Monday, August 18, 2008

Herr Doktor Hartwich Says "Auf Wiedersehen"

Oliver Marc Hartwich is moving to Australia after humbly suggesting people move South (though not that far South) in his parting Cities Unlimited pamphlet for Policy Exchange.
Labour and John Prescott in particular enjoyed painting it as Cameron’s favourite think tank “slagging off the North”. Iain Dale pointed out that Oliver’s collaborator on the report, Dr Tim Leunig, is a LibDem insider and adviser. Oliver himself once worked for the LibDem’s Lord Oakeshott, however he is actually a libertarian. He mistakenly thought the LibDems would be like the German FDP – who are a right of centre liberal party – though that seems to be the direction Clegg has in mind.

Oliver writes for Die Achse des Guten (“The Axis of the Good”) the leading libertarian leaning political commentary blog in Germany. If people thought his griping about London and antipathy to the North was irritating, wait till they find out what his new book is about. The title is “England – Nachruf auf ein großartiges Land”, translated: “England – an obituary for a great country”…

Coulson Cawte Out Over New Spelman Expenses Fiddle

Over the weekend the News of the World revealed that Conservative Party Chairman Caroline Spelman’s Chief-of-Staff, Simon Cawte, was paid out of her parliamentary expenses for two years (2006 & 2007). Parliamentary Staff Allowances are prohibited from being used for partisan purposes. Andy Coulson told his former colleagues at the News of the World that their story was rubbish.

The official spin from Coulson was:

“It is entirely wrong to suggest Simon Cawte was not paid in accordance with the rules. Simon Cawte was employed to support Caroline Spelman in her role as part of the Official Opposition in Parliament. He discharged duties such as speech writing and answering correspondence relating to Caroline Spelman’s role as the Shadow Local Government Secretary. This is entirely permissable within the rules.”

Errr, no it isn’t.

The Green Book states:

6.1.1. Scope of allowance
The staffing allowance is available to meet the costs wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred on the provision of staff to help you perform your Parliamentary duties. Further details of allowable expenditure are set out at paragraph 6.10.1.


6.2.1. Eligibility

Subject to the paragraphs which follow, all Members of Parliament may draw on the staffing allowance to pay their staff. It is a Member’s responsibility to ensure that staff paid from this allowance are: employed to meet a genuine need in supporting you, the Member, in performing your Parliamentary duties; able and (if necessary) qualified to do the job; actually doing the job and that the resulting costs, in so far as they are charged to this allowance, are reasonable and entirely attributable to the Member’s Parliamentary work.
The issue boils down to: Was Cawte’s work in assisting Spelman “entirely attributable to the Member’s Parliamentary work”?

Timeline of Declarations of CCHQ / Taxpayer Funding for Simon Cawte


Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
2004












2005

/










2006
X


X


X

X
X

2007
idth=”7%”>


X

X


X
X
X

2008
X





/





“X” = No declaration of CCHQ Chief-of-Staff funding, “/” = declaration of CCHQ Chief-of-Staff funding, note registers issued irregularly, these are all that were found.

Cawte was definitely paid for by CCHQ in 2005 – and properly declared that February – he was however back on Spelman’s parliamentary expenses in 2006/7 when he suddenly is supposed to have become apolitical, before once again going back on the CCHQ payroll in 2008 when she became Party Chairman. Spelman could hardly pretend that the Party Chairman’s Chief-of-Staff was a non-partisan role, could she?

Guido has had a look at some of the speeches Spelman’s supposedly non-partisan speech writer wrote for her. Here are the final paragraphs from some of the speeches Spelman delivered during that 2006 / 07 period:
The challenge for us is to help people, help themselves. As the Big Issue slogan says “A Hand Up Not a Hand Out”. And that is exactly what David Cameron’s modern, compassionate Conservative Party is all about.

I say continue, because let’s not forget, we are already coming back in places like Birmingham and Leeds and we control the councils of towns and cities like Bradford Coventry Dudley Walsall and Tamworth. Those places are feeling the effects of a modern Conservative Party in tune with the aspirations of today’s electorate. The challenge for us is to make sure the Conservative Party continues to strengthen its presence in or towns and cities and I hope that you, like me, will be straining every sinew in between now and May 4th to help deliver that.
Reconnecting with our cities 07/04/2006
This will be a new politics under a new conservative government. A new Conservative policy on regeneration needs to restore civic pride in community by raising up and building the capacity of local champions who in turn engage the whole community in bringing about change which people want to see and take ownership of. A new Conservative government will have to provide a framework where schools and education are at the heart of regeneration, a sustaining local economy underpins regeneration, and the regeneration of lives goes hand in hand with the restoration buildings. Our hand should be open to the needs of the poor to offer a hand up where money is leveraged by the goodwill and instinct of people to build a better world around them for those they know and love.”
There are plenty of speeches to choose from, all in the same style, almost all concluding with words to the effect “Vote Conservative” – which seems a tad partisan.

Most shadow cabinet Chiefs-of-Staff are paid for by private donors or CCHQ – not the taxpayers – precisely because they do the party political work. Cawte was also Spelman’s Chief-of-Staff when she was in charge of the local government election campaigns – did he really stay out of party politics when the campaign she was leading was going on? We were expected to believe that the professional nanny Tina Haynes was actually her constituency secretary not her child minder at the taxpayers’ expense, based outside the constituency and doing political stuff with a small “p”. We are now expected to believe that her Chief-of-Staff Simon Cawte was not doing partisan political stuff with a capital “P”. That is not credible. Her stories are full of holes…
+++ developing +++

"Errr, Sorry Sam, Do You Mind If We Stop Off On the Way?"

