Thursday, July 31, 2014

You’d Have Thought Eid Have Checked First
Labour MP Accused of “Racial Profiling” By Constituent

How thoughtful of Labour’s Andy Slaughter to send out cards to those of his constituents who have been celebrating Eid this week. Since MPs are banned from sending out Christmas cards on expenses, let’s hope he paid for them out of his own pocket. Here’s the card received by one less than impressed constituent and Guido co-conspirator:

Javid does not celebrate Eid as he is not a Muslim, yet he was still sent a card. Replying to his MP, he accuses Slaughter of “racial profiling”:

What could possibly have made Slaughter think his constituent Javid was a Muslim?

Labour Distances Miliband From Dodgy Bercow Donor
Denial that Sassoon is “an Adviser” to Ed, Despite Her Claims

cash

A spokesman for Ed Miliband tells Guido that Ed has met Farah Sassoon on several occasions “socially”, but that she is in no way an adviser to the Labour leader, despite her claims to the contrary.

Sassoon says she does different things when she meets different people, at different times in the evening. Yet one fact is very clear…

The Labour donor and business woman has been given a pass personally by John Bercow, who now admits she is funding his re-election campaign.

That does not pass the smell test. Pun intended…

Sally’s Pass Pal Claimed to be ‘Agent’ and ‘Miliband Adviser’
Mystery Over Farah Sasson’s Donation and Access Grows

The row over Bercow’s donation/pass mystery is escalating. Tory MP Simon Burns has weighed in:

“I do not quite see why at the request of the wife of the Speaker a friend should be given a pass to the House of Commons – in that they are not usually given to MPs’ friends. It makes it look rather difficult for the Speaker when he then receives a rather nice cheque for his election campaign – and leaves him open to criticism and questions.”

David Morris MP tells Guido this morning that Farah Sassoon introduced herself to him on the Commons Terrace as ‘an adviser to Ed Miliband’ saying she advised the Labour leader ‘on all sorts of things’. Another Tory MP, speaking on the condition of anonymity for now, says that on a separate occasion Ms Sassoon claimed to be Sally Bercow’s agent. If this is true it adds a rather unsavoury commercial angle to why she has been allowed unfettered access to Parliamentary estate. Who is this mysterious character, and to what end is she really using this pass?

Whether she’s a friend, a Labour adviser, or Sally’s agent , the line from the Speaker that this is all dandy does not hold water. Crucially, Bercow’s spokesman dodged the question of whether proper advice was sought before he accepted a donation from this mysterious business woman. Even if there is an innocent explanation, as an example to all MPs, the Speaker must be whiter than white. Yet each day brings new questions…

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bercow Fails to Explain Donor Mystery

bercowGuido’s story in the Sun on Sunday revealing John Bercow’s donation from a businesswoman to whom he gave a parliamentary pass makes the front page of this morning’s Mail. At the weekend a spokesperson for the Speaker refused to confirm Sally’s drinking pal Farah Sassoon was granted a pass. Today they admit the Bercows did give a pass to Sassoon, also confirming her company made a donation to the Speaker’s campaign for re-election:

“For security purposes, House officials do not confirm names of pass holders. However, the Speaker would like to confirm that his wife applied for a pass for a female friend in 2012. It is not unusual for residents living on the Parliamentary Estate to be able to apply for passes for close friends and family. All applications go through security clearance checks.”

Farah Sassoon made a donation to ‘the Speaker’s seeking re-election’ campaign fund on 7 June 2014 (it was accepted on 1 July 2014).

The donation was towards the Speaker’s re-election fund, not to his office. As you are aware, the convention that the Speaker is independent of party dates back to the mid-18th century. When a Member of Parliament becomes Speaker of the House she or he resigns from his or her political party and run as an independent candidate under the banner of ‘the Speaker Seeking Re-Election’. The donation is for this purpose, and is listed as being so in the Register of Members’ Interests under ‘Sponsorships’, in accordance with the rules.”

Far from explain the Speaker’s position, this statement raises further questions about the probity of the donation. Why was Sassoon given a pass? How often does Sassoon visit parliament, and for what purpose? Who does she meet there? Did Bercow consult with parliamentary authorities, such as the Clerk of the Commons, on the propriety of accepting a donation having issued this pass? Does the Speaker think accepting a donation from a woman to whom he gave unfettered access to parliament is appropriate? His reply to Rob Wilson’s letter will be one to watch out for…

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tory MP Probes Speaker’s Passholder Donation Mystery

On Sunday Guido revealed that John Bercow is facing accusations of ‘cash for access’ over a curious donation from a businesswoman to whom he gave a parliamentary pass. For any other MP such an arrangement would provoke suggestions of impropriety. Today Tory MP Rob Wilson has sought clarification from the Speaker, with a view to potentially reporting him to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:

Dear Mr Speaker,

I am writing to you today to raise the concerns of several of my constituents about an item in Guido Fawkes’ column in the Sun on Sunday. It outlines that you have signed off on a Parliamentary pass for Farah Sassoon. The item continues that in addition to your signing off on a pass for her that she has donated substantial sums to your office via her company, Trust Reservations Ltd. Appropriately, this donation has been put into the Register of Members’ Interests.

