Smith Institute Cash for Policy

Guido has just noticed that Gordon’s favourite think-tank, the Smith Institute, has a new publication out today. In it the director-general of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Stephen Haddrill, calls for a way out for the insurance industry from the “vicious circle of unquantified longevity risks”.

So an insurer does not like risk – is he in the right business? He suggests shifting the risk off insurers onto taxpayers. Of course he wants the industry to be able to offer attractive low premiums by having the insurance industry state subsidised.

Guido expects big business with naked self interest to beg favours from big government, protectionism is the easy way to profits. But shouldn’t an “independent” think tank question the propriety of such an arrangement? Who benefits from this apart from shareholders in insurance companies?

Guido called the Smith Institute to find out how much they were paid by the ABI to produce the report. The public charity refused to answer the question. Guido contacted the ABI’s Jonathan French to ask the same, he has as yet not responded. Guido understands that the Smith Institute got a five-figure sum from the ABI. Would that compromise their independence or integrity?

UPDATE 16:00 : The ABI’s Jonathan French has got back to Guido with the promise of an answer and a request to spell his name correctly.

Triangulation Trickery

Right now Team Cameron is frantically trying to make sure that Dave gets his photo taken with McCain on Friday because McCain is going to be in London and will meet with Gordon. Team Cameron tried to fix a meeting with Barack when they visited Washington to no avail.

Now McCain looks like he has a good chance of becoming PotUS, we will hear no more Cameroon Obamania methinks…

Shhhh, Don’t Mention the Sleaze!

Last week at PMQs there was no mention of MPs caught with their hands in the till, paying their 80 year old mothers out of public funds, running up car mileage allowances that would take them round the world by road, claiming housing subsidies to pay their own children rent, “employing” ex-wives who lived nowhere near their constituencies and children who were in full time education. No mention of the generous daily food allowances despite the subsidised bars and restaurants. No mention of the MPs who claim for expensive second homes which are actually their primary residence. Yet yesterday Cameron and Brown both announced they were intent on cleaning up the sleaze.

Will the political class mention at PMQs the issue that the rest of us want to hear about?

Hague’s Hippy Guru Gone

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has died. The guru to the Beatles brought “transcendental meditation” to the West. Maharishi summed up his mantra as : “Don’t fight darkness. Bring the light, and the darkness will disappear.” That is the mantra that William Hague, a transcendental meditator of long standing, forgot to hum during the 2001 election…

Tory Transparency Form Not Good Enough

Why not list every item? Businesses don’t put in VAT returns missing receipts for items under £250. There is a catch all “other” space on the new Tory “Right to Know” form. Guido wants to know which MPs have been claiming for food (up to £40 a day) while children in state schools are allocated 50p.

Ben Wallace MP was able to itemise all his expenses. The Hain excuse of being “too busy” is not good enough. Why should taxpayers have to account for every penny of income and expense yet MPs be taken on trust?

click to enlarge

We want to know who literally has been eating from the trough at the taxpayers expense…

MPs Four Times More Likely toCommit Fraud Than Benefit Claimants

According to the National Audit Office 1 in 2585 benefits claimants were successfully prosecuted or cautioned for benefit fraud in 2006-07.* Whereas for MPs the numbers so far identified are (after Conway), 1 in 646 parliamentary expense claimants. Four times as high…

Is it any wonder that the latest Populus poll has 73% of the population viewing all politicians as equally sleazy, with 14% thinking Brown’s government is more sleazy than the Major government. Dave is sufficiently worried about the sleaze issue re-surfacing that he has summoned Tory MPs to an emergency meeting of the parliamentary party.

This definition is doing the rounds at the moment:

Politics pol·i·tics, pronunciation: \ˈpä-lə-ˌtiks\
Function:
noun plural but singular or plural in construction
Etymology:
Greek politika, from neuter plural of politikos political. From poli meaning many and tics which means blood sucking grubs.

Which seems correct to Guido…

*via Chris Dillow.

Wendy’s Domino Theory

Speaker Chooses Three MPs to Investigate MP Expenses

It beggars belief that as popular disgust with MPs is now near universal they decide to appoint three of their own to investigate themselves. When you find out which three MPs the Speaker has chosen to do the investigating you can only laugh or else you will cry. Guess what the result will be?

Monkey #1, Nick Harvey, a LibDem MP and former spinner for lobbyists Citigate Dewe Rogerson who still keeps his hand in as a consultant to parliamentary lobbyists Trimedia. Clearly the perfect choice to assess the shadowy influence of lobbyists given the tens of thousands he makes from the industry whilst a serving MP.

Monkey #2, David Maclean, the Conservative MP who tried to stop the Freedom of Information Act applying to MPs by using some very shifty parliamentary tactics. This provoked uproar and disgust leading to defeat after a few underhand shenanigans. Just the person to investigate calls for more transparency.

Monkey #3, Sir Stuart Bell, a Labour MP who hired his son Malcolm as a researcher. But unlike Derek Conway’s sons, Malcolm definitely used to turn up at Parliament. In fact, it was while working in Portcullis House that Malcolm broke into George Galloway’s office, stole his chequebook and made off with £2,000 from Galloway’s bank account. Which must have been the first time Galloway was the victim of a fraud. Young Malcolm Bell got 60 days in a young offender’s institute. So his father is just the person to look into whether MPs hiring members of their family can lead to fraud.

They must be laughing at us in the subsidised bars of parliament. Gunpowder is too good for ‘em.

‘Tis Only a Little Bug

If the Labour MP Sadiq Khan has done nothing wrong, he has nothing to fear. Isn’t that what the government and Sadiq told us about ID cards, CCTVing, finger-printing, phone-tapping, DNA swabbing, and database building? Too late to get all

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Wendy Domino Starts to Wobble

Rich Johnston’s above cartoon from some months ago was not far off the mark (though it missed Peter Hain). In interviews yesterday Wendy Alexander claimed “at the conclusion of my leadership campaign” she made inquiries to the Clerks to the

[…]

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Willetts Says Vampire Bats Are Tories

Guido is pretty certain that he did not dream hearing David Willetts this morning on Marr’s Radio 4 show Start the Week compare (in a positive light) the altruistic social behaviour of vampire bats to Tory thinking about human social

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+ READ MORE +

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

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+ READ MORE +



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Chuka has been trying to spin the Siemens row:

Chuka Umunna: It’s no different from Sky News quoting a business leader.

Adam Boulton: Except yours says ‘VOTE LABOUR’ at the bottom.

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