Monday, December 10, 2007

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, December 9, 2007

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

Friday, December 7, 2007

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 evicting the Conservative Group from their offices and taking over the area for his own staff. Apparently the Conservatives are hardly ever there and don’t need as much room as they have.

Not so certain of victory?

UPDATE : Ken’s henchman Lee Jasper is, as Guido has said before, a shakedown artist. He lives in an upmarket period property owned by a Housing Association which receives £80 million a year to house low income families. Lee Jasper earns £117,000 a year and pays just £90 week rent. According to the Evening Standard the market rate, which he could well afford, is £550 a week for this period property worth some £750,000. So this is what Ken means by affordable housing.

Friday Caption Contest

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, to be frank with you, ineptitude on a number of issues and so have some of the people around him..”

This follows Blairite Matthew Taylor yesterday telling the Guardian that the government was “inept”

“Politically, it doesn’t look particularly attractive if you are going round trying to shift responsibility. … too early to say that the position for the government is terminal.”

So there you have it, from Labour’s left and right, they are inept clowns.

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 a ticket…

Follett Contradicts Herself Again

Yesterday Barbara Follett released a statement giving a sort of non-denial of undeclared funding of her political office. She seemed to think that because the money was drawn from her husband via their joint account it did not have to be declared. Wrong.

The Huntsman blog which first drew attention to this undeclared funding reminds us about a statement released by the Follets and covered by Guido in November 2004. The statement specifically admits that her office “is heavily subsidised by her husband, Ken Follett… In the financial year 2003-2004.. she claimed only £118,214 in expenses. She contributed her entire salary of £55,118 to meet some of the difference. The remaining £102, 673 was met by Ken.”

She was attempting to justify her claim for mortgage subsidy allowance on their £2 million mansion. If her political career is indeed being subsidised by her husband, she should declare it properly on the register clearly. The law is the law.

Seen Elsewhere

Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome
UKIPers Will Come Home in 2015 | Sun
Tories Set for Thrashing | Sun
Boris Announcement Imminent | Sun
The Case for Splitting Up CCHQ | ConservativeHome
Why UKIP Should Join a ‘European Union’. | Anna Raccoon
Dave’s Brush With Bed Bugs | Speccie
Farage: No Briton Could Be My Secretary | BBC
Dave and George Can Now Be Seen Together | Ben Brogan


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Francis Elliot reports on No. 10 strategy meetings:

“When discussion veers to subjects that Mr Crosby thinks of concern only to the political and journalistic classes, he treats the offender as a pub bore with a tart request to “pass the beer nuts, mate”.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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