New Year Honours Establishment Cronyism Troughing MPs, Spinners, Aides and Donors Bunged Gongs

Establishment cronyism at its most cynical in tonight’s New Year honours. The party leaders have rewarded expenses scandal hit MPs, spinners, aides, party donors and lobbyists, also buttering up potential candidates and local party association bosses. Their cronyism in full:

  • Sir Alan Parker – shadowy CEO of lobbying firm Brunswick. Gordon Brown is godfather to his son, he is a Labour donor. Has also holidayed with Cameron.
  • Karren Brady CBE – Cameron adviser on fiscal matters who has previously been arrested twice on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. In the running for a Tory seat.
  • Sir Kevin “Morally” Barron – Labour MP and head of the troughers’ union, the standards committee that lets off money-grabbing MPs. Watch Guido’s ding dong with him here.
  • Sir Peter Luff – Tory MP who bought three loo seats, three food mixers, two microwaves and ten sets of bed linen for his country house. Rent-swapper extraordinaire.
  • Marion Dowdings OBE and Simon Mort OBE – deputy chair of Cameron’s local party and chair of its supper club, and president of the Oxford West Conservatives, respectively. See what Dave did there.
  • Sir Keir Starmer – New Miliband adviser currently being lined up for a Labour seat. Well it can hardly be for his work at the Crown Prosecution Service, can it.
  • Peter Emmerson Jones OBE – has given tens of thousands of pounds to Osborne’s local party.
  • Lady Patricia Hobson OBE –  another big money Tory donor.
  • Emma Pidding CBE – chairman of the National Conservative Convention. C’mon.

This is why people hate politics.

Cost of Pilgrims Up 29% £23.6 Million Spent on Taxpayer Funded Union Officials Last Year

Guido was cautious when Francis Maude announced his reforms of trade union facility time, emphasising that they “need to be enforced across the public sector” if the cost to the taxpayer is to come down. New figures reveal the amount spent on Pilgrims – taxpayer funded trade union officials – has in fact increased from £18.3million in 2010/11 to £23.6million in 2012/13. That’s a rise of 29 per cent.

The Pilgrim reforms required government departments to guarantee just 0.1 per cent of wages would be spent on union time. 15 government departments have failed to meet the cap. Despite the crackdown, taxpayer-funded public officials are still spending their time on partisan trade union activity, wasting tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money each year. And the cost is going up, not down. A good New Year’s resolution for the Cabinet Office would be to actually enforce the pledges that it made…

Bah, L’Humbug! Hollande’s 75% Tax Rate Approved by French Courts

Francois Hollande’s Christmas present to the French people is a 75% tax rate. The hike was ruled unconstitutional a year ago but the French courts have u-turned and now, despite huge protests from business leaders and the country’s star footballers going on strike, those earning over €1 million will pay a top income tax rate of 75% to their socialist government. Another nail in the coffin of the Hollande plan that Miliband endorsed. Expect a queue of Ferraris on the French-Swiss border tonight…

MacShane Sentencing Today Case for a Custodial Sentence

Denis MacShane is listed to be sentenced by Mr Justice Sweeney at Southwark Crown Court at 3pm today. The case for a custodial sentence is clear.

MacShane is guilty of false accounting, fiddling his expenses and defrauding taxpayers out of £12,900 in forged receipts. In November 2012 he was suspended from the Commons by the Standards and Privileges Committee, whose damning report concluded that his was “the gravest case which has come to us for adjudication”. MPs have gone down before, the authorities see MacShane as the worst of the lot.

 They found that he:

  • Claimed nearly £20,000 a year in expenses for an office based in the garage of his South Yorkshire home.
  • Signed claims with a “nom de plume” purporting to come from a General Manager who did not in fact exist.
  • Knowingly submitted nineteen false invoices over a period of four financial years which were plainly intended to deceive the Parliamentary expenses authorities.
  • Claimed thousands of pounds for eight computers that got ‘lost’ or were taken by interns.
  • Claimed £12,900 for invoices from his EPI slush fund. He didn’t provide a single receipt for payments.

MacShane abused his position as a public servant, forging receipts to deceive the authorities, costing the taxpayers and constituents he was supposed to serve thousands. It is true that MacShane has pleaded guilty – usually grounds for leniency – however he did so only after being charged and presented with the incontrovertible evidence of his forgeries. All of which he previously denied, spinning the most ludicrous cock and bull story. Mr Justice Sweeney should remind lawmakers that if they become lawbreakers the law will be unsparing. Only jail time will suffice…

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”.[…]


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’.


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.



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.[…]


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.



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.[…]


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.



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.[…]


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Quote of the Day

Trump supporter Raheem Kassam responds to Suzanne Evans calling him “far right”:

“We’re going to rise above it. When she goes low, we go high, to quote Michelle Obama.”

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