Monday, January 7, 2013

Where There’s Muck There’s Brass

draculaLabour attack dog Michael Dugher went off on one in the Mirror this weekend, slating the “snobbery” of government arts cuts and the decision to award the British Federation of Brass Bands a grant of of just £23,000 last year. So how much did the Federation receive under the obviously less snobbish and much more generous Labour government? According to their accounts, in 2009 the Arts Council grant to the BFBB was a whopping £23,941, while in 2008 it was £23,313. Cuts? What cuts?

H/T @KulganofCrydee

Friday, January 4, 2013

Long Arms in the MoD

deal

Employees from arms dealers and defence firms that have recently signed huge government contracts are currently working at the MoD. Guido has learned that BAE Systems and Rolls Royce, who have been awarded billions of pounds worth of MoD contracts over the last few months, have five employees inside the department. The MoD is also employing a staffer from Babcock, who were awarded a £65 million contract in December. The full list of MoD employees on secondment from private firms that have recently signed multi-million pound contracts with the department is below:

  • 3 BAE Systems employees- £1.2 billion contract signed in December
  • 2 Rolls Royce employees – £1 billion contract signed in June
  • 1 Babcock employee – £65 million contract in December
  • 1 Carillion employee – £45 million deal last year
  • 1 Lend Lease employee – £17 million deal in June
  • 1 GVA employee- appointed to identify contractors for Deepcut relocation in July

Intriguingly, the MoD is refusing to disclose the employers of a further ten staff members currently working in the department. It wouldn’t be the MoD without a cosy relationship between ministers, taxpayers’ cash and private defence interests…

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chuka’s £1.7 Million Soundbite

chukaEver heard of the USDAW? New figures released show that the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers have quietly become Labour’s second biggest donor over the last year, generously pushing nearly £2 million Ed’s way. As with every union that decides to donate to the Labour Party, the USDAW are certainly getting their bang for their buck.

Back in August USDAW general secretary John Hannett talking about Sunday trading: “The Government promised it, it was neither a trial nor Trojan horse for permanent deregulation”. And what did Labour think about this, surely they had their own, original position to take on the issue? One day later Chuka Umunna popped up to add that the government had promised “that the temporary suspension of the restrictions would not be used as a ‘Trojan horse’ for permanent change”. He could have at least thought of his own line…

Friday, December 21, 2012

Guardian Live Blog Their Own Demise

The morning after we learn that the Mail Online now has almost double the reach of the Guardian, Kings Place’s finest are pouring precious resources into Live Blogging the ‘end of the world':

Guido is sure that those facing the chop in editorial this Christmas find the whole thing hilarious.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Priceless Plastic: 59% support Shelbrooke’s Welfare Card

Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke’s 10 Minute Rule Bill to introduce a welfare cash card for benefit claimants, especially those on JSA (but excluding disability payments and the basic state pension,) has gone down like a cup of cold sick with the left this afternoon. The food stamp 2.0 would see restrictions placed on booze, fags and Sky TV et cetera, and ensure the safety net was just that. Shelbrooke told the House earlier:

“This is about benefit distribution and spending, not benefit allocation. It encourages responsible spending by welfare claimants; ensuring taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and for the purpose it is intended. Delivering Beveridge’s vision of a temporary security net by using benefits to create a society of strivers”.

A poll commissioned by Demos found that 59% of the country support the move

Don’t Yeo Forget It

yeo4

Conflicted Energy and Climate Change select committee chairman Tim Yeo is at it again today:

“Lumbering the economy with a centralised power system largely reliant on gas would be like running an office using a fax machine in the age of the iPad. I think the choice facing Britain is clear. We can embrace the technology of the future, set a target to reduce our present heavy dependence on fossil fuels and upgrade our electricity system, or we can cling to the combustion-based technologies of the past, gamble the future on assumptions about the availability of abundant cheap gas and slow down the process of decarbonising our economy.”

Tim Yeo’s green interests in full:

  • Chairman of AFC Energy, company developing alkaline fuel cell technology. Wage: £4,340-a-month.
  • Chairman of TMO Renewables, which develops and supplies technology for second generation biofuels. Wage: £5,832-a-month.
  • Director of ITI Energy, manufacturer of environmentally friendly ‘clean’ gasification technology.

Let it never be forgotten…

Monday, December 17, 2012

David Miliband and the Ugandan Tax Row

milibandDavid Miliband’s links to a controversial oil company that makes its billions in Uganda are back in the news today. The £500,000-a-year globe-trotter has faced scrutiny for his role in securing sponsorship for Sunderland FC from Tullow Oil, an oil giant that has in the past been accused of driving villagers from their homes and bribing officials. Today the Ugandan government is alleging that they have taken huge sums of money out of the poverty-stricken country by allegedly not paying an 18% tax imposed on its mining machinery. Tullow is requesting that the dispute be referred for arbitration.

