Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Labour MP Claims Thousands for Spinner on Expenses

Andy Burnham’s gaffe prone PPS Debbie Abrahams has a public profile of little note, readers will probably only remember her for the time she repeated loony ‘Dr’ Eoin Clarke’s fibs in the House and was forced to apologise for accusing Cameron of “genocide“. She barely got through last night’s painful Newsnight discussion on benefit sanctions either. You might say she could do with a comms guru to sort out her image.

Guido can reveal that Abrahams charges the taxpayer £2,099 on expenses for the “communications and media” services of “creative media and PR” consultant John Ramsden. Who, judging by the photos on his website, is clearly the real deal. Away from juggling lightbulbs, Ramsden boasts on his site that “I managed to get Debbie Abrahams on to the BBC Today programme yesterday”. So remember the next time you hear Debbie on the radio that you’re paying for the spinner who got her the gig…

Monday, February 17, 2014

Maria Miller Makes Six Figure Profit on Second Home
Claimed Double the Amount David Laws Did for Mortgage 

Maria Miller is set to be condemned by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for claiming £90,000 in expenses for the mortgage payments of a second home lived in by her parents. This was an open shut case as IPSA rules require second homes to be used exclusively by MPs. Claiming for a property lived in by an MP’s parents is “specifically prohibited”. 

miller2

Back in 2012 Guido revealed that Miller has two properties in her name: a cottage in her Basingstoke constituency, and the property pictured above in Wimbledon. The Wimbledon property was purchased by Miller and her husband in 1996 for £234,000. A quick browse of the Zoopla property website values similar houses on the same street at between £400,000 and £1,000,000. If Miller was to sell the property, for which she has charged the taxpayer for the mortgage payments, she would make a profit well into six figures.

Miller’s defence is that her parents moved to the home to help her look after her children. It is worth considering that David Laws was kicked out of Cabinet for claiming less than half the money Miller has, and was found, incorrectly in Guido’s view, to have not benefited personally by a Standards and Privileges Committee investigation. Miller’s case is arguably more serious. Cabinet ministers have gone for far less, but will being one of only four women save her?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Another LibDem Donor Nicked

Scoop from the FT this morning: arms dealer and LibDem donor Sudhir Choudhrie has been arrested by cops from the Serious Fraud Office over allegations he was involved in alleged bribery by Rolls-Royce in the Far East. Along with bent trader Michael Brown that makes two of the LibDems’ largest donors implicated in major financial scandals. LibDem sex scandals were becoming ten a penny so nice to see them returning to old fashioned funny money. Don’t bet on them giving any of it back…

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Leaked Tory Memo Tells MPs to Dodge Minimum Wage Laws
MPs Told “Don’t Mention Work” in Adverts to Bend Rules

Click to enlarge.

A leaked internal Tory memo advises MPs on how to get away with exploiting their unpaid interns without breaking the very same minimum wage laws those MPs insist other employers adhere to. Unpaid intern campaign website Graduate Fog has got hold of the memo which urges MPs to seek out loopholes in their own legislation:

Swap the phrase “You will be expected to…” for “The kind of activities it would be great to get some help with include…”

- Don’t mention ”work”, “worker”, “tasks” or “hours” – but instead ask applicants to offer their “help” with “campaigning administration”

- Instead, use the words “volunteer” and “volunteering”

- Take care only to reimburse expenses for actual bought items, as opposed to a flat rate per week. This is because “regular payments of expenses are likely to give the volunteer the right to the minimum wage” and create a “risk” that they will be “classed as a worker” and therefore must be paid.

So the Tories tell employers that they must pay employees doing work the minimum wage, yet advise their own MPs on how to dodge the rules. Which has to win the hypocrisy of the day award…

Gordon Funds Jet-Set Lifestyle With £10,000-a-Week ‘Expenses’
Brown Office Gives Just 1 in 4 Pounds Raised to Charity

UPDATE 21 March 2014:  The above video was removed from the BBC iPlayer archive at Gordon Brown’s insistence. This is a copy hosted on our own offshore server rather than any third party provider.

