Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Clegg Denies Inappropriate Use of Civil Service for Debate Prep

Has Nick Clegg been using civil service resources for party political preparation for tonight’s debate against Nigel Farage? He is not appearing at the LBC Debate in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister rather, as a LibDem spokesman told Guido this morning: “Tonight is the leaders’ debate so Nick is appearing as the Leader of of the Liberal Democrat Party”. It’s a very political event…

As Deputy Prime Minister Clegg is allowed to request factual briefings on government policy whenever he likes, yet sources familiar with the situation have indicated to Guido that they believe he has strayed beyond this and into party political territory. “He’s asking for all sorts of things, beyond government policy on Europe”, one told Guido this morning. It is believed by some that the briefings have been prepared to back up attack lines on UKIP –  a big no, no for civil servants.

Nick Clegg’s spokesman denies that they have done anything wrong, but did confirm that civil servants have briefed the DPM for this specific political event:

“Nick Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister as well as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. He is regularly briefed on all aspects of Government policy, including Europe, before public appearances, such as DPMQs or Call Clegg on LBC. It is very likely that during the debates he be asked about Coalition Government policies and the relationship between the British Government, of which he is Deputy Prime Minister, and the European Union. To that end, he has been given factual briefings and facts and figures on Coalition Government policy and how the EU works in relation to Britain. But the briefings for the debates are being done by political advisers and HQ staff.”

Guido has requested a copy of all the debate preparation from the Cabinet Office under the Freedom of Information Act.

It is worth noting that the ‘General Principle’ of the Ministerial Code states:

“Facilities provided to Ministers at Government expense to enable them to carry out their official duties should not be used for Party or constituency work.”

Point 6.3 makes things a little clearer:

“Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political.”

Should it emerge that Clegg used civil servant briefings on issues beyond government policy on Europe to prepare for tonight’s debate then Guido cannot see how he has not fallen foul of this point. 

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tim Farron Funnels Taxpayer Thousands to LibDems

LibDem president Tim Farron wastes no opportunity to line his party’s coffers with taxpayers’ money. Last year re-renter Farron was one of the guilty men exposed for funnelling parliamentary expenses to his local Westmoreland and Lonsdale party, claiming £6,000 in the last financial year to rent a building owned by his local LibDems and letting them cream off the cash. Now Guido can reveal Farron has recently submitted a £1,554 expense claim for a staffer in his constituency, and guess what, the money was paid to Westmoreland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrats.

Taxpayers are subsidising Farron’s local party to the tune of thousands of pounds a year, with zero checks on whether public money is funding party political activity. It gives him a publicly-funded advantage over any opponent. The LibDems are the most cunning at this and that’s because they are taught how to fiddle centrally – in 2008 they gave a presentation to their MPs urging them to maximise expenses for party benefit.

Hughes Signals FoI Expansion to Public/Private Money

Guido still has to pinch himself when he remembers that Simon Hughes is a Justice Minister, but credit where credit is due. The LibDem told the Commons today:

“We do intend to extend FoI further as soon as it will be practical. We intend to publish a revised code of practice to make sure that those private companies that carry out public functions have freedom of information requirements in their contracts, and go further than that, and we hope that will be in place by the end of this year.”

Let the games begin.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Little Less Representation

Labour won last night’s council by-election in Clifton North, but the only real story was the LibDems being beaten by this man.

20140307-084713.jpg

Sounds about right.

Via @FelicityMorse, @cllrjamesdawson.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Twitter Bitch Fight of the Week: Tim Farron v Labour Press

Guido never understands why official party HQ Twitter accounts of all colours bother to waste time embarrassing themselves in cringeworthy spats. Labour’s press team does however have a point in highlighting LibDem president Tim Farron’s hypocrisy here. Even if the trash talk is at primary school playground levels:

Tim best not be too rude or he might harm his hopes of being Miliband’s deputy PM…

Don’t Mention the Day Job

Talking of Downing Street aides… LibDem council candidate Matthew Hanney’s record is there for all to see on this leaflet he has been handing around in Lambeth. Lives locally, check. A LibDem for years, check. Customary slap for Lambeth Labour, check. Just the one thing is missing. For some reason Hanney makes no mention of the fact that he has been a Special Adviser to Nick Clegg since he became Deputy PM, and a close aide for years before. Does Hanney not want voters to know about his vital role at the heart of government?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Goldsworthy OUT of Treasury

After Guido revealed last week that Danny Alexander’s SpAd Julia ‘rocking chair’ Goldsworthy was seeking to become an MP again while still being paid by the taxpayer, she has parted ways with her boss over the weekend:

“After 4 years as a Special Adviser to Danny Alexander at HM Treasury I am moving on with immediate effect so that I can stand as a Parliamentary Candidate at the next General Election in 2015.”

Seems Julia is bullish about her chances, despite the cloud of controversy under which she was booted out in 2010.

Friday, February 28, 2014

LibDems Keep Child Rape Charge Councillor “In the Tent”

LibDems on Weymouth and Portland Borough council have formed a new grouping so they can circumvent the party leadership and keep child rape charge councillor Ryan Hope “in the tent”. They will be known as the Liberal Democrat and Alliance Group.

As Guido reported last month Hope was finally suspended by the party, four months after appearing in court charged with one count of raping a child, one count of rape, one count of sexual assault of a child and two counts of sexual assault. He denies the charges and faces trial in April.

Despite this the LibDems have now bent the rules so Hope can stay on and they don’t lose a seat on an important council committee.

What’s Clegg going to do about it?

UPDATE: A LibDem spokesman says:

“The party has been made aware of the decision by the council group in Weymouth. The regional party is now establishing the facts and will consider appropriate action.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Goldsworthy Campaigning on the Taxpayer

Former LibDem MP Julia ‘rocking chair’ Goldsworthy has been shortlisted in her old west country seat, which is selecting a candidate at the moment. The Treasury Special Adviser’s Twitter feed has suddenly remembered all sorts of local issues recently and she’s promising ‘a record of action, a promise of more’. That record included a ‘£999 television, £1,500 of furniture in House of Fraser, a £1,111 sofa bed and a £1,200 rocking chair’. According to Public Whip Julia Goldsworthy ‘voted moderately for a transparent Parliament.’ 

When she lost in 2010 to George Eustice, Julia actually got a taxpayer funded payrise as a £74,000pa SpAd –  a job she has not resigned from despite now seeking selection. It seems she’s trying to string out her dependency on the public teat for as long as she possibly can.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nick v Nigel

Clegg has decided to martyr himself for the European cause, challenging Farage to a debate on the EU on LBC this morning. Ironic that the LibDems are actually showing some principle for once and are only going to be punished for it…

It’s a win win for Farage, but will also help Nick’s differentiation strategy. If the event is high-profile enough, it could also help Downing Street’s goal of a one on one debate with Miliband at some point… 

UPDATE: UKIP have responded. Farage is not agreeing to a debate yet…


Seen Elsewhere

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
Scotland Surges for Freedom | Times
Carswell Left Because Cam Can’t Be Trusted on Reform | ConHome
Top 100 Most UKIP-Friendly Tory Seats | ConHome
Bercow ‘Wounded’ | Speccie
This Goes Further Than Rotherham | Simon Danczuk


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