Malcolm Rifkind Steps Down as ISC Chair and MP

The Chairman of the ISC, the Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind has this morning issued the following statement:

None of the current controversy with which I am associated is relevant to my work as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

However, I have today informed my colleagues that while I will remain a member of the Committee, I will step down from the Chairmanship.

The Committee is due to be dissolved in little over a month with the prorogation of Parliament for the forthcoming General Election. The main substantive work which needs to be completed will be the publication of our Privacy and Security Report during March.

I do not want the work of the Committee and the publication of the Report to be, in any way, distracted or affected by controversy as to my personal position. I have concluded, therefore, that it is better that this important work should be presided over by a new Chairman.

Will it be enough to lance the boil?

UPDATE: Rifkind also stepping down as an MP at the election. Kensington is in play.

UPDATE II: Personal statement from Sir Malcolm Rifkind:

“I have received tremendous support from my Constituency Association and from many constituents in Kensington over the last two days. However, I have been pondering whether it is fair to my colleagues and friends in Kensington to remain the prospective Conservative candidate for the forthcoming General Election. I warmly welcome the Committee that has been established by the Party to examine the controversy with which I have been associated and to report by the end of March on its conclusions. It will be an excellent opportunity for an objective assessment of the allegations that have been made and I will be happy to cooperate closely with the Committee. However, it is unlikely that it will be able to finish its deliberations until well into March and there, obviously, can be no certainty as to its conclusions. I am conscious, therefore, that Kensington Conservatives are faced with serious uncertainty until the end of March as to whether I will be able to be their candidate. If I could not they would have little time to choose a new candidate. I am also aware that even if the Committee reach a favourable conclusion as to these allegations the controversy will remain during what is certain to be a heated General Election and, indeed, for many months thereafter until the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has completed the necessary enquiry. I had intended to seek one further term as MP for Kensington, before retiring from the House of Commons. I have concluded that to end the uncertainty it would be preferable, instead, to step down at the end of this Parliament. This is entirely my personal decision. I have had no such requests from my constituency association but I believe that it is the right and proper action to take. As regards the allegations of Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph I find them contemptible and will not comment further at this time. Although I will retire from Parliament I shall continue my public and political life and am much looking forward to doing so over the years to come.”

UPDATE III: No. 10:

UPDATE IV: 

Tories:

“Sir Malcolm has had a long career of distinguished service both to the Conservative Party and the country.  We respect and support his decision to stand down.” 

POLL: Should Rifkind Resign From Intelligence Select Committee?


Should Sir Malcolm Rifkind stand down to spend more time with the lifestyle to which he aspires?

Rifkind: It’s All About the Price Tag

Sir Malcolm Rifkind:

“I want to have a standard of living that my professional background would normally entitle me to have.”

Perhaps time to get out of ‘public service’ then, Sir Malcolm…

Vid via @LiarPoliticians

Jack Straw: Then and Now

Jack Straw, 23 March 2010, on Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon:

“There is such anger in the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as I may say incredulity, about their stupidity in allowing themselves to be suckered in a sting like this. Their behaviour, prima facie, does indeed bring the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as Parliament, into disrepute, because it appears that former Cabinet ministers are more interested in making money than they are in properly representing their constituents.”

Jack Straw, 23 February 2015:

“I am mortified that I fell into this trap, despite my best efforts to avoid this, and my previous public criticism of colleagues of all parties who have done so in the past. Of course I am kicking myself.”

That sound you can hear is the world’s tiniest violin…

Miliband Weaponises Straw

Miliband is quick out of the blocks in trying to use Jack Straw’s suspension to hit the Tories:

Dear Prime Minister,

I write this letter to you not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.

I believe MPs are dedicated to the service of their constituents and the overwhelming majority follow the rules. But the British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.

Two years ago I said Labour MPs would not be able to hold paid directorships or consultancies after the next election.

My party is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs.

Today I can confirm that these measures will be included in my party’s General Election manifesto.

