Brown Dodges Answering for the Sithat Last Treasury Questions

Today was the last Treasury Questions ever for Gordon Brown, Stephen Timms, Treasury Chief Secretary, was also fielding questions. David Jones, the Shadow Welsh minister, took the opportunity to ask a question about the Smith Institute. He blogs that it is
“the registered charity that appears to have virtually set up headquarters in 11 Downing Street… Surprisingly – or not, whichever way you care to look at it – Gordon didn’t answer himself. He left it to his deputy, Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I suggested that it was odd that No. 11’s householder was apparently unwilling to answer to the House over his domestic arrangements. Timms is a nice, straightforward man and seemed uncomfortable to be asked the question, so he simply didn’t answer it. And so we say farewell to Chancellor Brown. Next time he is at the despatch box he will be Prime Minister. But I doubt that he has heard the last of the Smith affair.”

You can bet on that…

Later Mark Hoban demanded to know about the Treasury paying £11,000 to the Smith Institute before – two years later – it was noticed and “rectified”. “Will he confirm that all payments have been declared?” Timms evasively replied that “the Treasury paid for the Christmas tree at the children’s party this year at the Treasury”.

Classic stonewalling, but this is not going to go away just because the Sith refuse to answer questions. The Guido initiated Charity Commission investigation is a statutory process, subject to judicial review. It won’t be easy to sweep things under the carpet.

Ming’s Recipe for Local Council Corruption

Almost exactly a year ago Ming told his party spokesman to stop reaching for knee-jerk statist responses to problems:

“Whitehall and Westminster must regulate less, legislate less and tax less. Fewer ministers, fewer MPs, fewer special advisers, fewer civil servants, fewer departments, fewer quangos”.

Sounded good, liberal even. So how does he apply that logic to the problem of housing shortages? Does he advocate de-regulating planning restrictions? No. He advocates the virtual expropriation of property. Councils he says should refuse planning permissions to landowners, forcing them to sell to the council as the buyer of last resort. Councils would then sell on or develop the land. How illiberal, unjust and tantamount to regulatory blackmail is that?

This is also a recipe for corruption, forcing landowners to sell to the council, who then sell it on to favoured developers after backhanders party donations have changed hands. It is not as if LibDem councillors haven’t been implicated in corruption cases often enough in the past.

Innocent Drinks

Last night at the House, on the terrace, a co-conspirator spied John McTernan, drinking with Bridget Prentice. They moved on to the Strangers bar later that night. She is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for legal services. John was, you will recall, very helpful to Yates of the Yard with his enquires. Clearly they had much to discuss…

Thatcher v Brown : Rallying the Troops

Margaret Thatcher sent a message of support to British troops on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Falklands. Even though her voice betrays the effects of a stroke, her words still carry conviction. “Fortune does, in the end, favour the brave. And it is Britain’s good fortune that none are braver than our armed forces.”

Brown went to Baghdad last week and told the troops they were getting a below inflation 2% pay rise. Not inspiring.

BBC audio here.

See You Next Tuesday : Sleazy Levy’s £6,000 Leaving Party

Next Tuesday the Foreign Office will be hosting a party for the twice arrested, out-on-bail, under investigation for corruption, Sleazemaster General himself – Lord Levy. The SNP’s tenacious Mike Weir got Geoff Hoon to admit that the party is being paid for by the taxpayer – “the estimated cost is £6,000, which will be met by the Foreign Secretary’s entertainment budget.”

The LibDem’s Lord Oakeshott asks: “Why should the taxpayer put his card behind the bar for Lord Levy’s leaving party?” Guido would be happy to see the taxpayer pick-up the tab for levy’s food and drinkporridge and prison tea…

Do You Know Now?

Just in from the Court:

A Metropolitan police security officer, Chris Ham, 21, told the high court in London today that Mr Jones, the MP for Clwyd South for 20 years, swore at him after he “politely” asked to see his pass at Portcullis House in Westminster. Mr Ham, who said he had never seen Mr Jones before the incident, described the outburst as having left him “shocked and flustered”.

Giving evidence on behalf of Mail on Sunday publisher Associated Newspapers, Mr Ham said: “His immediate response was to tell me to fuck off and that he was a member of parliament. I again asked politely, persisted. His second response was ‘Fuck off, you should know who I am, you don’t have the right to question me, you are only security.'”


Who is fucked now?

Self-Important-Shit-of-an-MP Sues

Martyn Jones is widely regarded in the Palace of Westminster, by the few people who actually know who he is, as a bit of a self-important prat in a building full of self-important prats. He is suing the Mail on Sunday’s Simon Walters for libel on the grounds that an article exaggerated an incident in a report with the headline “Labour MP in foul-mouthed outburst”.

Before entering parliament Martyn Jones worked in a brewery and in a 20-year backbench career since he has hardly risen to the heights of recognition. Yet when a Portcullis House security guard asked him to show his ID card he went into a full blown “do-you-know-who-I-am” routine and told the guard, who was only doing his job, that “I don’t give a shit what you are. You should know who members of Parliament are.”

Giving evidence in court Jones claimed that only about 10% of MPs wore their passes and it was better for security to identify MPs by their faces. Is that true, do only 60 or so MPs wear their passes? How is it better for security not to wear a pass?

UPDATE : On a scale of 0 -100%, the Public Whip rates his opposition to ID cards at 0%.

Osborne : "We’ll Cut Taxes – Maybe"

Sometimes Guido wonders what the point of the Tories is nowadays, if they won’t even promise to reduce the tax burden in government, what use are they?

Osborne today will promise the British Chambers of Commerce a tax reduction in “a new pact with Britain’s small businesses” and a “radical package of tax simplification”. This will be done in a “fiscally neutral way”. That means the overall tax burden will remain unchanged. So it is not really a tax cut, more a shifting of taxes about. Did he learn nothing in Dublin?

On the Hustings

A co-conspirator writes

On Sunday in Oxford Gordon referred to ‘party reforms’ to make Labour a 21st Century party. The few proposals he listed were all pretty dull.

I also managed to catch two party officials ‘helping a questioner’ […]

+ READ MORE +

Cameron iSpanks Gordon

Gordon once implausibly claimed, in an effort to look as hip as young Cameron, that he woke up to the sound of the Artic Monkeys on his iPod. It was later conceded that the claim was ridiculous spin which he

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Terror Spin : Blair Apologises to Cameron

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Voters Dislike All Six Deputy CandidatesDislike Blears the Most

Click graphic to enlarge.

Mike Smithson over at PoliticalBetting.Com pulls out some recognisability data from the latest Populus poll. Less than 1 in 5 people can identify the most recognisable candidate, Harriet Harman. 1 in 10 people can identify Hazel

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Labour candidate Clive Lewis tells the Staggers:

“I mean, in the multiverse there’s still three universes in a hundred where there’s a Green MP in Norwich, so anything could happen. I could be caught with my pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end – well, hopefully that won’t happen.”

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