Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Expenses Claims Parliament Doesn’t Want You to See

Flamboyantly-named IPSA chief Marcial Boo is plotting to shroud MPs’ expenses claims in secrecy once again. Boo has told John Bercow that politicians’ claims for small stationery items should be kept hidden from the public because the delicate flowers are facing ridicule in the press. In the interests of openness, accountability and transparency – principles IPSA clearly have no interest in – Guido is publishing some recent claims that they want to keep secret:

  • David Cameron – bulldog clip, 7p
  • Austin Mitchell – pencil sharpener, 2p
  • Cheryl Gillan – calender, 4p
  • Jeremy Hunt – paper clips, 5p
  • Emma Lewell Buck – pencil sharpener, 5p
  • Liz Kendall – pencil sharpener, 7p
  • Harriet Harman – drawing pins, 10p
  • Ken Clarke – ruler, 11p
  • Andrew Mitchell – Tipp-ex, 13p
  • Sarah Teather – staples, 17p
  • Chi Onwurah – mouse mat, 18p
  • Alan Johnson – fold back clips, 34p
  • Vince Cable – scissors, 43p
  • Nadhim Zahawi – hole punch, 53p
  • Alistair Darling – glue stick, 64p
  • Vera Baird – dustpan, 69p
  • Gordon Browncalculator, £1

It goes without saying IPSA should be acting in the interests of the taxpayer and not simply sparing MPs’ blushes, but there is also a wider point here. Jim Devine submitted false invoices for printing costs, an expenses claim he was eventually jailed for. Keeping this seemingly trivial claim secret might have meant he got away with it. That alone shows why every expenses claim, however small, must face the disinfecting glare of sunlight…

Monday, August 11, 2014

£173,000 Simmonds Quits Saying Expenses Are Too Low

Mark Simmonds has told the BBC that his decision to quit parliament was due to the “intolerable” impact of expenses rules on his family, saying his allowances don’t allow him to rent a big enough house in London to bring up his children. Last year Simmonds was named by his local paper as the most expensive MP in his county after they found he had claimed £173,436.96 in expenses for 2013. He cost the taxpayer:

  • £137,426.92 payroll
  • £13,005.38 office costs
  • £5,910.00 staffing expenses
  • £25,000 employing his wife Lizbeth as his office manager

Simmonds and his wife directly took home over £160,000 from the taxpayer last year, as well as claiming for tens of thousands more in other expenses. On top of that, IPSA rules allow MPs to claim £27,875 a year for rent. He says that is not enough to bring up his family in London. Guido imagines his missus told him he wasn’t going anywhere so he might as well start on getting a proper job and making some proper money…

Bercow’s £1,300 MP Funeral Bill on Expenses

Guido couldn’t help but feel the taxpayer had been short-changed when he read in today’s Sun that John Bercow claimed £1,300 on expenses to go to Paul Goggins’ funeral. A worthwhile trip perhaps, but could he not have done it cheaper? Guido decided to find out.

The Speaker charged us £45 for a car from parliament to Euston station and £67.50 for the return journey the following day. A quick browse of Guido’s Uber app (other free market-supporting smartphone-friendly cheap car travel services are also available) shows we could do the journey for a tenner each way.

Bercow did much better on his train journey. He billed £239.10 for him and two staffers to get up to Manchester, the standard fare. Though when he got to Manchester, the Speaker inexplicably blew £500 on cars across the city. Since the trip was only meant to be for a church service and then the funeral, Guido struggles to see why he spent so much on taxis. We reckon we’d have spent £50 at the absolute maximum.

Finally, Bercow put himself and his staffers up at the posh Park Inn by Radisson hotel at a cost to the taxpayer of a cool £364. There are plenty of budget hotels well situated in Manchester. Guido chose the Ibis Budget, which would have given us three rooms for £96.

Bercow total: £1,290

Guido total: £405

Every little helps…

Monday, August 4, 2014

MacShame on Christmas Behind Bars

No Guardian column for ex-con Denis MacShane, so he’s publishing his prison diaries instead. Readers will have nothing but sympathy for the crook who spent Christmas Day in the clink:

Christmas Day

9.50am: My door opens and a screw barks, ‘Catholic service…’ The mass is brisk and to the point.

