Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gordon’s "Favourite Banker" Has £14 Million+ RBS Pension

Derek Wanless – Gordon Brown’s most trusted banker – who chaired Northern Rock’s audit and risk committees, also has a multi-million pound pension paid for by the taxpayer. Vince Cable railed at the “collapse of Northern Rock; a product of greed and reckless gambling by overpaid executives”.

It was Wanless who failed in his responsibility to rein in that reckless gambling.

The government’s holding company, UK Financial Investments Ltd, is the majority shareholder in both RBS and Northern Rock. Based on the pensions data below, the taxpaying public as shareholders are funding a £14 million plus pension for Wanless. Does Brown think his friend Derek Wanless should be so rewarded given his catastrophic failure in his responsibility to exercise oversight of the risk?

Graphic credit : Paul Waugh

*Based on standard 20 x multiple.

+++ "Myners Has £4 Million RBS Pension" +++

Evening Standard’s Paul Waugh has the scoop Andy Grice in the Indy reports that Treasury Select Committee Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon is saying “Myners has got a lot of explaining to do. He was a NatWest* director for three years. Yet he was the man who negotiated Fred Goodwin’s pension with RBS.”

*NatWest merged with RBS.

+++ More to Follow +++

UPDATE 12.00 : At this mornings Lobby briefing when asked about the City minister’s alleged pension links with RBS, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “It is not for me to comment on a minister’s personal financial interests.” Why not? After all, the taxpayers are paying for it.

You Needn’t Make It Up

Yesterday Guido was bombarded with emails from one outraged and perhaps over-emotional Labour spinner accusing him of making up the story about staffers being invited to pad out the Congrssional chamber. So for their benefit here is an excerpt from this morning’s Washington Post:
…Several dozen members of Congress skipped the speech. Their seats in the chamber were taken by House and Senate staff and other guests.

According to the office of the House clerk, Brown’s appearance marked the 107th time a foreign leader or dignitary has addressed a joint meeting of Congress, going back to 1874 when King David Kalakaua of Hawaii gave an address.

No need for an apology.

UPDATE : From the Indy this morning;

Boy Scouts Swell the Clapping Crowds
It was all hands on deck with congressional aides ensuring the chamber was packed. Minutes before the session began, Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota led a knot of young aides and interns down the corridors of the Capitol. They were joined by a scout troop and other staffers brought in to fill empty spaces.

Finally Gordon Brown entered the chamber to resounding applause, reaching to greet members on both sides of the aisle like old friends. Many were. Mr Brown has spent decades cultivating the top political leadership of the Democratic party. It was the political version of This Is Your Life and he basked in the glory of it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Exclusive : Embarrassed Congress Buses in Staffers to Listen to Gordon

This just came over from a Washington D.C. co-conspirator. It is a memo sent to Congressional staff by email this morning by the Congressional and Senatorial authorities.

Gordon is not exactly a room filler…

On Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 11:00 a.m., The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will address a Joint Meeting of Congress. Permanent Congressional staff who are appropriately attired and displaying a Congressional ID will be permitted to attend the speech as space allows.

Permanent Congressional staff may begin assembling in the Hall of Columns (first floor of The Capitol near the South Door) at 10:00 a.m. Chamber security staff will seat Congressional staff on the House floor as space allows. Chiefs of Staff should proceed to the front of the staff line in the Hall of Columns and identify themselves as such so they may be seated first.

Should you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Office of the Sergeant at Arms office at 224-2341.

How embarrassing that they have to pack the chamber with staffers…

How Many Standing Ovations Will Congress Give Brown?

Guido never tires of reminding his Labour minded friends that they got rid of a three-time election winning political genius and replaced him with Gordon Brown. They took a leader who instinctively understood the dynamics of a personal or political situation and replaced Blair with a man who suffers from social autism and an unceasing ability to make himself look an embarrassing twat.

