Miliband’s Union Henchman Forced to Apologise to Commons

Miliband’s “Spokesman on Trade Unions & Industrial Relations” Ian Murray will be forced to apologise to the House this afternoon by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after he failed to declare his interests regarding his union paymasters while legislating on, ironically, the Transparency in Lobbying Bill. Whoops.

Happy Christmas! Pay Your Rent

Hammersmith and Fulham council’s unwavering drive to get value for money for taxpayers doesn’t stop at Christmas.

They are spreading the joy and Christmas cheer to their local council tenants, marking the season of goodwill and definitely not wasting money by sending them all festive cards.

Warning them to pay their rent.

At least there’s a sprig of holly…

Mirror Clocks On to 'Clocking In'

Regular readers will not be surprised by this morning’s Mirror splash that shows Tory crook Lord Hanningfield clocking in and out of the House of Lords in under an hour to collect his daily £300 expenses. Guido has been warning of this scandal for years. In June 2010 he wrote:

s0OYczBh“There is also a very obvious flaw in this which Guido likes to call the “Rennard Model”. There will be nothing to stop Lords turning up in the morning to collect their £300 and then disappearing off for the rest of the day – it is going to be an honour system – something that is very lacking in Westminster.  If these changes haven’t been properly thought through then the this system is looking just as prone to abuse as the last set up.”

Time for Hanningfield to name and shame ‘at least fifty other peers’ he claims are up to the same trick.

Guardian Advertises for Unpaid Interns After Claiming Exploitation is "Ruining Journalism"

The Guardian has been a vocal campaigner in sticking up for unpaid interns. Their pages have played host to an endless list of articles making clear where the paper stands. “Join the fight against unpaid internships”, they have urged“We shouldn’t have to work for free”, argued another piece. One article described unpaid internships as “institutional exploitation”, another claimed they are “unfair and open to abuse by vested interests”. Earlier this year the Guardian ran a brave piece arguing “unpaid internships and a culture of privilege are ruining journalism”. Strong words.

Today the Guardian is advertising for a limited number of editorial experience internships for next year. Successful applicants will be “getting involved in editorial activities”, so there is no dispute that they will be doing real work. For which, so say the Guardian’s own comment pages again and again, they deserve a fair wage. So how much is the Guardian offering?

“These placements at the Guardian and Observer are unpaid”

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Minister Responsible for HMRC Reported to HMRC

David Gauke, who as Exchequer Secretary is the minister responsible for HMRC, has himself been reported to HMRC for not paying his interns. Unpaid internship campaign website Graduate Fog has caught him advertising for an unpaid six-month post where the successful candidate will be required to carry out “administration, basic correspondence, diary management, fundraising, campaigning and related tasks”. Intern Aware have passed the details onto HMRC, who last month promised to investigate every employer reported to them and impose fines of up to £5,000 for those found using unpaid interns. Looks like they’re going to have to have an awkward chat with their own responsible minister…

IPSA's False Deal

IPSA have confirmed their recommendation to whack up MPs’ pay to £74,000. Their reforms in full:

  • A one-off uplift in salary to £74,000 in 2015, an increase of 9.26%, to address the historic shortfall. Thereafter, MPs’ pay will be linked to average earnings – if they go up, so will MPs’. If they don’t, neither will MPs’.
  • A new pension on a par with those in other parts of the public service, saving the taxpayer millions. Following public consultation on our proposals from earlier this year, we have decided to increase MPs’ pension contributions further, reducing the cost to the taxpayer even further.
  • Scrapping out-of-touch “resettlement payments” worth tens of thousands of pound per MP. These will be replaced with more modest loss-of-office payments, which will be available only to those who contest their seat and lose.
  • A tighter regime of business costs and expenses, including ending the provision for evening meals.

IPSA seem to be taking the approach that they have to come to some sort of deal with MPs; that if MPs agree not to fiddle their expenses, sign up to a more reasonable expenses regime, increase their contribution towards their gold-plated pensions and give up their resettlement payments, then they can have a pay rise. This is a false offer. There is absolutely nothing to stop IPSA toughening up on expenses and pensions and ditching the resettlement grant with no pay rise sweetener attached. The only ‘deal’ on the table should be that all these things happen without the condition of a pay rise…

IPSA's Imaginary Pay Problem


Writing in The Times this morning, IPSA’s Sir Ian Kennedy is adamant

ipsaWe will announce a one-off pay rise. Thereafter MPs’ pay will move with the pay of the rest of us. That’s a sensible way forward, which we will implement after a further review of conditions in 2015.

I know there is a tension between the reasoning and the politics but we were asked to fix the problem for a generation, not for a news cycle. That is what we have done. The alternative approach takes us back to the days of political deals, with scandal never far away. I can’t believe anyone seriously believes that is the way forward.

