Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Memo to PMQs Briefing Team

If today Dave doesn’t bring up the issue of MP’s expense fiddles, many ordinary viewers of the TV highlights will take the conspiracy of silence as a clear signal that “they are all at it”. The silence of the house on tackling abuses by rogue members is shameful.

Most people are disgusted by the venal money grubbing fiddles that MPs get up to. Figure out how to channel that disgust and you are on to a vote winner. Sleaze and incompetence dispatched the Major government. They can once again lubricate the exit of this government as well. Incompetence has already been established. Making “Labour” and “sleaze” synonymous will make voting for Labour distasteful.

Up the Khyber TV

The Miliband led foreign policy has taken a quirky turn. Britain used to send navy gunships to foreign lands that were becoming troublesome. Now the Foreign Office buys local television advertising space pleading “don’t attack us.” Soft power versus hard power. Does it make more sense to advertise on Pakistani TV than do as the Americans are doing and bomb them? Perhaps.

Guido is an advocate of a new cultural offensive against medieval Islam. The weapons should be Playboy magazine, MTV (in particular the Pussy Cat Dolls latest video), Coca Cola and iPods.

When it comes to convincing disaffected young muslim men of the superiority of the West, girls in mini-skirts will trump girls in burqas every time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Second Complaint Over Jacqui Smith to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner

The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner told the Centre for Open Politics he can’t accept the evidence of a newspaper article alone. Well how about Jacqui’s own words?

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…

Jacqui Says

From Jacqui’s own website (www.jacquismithmp.labour.co.uk/biography):

Can the taxpayers have their £116,000 back please?

Hat-tip : Old Holborn

Ed Balls "Talks Down the Economy"

“I think that this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s…” says Ed. Not exactly little Miss Sunshine is he?

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.

Seen Elsewhere

Dave’s Pro-Free Markets Speech | ASI
Forget the Nimbys, Bring on the Bimbys | ConHome
Emily is No Snob | Islington Tribune
Cam’s Red Line | Sun
Politicians Must Examine Their Extincts | Laura K
Immigration Lies | Nigel Farage
Take That Mr Speaker | Quentin Letts
How Avoidable Scandals Destroy Stupid Politicians | Alex Wickham
UKIP Mosque Confusion | The Week
Let’s Ban the Word Internet | Padraig Reidy
Are the Broadcasters Ready For the Election? | Specccie


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Tony Blair threatens Ed:

“If you had a strong political lead that was combining the politics of aspiration with the politics of compassion, I still think that’s where you could get a substantial majority…  If I ever do an interview on [the state of the Labour Party], it will have to be at length…”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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