar, subsidised restaurant, mileage allowance, staffing allowance, additional costs allowance, John Lewis list, nothing but a share of the profits and losses. No complaints, Guido ate what he killed and mostly ate well.

If the mortgage traders and derivatives traders have lost billions for an investment bank and the stock brokers and commodity traders have made millions, than why should the winning traders be punished for the losses of the losing traders? Are politicians now in favour of some form of collective punishment?

Do any of the politicians currently bashing the bankers really think banks can break contracts with traders just because politicians says so? The banks would be sued in court and lose. Cameron says “it is insulting to take money from taxpayers to use for their bonuses” – the taxpayer would be worse off if the profitable traders left and reduced the banks future profitability or, worse still, sued. He should know better, he probably does, yet he is just reflecting populist rage. Not his finest moment of leadership.

UPDATE : Given the state of the economy for which they are responible, presumably Hector Sants of the FSA, Mervyn King of the Bank of England and the numerous Treasury mandarins who monitor our economic well being will forgo the millions in bonuses due to be to be paid to them this year? Go on set an example, Gordon has it in his power to order it so.

Anti-Corruption Group Calls for Investigation of Jacqui Smith

The Centre for Open Politics has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards making a formal complaint regarding Jacqui Smith’s expense fiddles:

Jacqui Smith Complaint to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner

Interesting dilemma: if there is any question of a police investigation of her “Obtaining by Deception” under the Fraud Act, she would have to resign as Home Secretary.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bright Moves Up from Statesman to Spectator

Paul Johnson did it. Melanie Philips did it. They of course had God by their side when they shifted. Bright hasn’t found God as far as Guido knows and he still sees himself, perhaps needs to see himself, as a man of the left. Bright, until recently political editor of the New Statesman, is now blogging for the Speccie.“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Can it be long before Nick Cohen follows?

Web 1.0 v Web 2.0

Just had a “why didn’t you reply” exchange with someone whom Guido really did not intentionally mean to ignore. This may seem very Web 1.0, but email really is best. Despite now getting some 800 emails a day, this is still the best way of communicating with Guido. If you know the number text via SMS is slightly higher priority (or call the voicemail number on the blog 0709 284 0531, this is texted to Guido via Spinvox). Twitter is completely ignored – would you converse with a thousand unknown people? Facebook is rarely logged into. Forget the other social networks.

Afraid Guido is just perhaps too Web 1.0. Dale and Draper are so very into Tweeting trivia, if you want to know about Gio’s latest bowel movements or Dolly’s state of sobriety, Twitter is for you. Welcome to Web 2.0…

Labour Sleaze : Lord Moonie’s Cash for Questions Northrop Grumman Paid Peer £30,000 for 23 Questions

The Sunday Herald has got more trouble for Lord Moonie, who is already under investigation for Cash for Laws. He is paid £30,000 to act as a consultant to Northrop Grumman Corp., the U.S. arms manufacturer, distasteful but legal.

The sleazy Lord has however now been caught out asking Questions for Cash:

23 of the 46 written questions Moonie has had answered by the government in the Lords relate to defence work connected to Northrop Grumman Corp. These include the F35 joint strike fighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Airbus A400M cargo plane, the Navy’s Type 45 destroyer programme, and unmanned aerial drones for spying and bombing.

Moonie also asked a question about the Sentry Awacs early-warning aircraft. In 2005 Northrop Grumman won a £665 million contract to maintain and support the Royal Air Force’s Awacs fleet over 20 years.

Moonie was ennobled in 2005 but did not ask any parliamentary questions in his first three years as a peer, according to Hansard. But since mid-2008 he has asked almost 50, all on defence issues.

Angus MacNeil, the Nationalist MP for the Western Isles, said “The coincidences do not look good. I would like to think there was no motivation when Lord Moonie asked these questions, and I am sure he will be able to tell us why he didn’t ask any questions before he worked for this company.”

Moonie stepped down as an MP following boundary changes to make way for Gordon Brown and was enobled as a quid pro quo. Moonie also paid Gordon Brown handsomely for his old Kennington flat which he then sub-let to Alistair Darling. We are clearly not dealing with an obscure outsider here, we are dealing with corruption right at the heart of Labour’s Scottish Raj. Will Gordon Brown allow a corruptian investigation into someone so intimately connected to him?

Labour Sleaze : "Second Home Secretary" is on the Take

The Mail on Sunday has caught Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, fiddling her expenses to the tune of £116,000 – bang to rights.
  • She claims her “main home” is the one she stays in when in London – except it belongs to her sister.
  • She claims her “second home” is the home she owns in her constituency. However her own official website says she and her family live there.
Her SpAd claims “It has been cleared by the Commons Fees Office.” The Fees Office don’t clear anything, they take an “Honourable” Member’s word. The property records indicate sole-ownership of the property she claims is her “main home” is in her sister’s name. If she is in fact merely lodging with her sister, who is pocketing the taxpayer’s £500-a-week tax free? Can we have a Home Secretary who steals £116,000 from the taxpayers?

UPDATE : Don’t forget her husband is also on the payroll (£40,000) doing “research” – when he isn’t sending letters supporting her to the local paper – without mentioning his financial and marital relationship.


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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