The low levels of trust in politics demands clarity and I urge you to follow my lead in banning paid directorships and consultancies.

There have been too many scandals about conflicts of interest in recent years.

It is time to draw a line under this and ensure these current allegations are the last.

I am sure you will agree this is a problem which affects all parties.

I believe these are circumstances which demand action and leadership.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Yours,

Ed Miliband

Miliband knows the business folk and lawyers on the Tory backbenchers will not put up with it. Canny…

Straw and Rifkind Caught in Cash for Access Sting

Jack Straw is filmed boasting:

“I’m well aware of the fact that I bring my name. I know everyone anyway, I’ve got their phone numbers… If I’m doing a speech or something, it’s £5,000 a day, that’s what I charge.”

And explaining how he used his influence to change EU rules for a company that pays him £60,000-a-year:

“I got in to see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels …  and we got the sugar regulations changed,” he said. “I mean … the crucial thing about this, it’s all, it’s public that the regulations have been changed, but the best way of dealing with these things is under the radar”

Intelligence committee chairman Malcolm Rifkind, when asked by undercover reporters how he could help a fictional Chinese company:

“You’d be surprised how much free time I have. I spend a lot of time reading, I spend a lot of time walking. I’m self-employed. So nobody pays me a salary.”

Read the full Telegragh/Dispatches story here

UPDATE: These are payments declared by Straw from commodities company ED & F MAN Holdings. Straw told the reporters he had helped a commodities company which paid him £60,000-a-year change EU law:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 22.10.53

UPDATE II: Straw has been suspended from the Labour Party.

PWC to Host Labour Prawn Cocktail Offensive

In their continued quest to pretend they are on the side of business, Labour frontbenchers are being wheeled out to meet local capitalists up and down the country:

What the invitation fails to mention is “Donington Court” is a regional outpost of Labour’s embarrassing big donor, the tax-avoiding PWC.

So the tax avoidance kings swell the coffers and host the shadow cabinet, yet still Ed Miliband told the House “none of these people had given a penny on my watch…”

Tories Silent on New “Volunteer” Allegations

Following this morning’s unpaid Tory “volunteer” row, more stories are coming out of the woodwork. A Tory activist gets in touch to report:

“I recently volunteered at CCHQ and travelled from outside of London to volunteer at a cost of around £20 a day doing around 6 hours work. I was told I could only claim for the cost of a zones 1-2 travel, which was £4.60.”

Guido put the new allegation to the Tories this afternoon but at the time of going to pixel they have so far refused to comment, instead demanding to know the identity of our source. Guido can however reveal that they were not doing phone canvassing as previous spin suggested. Does only stumping up for the tube fare for Zones 1-2 really constitute “reasonable travel expenses”? Come and campaign for the Tory party, so long as you’re rich enough to live in central London…

Tories in ‘Economic Plan’ Row With Campaigners

The Tories landed a cool £8,345,687 in donations last quarter, but a row has broken over whether the miserly skinflints at CCHQ are failing to pay their reams of election “volunteers”. The well respected Graduate Fog campaign site highlight how […]

+ READ MORE +

Broke Greens Beg For Taxpayer Cash

donations-q4-2014

Despite their relative popularity in the polls, the Greens raised just £248,520 last quarter. Natalie Bennett is out with her begging bowl this afternoon demanding the taxpayer foot the bill for her party’s inability to raise funds:

“For too long

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Labour Transparency King Takes Donation From Private Equity Adviser

Labour’s squeaky clean Treasury select committee rent-a-quote John Mann is very hot on party funding this morning, having a little whinge about big Tory money in his constituency:

[…]

+ READ MORE +

“Inappropriate” Tax Experts Labour’s Biggest Non-Union Donors

PriceWaterhouse Coopers, whom Margaret Hodge condemned earlier this month, gave almost £400,000 to Labour in the last quarter.

Also blows out of the water Labour’s line that they are being massively outspent…[…]

+ READ MORE +



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David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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