Tory MPs’ Parliamentary Ski Week Freebie

skiiers blunt spelman copy

During the Tory turmoil of the March recess, journalists calling up MPs’ mobile phones were met with a chorus of foreign dial tones. Some of the backbenchers briefing hacks from ski slopes at least paid for their holidays themselves. Crispin Blunt, Phillip Lee, Tim Loughton, Antoinette Sandbach and Caroline Spelman however enjoyed £2,500 worth of free ski passes courtesy of the Swiss Parliament. The alpine alliance bagged tickets to two of the world’s top skiing resorts, all paid for as part of the British-Swiss All Party Parliamentary Group’s Parliamentary Ski Week. Suspect that is one of the more popular APPGs…

Miliband’s Museum Speech Swerved Spending Rules

LBC made a good point this morning – does David Miliband’s speech at the British Museum yesterday mean Britain Stronger in Europe flouted campaign spending rules? This is what the Museum, a public body, says:

“The British Museum has followed the guidance issued by Cabinet Office. The event on Monday 9 May was organised by the Government not the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign. The event involved the Prime Minister coming to explain government policy. The guidance stipulates that as a public body the Museum should continue to support Ministers in the conduct of visits (or parts of visits) to carry out government business in the normal way. The government estate should not be used for visits and events that are organised by the designated campaign groups.”

But Miliband is obviously nothing to do with the government. He is a representative of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign. They even press released it:

So the event wasn’t simply “government business” to “explain government policy”, as the Museum claim. Indeed, it is in breach of the Museum’s own rules that the venue “should not be used” for campaign group events. The cost of Britain Stronger in Europe renting the venue would be well into five figures, possibly as much as £20,000. Instead the taxpayer is funding yet more set piece Remain campaigning…

Disgraced Nat Pays Out Over “Holocaust” Smear

Readers will remember Natalie McGarry, the SNP MP who resigned the whip amid a police probe into her campaign’s financial irregularities. She’s the one who was questioned by Turkish special forces for recording the sound of bombs falling in Syria on her mobile. Not the brightest hope of the 2015 intake.

Today McGarry has agreed to pay £10,000 to charity for wrongly branding a unionist a “Holocaust denier”. She has apologised on her Twitter account:

Part of the agreement is that McGarry must ‘pin’ the apology to the top of her Twitter account for all to see for the next fortnight. Yet her account is locked, so at the moment her mea culpa is being kept hidden from the public. Classy…

H/T @camusson@camusson

Labour Leadership Rivals Rake in Huge Donations

The Corbynista line this morning is that Jezza is safe from a coup, several “hostile” MPs agree with Tom Watson that he should be “given time” and judged on the next set of local elections in 12 months. Knives are being put away yet potential challengers’ coffers are being filled…

It’s notable that Tristram Hunt has raked in £85,000 of donations from Blairite sources. He’s taken a wedge off Blair backer Lord David Sainsbury (for whom Hunt used to work as a SpAd), Stoke City FC chairman Peter Coates and mega-bucks private equity adviser Trevor Chinn. That is a huge amount to take in for one month…

Chinn has also given money to Dan Jarvis, a much mooted leadership rival who has been coining it recently. Jarvis also received £12,500 last month from major Labour donor Peter Hearn, who tried in vain to bankroll Corbyn’s opponents last year. That’s on top of his hedge fund cash that he really doesn’t like talking about.

Margaret Hodge has loads in the bank though it helps that she’s also making £5,000 per speech at the moment. If the coup is delayed for a year that is a long time to raise a war chest…

UPDATE: Allies of Tristram say several of the donations registered this month were actually received in previous months, but had to be re-registered due to an administrative error. He is slowly and steadily amassing a lot of cash…

Taxpayer Funding More Pro-EU Adverts

Last week Guido noted that Downing Street was running adverts with a value of £135,000-a-week promoting Remain on Co-conspirators also report that if you Google “European referendum”, as many voters looking to make up their minds will do in the coming weeks, the government has bought the top result, sending users to their pro-Remain site. Links like these cost the taxpayer around 62 pence per click…

