Tories Call for an Inquiry into Balls’ Bung

The Tories are calling for a Civil Service inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a 2005 payment of nearly £100,000 to Ed Balls from the already under statutory investigation Smith Institute. The payment was allegedly for his work on two pamphlets published by the Institute. Ex-employees confirm that he was never seen at the Institute’s offices during his 8 month tenure despite being paid an unheard of (for wonkland) monthly salary of over £10,000.

The Smith Institute was used as a slush fund for the Brownies. It functioned effectively as Gordon’s policy and political secretariat in his long putsch for the premiership. Once Gordon Brown was installed in No. 10, Konrad Caulkett moved seamlessly from his executive position at the Smith Institute to become a Special Adviser in Downing Street. During Konrad’s time at the supposedly non-political charity he assisted Ed Ball’s 2005 election campaign in his Normanton constituency whilst still drawing a salary from the charity.

Who stumped up for Ed Balls’ generous payments package? Could it have been wealthy property developer John Milligan? Pictured here with Brown, he is a trustee of Gordon’s charity, the Smith Institute, has given tens of thousands to the Labour party and even made a personal donation of £25,000 to Gordon’s leadership coffers.

For some strange reason Ed Balls failed to properly declare his income from the Smith Institute or get the necessary Treasury clearance required for a Special Adviser before taking the sinecure. The rules were designed to prevent conflicts of interest. It also turned out that the Treasury had made undeclared payments to the Smith Institute, by mistake of course, which were only discovered when Guido succeeded in pushing the Charity Commissioners to investigate. They were the result of a mix-up according to yet another Smith Institute trustee Paul Myners, one of Gordon’s favourite businessman who only remembered (during the week the investigation was announced) that he was himself supposed to make good the payment, some two years later.

Of course the Smith Institute received free advice and polling data from another trustee, Deborah Mattinson, whose firm coincidentally won government contracts for which they charged the Treasury £3 million. Do you think there is a strong piscine smell here?

Friday Write Off

Blogging will be light on Friday (isn’t it always) because Guido will be in London for Xmas drinks and would love to see friends of the blog. He would particularly like to see new friends from the comments, like Stanislav, and may even stand you a drink. A gang of co-conspirators will be there and it will be very merry.
So if you would like an invite, email Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com. Sorry, no lawyers.
Guido will be identifiable in the fetching Guido Fawkes long-sleeve T-shirt available for delivery in time for Christmas* from here. The perfect £15 gift for Guido fans like Sir Michael White, Peter Hain, Liam Fox, Tom Watson and (they do a tailored ladies version) Melissa Kite.

UPDATE : Just confirming a venue. Will get back to you all shortly.

*2008

"British Jobs for British Workers"Law Lords Rule Labour Party Guilty of Racial Discrimination

Raghib Ahsan took the Labour Party to an industrial tribunal on the grounds of racial discrimination. He won his case but the Labour party appealed and it went all the way to the House of Lords. The Law Lords unanimously ruled that the Labour Party was indeed guilty of racial discrimination under the 1976 Race Relations Act.

It took a ten year battle with the Labour Party before Raghib won. Guido has not noticed this well reported elsewhere. The full Law Lords ruling is here [pdf].

Lord Hoffman was absolutely damning of the Labour Party defence proffered, before he resigned, by Peter Watt -

…it seems to me unacceptable. It is nothing more than the old plea that you have nothing against employing a black person but the customers would not like it. In essence it is a defence of justification based on political expediency. It may salvage the purity of the personal motives of the selection panel but it does not in my opinion satisfy the terms of the 1976 Act, which does not allow any justification for “direct” discrimination. It simply says that one shall not discriminate on racial grounds.

Last month the Labour Party was found guilty of deliberately discriminating in favour of a white candidate because of the sensitivities of the constituency. A white Briton got the job over a brown Pakistani Briton. So is this what Gordon means by “British Jobs for British Workers”?

Perhaps this story was lost in the uproar about Donorgate and the loss of 25 million bank account details by the government. Guido can’t help thinking that if the highest court in the land had just found the Conservative Party guilty of racial discrimination, that Alex Hilton, Kevin Maguire, Polly Toynbee, Roy Hattersley, Jackie Ashley together with the leader writers of the Guardian and Independent would all be working overtime. The silence is deafening.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Ashcroft Should Come Clean

Labour is getting hammered for breaking the laws on political funding. Rightly so, there needs to be criminal prosecutions in order to make it clear that the laws are to be obeyed. The Tories are working around the laws, which may be legal, but it is slippery. It is also bad politics, slushing money through unincorporated associations is just not on any more. Ashcroft’s tax arrangements are only a private matter if he is a private person.

