James May Hints He’s Off With Clarkson

“We work very much as a package.”

Buy ITV and BSkyB…

UPDATE:

may2

Looks like Hammond’s off too:

Rachel Reeves Finally Admits Bedroom Tax is Not a Tax

How does the aspiring Work and Pensions Secretary want to raise money for Labour’s new flagship policy in Scotland?

Reeves wants to scrap the bedroom ‘tax’ and “use the savings” to raise £175 million. But, as should be obvious from Labour’s name for the policy, the bedroom ‘tax’ actually reduces government spending. Saving around a billion pounds so far in fact. Therefore scrapping it would not, as Reeves thinks, ‘save £175 million’. On the contrary, it would cost over a billion. Not like Reeves used to be at the heart of Labour’s Treasury team or anything…

UPDATE:

Chris Leslie Offered Fake Donor Manifesto Influence

Tonight’s Dispatches makes very awkward viewing for Labour’s Chris Leslie, who is secretly filmed offering influence over manifesto policy to an undercover businessman posing as a party donor. Leslie is told by a Labour fundraising chief that Paul Wilmott is a “prospective donor”, then takes him for tea at the Marriott Hotel in Westminster where they discuss the Financial Transaction Tax. During the cosy discussion Leslie offers the fake donor access to Chuka Umunna. Afterwards, Wilmott emails Leslie some more detailed policy proposals, to which the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury responds:

From: LESLIE, Chris
To: WILMOTT, Paul

Many thanks for this Paul… I think you make some good points about the best way to introduce an FTT… I’ll have a good think about some of these good points ahead of our manifesto but I appreciate any updates you might have along the way.

The footage is described by Sir Alistair Graham, the former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, as “exceptional”:

“You see a specific reference to the manifesto. So here he is at the point of the development of the policies of the Labour Party where he might actually influence a manifesto pledge. Now that is an exceptional situation to be in.”

Chris Leslie’s price? £10,000…

Ed’s 2010 Leadership Campaign Financed By Hedge Fund Tycoon Second Mayfair Based Offshore Hedge Fund Backer Revealed

In his speech to Scottish Labour this morning Ed Miliband has just attacked tax avoidance by hedge funds. It is a regular theme, he was attacking the Tories as “the party of Mayfair hedge funds” at PMQs last month only for it to be revealed last week that one of Labour’s biggest donors after the unions was in fact a Mayfair based hedge fund trader. Martin Taylor has given a whopping £600,000. Ed’s embarrassment will have increased even more after Guido revealed in The Sun yesterday that his bitter 2010 Labour Party leadership campaign was funded by Lawrence Staden, another Mayfair based hedge fund trader. After the unions Staden was the biggest funder of Ed Miliband’s campaign to take control of the Labour Party…

lawrence-staden---ed-miliba

Ed, desperate to beat his brother David, quietly took £27,000 from GLC, a billion dollar Mayfair hedge fund run by the Cambridge educated maths genius Lawrence Staden. Staden also gave another £100,000 of his profits to the Labour Party – £80,000 to Labour HQ, £10,000 to the ultra-marginal Eltham Labour Party and another £10,000 to neighbouring Greenwich and Woolwich, the constituency which includes his £3 million home in affluent Blackheath. Small change to a man who paid himself £3 million in the same year.

Staden’s hedge fund’s profits meant he could well afford it, having personally made an estimated £35 million from trading during the credit crunch, even boasting of ‘sailing serenely’ through the economic crisis that so devastated the British economy. He jokingly referred to the period leading up to 2008 banking collapse which saw many of his rival arbitrageurs go bust as “arbageddon”. 

In parliament, during a heated PMQs, Ed Miliband accused David Cameron of failing to tackle tax avoidance “for the simple reason that too many of his friends would get caught in the net. They’re the party of Mayfair hedge funds and Monaco tax avoiders.” So it will add to Ed Miliband’s embarrassment that his friend and backer Lawrence Staden’s hedge fund, GLC Diversified Fund, was registered in the offshore tax haven of Bermuda where income tax is not levied on hedge fund profits, allowing his fund to accumulate millions offshore without paying a penny in tax. Maybe Ed will unfriend his financial backer?

