Thursday, February 14, 2013

Come Fly With Gordon

Last year the jet-setting Prime Mentalist came under fire for blowing taxpayers’ cash on flights from Scotland to London. Though most Scottish MPs take the train south of the border, Guido learns that over just a three-month period last summer Brown claimed almost £6,000 on expenses for air travel from Scotland to the capital. That despite not speaking in the House for a year.

Incidentally, in the last month he has declared over £320,000 in cash from speeches and advisory work that definitely goes to towards the full running costs of his office, and the rest he totally gives away to charity. With his once loyal lieutenants twisting the knife today and running for the hills, isn’t it time Gordon took the hint?  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Labour MP Reported Over Cash Questions Concern
Phil Wilson Goes Off the Rails

The man who succeeded Tony Blair as Labour’s MP for Sedgefield is facing some pretty searching questions over his donations today. Phil Wilson has brought up Hitachi’s new factory in the House on no less than 22 separate occasions, coincidentally receiving over £10,000 in donations from Hitachi and the site’s developer. Tory MP John Glen has now reported him to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner:

Dear Ms Hudson,

I am writing to draw your attention to a potential breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, with regard to the declaration of financial interests.

On the 23rd January 2013, Phil Wilson MP registered a donation of £5,700 from Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd, and on the 31st January 2013 registered a donation of £5,700 from Merchant Place Developments.

 In a Parliamentary debate on the 31st January, Mr Wilson spoke about Hitachi’s new factory in Newton Aycliffe, on a site developed by Merchant Place Developments. At no time did he draw attention to his entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

The Code of Conduct clearly states that, ‘a financial interest should be declared if it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question’. I note that Mr Wilson has mentioned Hitachi’s investment on no less than 22 separate occasions in Parliament, and lobbied Ministers in its favour. Clearly it is a matter of public interest to know whether or not there was any expectation of future financial interest when he made these speeches.

Of course it is entirely appropriate for Members to draw attention to successful businesses in their constituencies, particularly those that contribute to the decline in unemployment that the UK is experiencing under this government. However, where a Member has received significant political donation from a company, it is essential for transparency and public faith in Parliament for this to be made clear so that they may judge a Member’s remarks in that context.

Yours sincerely,

John Glen MP

One to keep an eye on…

Ashcroft Cash Funds Labour Candidate

Lord Ashcroft’s cash is finding its way to some unlikely beneficiaries. Owen Jones wouldn’t accept the £3,000 prize from the disaffected Tory donor when he won the Ashcroft sponsored ‘Young Writer of the Year’ award last week, instead he split the money between a donation to a left-wing campaign and gave the other half of the money to Labour’s Peterborough candidate Lisa Forbes. She is fighting to oust sitting Tory MP Stewart Jackson, who has had £15,000 from the billionaire peer as well. Meaning Ashcroft is in the unusual position of funding both the Labour and Tory candidates’ campaigns…

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tory MP’s Speedy Reply To LibDem Donation Begging Email

When the LibDems sent out their latest begging email for cash for the Eastleigh campaign, sending it to a Tory MP probably was not the best plan:

From: Paddy Ashdown
Sent: 12 February 2013 12:47
To: ADAMS, Nigel
Subject: Please do this today

Dear Nigel,

When we won Eastleigh in 1994, it was a breakthrough for Liberal Democrats. This by-election can be as well.

To give you just one example, a donation of £25 today will allow us to contact an extra hundred voters in Eastleigh before the weekend. Only Mike Thornton can beat the Conservatives in this campaign, and cannot afford to lose by a few votes.

Give whatever you can afford today, and you’ll make all the difference.

Thank you,

Paddy

From: ADAMS, Nigel
Sent: 12 February 2013 13:08
To: ‘Paddy Ashdown’
Subject: RE: Please do this today

Dear Lord Ashdown,

Thank you so much for your email asking me to donate £25 to the Lib Dem campaign fund for the Eastleigh by-election.

I have given your appeal very serious consideration and decided that on balance, a donation to the speeding awareness charity BRAKE is a more appropriate donation to make at this time and I have duly done so.

Thanks again for getting in touch and the best of luck in your campaign.

Nigel Adams MP
Conservative Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty

Gloves? What gloves. Broom broom!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lambeth Tell Scroungers “You May Have to Find Work”

If you thought Lambeth Council’s posters warning of coming cuts were bad enough, wait until you see the warning on their website:

“If you claim benefits, it is likely you will receive less and may have to find work”.