Maybe a certain former Foreign Secretary can use his diplomacy expertise to help them reach a resolution…

New Statesman Internship Auctioned for £1,000
Intern Aware Say Staggers Should be “Ashamed”

At the recent Olympics Ball raising money for Britain’s young athletes, the New Statesman, that paragon of equality of opportunity, auctioned off internships £1,000-a-pop. A great scoop from Dave Lee this lunchtime. “You will have the chance to contribute your ideas and writing to their hugely popular website” gushed Lot 75 with a starting bid of £1,000. Guido is currently trying to find out exactly how much the slave ship ticket actually went for.

Seeing as the Staggers would be getting the free labour from whichever champagne-swilling parent that coughed up for their lucky child’s week of work experience, would they be contributing anything to the deal? “No travel included”.

Last year Helen Lewis gleefully reported on Tom Watson’s attack on the Tories when they tried a similar wheeze:

“The Labour MP Tom Watson told the Mail: “This is a crass example of rich Tories buying privilege. Most young people could only dream of this opportunity. The Conservatives flog them like baubles and fill their coffers with the profits. It is obscene.”” 

Though perhaps it is Laurie Penny, naturally writing in the Staggers, who put it best:

“The Telegraph reports that across the country hundreds of placements are being sold or brokered, often at similar auctions for the wealthy, where the fact that proceeds go to charity gives the new nobility yet another reason to be smug about giving themselves the life chances that previous generations enjoyed for free. For the few of us who are wealthy enough to finance ourselves through work placements, only a firm push is needed to force open the doors of opportunity. Without a co-ordinated effort to reverse this regressive trend, the years to come will be littered with wasted potential and filled with disappointment for young people with nothing to bring to the table but talent, creativity and ambition.”

Intern Aware have slammed the Staggers this afternoon:

“Most people can’t afford to work for free and even fewer people can afford to pay thousands of pounds for the privilege of interning. The New Statesman should be ashamed of operating a practice than puts opportunities out of the hands of hardworking and talented young people.”

They also estimate that “around 1/3 of the editorial staff at any one time are unpaid. Not only do they readily do all the necessary drudgework, they help to depress the wages of paid journalists there.” Shame on them.

Read Dave Lee’s original posting here.

UPDATE: A source tells Guido that the internship went for close to £1,250.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Moran Given Two-Year Treatment Order

Expenses cheat Margaret Moran was “too depressed” to attend court to hear her sentence this morning, but she faces a two-year supervision and treatment order as ‘punishment’ for her £53,000 swindle. This expenses piggie was found to have committed 15 counts of false accounting. The judge says some will say “she got away with it”Moran isn’t the first expenses cheat to dodge jail, and she won’t be the last…

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Miller Car Crash Interview Raises More Expenses Questions

Maria Miller has been well and truly skewered by the Standard this afternoon during an interview in which she tried to play down allegations about her expenses. Did Sir Thomas Legg, the man who carried out the first independent audit into her second home claims, know that her parents lived in the property? “I obviously spoke to the Fees Office about my claims and they were happy that everything was in order”. Hardly a yes.

Who was the second independent auditor? Joe Murphy reports that “The Culture Secretary replied that it was the Conservative Party which “audited all Conservative MPs’ expenses”.  Her definition of independent may raise some eyebrows as the Tory panel was headed by the then Chief Whip and David Cameron’s chief of staff”. Most suspect of all was Miller’s answer to the charge that her decision to stop claiming just as the expenses scandal broke was more than coincidence:

“”I think there was a lot of concern about the rules and, er, a lot of concern about, you know, the whole issue, and it’s something I felt that I didn’t want to be, sort of, mixed up in, the fact that I …”  Mrs Miller finally stopped trying to explain herself, and simply said:  “I just made that decision.””

She will have to do better than that when John Lyon comes calling…


Seen Elsewhere

Labour Beats UKIP in South Yorkshire | LabourList
Mock the Week’s Weak Comedy | Nigel Farage
Can Jim Murphy Save Scottish Labour? | Guardian
There is Still Appetite for the Westminster Lunch | Jon Craig
Labour Turn Their Backs on Jewish Community | Dan Hodges
Chivalry is Not Dead | Laura Perrins
Jonathan Jones is a Tw*t | Iain Dale
Second Scotland Poll Suggests Labour Wipeout | Times
Paedo Probe Boss Urged to Quit | Sun
Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie
Whitehall Doesn’t Work | Dom Cummings


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David Cameron drug policy reformer and leadership contender in 2005…

“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”



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