Coming on top of the revelations last week about Martin Taylor donating £600,000, many traditional Labour supporters will be feeling increasingly uneasy that the money might come with strings or appear to compromise their policies. Labour has just launched hard-hitting scaremongering billboard posters warning against the privatisation of the NHS. Supporters will be astonished and disgusted to learn that Martin Taylor’s Nevsky Capital fund has $15 million invested in the shares of the US private healthcare giant United Health, which is bidding for NHS contracts…

UKIP Tell Atkinson to Lawyer Up

IMG_2157

Guido hears that suspended MEP Janice Atkinson was told by UKIP’s legal team this morning that there was nothing they could do for her and that she had better get criminal representation very quickly. Apparently Section 6 of the 2006 Fraud Act was the topic of breakfast discussion this morning…

UKIP Suspend Janice Atkinson

UKIP have suspended MEP Janice Atkinson over allegations of financial irregularities. A spokesman says:

“The party is incredibly disappointed with Ms. Atkinson, who appears to have exercised extremely poor judgement in acting in a way that the party has never, and would never condone. The party has acted swiftly and immediately, and just as we showed when we suspended another MEP for financial irregularities, we always maintain a zero tolerance attitude towards acts of this nature.”

Guido understands Atkinson racked up a bill at a restaurant, then an aide allegedly returned at a later date and was filmed haggling with staff to increase the bill so she could claim it on her expenses.

Developing…

UPDATE: Tomorrow’s Sun have full details… with video.

Gloria De Piero Shopped For Leaflet Expenses

Labour’s Gloria De Piero is the latest MP to be shopped to the parliamentary authorities for blatant electioneering on the taxpayer. Sending out a survey just days before the Dissolution of Parliament, Gloria invites anyone who completes it to visit her in Westminster – somewhat presumptuous for a member defending a 192 majority in May.

Raging Red Len Attacks Miliband’s Media ‘Minnows’

Red Len is angry, specifically at Miliband’s spinners:

“What is also regrettable about the Sunday Times article is the apparent obsession of the media team around Ed Miliband who are constantly seeking opportunities for Ed to “face down Red Len” and Unite in order to show his macho authority.

They deliberately brief stories (off record of course) in order to create a phoney war between “Miliband v McCluskey”. It’s so transparent and crude, it’s getting tedious. 

These minnows should concentrate on the more important task of attacking this government and trying to improve Milliband’s image so we can achieve a Labour victory.”

Will he put his money where his mouth is?

Blair Saves the Day as Labour Block Len’s Girl

Labour have blocked star Unite candidate Karie Murphy from the selection shortlist in Halifax. Murphy, the controversial activist embroiled in the Falkirk fix scandal, is a very close friend of Len McClusky. She confirms:

“I am disappointed that the Labour

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Tories Try to Derail Farage in Thanet

A handy coincidence for the Tory campaign to stop Nigel Farage in Thanet that the government is to announce £12 million of extra funding for HS1 services to the heart of the constituency today. Whether or not they will be […]

+ READ MORE +

Sleazy LibDem: “The Doors Will Open For You”

 

Ibrahim Taguri, the former chief fundraiser for the LibDems, a parliamentary candidate and a member of Clegg’s inner circle, is filmed by the Telegraph telling a fake Indian businessman offering to make an illegal donation:

“Well, when you do

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Lord Oakeshott Wears a Red Rosette

Knocking on doors in Thurrock yesterday alongside Labour’s candidate Polly Billington: ‘independent’ former LibDem peer Lord Oakeshott. Complete with red rosette. Making it official…

UPDATE: Local UKIP opponent Tim Aker is quick to pile in: “Labour’s campaign in Thurrock seems […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Liz Kendall is asked by Tom Newton Dunn if she would ever ban the Sun from one of her press conferences:

“If you stripped naked and ran in front of me, Tom, I might have second thoughts about it, but apart from that, no.”

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