Integrity, accountability and openness, are part of the seven Nolan Principles of Public Life which are enshrined into Parliament by their inclusion in Code of Conduct for MPs. In this spirit and on behalf of my constituents, I would request that you put on the record as soon as possible answers to the following questions:

1. Why Ms Sassoon was given a Parliamentary pass?
2. What kind of pass was she given? (Member’s Staff, Staff of the House etc.)
3. When was this pass issued, and when does it expire?
4. What was the intended purpose of her company’s donation to your office?
5. Did you consult with any of the Parliamentary authorities, such as your foremost adviser, the Clerk of the Commons, on the propriety of accepting a donation having issued this pass?

I am sure that you will be able to provide a speedy answer to my questions and would request that you do so by Friday 1st of August. Several of my constituents have suggested that I write directly to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, however in the first instance I feel it is appropriate that you should be afforded the opportunity to respond.

In the interests of transparency I am placing a copy of this letter in the public domain.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Wilson MP

Has Bercow fallen a little short of the standards of probity expected in public life? Guido awaits the answer, especially to question 5…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bercow Faces ‘Cash for Access’ Accusations
Speaker Accepts Donation From Sally’s Security-Cleared Pal

John Bercow is facing accusations of ‘cash for access’ after Guido revealed he has accepted a donation from a businesswoman to whom he gave a parliamentary pass. Farah Sassoon, who is a close friend of Sally Bercow and is well known for her booze-fuelled exploits with the Speaker’s wife, was granted clearance by the Bercows allowing her to bypass parliament’s security checks. Handy for Farah, since she is a significant donor to the Labour Party; giving them £40,000 through her hotel reservations company.

What did the Speaker get in return for giving Farah unfettered access to parliament? Surely the £5,000 donation from her company Trust Reservations Ltd this month is completely unrelated. If this were any other MP this would provoke allegations of cash for access. Though surely Bercow as Speaker is squeaky clean and beyond reproach…

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Live Like Chuka Umunna at the White House
Only £36,000 for the Summer Holidays!

Click to enlarge

Chuka Umunna is not the only Labour front-bencher to be visiting the White House this summer. For the cheeky sum of £36,000 you can live like the Shadow Business Secretary for a week at Casa Blanca – his family’s villa in Ibiza is available to rent for £1,700-a-week. Unfortunately it is all booked out until September – so Guido will have to wait…

Click above to see inside the ‘spacious, airy’ 3000 square foot San Jose property, which boasts a private pool and is ‘situated within its own 1.5 acre grounds, in an elevated hill-side position. With parking for several cars, the villa is also surrounded by a large, natural pine garden and tiered flowerbeds.’  It’s recommended for a ‘Romantic Getaway’. You too can read “50 Shades of Grey” by the pool with a special friend… all a very long way from his Streatham constituency in south London.

No trashy types please…

Monday, July 14, 2014

Follow the JP Morgan Money

Ed Miliband has all but outsourced the writing of next year’s manifesto to ‘charity’ think-tank IPPR, the Labour wonkshop recently referred to the Charity Commission for breaching impartiality rules.  They don’t really like to shout about who funds their work, yet they’re nicely set up for the next few years with £780,000 this year and a further £1.6 million expected over the next two years from JP Morgan – the investment bankers Ed likes to demonise. As Guido noted earlier this month, IPPR is stuffed to the rafters with former officials from the last Labour government, not least Jack Straw’s son Will, Labour’s candidate in Rossendale and Darwen, who is their Associate Director. Guido will have more on this tomorrow.

IPPR used to be nicknamed Tony Blair’s favourite think tank. Completely coincidental to the £2.5 million bung, Blair is an official adviser to the board of JP Morgan…

Friday, July 11, 2014

Galloway Doubles Salary on Pro-Assad and Iran TV Channels

George Galloway made £65,000 in the first four months of this year through media appearances on controversial TV channels accused of supporting Assad, Putin and Iran. Press Gazette report that Gorgeous George earned £21,450 for work on LBP TV, which is broadcast out of the offices of Iranian state television channel Press TV. He trousered another £18,000 from Al-Mayadeen TV, which reportedly “represents the latest expansion of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in the field of media”, and has defended the Syrian government’s attacks on its own people. He also made a cool £25,600 from his work on Russia Today, which is consistently pro-Putin and is funded by the Kremlin. With friends like these…

UPDATE: Here is Press Gazette’s handy table recording MPs’ earnings from the media in full:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Labour’s Fundraiser Figures

£105,000 for Sir Antony’s “Small Turn III”

£42,000 – Grayson Perry “Vote Labour” lion.

£36,000 – Anish Kapoor work.

£24,000  – two games of football with Ed Balls.

£12,000 – Mark Wallinger work

£12,000 – Nicola Green painting.

For everything else, there’s union masters’ card.

Via FT.

Seen Elsewhere

Why Newmark Story Was Not Fishing Expedition | David Banks
Longlist to Succeed Hague | ConHome
Newmark Nonsense An Excuse to Bash Tabloids | Spiked
Kay Burley’s Top Twitter Zingers | Buzzfeed
Why Tory Tax Cut Pledge is Good News | Allister Heath
ONS Admits Economy Stronger Than It Thought | Speccie
Cameron’s Concessions to UKIP | Nick Wood
#TM4PM: It’s On | Speccie
Path to Defeat Obvious for Both Labour and Tories | Rafael Behr
It’s Boris v May | Sun
Farage is Outflanking the Tories | Guardian


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David Cameron on political promiscuity…

“On May 7 you could go to bed with Nigel Farage and wake up with Ed Miliband. Not one bit of that works for me.”



cynic says:

Can anyone help me? I went on holiday a week ago and returned to find someone has pulled out the stake and Gordon Brown is back and acting as Prime Minister. What did I miss? Has there been a snap election?


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