———————-

Since 2010 Gordon Brown has submitted more Press Complaints Commission complaints than he has delivered speeches in the House, meaning you won’t read about the financial affairs of the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown in the papers. So Guido was pleased to have the opportunity to share the story with a wider audience on the Daily Politics this lunchtime.

  • Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown has £10,000-a-week expenses
  • Not a registered charity, two thirds of funds raised spent on expenses
  • Less than  £1 million given to charity out of over £3 million raised
  • Vanity project lets  Gordon and Sarah enjoy jet-set premier life-style of first class flights and five star hotels

Brillo asked the pertinent question of Gordon: “Mentally, is he out of it?”

See also: EXC: Gordon Brown Office Has £10,000-a-Week “Expenses”, Raises Over £3 Million, Gives Less Than £1 Million to Charity

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gordon in Commons, But Not for Constituents

The last piece of business in the House before half term tomorrow will be an Adjournment Debate by the member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. Dropping in for a rare ten minute speech, you might have thought the former Prime Mentalist would be standing up for his oft abandoned constituents, who don’t see very much of their wayward MP. Nope.

Gordon will be speaking in the Commons about educating Syrian refugees which, while a noble cause, is a little convenient given that he is currently fundraising under that banner. When he’s not globe-trotting as UN Envoy for Education (which essentially consists of having his photo taken with Malala a lot) Gordon is coining it on the speech circuit. His rare appearances in Parliament should be to represent the interests of his constituents rather than to wangle money out of the British government for his latest pet project. Using Parliament as a begging bowl is beneath even him.

White Dee Might Vote UKIP
Party’s “Protect Your Benefits” Message Getting Through?

Deirdre Kelly, AKA White Dee from Benefits Street, has written this week’s Diary for the Spectator:

“Last time, I voted Liberal Democrat. And why? Because we’ve been Labour-governed for quite a while in Birmingham. Nothing was being done, cuts had been made, the system just seemed to be completely falling apart. The only person that seemed to show any interest in our ward of Winson Green was the Liberal Democrat candidate. It’s unlikely I’ll be voting Clegg, though, so unless there’s an amazing UKIP candidate it’ll probably be Labour.”

It seems the Red UKIP message is working.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Staff Cuts are Not the Problem at the Environment Agency
Whistleblower: “Management Just Want to Expand Kingdom”

With slithering Chris Smith fighting for his job, the gloves are off and the cuts are being blamed for the fact that the Environment Agency is an over-staffed, badly managed graveyard for Labour figures of little note. 10% of the Environment Agency’s staff were cut, but that still leaves them with 11,200 pen pushers. Equivalent quangos in the rest of the world are much smaller, the Environment Agency for England alone has more staff than the Canadian, Danish, French, German, Swedish and Austrian equivalents. Combined. Only the US Environmental Protection Agency has more staff, (15,913 versus 11,200) hardly surprising given the US is some eighty times larger than the UK with six times the population. Last year this billion pound lefty-fest spent £395 million on staff (£592 million including pensions) compared to £219 million on capital projects, and just £20 million on maintaining rivers. More was spent on PR last year than on dredging – £2.7 million.

So what are the bosses up to? Well most of the board manage less than half-a-dozen days a month for their filthy lucre. Usually non-execs on boards have grey hairs and relevant knowledge and/or experience, yet this rule clearly does not apply to the EA. What is it that makes former Culture Secretary Chris Smith a suitable boss? When he’s not in charge of rivers and forests he’s a part time lecturer on the creative industries. Perhaps he could commission a play or a poetry reading to cheer up the people of Somerset. When he’s not wasting taxpayers money at the EA, he’s meddling over at the Advertising Standards Agency. Token Tory Peter Ainsworth was not a very good Shadow Defra minister and seems to be loitering around here while he holds out for that coveted Peerage. And what in Larry Whitty’s experience at the General Municipal Boilermakers & Allied Trade Union or as a former General Secretary of the Labour that qualified him for his seat on the board?