DECC: Please Think Before You Print

paper printing

The Department for Energy and Climate Change has come a long way since the 2009 “Think Before you Print” campaign. Their own accounts reveal the department spent £14,516 on printing and binding alone in February – £500 per day. According to a DECC spokesperson, the heightened cost was due to the Oil and Gas Authority scanning their “licencing documents to ensure they had copies as part of their office move last month.” They could buy 37 iPads with one month’s printing expenditure…

Shapps Throws Feldman Under the Battle Bus

The Tory election expenses scandal is ramping up a notch. Grant Shapps made it crystal clear on the Daily Politics which of the two Tory co-chairman was responsible:

“I can tell you absolutely that compliance was not my area… compliance wasn’t my side of things, campaigning side was my side of things but not the money or the finance”

Asked who was responsible, Shapps replied: “Other people at CCHQ”. The co-chairman in charge of the other “side of things” was Lord Feldman…

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission is meeting with the CPS and police today to decide on applying to extend the limit on prosecuting election expense allegations. Stay tuned…

£500,000 Expenses Fraudster MEP Jailed

skinner peter

Remember Peter Skinner, the Labour MEP who clocked up £500,000 on “expenses” while enjoying a lifestyle of lavish Hawaiian scuba diving holidays, expensive jewellery, and stays in top class hotels? The crook was jailed today for four years. He claimed he had simply been confused about the EU’s generous expenses rules. Brussels is rotten to the core…

Junior Doctors: It’s All About the Money

In the words of Meja, it is all about the money:


The FT graphic explains the negotiating positions – the government is offering more money for a 7-day NHS, the junior doctors want more still. Struggling on their not undeserved triple average earnings, their strike is not about “saving the NHS”.[…]


10% of Corbyn’s Inheritance Set Aside For CND

10% of Jeremy Corbyn’s significant inheritance was set aside for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Guido can reveal. When the Labour leader’s mother passed away in 1989, she left Jezza and his three brothers a hugely valuable estate worth the equivalent of nearly £600,000 in today’s money.[…]


Rotten Robertson at the Races

Robertson Race Course

Last month Guido looked at the murky goings on around Tory MP Laurence Robertson, who was then referred to the Standards Commissioner over allegations of cash-for-access. Well, he’s at it again…

Robertson has received four fully-funded racecourse trips from bookmakers Gala Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill, as well as two further trips from course owners The Jockey Club.[…]


Will Corbyn Take £30,000 of Trident Cash?


The photo above shows BAE Systems, the main Trident contractor, advertising at Labour Party conference in Brighton last year. “We are agile in responding to change” they told Corbynistas in a conciliatory approach. Traditionally BAE advertise with Labour every year, paying £30,000 for a stand in the exhibition room.[…]


IPSA: MPs Can Use Expenses to Campaign on Referendum


Cameron has imposed strict rules on the campaign activities of ministers and SpAds during the referendum, and CCHQ have banned Tory associations from using party resources to campaign for Leave. So Eurosceptic MPs are delighted with a ruling by IPSA last night allowing them to use their office and business costs to campaign on the referendum.[…]


Osborne Exempts “Politically Exposed Persons” From Money Laundering Checks

MPs complained earlier this year that they are being hounded “like African despots” following anti-money laundering checks from banks like HSBC. These checks are designed to ensure money isn’t being funnelled into criminal gangs or other corrupt arrangements. Charles Walker was furious that MPs and their families are on the list of “Politically Exposed Persons”, the automatic anti-money laundering watch list used by banks:

“It is ridiculously heavy-handed for banks to treat British MPs and their families in this aggressive way.



Diane Abbott: Business Class War

Abbott funny

A co-conspirator has spotted a discarded BA Executive Club pass on a pavement outside the Parliamentary estate, belonging to one Ms D Abbott. Diane will want that back before she jets off to lunch with tax dodgers and millionaires in Zurich in two weeks…[…]


Eagle Spins Caymans Aide Row

Following Guido’s revelation that the firm run by Labour’s new business tsar was incorporated in the Caymans, the FT’s Jim Pickard has asked Angela Eagle for a comment on her “ethical” business adviser. Eagle replied that Anthony Watson’s company “pays taxes in all the jurisdictions in which it operates”. […]


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Quote of the Day

Trump supporter Raheem Kassam responds to Suzanne Evans calling him “far right”:

“We’re going to rise above it. When she goes low, we go high, to quote Michelle Obama.”

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