New MPs Already Have Their Snouts in the Trough

They have barely been in their jobs for eight weeks, but our new Honourable Members are already learning how to milk the system.

In addition to their imminent public sector pay freeze-busting 10% pay rise, these new MPs have already begun to employ family members on their taxpayer-funded parliamentary expenses.

Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) I employ my husband, Nicholas Ansell, as a full time Personal Assistant.

Richard Arkless (Dumfries and Galloway) I employ my wife, Anne Elizabeth Arkless, as part-time Personal Assistant.

Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) I employ my step-son, John O’Leary, as Caseworker.

Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) I employ my wife, Anne Double, as full time Senior Caseworker and Diary Secretary.

Harry Harpham (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) I employ my wife, Gill Furniss, as part-time Researcher.

Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) I employ my partner, Tyrone Powell, as Senior Parliamentary Assistant.

Scott Mann (North Cornwall) I employ my non-cohabiting partner, Nicola Wade, as part time Secretary.

Johnny Mercer (Plymouth, Moor View) I employ my wife, Felicity Cornelius, as part-time Constituency Support Officer.

Paul Monaghan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) I employ my brother, Mark Innes Monaghan, as Constituency Communications Manager.

Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) I employ my husband, Tom Phillips, as Constituency Support Manager.

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) I employ my wife, Frances Mynors, as my Personal Assistant.

David Warburton (Somerton and Frome) I employ my wife, Harriet Warburton, as a Communications Officer and Personal Assistant.

Corri Wilson (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) I employ my son, Kieran Donoghue, as Caseworker/Personal Assistant.

They will go far.

Theresa May Urged to Launch New Handycock Probe

Self-confessed teen fondler Mike Hancock might have lost his seat but he is not out of the woods yet. The Tory, Labour, UKIP and even LibDem group leaders in Portsmouth have all written to Theresa May demanding that the police take action:

Dear Mrs May,

We, the undersigned councillors of Portsmouth City Council, feel compelled to write to you about the failure of Hampshire Constabulary to investigate and take appropriate action regarding allegations of serious misconduct surrounding former councillor and MP Mike Hancock…

As you may know from national press reports, the careworker for a vulnerable adult (known as ‘Annie’) with mental health issues reported to Hampshire Constabulary in 2010 that Cllr Hancock had sexually assaulted or harassed Annie, in proper compliance with the Safeguarding Adults Policy. We have been informed that two male police officers then visited ‘Annie’ and counselled her not to pursue her complaint, because Cllr Hancock was a powerful person…

In the light of recent similar cases, where Hampshire Constabulary have admitted failures in procedure and in fact paid substantial damages, we view this situation to be of professional concern and unacceptable. We would therefore urge you to order an independent inquiry as to why Hampshire police have taken no action in this case, and, if necessary, make direction that the case should be looked at again by a police force other than Hampshire Constabulary.

We believe that this is the only way in which public confidence in Hampshire Constabulary might be restored in this case. This letter is a summary; all points raised in this letter can be evidenced.

We would appreciate a full, written reply to this letter which is of great importance to victims of alleged sexual abuse.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy Tory council leader

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader

Cllr Steve Wemyss, Tory group leader in 2010, when the matter first surfaced

Cllr Colin Galloway, Ukip group leader

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader

Handycock went from 18,921 votes in 2010 to 716 in 2015, so the people of Portsmouth certainly cottoned on that he was a wrong’un. Significant that all four parties are demanding action…

Cash For Influence: How a Labour Donor Killed a Bill

Guido has written previously on how Labour have let trade union donors buy influence in the House. Well, they have been caught red handed once again.

On May 29, Labour peer Baroness Turner sponsored a Private Members’ Bill seeking to reform Easter trading laws – introducing it at its first reading in the House of Lords.

The bill would have removed the prohibition on Easter trading for large shops.

Two weeks later, on the afternoon of June 16, the general secretary of the USDAW union emailed Labour peers asking them to oppose the Labour bill:

From: John Hannett

Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Subject: Please oppose the Easter Day Trading Bill – Second Reading on Friday 19th June

Dear XXXX,

As the main retail union for the UK’s 3 million shopworkers, Usdaw urges peers to oppose the Private Member’s Bill on Easter Day Trading at second reading on Friday. The UK already has the longest trading hours in Europe, with over 150 shopping hours a week, and only 2 days per year of large stores being closed – Christmas Day and Easter Day…

As the attached briefing sets out, two thirds of shopworkers are already under pressure to work on Sundays, and this pressure intensifies at busy trading times, with holidays not permitted…

For these reasons, I urge you not to support the Easter Trading Bill. 

