Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Murkier and Murkier

Two Labour MPs John Mann* and Kevan Jones** have written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner with a list of donations to 80 Tory MPs they want probed. Guido asked a Labour contact for some background on them, he said “they think they are being clever, but they are idiots”.

The list is a list of donations from unincorporated associations consisting of mainly Tory dining clubs and support groups. There is a real and important issue of transparency here. What Mann and Jones seem to have forgotten is that Labour too has had some £2 million from unincorporated associations. In fact Harriet Harman got £5,000 from one for her leadership campaign…

It might not be illegal, but it is shady, and none of the parties have anything to be proud of on this front. However it is of an entirely different order to Hain’s fake think-tank. Hain’s campaign didn’t even report the donations never mind the source.

UPDATE : Am reliably informed that Kevan Jones was put up to this by his former boyfriend Nick Brown, the long time Gordon loyalist henchmen and enforcer. Kevan was, a long time ago, Nick Brown’s researcher and has enjoyed the patronage of Nick Brown ever since. One amusing story that Guido has been reminded of is that during the 2003 backbench Tuition Fees Rebellion Kevan Jones was summoned to see Gordon who told him he should vote for Tuition Fees. Jones said he represented a working class constituency in the North East and they could not afford to pay for their children to go to university. Gordon’s reply was classic, “I’m not f***ing asking you, I’m f***ing telling you.”

*
John Mann flew to Nigeria recently on a junket courtesy of Shell. Shell is the largest operator in Nigeria providing most of Nigeria’s export earnings. Shell were implicated in the judicial execution of Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. In September 2001 a court in New York granted relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa and another of the executed activists, the right to sue Shell. The suit alleged the company fabricated evidence to support murder charges against the two men.

**Kevan Jones loves a junket, Guido counted at least half a dozen trips to Washington and elsewhere courtesy of various arms trade interests on the register in the last couple of years.

Steve Morgan Sleaze Investigation

The Spin Industry’s self regulatory body, the APPC, describes itself “as the representative and regulatory body for UK public affairs professionals in the consultancy sector.” It was set up in the wake of brown-envelope lobbyist scandals by some of the more respectable lobbying firms to try and prevent the most egregious happenings that are endemic to a murky industry.

Guido has learnt that the APPC has received a complaint from James Davenport, a former employee of Morgan Allen Moore, concerning ten separate breaches of the APPC Code of Conduct by Steve Morgan, Hain’s campaign manager. The book is well and truly being thrown at “Morgan the Organ”…

Official Complaint About Ministry for Incompetence’s SpAds

Peter Hain’s DWP employs numerous Special Advisers who are paid for by the taxpayer and barred from doing party political work. SpAds are Civil Servants and must abide by specific rules laid out in a code. Yesterday the SpAds sent out a press release headlined

TORIES AIM TO DESTROY FINAL SALARY PENSION SCHEMES

The press release includes the line “don’t ever vote Tory”. Guido is no expert, but he suspects that may breach the code’s requirement that They should act in a way which upholds the political impartiality of civil servants”.

The Taxpayers Alliance keeps a hawkish eye on government waste and has made an official complaint to Sir Leigh Lewis, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Work and Pensions about the behaviour of his department’s SpAds campaigning on the public payroll for the Labour Party. Are the DWP SpAds going to blame it like their boss does on incompetence or amnesia?

Hat-tip : Taxpayers Alliance

Hain’s Ryder Cup Cash Link

Peter Hain is getting a lot of cheering from Labour MPs during an unusually well attended session of Welsh questions this morning. Labour backbenchers have clearly decided, perhaps with encouragement from the whips, to prop up the Welsh Secretary. They are cheering him, as Guido writes, for “bringing the Ryder Cup to Wales”.

No opposition MP had the wit to question the conflict of interest and propriety of Hain receiving a £1,500 donation to his campaign from PGA Ryder Cup PR firm TM Communications. More here

Why Don’t Politicians Have a Specific Donations Account?