To my surprise, Asil Nadir reads one of the lessons. I vaguely know his story as the Polly Peck tycoon who gave hundreds of thousands to the Conservative Party in the 1980s then went back to his native Turkish Cyprus where he avoided extradition after his company went bust.

I chat briefly to him afterwards. He has read about my case and shrugs his shoulder as if to say, ‘British politics, what do you expect?’

It’s a time to shower, to make a phone call, play pool, clean out your cell, fill in forms and chat. Officers can allow it to run for up to two hours or just thirty minutes.

More than anything, I want to call my children, Laura and Benjamin, and my partner Vicky. But there is only one phone for 80 prisoners on the spur.

I wonder if any Prison Minister knows what it is like when you cannot say happy Christmas to your children.

At the final meal of the day. I opted for a half-chicken – a special for Christmas – only to be told all the chickens had gone. In other words, the servers had given the half-chicken to their mates.

Instead it was two thin slices of industrial turkey. At least there was a tiny cocktail sausage with a bit of bacon and a smidgen of stuffing.

The heart bleeds…

Monday, July 14, 2014

MPs Moan as IPSA Boss Wants Second Term

Sir Ian Kennedy, Chairman of their expenses watchdog IPSA, will be seeking another term as chief defender against the piggy-fiddlers, Despite being widely disliked by both MPs and officials, Sir Ian has told friends he has ‘thrown his hat in again’ despite some confusion about whether he’s even allowed to serve a second term in the £100,000 job.

Well at least MPs of all colours will have something to grumble about for the summer.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Finally a Politician Begs for Expenses Forgiveness

Japanese politician Ryutaro Nonomura has committed career harakiri, spectacularly bursting into tears at a press conference over questions about him fiddling his expenses:

Guido would like to see this level of remorse a little closer to home…

UPDATE: In GIF form:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Stella’s Munchies

Still reeling from #BiscuitGate, Stella Creasy is using recess to escape from her angry constituents – for whom of course the holidays are over – by taking a trip to Amsterdam. Remember Stella, if you get the munchies, don’t claim for your snacks on expenses this time…

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

GuyNews Special: Walthamstow’s #BiscuitGate Outrage

Expenses are back in the news, so the Guy News special rapporteur decided to travel to sunny Walthamstow to ask Stella Creasy’s constituents what they thought about their MP’s #BiscuitGate troughing. A complaint was sent to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after St. Ella claimed £30.98 on expenses for Jammie Dodgers, chocolate fingers, kettle chips, sensations, Viennese biscuits, onion rings and Starburst sweeties for Labour Party volunteers.

The people of Walthamstow have spoken…

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Telegraph Side with Nige

The Telegraph would usually be the first out of the traps on an expenses story, but they’ve decided it will be more fun to side with the ‘Kippers and knock the Times today. Brogan has been activated and is talking down the story. The polling, it seems, would agree with his angle, namely that scandal is wasted on Farage because – like Boris – the public have warmed to him. Nothing like a bit of mudslinging to liven up a dull day though.

Payback Times: Hack Hits Back at ‘Kipper

Times hack Billy Kenber has hit back at claims from UKIP that they borked the figures in their story this morning.

From: “Kenber, Billy”
Date: 15 April 2014 10:14:05 BST
To: David Samuel-Camps
Cc: Alexi Mostrous, Nigel Farage
Subject: Re: Your report

Hi David,

The difference between the two figures lies in the way Ukip MEP’s break down their transparency reports.

This includes various categories – of which the one of relevance to rent is “office management and running costs” which covers rent, utilities, insurance, business rates and cleaning. In his transparency reports Farage claims to have spent £15,500 a year solely on this category since July 2009. This does not include office equipment, phone bills and stationery which fall under “communication costs” and “stationery, periodicals, subscriptions”.

As you say, the total monthly cost for all office expenditure was £700 (down from £2,000 when you managed to cancel various locked-in contracts for things like unnecessary amounts of printer ink) which I asked you to break down into its constituent parts – something we went through twice to ensure accuracy.

You said that utilities and insurance amounted to less than £100 a month and that council tax/business rates were £150 (I looked it up and it was £149 a month for the current financial year 2013). Hence the figure of £250 a month, which is £3,000 a year. The remaining £450 a month falls under the two other categories outlined above.

Bognor Regis is the nearest well-known town for readers who are less familiar with the West Sussex coast.

Best wishes,
Billy

Media Guido, your one stop shop for airing dirty laundry in public…


Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester


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