Yours sincerely

John Hannett

General Secretary, Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers)

Just three days after that email was sent to Labour peers, Baroness Turner withdrew her bill:

In the last five years, USDAW has donated over £6 million to the Labour Party. It has regularly lobbied in defence of exisiting Sunday trading laws.

A major Labour donor, which lobbies heavily on a single issue, successfuly gets a Labour bill withdrawn after lobbying Labour peers. It stinks…

MacShame’s First TV Interview: Send Him Back Down

Denis MacShane has surfaced to try and flog his prison diaries. Choosing the softest of soft interviews, MacShame was his usual unpleasant self on the Victoria Derbyshi*e Show:

The whole video is worth watching for MacShame’s total lack of contrition, his blaming of his colleagues for doing him in rather than the coppers and the CPS, and some extraordinary defamation of Grant Shapps regarding nom de plumes. Obviously he backs a pay rise for MPs.

He also claims that he started fiddling his expenses when he was a BBC journalist, and only pleaded guilty “because his savings were gone”. He’s still churning out that tired old line that he made no personal gain from his expenses troughing. Which makes you wonder what he did with all those laptops, and that garage. 

Clearly prison has not reformed this man; he seems to laugh off the fact that he was sentenced to six months in prison for defrauding taxpayers of £13,000 in forged receipts.

Even Derbyshire concludes that he is ‘shameless’.

Send him back down.

The Minister, the Lobbyists and the Charity Fat Cat

nanny

Last week Guido exclusively revealed plans by tobacco lobbyists ASH to spy on gay people, pregnant women as well as ban smoking in theatres, prisons and private cars. He wrote:

“The anti-smoking lobby group have written a wide-ranging wishlist for the coming parliament and it’s about as authoritarian as you can get. History would indicate that this bunch get what they want; from the smoking ban, to plain packs and restrictions on smoking in cars.”

As if to prove his point, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison will today attend the launch of the draconian plan, giving it her full blessing:

Parliamentary launch

You are also invited to attend the Parliamentary launch of the report on Tuesday 9th June. It will be hosted by Bob Blackman MP for Harrow East and Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health. Other speakers will include:

  • Jane Ellison MP, Minister for Public Health
  • Peter Kellner, Chair of the report’s Editorial Board and YouGov President
  • Deborah Arnott, ASH Chief Executive
  • Harpal Kumar Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK
  • Mike Hobday, Director of Policy at British Heart Foundation.

The launch takes place on Tuesday 9 June from 4pm to 6pm in the Dining Room A at the House of Commons.

Regular readers will remember it was Ellison that shoehorned plain-packaging through the House of Commons during the dying embers of the last Parliament, without so much as a debate in the Commons. She’s a fully paid up nanny-stater, and clearly has no qualms sharing a platform with the health fascists. 

Smokers’ Rights group Forest asked Populus to find out what voters think about taxpayers’ own money being used to lobby the government. They don’t like it:

no-lobbying

If you need to further judge the company that Ellison chooses to keep in her official capacity, also on the platform today is the controversial charity chief Harpal Kumar. The greedy boss has triggered outrage following the Sun investigation that found that he’s on £250,000, taking money directly from donations given to help cure cancer to line his fat cat pockets. Under Kumar’s regime the charity are paying out millions in gold plated executive packages, lifted straight from the collectors’ tins.

Vaz Spins Hacking Line in Yet Another Passport Scandal

Keith Vaz

The timing of Keith Vaz’s latest passport scandal is rather suspicious given the forthcoming Select Committee elections:

The former head of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, has been reported to the parliamentary standards commissioner after lobbying visa officials on behalf of a controversial cricketing tycoon.

The senior Labour MP wrote to Sarah Rapson, the director-general of UK visas and immigration, asking whether IPL cricket league founder Lalit Modi’s “travel document could be made available”, the Sunday Times revealed.

You would have thought alarm bells would ring for Vaz the second he put pen to paper regarding a passport, but the man is – at best – brazen.

The only thing more suspicious than the timing is the ‘I woz hacked’ line, just published on Vaz’s website:

Hacked!

I have recently become aware that my email address may have been hacked, and confidential emails may have been downloaded. The hacking of computers is a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

When communicating with me or my office, the only email addresses which should be used are keith.vaz.mp@parliament.uk or casework@live.co.uk

It’s far more likely he was done in by a rival candidate for Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, or a Home Office insider…

Best Reponses to MP Pay Rise Consultation

Sitting somewhere in an office on Millbank, an IPSA employee sifts through the hundreds of responses to their consultation on MPs’ pay while trying to justify giving them an extra 10%. Here are some of the Great British public’s more forthright contributions.