“By George, I think they’ve got it…”

Lambeth Council Stir Up Scroungers

When it comes to councils using taxpayers’ money to fund party political interests, you would be hard pressed to find a worse culprit than the rotten Labour borough of Lambeth. If you thought the public dime PR stunts would end with the welcome departure of leader Steve Reed, then you will be disappointed. First they tried in vain to stop Guido’s campaign against Pilgrims, they then ironically wasted their budget putting up adverts declaring that they needed more money. Now today another poster campaign has been launched to helpfully remind people that the cuts are coming.

Careful now, if you stir up the scrounging core vote too much they might actually go get jobs…

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First Class Offenders

Expenses rules state that MPs can only travel in first in the unlikely event that it is cheaper than a standard fare. That hasn’t stopped three legroom-loving MPs from bending the rules, however. Energy minister John Hayes made the journey from his Lincolnshire constituency to Westminster in first 28 out of the last 30 times, costing the taxpayer on average over £60 a pop. Standard tickets are usually as cheap as £19 if they are booked in advance or £37.50 if you turn up on the day.  He’s not alone…

Former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson has a 100% record, travelling from Hull in first class 19 times out of 19. He billed us almost £100-a-journey on average, three times what you can pay with a week’s notice. And as for Leeds MP Fabian Hamilton? 29 of his 30 train journeys were in first at £72 a go, as much as double the standard fare.

A well-placed parliamentary source explained to Guido how greedy MPs cheat the system by seeking out the few journeys where buying a first class ticket technically doesn’t break the rules. It’s Great Train Snobbery, pure and simple…

Hendry’s Windfarm Windfall
Former DECC Minister Cashes In

Sacked Energy Minister Charles Hendry has not wasted any time cashing in on his expertise; he has just been announced as the chairman of the wind energy giants Forewind. The consortium comprising of four international companies -Scottish and Southern, RWE, Statoil and Statkraf – was awarded the contract in 2010 to build the huge “Dogger Bank” windfarm 125 kilometres off the Yorkshire coast.

Though Hendry has waited for the appropriate cooling off period of three months since leaving government, a look through his declared meetings while a minister leaves an unfortunate taste in the mouth: between June 2010 and October 2011 Hendry hobnobbed six times with the representatives of the companies that make up Forewind, and now he is their boss. It seems the revolving doors spin far more than the windmills…

How IPSA Tip Off MPs Facing Expenses Exposés

They tried to cover up the rent-swapping scandal, their boss even spends his time trying to convince the public that piggy MPs deserve our trust. Now Guido has learned that IPSA, the parliamentary standards authority set up to hold fiddling expenses cheats to account, tips off MPs facing expenses exposés. Two weeks before they release Freedom of Information responses containing details of MPs’ expenses, conveniently IPSA tip-off the Member in question to warn them of what is to come.

One parliamentary source told Guido that their boss was well aware of the information about to be disclosed to this blog some fourteen days before it was eventually released. This gives expenses cheats two whole weeks to cover their tracks and prepare for the bad headlines. Crucially it gives them enough time to change what they are claiming and putting them on the front foot in fire-fighting allegations.  IPSA are supposed to be independent, yet here are in cahoots with the troughers…

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tory Toffs’ £5,000 Blood Sports Junket

Yesterday it was Chris Huhne who was staring down the barrel, but for six Tory toffs there has been a very different target in the crosshairs. Step forward Sir Gerald Howarth, Graham Brady, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Sir Edward Garnier, Simon Reevell and Bill Wiggin. The six have all declared they were treated to a weekend of blasting birds out of the sky at 2,500 acre Catton Hall estate just before Christmas that cost over £5,000 courtesy of the blood sports lobby.

Catton Hall, a country estate that has been in the same hands since the fifteenth century, offers guests a 350 bird bag and use of its luxury dining room. How generous of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation to foot the bill. These six clearly didn’t get the Tory detoxification memo…


Seen Elsewhere

May SpAd Removed From Candidates List | ConHome
Clodagh’s Law | Press Gazette
Whitehall Bosses Ban Christmas | Sun
Meanwhile, in Russia… | Media Guido
Christmas TV Tips | Laura Perrins
Labour Marginal Fright | Lord Ashcroft
Osborne’ Real Deficit Reduction Record | ConHome
Blameronism | Peter Oborne
Everyone Can Lose | Staggers
Splintering of the Left | Tim Montgomerie
Fallon’s Lawyer Loathing | Quentin Letts


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