The Americans are a polite and courteous people, they will undoubtedly give Brown a standing ovation. Congress however is not an audience that can be manipulated by party apparatchiks and placemen “spontaneously” clapping. Nevertheless when Blair turned on the charm and upped the oratory to the US Congress they gave him 19 standing ovations. How many standing ovations do you think Gordon will receive?

UPDATE : Those young staffer’s legs have a lot of energy in them. By Gordon’s standards that was one of his better speeches. Guido counted even the half-hearted stand-ups ,making it 17, BBC reckons 18. Adam Boulton reckoned only half-a-dozen or so proper standing ovations.

Prize Competition : 
What is the White House Head of Protocol Thinking?

The Prime Mentalist arrived at the White House yesterday and was welcomed by Gladys Boluda, who as the US State Department’s Chief of Protocol, is too polite to point out to Gordon that he was about to meet the most powerful man on the planet with his trousers tucked into his sock.

The wittiest entry in the comments describing what she is thinking wins a copy of John Laughland’s A History of Political Trials: From Charles I to Saddam Hussein and a copy of The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze. Entries close midday Friday.

Via Nigel Fletcher from the Downing Street Flickr feed. Many thanks to the Downing Street digital team for this, you are not a complete waste of taxpayers money after all.

Spelman Ruling Establishes Important Principle

Guido argued strongly ahead of the decision that whatever the Standards and Privileges Committee ruled exactly, Spelman should have to pay back the cash she fiddled from her parliamentary expenses to pay the nanny. Given that the Committee of MPs invariably gives MPs under investigation the benefit of the doubt it seemed likely that she would get away with some claim ignorance of the rules, cite some ambiguity, claim it was a technical or administrative over-sight or whatever. These people are politicians after all, spin and blame avoidance are their way of life.

Nevertheless, even though it was ruled that she had “inadvertently” fiddled the money, she has been ordered to pay some of the money back on the basis that the taxpayer was paying the higher rate for a nanny not the rate for a parliamentary assistant and she therefore has to repay the difference.

They gave her the benefit of the doubt. Spelman ironically contradicted herself in her own evidence and shot herself in the foot. [Full report here.]

Mrs Spelman told us that Mrs Haynes “would have been most interested in the take-home pay received for her employment as a whole.” In our view, this does not help Mrs Spelman’s case. Rather, it tends to support the Commissioner’s view that Mrs Haynes would have been unlikely to have worked as Mrs Spelman’s nanny without some separate financial remuneration. The fact that Mrs Haynes was paid nothing as Mrs Spelman’s nanny while she was also working and being paid as Mrs Spelman’s administration assistant, but after giving up the latter role was paid a salary as nanny of £13,000, is in our view telling.

Many would say that just demonstrates what a poor advocate she is, others would say she was just being honest. Nevertheless she hired her own nanny subsequently at the rate she was previously paying Tina Haynes out of our taxes.

Guido regards this as a victory over the piggies, it established the principle that wrongfully claimed expenses – even if “inadvertently” claimed – must be repaid. Take note Jacqui. So now what do we do about the Wintertons?

Deputy PMQs Which Started in America Globally Locally

Say that Again, Where Did the Problem Start?

Gordon was like a puppy on heat in the Oval office, clearly relieved that Obama managed to squeeze in his photo-op in between lunch and seeing the Boy Scouts of America. Here is what Gordon told the squashed in Lobby
“This is a global problem. It needs global solutions. There is a global banking collapse that we are dealing with. If we could have the same standards and the same rules that we are about to apply in the USA and in Britain to apply to other countries around the world, the same standards of disclosure and accountability and remuneration, I think the confidence in the banking system will be restored.”

For some reason he didn’t say the phrase about the problem “which started in America”. He did however ignore the questioner* who asked him would he apologise.

*Guido is sometimes harsh on Nick Robinson, but that was a blinder, Gordon looked winded as if punched in the solar plexus. We can but dream….

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

+++ Spelman Must Repay Only £9,600 "Over-Payment" for Nanny Assistant +++


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