Wednesday, May 7, 2014

AstraZeneca Board Member Donated Thousands to Miliband

An AstraZeneca board member has personally donated thousands of pounds to Ed Miliband’s office raising questions about the Labour leader’s partiality in the Pfizer take-over row. Miliband failed to declare this interest at PMQs earlier, despite Shriti Vadera donating £4,402 to cover “evening events” with the Labour leader. 

Intervening in such a high profile manner on the side of a pharma company, when you’ve taken donations directly from a board member, leaves very little wriggle room. 

It certainly doesn’t smell right.

Pfizer’s Fixers
Axelrod Hamstrings Another Labour Attack Opportunity

Pfizer are turning out to be just about as well-connected as you would expect a major multinational pharmaceutical corporation to be. They are well in with Downing Street having paid No. 10 director of external relations Gabby Bertin £25,000 when she worked with Adam Werrity at Liam Fox’s struck off Atlantic Bridge ‘charity’. Dave’s pollster Mark Textor also used to work for Pfizer ten years ago.

Normally Labour would make a fuss about this, so why so quiet? Perhaps because Miliband strategist David Axelrod’s old firm AKPD ran attack ads for Big Pharma in the States, a coalition that included the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, whose chairman is Pfizer CEO Ian Read. Lining the pockets of advisers from both parties can’t hurt when you need their support for your takeover…

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

BBC Pays MPs More Than Every Newspaper Combined

Press Gazette has crunched the numbers and worked out that the BBC pays more money to publicity-seeking MPs for vanity appearances than every national newspaper combined. Rory Stewart trousered £8,000 for his documentary, Alan Johnson pocketed £5,317, while part-time MP and TV personality Diane Abbott has been paid £2,800. Tim Loughton got £1,500 for appearing on Have I Got News For You, as did wannabe London mayor Sadiq Khan, who probably now regrets that ill-fated idea to boost his profile.

It all adds up to £20,000 of licence fee payers’ money paid to MPs so far this year, well ahead of the £17,905.40 the entirety of Fleet Street has stumped up. If ever there was a reason for scrapping the licence fee…

Cam and Clegg’s Free Advertising for Donor Cronies

Nick Clegg unveils the LibDems’ local election campaign this morning, welcoming journalists to the Ministry of Sound for what sounds like a riveting launch. The location is a nice little plug for Lord Palumbo, the owner of the Ministry of Sound who has donated £500,000 to the LibDems and was made a peer for his troubles. Kerching!

Dave was no better last week, name-dropping JCB at the Tories’ local election campaign launch. He three times credited the firm with helping rebuild the British economy – without mentioning the fact that the Tories have received almost £5million in donations from JCB chairman Anthony Bamford. The PM also bunged him a peerage too. Doesn’t it make you proud…

Downton Dave Dines With Donors at Tory Spring Lunch

The Tories held their Spring lunch fundraiser last week, the PM joking on arrival that he misheard when his staff told him it was time to go: “I thought they said swing lunch, which would be a rather different kind of party all together.”

Among the usual auction items of weekends at Scottish Tory lairds’ Castles for hunting ‘n fishing and tickets to boxes at the opera there were a few more unusual items that caught Guido’s eye. The bidding topped £600 for Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond to come and cook for a dinner party. He tells Guido that he is “a reasonably talented amateur chef. I normally cook for people three times a year for charity and I’ve never had any complaints. I’d do a prawn mousse to start followed by chicken breast stuffed with bacon.”

In a departure from raffling off membership to old, white, stuffy male institutions the only private club to auction membership this year was Grace, the women-only club in Belgravia where they could wear an Amanda Wakeley designer dress which went for over £3,000.

All of this will not help the Tories shed their Downton Abbey reputation – not least because Lord Fellowes donated a goody bag of box set videos and books from the upper class TV show he created.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MPs Want to End Cheap Beer for Our Boys
Taliban Tory Soubry Wants Troops’ Beer Prices Raised

In 1944, at the height of the Second World War, Winston Churchill famously defended the right of Britain’s war heroes to enjoy a pint:

Make sure that the beer – four pints a week – goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop.

This afternoon at the Defence Select Committee, Labour MP Madeleine Moon demanded that the alcohol subsidy providing cheaper booze for war heroes serving overseas be scrapped. Moon, who herself takes advantage of parliament’s food and drink subsidy allowing MPs to sink cheap pints on the taxpayer, says that the subsidy at military bars in army bases abroad should be removed. According to Press Association, she said she was given the “fight of my life” when she saw the prices at a base in the Falklands:

“One thing that could be done about alcohol problems in the armed forces is tackling the high level of subsidy in bars in military units – perhaps so they were the same price you would pay in town.”