Don’t get Guido wrong, it was a good idea to go to Georgia and show solidarity with a democracy on the receiving end of resurgent Russian imperialism. Guido just can’t help noticing that it is right next door to Turkey, where Dave is today on holiday.

Genius; gives him a “right on” excuse to justify the carbon emissions from Lord Ashcroft’s jet (did he fly ConAir?), doesn’t inconvenience Samantha and the kids too much so no “are we nearly there yet?”, and gives him a fabulous statesman-like photo-op. Trust Guido on this, the boy will go far…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trouble and Strife, Holiday Plans

Mrs Fawkes has put up with Guido for five years today, so you will have to cope without me for a couple of days during a romantic intermission. She not unreasonably feels that a little disconnection from the internet would be a good idea.

Guido will be back later next week for a few days, than he is off to the West of Ireland for a week. Not sure what to do that week – shall we have a blog holiday or shall we try having guest bloggers? Should the inmates be allowed to take over the asylum? Can you entertain yourselves? Do you feel you can entertain 10,000 to 20,000+ political junkies every day for a week?

Guido will be back full of vim for September and is planning on making it to the Conservative Party conference at the end of the month, where he is due to be speaking on the fringe, subverting the conference media centre* and drinking the bar dry. No reasonable invitation refused.

*The Tory press office ASBO’d Guido for that hacking of the press list lark. Guido had to promise to behave (in writing) before they would only now allow him back on the Lobby list (no haven’t actually joined the Lobby, am better than that). So fear and loathing in Birmingham it is…

She Didn’t Get the MP’s Job Dunwoody Still Unemployed

It is nearly five months since Tamsin Dunwoody lost the Crewe & Nantwich by-election. Apologists for politician’s troughing ways claim that the taxpayer needs to pay three times the national wage to MPs to attract high calibre candidates. Guido argues that there is no shortage of candidates, vacant safe seats attract hundreds of ambitious applicants, the market price for wannabee MPs is clearly lower, demand already far outstrips the available supply of constituency seats.

MPs and their apologists claim that they could earn far more in comparison doing other things – to which Guido retorts if they are in it for the money, they should do something else. The modern political class largely comprises of ex-party HQ staff, SpAds, spin merchants with a smattering of lawyers, ex-trade union officials and polytechnic lecturers. Life-long political insiders since their university days with little real world experience outside politics do not have great skill sets for the private sector (outside becoming lobbyists). It is no surprise therefore that Tamsin is still unemployed

She tells the Telegraph “I’ve not been able to find a job since losing my seat in the Welsh Assembly a year ago and I don’t have a pot of gold, so I can’t just go off and do what I want. People don’t like to employ ex-politicians, especially Labour ones like me who might unionise.” After the general election there are going to be a hell of a lot more Labour ex-MPs, SpAds , bag carriers and their hangers on. Nowadays lobbyists don’t even want them, they are alos handicapped by speaking an incomprehensible verbless language: New Labour-speak. They will have to be re-trained to become socially useful, to learn new modes of speaking… “Would you like fries with that, sir?”

Gordon Fell Oz Over Brit

This is late news, but still worth recounting because it is relevant to his upcoming book on “Britishness” as well as funny:
At the launch of the Courage book Gordon Brown spoke to one of the survivors of the 7/7 attacks who had lost her legs in the bombings. ‘You epitomise perfectly the British heroic spirit’ said the Prime Mentalist. ‘But Prime Minister I’m an Aussie’ said the woman. Exits a befuddled Brown not able to think of anything to say or hide his embarrassment.

If he is writing a book on Britishness he needs to be able to identify Brits as well as the qualities he wishes to inculcate in them. Doh!

Hat-tip : Havering On

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Media Jonah

Number 10 started using Twitter, the popular text messaging social media application, a few months ago.

Yesterday Twitter discontinued the free service in the UK. Thanks Jonah Brown…

Friday Caption Contest

Wilf Rumoured to Be Headed to the Downing Street Bunker

The Telegraph is floating the perennial rumour (it has been going around for years) that Wilf Stevenson, the disgraced former head of the Smith Institute, is to go to Downing Street in a policy role.
A couple of years ago when Guido first started exposing the Smith Institute’s links to Gordon Brown – that it was an illegal slush fund for Gordon Brown’s ambitions, acting as his all-but-in-name campaign HQ – a canny observer of Westminster told Guido that “You don’t realise how much of a favour you have done Gordon. If it weren’t for you Wilf would be in Downing Street and he is a walking disaster”. Now he as at a loose end it is more feasible that Wilf could shift to Downing Street, moving from Brown’s policy engine room to join his captain on the ship before it sinks.

Excellent. Wilf’s time as head of a think tank was distinguished only in that it was mired in controversy, was twiced investigated for breaches of the law, was found by the Charity Commission to have broken the law and is now facing the possibility of a third investigation for other breaches of the law by the Electoral Commission. The Smith Institute was not exactly a font of vote winning policies – if it had been any good Brown would not be reduced to desperately nicking Tory policies. If Wilf does move to Downing Street he will only be formalising his role as adviser Gordon. It is somehow fitting that he will be joining his former Smith Institute deputy Konrad Caulkett in Brown’s Downing Street bunker at the end…


Seen Elsewhere

Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT
Cameron Faces Revolt Over ‘Vow’ | Sun
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:

“Sunday, May 10, 1998

Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.

After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.

I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.

They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].

I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”



The British media are Hunts says:

Now the SNP know how UKIP voters feel all the time.


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