D.W. Jukes speaks for a nation:

“Obviously shut up in your little Westminster bubble, you have not noticed that the rating of MPs among the electorate is at an all time low. People feel that MPs are totally out of touch with voters, and your decision to review their pay now only confirms it.”

While John F Roga is a fan of caps lock:

“THE DICTIONARY DEFINES WATCHDOG AS ONE THAT CLOSELY OBSERVES GOVERNMENTS AND ORGANISATIONS. A POODLE IS DEFINED AS AN ‘ASSIDUOUS FOLLOWER’. I KNOW WHICH CATEGORY THE PUBLIC WOULD PLACE YOU IN”

Though he’s not as angry as this anonymous writer:

“The watchdog whoever he is is he an IDIOT or what saying the MPs should get 90k a year they DON’T DESERVE 50k a year or there CARS & EXPENSES should be STOPPED until the economy is a lot better.”

Captain Bryn Wayt is getting religious on them (his use of bold):

“I submit this document as a private individual and Christian taxpayer. I furnish my thoughts on the proven fact that the majority of MP’s were fiddling their “expenses” and robbing the public purse before the Telegraph blew their game apart in 2009. Somehow, most of them escaped jail by the skin of their teeth. Such despicable and dishonest behaviour will not be tolerated ever again.”

Mr JR McAvoy makes a not unreasonable point:

“Under no circumstances should you even consider raising their generous salary’s. There would be a national outcry against if you did”

Made slightly more forcefully by F. Biard:

“WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER EVERYONE GETS THE SAME DEAL ITS A SCANDAL”

This anonymous contributor used a powerful sign-off:

“It is immoral for an MP to draw a full salary and hardly ever appear in the house. The excuse of doing constituency work does not wash. Gordon Brown, Chris Huhne, David Miliband, Liam Fox, George Galloway just some names to consider. Yet another disillusioned citizen of what was once Great Britain.”

While John Bell gave greedy MPs a choice:

“MP’s have the same option as every one else if they are unhappy. They can resign and get another job more to their liking and they should be reminded they have this option.”

Best of the bunch? Here is Robert Nielson Donald:

“sir i put it to you they do not need a pay rise they first need to stop double dealing with renting their house to a fellow member then claim expences on another house it is day light robbery, i would love to tell them face to face exactly how the public feel about this. any increase in their salary when the nation is facing price rises in fuel and many being laid off would be a kick in the teeth for the rest of the nation whilst these parasites want more, in closing can i wish you all a merry christmas and a happy new year”

Well said, Robert. Well said.

Pressure Mounts on Cameron to Reject Pay Rise

A cynic might say the wannabe next leader of the Labour Party is being shamelessly populist, but Andy Burnham is first out of the blocks to turn down his 10% pay rise:

The PM’s position on this is less equivocal.

Cameron said in 2013: “I think it would be wrong for MPs to get a big pay rise at a time of public sector pay restraint”.

Last year he threatened to abolish IPSA entirely if they did not “think again”.

Yet yesterday his Official Spokesman seemingly dropped that threat and suggested Cameron would be accepting the pay rise: “If IPSA determines MPs get a pay increase, MPs get a pay increase”.

It comes down to whether Cameron wants to give it to charity and annoy his more shallow-pocketed backbenchers three weeks into the new government…

UPDATE: Seems to be a concerted effort from certain Labour MPs up for elections to get ahead on this before PMQs:

Robbo Finally Confirms Baldwin Briefed “Milly Dowler Moment”

After Nick Robinson reported that “The Labour leader’s aides say that he sees this as another Milly Dowler moment”. There was a storm and it was a contentious front page news story about which he tweeted:

[…]

+ READ MORE +

How FIFA Tried To Distract the World at Its Annual Conference Today

14 FIFA officials have been charged with corruption and their President is facing calls to resign, but that hasn’t stopped football’s governing body from rolling out the red carpet for the opening ceremony of its annual conference today.

Maybe they […]

+ READ MORE +

Andy Burnham: Rent-Swapper

Stories in the Sunday papers about Andy Burnham’s expenses will have rung a bell for Guido readers. During the height of the rent-swapping scandal in 2012, this site reported on how:

“[Burnham is] letting out a London home while renting

[…]

+ READ MORE +

#Doggers4Labour: Woman Beater Backs Miliband

Is there any famous wrong’un who isn’t backing Miliband? Stan Collymore, who kicked his girlfriend in the head and told her he was going to “f**king kill” her, says “vote Labour”.

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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