Back of the Net! Another Big Murdoch Money Deal For Coogan

Murdoch-hating coke and hookers aficionado Steve Coogan has an impressive record of slagging off Rupe while taking his money. Coogan has banged on about “Rupert Murdoch’s toxic legacy” and the “News International protection racket” for years, all while selling his shows Places of My Life and Mid Morning Matters to Sky for top whack. What do you know, Coogan has just agreed to trouser even more of the ‘Murdoch shilling’:

“Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are taking their fine dining, gentle bickering, ruminations on getting old and endless impersonations of Michael Caine to Sky TV. After two highly successful series of The Trip on BBC2, the third series will be broadcast on Sky Atlantic.”

Back in 2012, Guido bumped into Coogan at a Hacked Off rally and asked him if he thought the deals made him a massive hypocrite. He comically disagreed:

“I am aware of it but I see a flipside, I think it makes me even braver. It would be even more hypocritical if I took his money and didn’t criticise him. What I’m doing puts me in even more danger.”

Congratulations Steve on your bravery and your pay cheque!

Yeo Being Sued Again

tim-yeo

Our old friend Tim Yeo is back in the courts again fresh from his huge loss to the Sunday Times over a “cash-for-advocacy” storyShareholders of TMO Renewable, a collapsed green energy business chaired by Yeo, have served him with letters before action for misrepresentation and negligence. Lawyers see possible claims for breach of duty and “misfeasance”, which covers intentionally unlawful behaviour.

Yeo was paid £38,000 as chairman between March and October 2013, according to parliament’s register of members’ interests. Tim Yeo had long abused his parliamentary position to advance his green financial interests before long suffering local Tories had enough and deselected him. Good to see he is still controversial even in retirement… 

Carswellian Case For Short Money Cuts

Douglas has delivered an old-fashioned Carswellian classic in the Commons, making a sound as a pound case for cutting Short money. Guido agrees with every word of this:

“I’m delighted that the Government is cutting Short money, and few things that this administration have announced have pleased me more. Does the Minister agree that this is public money and the public will deeply resent this being spent on politicians to do more politics. Does he agree that the rules on short money need to reflect the fact that the cost of doing policy…. have come down… Does he agree that the public will resent using public money to pay for special advisers and shadow special advisers who’ve watched too much of the West Wing, to sit in Portcullis House at taxpayers’ expense”

UKIP did however u-turn on their promise not to take any Short money themselves, allowing Carswell to advertise for a £60,000 speechwriter. The party also employs, for example, turncoat ex-MP Mark Reckless out of public funds. Hopefully Douglas will lead by example and trim the dozen or so taxpayer-funded staff he employs between his constituency, parliamentary office and policy unit. And don’t mention his part-time diary secretary, one Mrs Carswell…

Cops Called on Tory Hotel Overspend

Labour’s defeated Newark candidate Michael Payne has called the police in to investigate the Tories’ apparent by-election overspend. Watch Michael Crick’s report and read Guido’s story from this morning to see what they will be looking at. Now to see if this actually goes anywhere…

How Tories Hid Hotel and Transport Bills in Newark

Guido can shed some more light on how the Tories hid their by-election hotel bills in Newark. On 31 May 2014, over 350 young Tories boarded coaches and minibuses up to Newark for a day of campaigning. At the end of the day’s door-knocking, they needed something to eat and somewhere to stay. Paying for travel and hotels for that many people would rack up thousands in by-election expenses. So, the Tories ferried their activists to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Nottingham, outside of the constituency. There, Tory donors treated them to curry at an event named the “first annual RoadTrip dinner” – pictured above – where Rob Halfon and Eric Pickles gave speeches. After that they boozed at the Coco Lounge and NG1 bars, before returning to the hotel, where they made contributions to their room bills. The transport costs of ferrying the activists up to Newark and around Nottingham were apparently undeclared.

