Tory MP Slammed By Expenses Watchdog
+ Ordered to Pay Back £1,000 in Incorrect Mileage Claims 
+ Claimed ‘For Twice the Distance Shown on Google Maps’

+ Guilty of “Incorrect” and “Laissez-faire Attitude” to Expenses

Tory MP Bob Blackman has been found guilty of repeatedly over-claiming for his mileage expenses by IPSA and has been ordered to pay back more than £1,000 to the taxpayer. In a damning report released this morning the expenses watchdog found:

  • “on average, your claims are almost twice the distance shown on Google maps and in some cases, significantly more”
  • “mileage claims submitted by Mr Blackman are, in almost every instance, not accurate and greater than the distance travelled”
  • Blackman “wrongly submitted” claims including canvassing and party political events
  • he “demonstrate[s] a pattern of incorrect claiming and a laissez-faire attitude to the submission of constituency mileage in general”

The total number of claims found by IPSA to be incorrect or not allowable is 734 and Blackman has been ordered to repay £1,006.20. If he had been in the private sector he probably wouldn’t have kept his job…

Outsourced Government IT Project Saves Taxpayers Money

verify gov

The Government Digital Service has made a massive stride towards fixing the hated Government Gateway, the cumbersome registration portal that users need to access online government services. The Cabinet Office has announced today that its new alternative verification service, GOV.UK Verify, helped 11,000 people avoid paying late submission fines on their self-assessment form this year. Last year, if people didn’t have their login info ready from around two weeks before the deadline they were forced to pay a fine. The new Verify system allows anyone with a passport and driver’s licences to bypass the 10 day wait for a username or password in the post.

Unlike some government IT projects in the past, it appears the Cabinet Office have executed GOV.UK Verify with some degree of competence. Two competing private companies were given the contract (they will be joined by three more soon), it was rolled out in beta form with throttled (limited) access in December and incremental changes were made regularly. Like it’s supposed to be done.

The online verification issue has been a major stumbling block to the Cabinet Office’s dream of creating a seamless one stop online shop for accessing any government service. Not like a government IT project to actually help save taxpayers’ money…

Mitchell Down Half a Million After Refusing Sun Settlement

plebgate-mitchell-sun

Andrew Mitchell’s lawyers are back in court again arguing over how much the former chief whip has to cough up after losing his libel case last year. It has emerged News Group made offer to Mitchell before the libel hearing, but Mitchell turned it down, costing him “at least £500,000″ in costs.

Mr Justice Mitling says that because he failed to accept News Group’s offer he should be liable for their costs and those of PC Toby Rowland.

Ouch. 

Tories Admit New Voter Software is Busted

A leaked email has revealed the Tory field data operation is in dire straights just 98 days from polling day. With half of their associations dumping the dire Merlin voter data software for a new voter contact system, CCHQ have now been forced to admit that the upgrade is busted too. In the busiest donation period of the entire election cycle, party bosses have admitted that all donations of over £500 have to be declared manually to CCHQ with a spreadsheet rather than simply entered in the software – as promised. Which defeats the point of the expensive change over…

To: ALL CONSTITUENCY OFFICES, CHAIRMAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCE
Cc: FIELD STAFF

As you know, the Party is replacing the MERLIN software with a new membership and campaigning system called VoteSource. Over 350 associations have already decided to move to VoteSource, and their MERLIN has not been updated with the new registers of electors that were published on 1 December in England and Wales*. For these users VoteSource must now be used for all election campaigning. Donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on VoteSource, but see below for how to report.

A number of associations have decided to remain on MERLIN. For these seats, donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on MERLIN, but only after you have explicitly been told by the Helpdesk that your MERLIN is being rolled over to the new register. If in doubt about your MERLIN’s status, please email XXXXXX@conservatives.com, or to check donors email their name and address to XXXXXX@conservatives.com

Donation reporting functionality will be added to VoteSource soon. Until then, donations over £500 must be recorded on the attached spreadsheet. We will, as usual, send a spreadsheet at the end of the quarter** showing any donations that reach us through MERLIN, but otherwise this sheet should be your main reporting form. For the password, please call us on 020 7x XXX XXX

Remember that donations for January to March will need to be reported by 10 April, ie in the middle of the peak of campaigning, and so we strongly recommend that you update this sheet as and when you receive donations in order to avoid extra stress in April. Donations that are being made directly to a candidate or the election agent account are subject to the £50 threshold for checks, and are listed on the return of election expenses INSTEAD of reporting to us.