Of all the problems in politics, the problem of underpaid MPs is not one that Guido or the voters have noticed. MPs are paid a handsome £66,396, plus another £14,728 if they chair one of the 39 select committees. If they make it to Cabinet, the pay goes up to £134,565 — more than doubling their salary. They are paid a basic salary that puts them in the top income decile. For this, as Gordon Brown shows, they have to do nothing. They also get another £20,100 towards accommodation expenses. Hundreds of them are paid more as ministers or for having extra responsibilities – chairing committees. The average MP costs taxpayers over £100,000 in pay and personal expenses.

It is little acknowledged by IPSA that since 2000 MPs’ earnings have outstripped the consumer price index and since the 1980s their earnings have risen from double the average to the triple figure that they enjoy today. Although politicians are professionally skilled in advancing an argument, they will find it impossible to convince the public that they have gone from being worth twice the average wage to being three times as much. There is no lack of applicants for MPs’ jobs. There is no pay problem.

They Just Don't Get It

According to IPSA’s anonymous polling 69% of MPs want to milk the taxpayer of even more cash, so why are they all being so shy in public? This weekend only three were willing to go on the record to back their 11% pay rise.

David Ruffley says he is “minded to accept” being paid £76,000-a-year. That would be the same David Ruffley who Guido exposed for his “obnoxious” behaviour. Bright-eyed hopefuls leave his office in floods of tears, some being binned after only days. The same David Ruffley who claimed £1,674 for a sofa and £2,175 for a 46 inch HD television during the expenses scandal. Now he wants more.

Then there is Jack Straw, standing down but hoping to give his colleagues a nice farewell gift. During the expenses scandal Straw was accused of trying to prevent MPs’ claims from being published because he did not want the public to find out about renovations to his own home.

And thirdly Peter Bottomley, warned about excessive expenses claims in 2009 after demanding £6,000 for windows and £980 for bookshelves. He now thinks he deserves more of your money.

TV producers are struggling to find pundits to defend the rise today. They should start with these troughers…

Maggie's Children Unimpressed With Autumn Statement Burns: 'We are Dying a Third More Slowly'

Speaking at a packed London fundraiser for the Margaret Thatcher Centre last night, Maggie’s representative on earth, Conor Burns, cut through the euphoria being felt in some parts of the Conservative Party this morning:

“I am convinced if Margaret Thatcher were still here today, if she and Keith Joseph and all the others that set off on that radical revolution from 1979, if they were here today, they would be thinking that their principles – those of personal responsibility, freedom under the rule of law, taxation that incentivises people to do better –  could equally be applied to the challenges of the next thirty years as they so successfully applied them to the challenges of the thirty years after they set off.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

True Terrible Impact of Bedroom 'Tax' Revealed

Labour are forever telling us that the bedroom ‘tax’ is a vindictive and pernicious policy that will cause misery for thousands across the country. Well today the devastating consequences have come to light. Worcester News has the story of one victim, Lisa Taylor, a mother in Warndon.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Tim Yeo Told to Go – Local Tories Deselect

Guido reported Tim Yeo’s selection woes in the Sun on Sunday three weeks ago, and now he’s been given the bullet by his local constituency:

TROUBLE ahead for Tory toff Tim Yeo. Now the 68-year-old faces another battle – his local party want him out and have so far refused to re-select him as the Conservative candidate in his South Suffolk seat.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

I Call EU App

Taking a policy straight out of The Thick of It, the European Commission is offering €800,000 in prizes to whoever can design the best smartphone app. Students, geeks, Romanians and Bulgarians are invited to take part in the competition, with €400,000 going to the finalists and winners of each of the two categories: Smart Cities and Smart Business & Industry.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Guido Has a Question for Wandsworth Metropolitan Police

Given that Wandsworth Council Conservative Group have expelled a councillor from their grouping after he was found to fiddle his expenses and fraudulently con the local Tories out of over £50,000, perhaps Wandsworth police would like to have a look at this?[…]

+ READ MORE +

Bercow: "No Shared Malice or Corruption" From Jailed MPs

Bercow was spinning hard for jailed MPs caught fiddling their expenses during his speech to the Hansard Society last night.

“The House appeared to be little more than a cross between a rubber stamp and a talking shop which had taken to collective activity such as the imaginative interpretation of what might be a legitimate expense claim as much as an odd form of displacement activity as out of any shared sense of malice or corruption.”

Jim Devine must have submitted claims for cleaning, maintenance and printing work that the judge said were “entirely bogus”, pleading guilty to dishonestly claiming £8,385, and been jailed for 16 months because he was bored.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Ex-UKIP MEP's Missing Money Mystery

West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire has been taking full advantage of the media limelight ahead of her new book coming out. But has she said too much? The Times reports:

“She claims to work 70-hour weeks and pointed out that she has donated £120,000 of her own money to her party since 2009.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Labour MP Doubles Up on Taxpayer Cash to Pals

Full marks to Labour foghorn Tom Blenkinsop, who is missing no opportunity to line the pockets of his paymasters with taxpayers’ money. Blenkinsop is a classic ‘re-renter’, he claimed £4,000 last year for constituency office rent in a building owned by his own local Guisborough Labour Party.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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George Osborne paraphrases Boris, telling the FT:

“If the ball came loose at the back of the scrum, I wouldn’t fumble it”

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