Dizzy makes a splendidly straightforward suggestion, why don’t politicians have one bank account for donations? They then record each transaction’s source on a register. Guido would also suggest that benefits-in-kind went on the same register. Both the account and register records would be made publicly available online.

If a politician failed to report an item within 30 days they would get a fixed fine of £100. If they failed to report an item after 60 days a £1,000 fine. If they fail to report an item after 90 days a mandatory one month suspension from the house – unpaid.

Party and constituency reporting would continue as now. To accept donations any other way would be a criminal offence. Simple enough even for the most incompetent politician…

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why is Ken Sending The Londoner to Scottish MPs?

The Londoner is a Ken Livingstone financed propaganda sheet. The SNP’s Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie reckons Ken is “wasting public money on a lavish scale” sending the newspaper, subtitled News from the Mayor of London to the constituency offices of Scottish MPs and MEPs, and at least one MSP. Some 5,000 copies are being sent to each postcode district in the UK according to the publishers.

Since Ken is quoted in nearly every article throughout the 20 pages, on concerns ranging from London’s housing shortage, Tube fares, a Metropolitan Police survey, Oyster Cards, offers for Londoners to get half price bus fares and crime in London, Hosie says: “This is an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money to provide propaganda for Ken Livingstone’s mayoral campaign. The newspaper articles have little or no relevance to anyone outside London. Bad enough that taxpayers’ money is wasted on propaganda but then to have it posted throughout the UK adds insult to injury.”

Revolting Coincidence

The Guardian this morning reported that “It was stressed yesterday by Steve Morgan, one of Hain’s campaign organisers, he had played no role in soliciting cash from the PPF to fund the deficits.” They clearly have absolutely no relationship to each other and his firm Morgan Allen Moore has nothing to do with the fake think tank. This is just a bizarre coincidence…

Hat-tip : Laban

Steve Morgan Distances Himself From Fake PPF Think Tank

The biggest rat on the Hain gravy boat is deserting the sinking ship. “My work ended the day the election for deputy leader took place [June 24]. Aside from personally donating £5,000 to the thinktank [sic] I have not been involved in fundraising for the thinktank.”

As an experienced spin merchant he is executing a PR technique known as CYA – Cover Your Arse…

UPDATE : Ian Gibson MP, not Morgan told the Guardian that he is “revolted” that the PPF appeared to have been established solely to channel funds to Hain’s campaign. The Guardian “article was amended on Tuesday January 15 2008. We conflated quotes from Ian Gibson and Steve Morgan in error. This has been corrected.” So Guido has amended this posting and deleted comments based on a reading of the article.

The Silent Trials and Tribunals of Peter Hain

People forget that Hain already has a criminal conviction for conspiracy. It was this experience that presumably provided the basis for his 1984 book, Political Trials in Britain (still available on Amazon.)

During his conspiracy trial Hain elected not to give evidence, Lord Justice Roskill finding him guilty emphasised “He gave no explanation of his part over the incidents with which he was charged.”

In another legal case, Donna Easter, a 32 year-old single mother of two who worked in Mr Hain’s constituency office in Neath, took him to an industrial tribunal – she allegedly was paid £35 for supposedly a 15-hour week. There were allegations floating around at the time that she was also paid from petty cash to allow her to continue claiming benefits. Hain was not at the hearing in Cardiff, despite his desk at the Welsh Office being only 300 yards way.

Rachel Davies, the tribunal chairwoman, said: “It is unfortunate that Mr Hain is not present today to put his side of the case”. The tribunal found unanimously in her favour and she was awarded compensation of £2,746 and £299 holiday pay. Similarly today Hain once again stays silent when he is in the shit, as speculation grows that the police will be called in

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Odd Couple

Telegraph TV asked Guido to appear on their new online politics channel. They couldn’t afford him, so you will have to make do with the wisdom of Widdecombe. Heffer and Dale will also be going head-to-head. Two Essex boys made bad…

Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester


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George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:

“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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