Ashcroft’s influence on the Tories, like that of Lord Sainsbury for Labour, has been in the national interest. Billionaire Lord Sainsbury helped finance New Labour, dragging the Labour party from socialism towards an accommodation with the Thatcherite settlement and at the very least an acceptance of the market economy. Sainsbury financed progressive think tanks and pressure groups as well as the Labour party itself, to the betterment of the country. It was in the national interest to have a non-socialist alternative governing party to the Tories. Like Ashcroft he got stuck in rather than just sending £15 million plus of cheques.

Ashcroft has an equally involved approach, he has made an evidence based case to the Tories to change their game for the better. He has encouraged them, with financial incentives, to campaign professionally. He has pushed the party to appeal to the young aspirational middle classes once again, rather than just their core voters. It has got to be in the best interests of the country to have an opposition that is electorally competitive and appealing rather than ideologically marooned. Ashcroft is not a sinister Blofeld type character, he like Sainsbury has constructively used his wealth to better his party and (eventually) his country. But the increasing perception that Labour is trying to capitalise on is that he is a shadowy tycoon manipulating Cameron. It is in his own interests to come clean and it is definitely in the interests of the Tories that he comes clean – soon. If not people will be entitled to assume he has something to hide.

Politics in Britain suffers from a disconnect between cynical voters and disingenuous politicians. Any lack of clarity and the voters presume the worst – usually correctly. The money laundering, for that is what it is, endemic in British politics is just not acceptable. Every penny should be accounted for and sourced, whether it is Midlands business types or Muslim moguls. If they don’t like the publicity than they shouldn’t donate. Corruption is only possible in the shadows, in the sunshine we can see clearly, whatever reforms are made should be on the basis of total transparency. State funding is a lazy option, it also presumes that political campaigning is of such importance that it should be funded – it isn’t. In Europe there is plenty of state-sourced funding corruption, it won’t make things any better.

Politics is needlessly expensive, we don’t need so much politics or so many politicians and their hangers on. Politicians need to be taken down a peg or two, having to raise money only from people who are prepared to openly support them might bring some much needed humility and make them more connected to voters. If people are too ashamed to openly support politicians, it is the politicians who need to improve their reputation.

Blinky Balls on Marr

Ed Balls was spinning happily away on the Andrew Marr show when all of a sudden the blink rate went into overdrive when he was asked about the bottled election. Marr asked him had he told Brown to raise his game, Ed said words to the effect “of course not”, Marr retorted “shouldn’t you?”, Ed started mumbling.

For Andy Marr, this constitutes an all out attack. Mrs Marr’s articles in the Guardian are less than adulatory of late. Are they disappointed?

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Abrahams did get government fast-tracking after donationSunday Telegraph
96% of Muslim Friends of Labour cash came from one donor - Sunday Times
Planners fast-tracked Labour donor’s business park scheme - Indy on Sunday
Wendy hit by more revelations – Sunday Herald
Scottish Labour loses top donor in sleaze rowScotland on Sunday
Son of millionaire MP Sarwar guilty of £850,000 money laundering scamScotsman

Oh and…

Hugh Grant parties with vice-girlsNews of the Screws

Tory Spin Breaks Fundamental Rule

CCHQ have just sent out a “Why, oh why” press release about the OFT ruling from the shadow Farms Minister, James Paice, headlined “The price of milk should not be fixed”.

There really is no point crying over this…

Ken Not So Confident

Ken was overheard at his office in the lift by a co-conspirator who emailed this in

He was quite happily telling his companion that if (and he did say “if”) he wins a third term, he will be

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Friday Caption Contest

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Government of All the Clowns

Left-winger John McDonnell MP is putting the boot in on GMTV

“I think we’re in a mess. I think people are demoralised. I think Labour party members can’t understand how we’ve got in this mess. I think Gordon has shown,

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Canoeist Wife Tries the "Harman Defence"

Is Guido the only one who is amused that Anne Darwin is using the “Harman Defence”. Claiming that she took the unlawfully obtained money “in good faith”. If Harman wants to run to Panama, Guido will happily pay for

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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