A source present says the meal and hotel were deliberately booked outside of the constituency, under the pretence of an “annual RoadTrip dinner”, to avoid appearing on the Newark by-election expenditure. They say this was by no means the only time this happened. A nifty little way of dodging the rules…

Tory Overspend in UKIP By-Elections

Michael Crick reckons he has enough to call in the cops on alleged Tory by-election overspends. Did the Tories break the rules with their hotel bills in Newark, and while fighting UKIP in Clacton and Rochester?

IFS Untangles Osborne’s Surplus Forecast

Five weeks ahead of the Budget, the IFS has delivered a withering assessment of George Osborne’s target for a £10 billion surplus in 2019/20. This is effectively wonk speak for “it ain’t gonna happen”:

“At 80% of national income, the UK’s public sector net debt is high by recent standards and relative to most advanced economies… Achieving and maintaining a consistent surplus is challenging. The UK has not had more than three years of consecutive budget surpluses since 1952. Surpluses have not been common in other large advanced economies…”

The IFS warn the only way Osborne will be able to keep his promise of a budget surplus in 2019/20 is through more massive tax rises or further spending cuts.

“Unless a large surplus is planned, small forecasting changes could require sudden in year tax rises or spending cuts to ensure the mandate is met. Even if we start 2019– 20 with an expectation of a £10 billion surplus, previous experience suggests there would be a more than one-in-four chance that in-year tax rises or spending cuts would be needed to ensure an out-turn of any surplus at all.”

Hardly surprising that Osborne’s vows of budget responsibility are treated with derision by the experts given his squandermania has seen public sector debt double and he consistently failed to achieve his deficit forecasts in the last parliament. The IFS note that “The first official figures showing whether or not Mr Osborne has met his target of running a surplus in 2019–20 should be published days ahead of the 2020 general election”. If Osborne is Tory leader, voters will have a very clear indication of his performance just days before they go to the polls…

Guido suspects Osborne will copy the tactics of his predecessor Gordon Brown and raid pensions. Already we are being softened up with suspicious briefings about “pension reform”. Hold on to your wallets and prepare for a massive tax hike on pensions. This time on higher rate pension contributions, increasing the tax burden on the older and wealthier – predominantly Tory voters – who Osborne calculates have nowhere else to go politically…

Highest-Earning MP Didn’t Notice £400,000 Income

Tory MP Geoffrey Cox, the highest earning member of the Commons who rakes in hundreds of thousands of pounds a year as a QC, has been rebuked by the Standards Commissioner for failing to declare £400,000 of income.

Wait for it, his defence is just outstanding:

In his evidence to the Commissioner, Mr Cox explained how the late registration came about. He had previously relied on the head clerk of his Chambers to draw the receipt of payments to his attention, thereby prompting the registration of such payments. The illness and subsequent retirement of the head clerk had led to the breakdown of this system. 

So Cox didn’t notice the £400,000 enter his account because his clerk was ill and didn’t tell him. Great excuses of our time…

IPSA Launch Danczuk Probe

The expenses watchdog IPSA say in a statement:

“The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has opened an investigation to determine whether Mr Simon Danczuk MP has been paid an amount under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs

[…]

+ READ MORE +

SNP Expenses Crusader Employs His Own Wife

SNP Nepotism

Who would have thought SNP MP George Kerevan’s crusade against expenses abuses would turn out to be complete pish? Kerevan was elected last year on a ticket to clean up Westminster and fight greedy MPs:

“I don’t think Westminster MPs

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Junior Doctors Jet Off on Cut-Price Val d’Isere Junket

Just as well junior doctors called off the second of their three planned strikes, scheduled for this week, because hundreds of them are jetting off to Val d’Isere today. Over the next 72 hours doctors are attending their annual winter […]

+ READ MORE +

Guardian Embraces Austerity

As we go to pixel, a major company meeting is taking place over at King’s Place where Guardian staff are being informed of 20% cuts to be imposed on their publisher, Guardian News & Media. The meeting had to […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Preston Council leader Peter Rankin explains rising anti-Semitism…

“You need to think why this anti-semitism is getting worse. It’s because of the actions of the IDF shelling schools and hospitals and killing and maiming thousands of men, women and children.”

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