The Helpdesk will announce when donation functionality is available in VoteSource, but until then if you have any donation or reporting queries please do not hesitate to contact us: XXXXXXX@conservatives.com, 020 7XXX XXXX

* In Scotland, registers are not due to be updated until 10 March.

** Donations checked between 1 January and 30 March will be emailed to the association office on 11 April.

There are a lot of rather irate agents out there, facing a load more hassle.

Sportsman Makes Reasonable Political Point Shocker

https://twitter.com/StuartBroad8/status/560049120308502529

Is it time for another rumour about an England cricketer’s political future?

Bank Statement to Follow

Coutts, founded 1692, requires customers to have investable assets of over £1 million. The People’s Bank…

Billionaire Tech Titan Shows HS2 How It’s Done

hyperloop

Dastardly billionaire Elon Musk, the mastermind behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has announced he will be build a test track for his fabled Hyperloop transport system. Described by Musk as a “cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table”, the Hyperloop will propel capsules through a partial vacuum inside a continuous steel tube at 700 mph. It was proposed by Elon as a cheaper and faster alternative to California’s hugely over-budget high speed railway. Theoretically it would cut the 354 mile journey from LA to San Francisco down to 35 minutes. Musk’s initial estimate for the Hyperloop’s building costs were $6 billion – some $60 billion cheaper than the proposed railway. 

evil elonIt makes you wonder about our very own unloved and over-budget high speed rail project. Maybe if HS2 Chief Executive  Simon Kirby, the anonymous corporate drone earning £750,000 of taxpayers’ money a year, had a bit more entrepreneurial spirit, we wouldn’t be about to face a £50 billion bill for a slightly faster train to Birmingham. Phase one of of HS2 is due to be completed by 2026, which coincidentally is the year Elon Musk has promised to land humans on Mars.

TechnoGuido has the feeling Mr Musk might beat Mr Kirby to it…

Metro Ad FUKP For Al Murray

murry

Al Murray will be hoping his full page advert in today’s Metro doesn’t count towards his election expenditure. The rate card shows a full page Metro ad will fetch you £36,000, and long campaign spending is limited to £30,700. Though they don’t give out the Metro in South Thanet…

Public Sector Union Proposes Private Equity Survival Deal

Secret documents leaked from the Public and Commercial Services Union show that the militant public sector union is in crisis and flogging off their assets to the private equity fund Brockton Capital. Long overdue trade union reforms are finally […]

+ READ MORE +

Lambeth Labour ‘Cuts’ Propaganda Budget Up 300%

Guido has covered Lambeth Labour’s taxpayer-funded death of irony for years, from their expensive anti-cuts posters, to their propaganda campaign on benefits, to their truth-stretching council tax own goal. Some nifty FOI sleuthing from ConHome has revealed […]

+ READ MORE +

Mandy Behind New Generation Of BlairitesLord of Darkness Star of Intimate Right-Wing Gathering

The Blairites are not quite done yet. Peter Mandelson’s former SpAd Matthew Doyle organised a £100 per head “exclusive event… at Lord Alli’s home in Covent Garden” last week to raise cash for two up and coming Labour right-wingers. Though […]

+ READ MORE +

Norman Baker Slammed Over Cash From Anti-Gay Billionaire

Former LibDem minister Norman Baker has been slammed by gay rights activists after Guido revealed his re-election campaign is being funded by controversial Scottish billionaire Brian Souter. Bus magnate Souter was famously condemned as “hateful” and “bigoted” over his financial […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Adam Boulton says David Cameron campaigned as a neo-Thatcherite…

“The manifesto programme, with its sell-off of social housing, clampdown on public sector strikes, EU in/out referendum and benefit cuts, represents a much more traditional, neo-Thatcherite conservatism than that offered by Cameron Mk 1…”

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