Polly’s “Precarious” Guardian Has £850 Million Cash Reserves

Polly Toynbee has a full page advert in today’s Guardian asking readers to “become a Founder member” for £540-a-year. In other words write them a cheque because the £1.60 they pay to read the paper isn’t enough to save it from its “precarious” position:

“The Guardian’s life has always been precarious because we don’t have an owner or a corporation propping us up. We don’t have a press baron or oligarch ordering us to take their political or commercial line. We swim along in a dangerous world of media sharks, our independence precious and unique.”

As Press Gazette points out, the “precarious” Guardian currently has cash reserves of £850 million since selling its stake in Autotrader last year. Cynical tax strategies have kept the Guardian afloat whilst simultaneously campaigning against tax avoidance. Amazingly £850 million has built an endowment that will allow the unpopular paper to lose money in perpetuity. All without paying any corporation or capital gains taxes for years…

Pic via @wblau

Jim Murphy Breaks Silence on Expenses Irn-Bru

Finally – some seven hours later – Murphy’s spinners have worked out a line on his shocking Irn-Bru expenses claims. A Scottish Labour Party spokesperson said:

“As most people know, Mr Murphy drinks bucket loads of of Irn Bru. Over the years it’s thought that he has single-handedly kept the House of Commons Irn-Bru supplier in business. He has paid for it himself except for these two cans totaling £1.30.”​

Which slightly misses the point as to why these two were on expenses.

There is no apology nor any explanation here.

Pay it back, Jim…

Tim’s Troughing Far From Yeo-ver

YEO

Three decades of his MPs’ salary, expenses and all those lucrative green energy interests and troughing Tory Tim Yeo is still at it. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun, even though he is leaving Westminster in just three months, Yeo has hired his long-suffering wife Diane as his new office assistant. Parliament dissolves in a matter of weeks so the taxpayer is paying the Yeo family to packs his bags…

Blair Already Back Electioneering For Labour

There was plenty of chatter in the broadsheets this weekend about what, if any, role Tony Blair would play in the coming Labour election campaign. However – as readers of the Sun on Sunday would know – Mr Tony was already back and doing his part to raise cash for candidates last week. As Guido revealed yesterday, Tony and Cherie made a rare public appearance together on Thursday at the Grand Imperial Hotel for a glitzy fundraiser for gay Labour candidates.

Last seen awkwardly posing for a very uncomfortable Christmas card, friends were surprised to see the pair work the room just like the old days, despite a turbulent year. “He was very wistful,” says Guido’s mole, “he’s really starting to show his age”. There were handbags later after Chris Bryant “made a bitchy comment about Tony and loyalty to Ed Miliband”. Guido hears Chris was swiftly – and loudly – reminded of his public letter-writing campaign that helped bring Blair down. Sic semper…

McXlusive: Jim Murphy Claims For Irn-Bru on Expenses

Jim Murphy portrays himself as the Irn Bru street fighter, campaigning on crates with a bottle in his hand. A man of the people…

Now Guido can reveal that not only is Murphy so out of touch that he drinks his Bru from a glass, the Scottish Labour leader gets the taxpayer to pay for his supply on expenses. FoI revelations show Murphy has made two expenses claims for Irn Bru, amounting to £1.30.

This is certain to cause a Bru-haha north of the border…

I Wouldn’t Take Money From PWC Says Ex-Employee Hodge
+ Hodge Family Firm Stemcor Employs PWC
+ Admits She Still Receives Pension From Her Time There

Worth listening to the end of Margaret Hodge’s interview on the World at One as she is politely reminded of her massive hypocrisy when it comes to Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Hodge began by slamming Labour’s Shadow Cabinet – including Ed BallChuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves- for employing PWC staffers, before being told that her company Stemcor also uses PWC, that she used be a senior consultant for the firm herself and still receives a pension from them:

By the end even she was laughing at her own hypocrisy…

UPDATE:

Tory MP Slammed By Expenses Watchdog
+ Ordered to Pay Back £1,000 in Incorrect Mileage Claims 
+ Claimed ‘For Twice the Distance Shown on Google Maps’

+ Guilty of “Incorrect” and “Laissez-faire Attitude” to Expenses

Tory MP Bob Blackman has been found guilty of repeatedly over-claiming for his mileage expenses by IPSA and has been ordered to pay back more than £1,000 to the taxpayer. In a damning report released this morning the expenses watchdog found:

  • “on average, your claims are almost twice the distance shown on Google maps and in some cases, significantly more”
  • “mileage claims submitted by Mr Blackman are, in almost every instance, not accurate and greater than the distance travelled”
  • Blackman “wrongly submitted” claims including canvassing and party political events
  • he “demonstrate[s] a pattern of incorrect claiming and a laissez-faire attitude to the submission of constituency mileage in general”

The total number of claims found by IPSA to be incorrect or not allowable is 734 and Blackman has been ordered to repay £1,006.20. If he had been in the private sector he probably wouldn’t have kept his job…

Outsourced Government IT Project Saves Taxpayers Money

verify gov

The Government Digital Service has made a massive stride towards fixing the hated Government Gateway, the cumbersome registration portal that users need to access online government services. The Cabinet Office has announced today that its new alternative verification service, GOV.UK Verify, helped 11,000 people avoid paying late submission fines on their self-assessment form this year. Last year, if people didn’t have their login info ready from around two weeks before the deadline they were forced to pay a fine. The new Verify system allows anyone with a passport and driver’s licences to bypass the 10 day wait for a username or password in the post.

Unlike some government IT projects in the past, it appears the Cabinet Office have executed GOV.UK Verify with some degree of competence. Two competing private companies were given the contract (they will be joined by three more soon), it was rolled out in beta form with throttled (limited) access in December and incremental changes were made regularly. Like it’s supposed to be done.

The online verification issue has been a major stumbling block to the Cabinet Office’s dream of creating a seamless one stop online shop for accessing any government service. Not like a government IT project to actually help save taxpayers’ money…

Mitchell Down Half a Million After Refusing Sun Settlement

plebgate-mitchell-sun

Andrew Mitchell’s lawyers are back in court again arguing over how much the former chief whip has to cough up after losing his libel case last year. It has emerged News Group made offer to Mitchell before the libel hearing, […]

Tories Admit New Voter Software is Busted

A leaked email has revealed the Tory field data operation is in dire straights just 98 days from polling day. With half of their associations dumping the dire Merlin voter data software for a new voter contact system, CCHQ have […]

Sportsman Makes Reasonable Political Point Shocker

https://twitter.com/StuartBroad8/status/560049120308502529

Is it time for another rumour about an England cricketer’s political future?[…]

Bank Statement to Follow

Coutts, founded 1692, requires customers to have investable assets of over £1 million. The People’s Bank…[…]



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Quote of the Day

Tim Shipman to Adam Boulton on the TV debates…

“If Cameron gets in a car to go to the debate, Lynton Crosby will stage a car crash.”

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