What exactly do all these staff do? One whistle-blower claims:

“it doesn’t help that 99% of the staff, mostly Environment and Flood Officers, refuse to do standby or volunteer to assist with flooding emergencies. This is despite it being in their contract. It leaves us undermanned and ill prepared, but managers won’t do anything about but claim they need to employ more staff. Really, management just want to expand their kingdoms”

As the Speccie leader this week says:

“Steadily, the Environment Agency has become a law unto itself. The idea behind its creation was to allow it to operate free from political interference. They now form a deeply politicised government in exile, with an incompetent but self-revering hierarchy that voters cannot dislodge. Nothing has more vividly conveyed the failure of the Environment Agency during this crisis than the lamentable public performances of its current chairman, the former Labour culture secretary Lord (Chris) Smith. His weak, half-shifty, half-arrogant interviews have shown him up to be a man wholly out of touch with the reality of the havoc his agency’s policies have wreaked. His blatherings about a choice between protecting ‘front rooms or farmland’ sums up his failure to understand the countryside, and the fact that most people have looked after both for generations. He is due to step down shortly, which is a shame: he ought to be fired for rank incompetence. But the reckoning should not stop there. It is now clear that the Environment Agency has become a threat to the countryside it was set up to serve. It ought to be dismantled, and its responsibilities shared out among smaller bodies which are much more obviously fit for purpose.”

It’s the drip, drip, drip that will get him.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How Charities Spend Taxpayer Millions on Political Lobbying

The Institute of Economic Affairs has done the leg work to expose how charities spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on political campaigns and lobbying. As Guido mentioned earlier in the week, several leading charities are now run by ex-Labour advisers. This is clearly reflected in their work:

  • Save the Children: Receives 16.3% of total income from taxpayer. Run by Justin Forsyth, former No. 10 spinner for Gordon Brown, who has ramped up attacks on domestic government “cuts” since 2010.
  • National Children’s Bureau: Receives more than 50% of income from taxpayer. Current campaigns include minimum pricing for alcohol, votes at 16 and a ban on smacking children.
  • Sustain: Receives 24.8% of income from taxpayer. Campaign for bans on junk food at supermarket checkouts and on children’s television.
  • Balance North East: Receives 100% of funding from taxpayer. Campaigns for minimum pricing of alcohol.
  • War on Want: Receives 8.7% of income from taxpayer. Opposed campaign to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, because if they joined they ‘couldn’t be critical of government.’

Worth reading some further work done on this by City AM this morning. A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend…

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tim Yeo’s Greatest Hits

From leadership contender to loser in nine years, Tim Yeo bites the dust. Guido has been exposing his absenteeism and conflicts of interest for the best part of a decade. As far back as 2007 Guido reported his hypocrisy in lobbying for an end to unnecessary air travel as he flew around the world on golfing jollies. In 2010 Guido accused Yeo of using House of Commons banqueting facilities to wine and dine a group of environmental investors, while at the same time raising money for AFC Energy, a company of which he is the chairman. Yeo’s denial to Guido on Newsnight that it was “absolutely outrageous” is particularly amusing today.

Later that year Yeo put his name forward for the chairmanship of the Energy and Climate Change select committee. Guido warned at the time, “MPs look set to elect a man completely tied up with an industry that he would be responsible for the checks and balances on”. They didn’t listen.

By 2012, Yeo’s conflicts of interests were adding up. He was now earning over £100,000-a-year from his green investments as he lobbied the government to stop green cuts. Then there was Yeo’s dodgy taxi firm dealings – he resigned from the company when Guido started sniffing round – and his call for extra flights to China just as one of his companies signed a huge deal in the country.

2013 saw Yeo stung by the Sunday Times, offering to become a paid advocate for a fake firm for £7,000-a-day. The cops took an interest but Yeo survived. Though not for long…

Read all Guido’s stories on Tim Yeo, dating back to 2005, here.


Seen Elsewhere

Labour’s Plan to Attack Part-Time Boris | Standard
Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome


new-advert
Guido-hot-button (1) Guido-hot-button (1)


A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


Tip off Guido
Web Guido's Archives

Subscribe me to:






RSS


AddThis Feed Button
Archive


Labels
Guido Reads