Friday Caption Contest

Hain Loses Another SpAd

Hain can’t seem to hold a SpAd down since Phil Taylor’s departure. Robert Philpot has gone back to Progress. Who are Hain’s SpAds nowadays? Why did Philpot leave so soon? Hain could get a Basher Davis type reputation for staff turnover at this rate…

Lord Hoyle Whores Himself to Arms Dealers

In what is in truth an everyday tale of New Labour sleaze, the Guardian exposes on the front page something that happens regularly at the Parliament of Whores in Westminster.

Lord Hoyle was paid a “counsultancy” fee by lobbyist Michael Wood, of Whitehall Advisers, a firm specialising in the murky world of lobbying for arms deals. The firm boasts in publicity of their ability to influence MoD purchases and that they have played a role in £10 billion of UK equipment procurement.

The undeclared payment is the subject of evolving explanations by Hoyle. He originally admitted to the Guardian

Lord Hoyle accepts he was asked to arrange the lobbyist’s introduction “to say hello to the new minister”. He told the Guardian that Lord Drayson was asked to come for a drink. Mr Wood was already there. He says he told the minister: “Mike Wood of Whitehall Advisers would like to meet you.”

At the meeting, which Lord Drayson, the Minister for Arms Procurement, appears to have correctly and formally noted, Mike Wood made his pitch for his firms clients.

So we have an undeclared, under-the-counter payment to a peer to introduce a lobbyist pimping on behalf of arms dealers to the Minister, Lord Drayson, in charge of buying arms – who himself bought his way into the legislature. Remember the 1997 promise of New Labour to be “whiter than white”…

UPDATE : As a co-conspirator points out in the comments, Tory MP Gerald Howarth obtained a parliamentary pass for Mike Wood. Why? He does enjoy a lot of defence related junkets…

MPs Expenses – A New Hero Emerges

MPs expense figures have just been released.* Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering) is the least expensive MP coming in at under £44,551. Liam Byrne (Lab, Birmingham Hodge Hill) is four times as expensive at £178,116.

Guido called Hollobone’s office to try and figure out the anomaly:

Guido Fawkes “Is Hollobone there?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Can I speak to him?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Thanks.”
Guido waits patiently.
Office “It is me.”

It turns out that the reason he is some £23,340 cheaper than even Dennis Skinner (£67,891) is that he doesn’t employ any office staff. He answers his own correspondence (he can type) and he says dealing with constituents is his favourite part of the job. So it is no surprise that he is rated in the top decile for responsiveness by WriteToThem.com, whereas Liam Byrne, despite all his staff and great expense, comes 158th.

According to data from TheyWorkForYou.com, Philip Hollobone

  • Has spoken in 105 debates in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Has received answers to 194 written questions in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Is a member of 2 select committees.
  • Replied within 2 or 3 weeks to a very high number of messages sent via WriteToThem.com during 2006, according to constituents.
  • Has voted in 87% of votes in parliament — well above average amongst MPs.

How is it that he can be an excellent constituency MP for a third of the average cost of the rest?

*Thanks to Bloomberg for doing the number crunching.

Sainsbury v Ashcroft

It is worth noting when Labour MPs in marginal seats start bleating about Ashcroft’s money being a threat to democracy that they never mention Lord Sainsbury. He has actually given the Labour party, one way or another, some £15 million. Far more than Ashcroft has given the Tories.
Sainsbury has in the past given under-the-counter money to Blairite modernising groups as well. The odd £250,000 here and there to groups like the Progress faction. Guido thinks that he was overall a force for good in the Labour party, bringing them into the real-world. Lord Drayson bought his peerage off Blair, he too has become an effective minister – probably because of his business background. Similarly, probably because of his business background, Ashcroft forces Tory candidates to come up with a serious business plan. The sharpening up of their campaign objectives is probably worth more than the £10,000 to £30,000 he gave them in the past. Now the party has adopted what was his freelance system at CCHQ and brought him back inside.

Don’t forget incumbent MPs have voted themselves an extra £10,000 of taxpayers money for propaganda and already have well funded office teams of staff. They have all the incumbent advantages and they are up against candidates who invariably have jobs to do as well. To lever out an incumbent MP takes some doing…

Brownie Family Picture

Regular readers will enjoy the Rowson cartoon in the Guardian today. A touching family scene involving Gordon Brown and nappies. Guido would reproduce it but can’t face Deborah Summers ringing Guido up to harangue him yet again. Enjoy.

Burying the Hatchet?

Credit : Adam Myer

+++ Dougie Apologises +++

Just in from the Press Association:

“I, of course, apologise for any actions or omissions on my part which contributed to the problems encountered in the Scottish elections…”

A sign of the underlying weakness of his position.

When in trouble apologise and try to move the story on. Rule 3 from the Blair/Mandelson/Campbell Media Play Book.

UPDATE : The Lobby today asked the PMS again “if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Douglas Alexander”. This is the formula the Lobby uses when they mean “is the PM going to sack ‘im”. Two days in a row, not a good sign…

Brownie Bollocked Again by Speaker

Guido can’t recall a time when the speaker has bollocked an MP not involved in debate two weeks in a row during PMQs. Following that disastrous Brown spanking at PMQs Geoff Hoon has been orchestrating cheering and Iain Austin is

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Dougie Alexander is a Liability

The damning conclusion of the Scottish Election Review, commissioned by the Electoral Commission was that ‘both the Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive were frequently focused on partisan political interests in carrying out their responsibilities, overlooking voter interests and operational

[…]

+ READ MORE +

PASC Hearing Report to Follow

Guido found the hearing very, very interesting. Actually thought Wright did a reasonably good job. There was a little partisan point scoring from members, but essentially he said “told you so.”

Full(er) report later. Must dash…

[…]

+ READ MORE +

How to Tell If Tony Wright Has Been Nobbled

Today is the first hearing of the Public Administration Select Committee into Propriety and Honours: Lessons Learned. At 3.00 pm oral evidence will be taken from: AC John Yates, Metropolitan Police, Carmen Dowd, Head of Special Crime

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Mary Creagh’s coded attack on Ed Miliband…

‘I want the country to be united behind a single vision, we aren’t going to do it by sort of having a Rubik’s Cube approach to politics’. 

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