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Defence Minister Anna Soubry suggested she was open to the idea, saying she wanted to curb a culture of “drinking to the point of oblivion” in the armed forces. Our politicians want themselves to have a taxpayer funded subsidy for their booze, but want to deny the same perk for the soldiers they have sent to war.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Labour’s Karl Turner Faces Standards Investigation

Regular readers will remember Labour’s rent-a-gob Karl Turner previous run in with the authority when he nicked a newspaper from a first class train carriage. “A self-satisfied, obnoxious, patronising bully who can afford a quid for The Times” was one of the kinder witness statements. Well the passive-aggressive MP has been caught red-handed breaking House of Commons rules by trying to raise party funds using non-partisan parliamentary resources. Turner’s potential opponent in Hull East Mike Whitehead made the original complaint and had him bang to rights. The uninspiring Labour MP admits sending out invites to the £45-a-head fundraiser from a parliamentary account, in clear breach of the members’ code of conduct:

“It shouldn’t have happened and I have made sure it will not happen again.”

Local Tory MP Graham Stuart is accusing Turner of a serious and ongoing error of judgment”, referring the “unapologetic” and “flippant” Turner to the Standards Commissioner. He says Turner sold the tickets “under false pretences”. An apology to the House is in order.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Labour’s New Bank Controlled By Co-Op
Pay Cut Fears at Labour HQ

Iain McNicol’s sham plan to cut Labour’s ties to the Co-op by moving £1.2 million of debt to the Unity Trust bank doesn’t really cut any ties at all. As Faisal Islam reports, as a condition of the banking licence granted to Unity Trust the bank is “controlled” by… the Co-Op. This means the Co-Op appoints the Unity Trust chairman and has the right to appoint a majority of its board members, indeed the Co-Op’s risk and financial control directors sit on the Unity Trust board. They’re just rearranging the deckchairs…

Labour owes the Co-op group £2.4 million in outstanding loans and the Co-op last week declared £2.5 billion in losses, so that could be called in at any moment. Labour staffers are nervous about jobs and pay cuts, just when the HQ should be expanding in time for the election. When Labour nearly went bankrupt in 2006 it had to sack 200 staff but it still spent £12,043,000 per year on salaries for 284 party hands, meaning an average salary of £42,404.93. Meanwhile they’ve managed to stump up the six figure sum for Axelrod…

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Davey’s New Green Projects to Cost Taxpayer £1.4 Billion a Year

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has today unveiled eight new major renewables projects which he says will be funded by £12 billion of private sector investment to “boost green growth and green jobs“. Renewable projects are guaranteed a price for the power they produce, meaning that the difference between the guaranteed price and the price on the market is subsidised by the taxpayer. Guido has been crunching the numbers to work out how much the subsidy for these new projects will cost taxpayers overall.

Wind

The wholesale price for power for winter 2015 is £53 per MWh. There are 5 offshore wind projects totalling 3,184MW, each guaranteed £140 per MWh if completed in 2017-18. That’s a subsidy of £87 per MWh.

If wind farms generate 35% of the time, that’s 3,066 hours per year. At £87 per hour on 3,184MW of capacity that’s a subsidy of £849 million.

Biomass CHP

There is 1 Biomass CHP project providing just 299MW. This is guaranteed £125 per MWh. A subsidy of £72 per MWh.

If this generates 85% of the time, that’s 7,446 hours per year. At £72 per hour on 299MW of capacity that’s a subsidy of £160million.

Biomass Conversions

Then there are 2 Biomass Conversions totalling 1,065MW. These are guaranteed £105 per MWh. A subsidy of £52 per MWh.

If these generate 85% of the time, that’s 7,446 hours per year. At £52 per hour on 1,065MW of capacity that’s a subsidy of £412 million.

Overall, that is a total subsidy of £1.4 billion per year.

Davey said today that the new contracts for renewable projects will support 8,500 green jobs. At £1.4 billion, that amounts to £167,000 per green job. Or green crap as the PM likes to call it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

#Guardian100m: The Road to £30,900,000 Losses

The Guardian is in full back-slapping self-congratulatory mode this afternoon as it reaches 100 million monthly unique browsers for the first time. They are even treating lucky readers to a video taking them along the Road to 100 million. MediaGuido’s graph of Guardian News & Media’s road to £30,900,000 in losses is slightly more sobering:

100 million uniques means they lose over 30 pence per reader. Hardly something to celebrate…


Seen Elsewhere

Harriet Harman Offers Less Than the Living Wage | Owen Bennett
Fallon’s Red Arrow Spin Unravels | Wings Over Scotland
What is the LibDems’ Problem With “The Jews” | Speccie
Image is the Least of Ed’s Worries | Speccie
The Most Politically Cynical Speech I Have Ever Seen | Dan Hodges
Full Sunday Sport Style Guide Email | MediaGuido
What if a Hamas Rocket Hit a BA Plane? | Richard Littlejohn
Sunday Sport Swearing Style Guide | Popbitch
Tory MP’s Love of Astrology | BBC
No.10 Shouldn’t Get Excited at Growth Figures | Mark Wallace
Feminist Lobby Killing Meritocracy | Kathy Gyngell


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New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:

“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”



Christie Malry @fcablog

Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops


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