“Kensington and Chelsea” Embarrasses Hacks

Nothing like a political scandal to flush out some sloppy journalism. Malcolm Rifkind is standing down from Kensington. Not Kensington and Chelsea. The parliamentary constituency of Kensington and Chelsea does not exist any more: it was scrapped in 2010 when the seat was redrawn. What was once one of the safest Tory seats in the country now has a majority of just over 8,000. That hasn’t stopped national newspapers, broadcast journalists, lobbyists and assorted political hacks displaying a shameful lack of knowledge about their patch:

Nope

Guido wouldn’t ‘bet’ on that!

But Boris has a bigger majority in Uxbridge, oh wise hack?

Really?

BBC.

And Sky…

Et tu, FT?

Partial reporter? Partial with the facts more like!

Even self-proclaimed Parliamentary experts get it wrong.

Perhaps most embarrassingly the Indy even ran this terrible headline:

Don’t tell Peter Oborne, but there’s another subbing error in the Telegraph:

Tut tut.

SHAMELESS: Labour Candidate Withdraws After Benefit Overclaiming Exposed

They don’t call it the party of benefits for nowt. Hanna Toms, the Labour candidate for Truro, has withdrawn from the race after it emerged she had ‘inadvertently’ over-claimed her benefits:

“In the last few months, I was contacted concerning an issue with Housing Benefit I had been receiving. After co-operating fully to clarify my entitlement, I was advised that I had been overpaid Housing and related benefits. This came as a great shock. The problem arose because I was under the impression that as I had advised HMRC of my changes in income, that information would then be passed on to the council. I was wrong. I fully accept that it was my responsibility to have advised the council of any change in circumstances and I failed to do this.”

She says she’s paid it all back, but is quitting to spend more time down the jobby…

Malcolm Rifkind Steps Down as ISC Chair and MP

The Chairman of the ISC, the Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind has this morning issued the following statement:

None of the current controversy with which I am associated is relevant to my work as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

However, I have today informed my colleagues that while I will remain a member of the Committee, I will step down from the Chairmanship.

The Committee is due to be dissolved in little over a month with the prorogation of Parliament for the forthcoming General Election. The main substantive work which needs to be completed will be the publication of our Privacy and Security Report during March.

I do not want the work of the Committee and the publication of the Report to be, in any way, distracted or affected by controversy as to my personal position. I have concluded, therefore, that it is better that this important work should be presided over by a new Chairman.

Will it be enough to lance the boil?

UPDATE: Rifkind also stepping down as an MP at the election. Kensington is in play.

UPDATE II: Personal statement from Sir Malcolm Rifkind:

“I have received tremendous support from my Constituency Association and from many constituents in Kensington over the last two days. However, I have been pondering whether it is fair to my colleagues and friends in Kensington to remain the prospective Conservative candidate for the forthcoming General Election. I warmly welcome the Committee that has been established by the Party to examine the controversy with which I have been associated and to report by the end of March on its conclusions. It will be an excellent opportunity for an objective assessment of the allegations that have been made and I will be happy to cooperate closely with the Committee. However, it is unlikely that it will be able to finish its deliberations until well into March and there, obviously, can be no certainty as to its conclusions. I am conscious, therefore, that Kensington Conservatives are faced with serious uncertainty until the end of March as to whether I will be able to be their candidate. If I could not they would have little time to choose a new candidate. I am also aware that even if the Committee reach a favourable conclusion as to these allegations the controversy will remain during what is certain to be a heated General Election and, indeed, for many months thereafter until the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has completed the necessary enquiry. I had intended to seek one further term as MP for Kensington, before retiring from the House of Commons. I have concluded that to end the uncertainty it would be preferable, instead, to step down at the end of this Parliament. This is entirely my personal decision. I have had no such requests from my constituency association but I believe that it is the right and proper action to take. As regards the allegations of Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph I find them contemptible and will not comment further at this time. Although I will retire from Parliament I shall continue my public and political life and am much looking forward to doing so over the years to come.”

UPDATE III: No. 10:

UPDATE IV: 

Tories:

“Sir Malcolm has had a long career of distinguished service both to the Conservative Party and the country.  We respect and support his decision to stand down.” 

POLL: Should Rifkind Resign From Intelligence Select Committee?


Should Sir Malcolm Rifkind stand down to spend more time with the lifestyle to which he aspires?

Rifkind: It’s All About the Price Tag

Sir Malcolm Rifkind:

“I want to have a standard of living that my professional background would normally entitle me to have.”

Perhaps time to get out of ‘public service’ then, Sir Malcolm…

Vid via @LiarPoliticians

Tories Suspend Rifkind

 

Following his meeting with Michael Gove this morning:

He says he’s not sorry and he’s not standing down from the ISC…

UPDATE: Live reaction from Rifkind to the news on the Daily Politics:

Jack Straw: Then and Now

Jack Straw, 23 March 2010, on Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon:

“There is such anger in the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as I may say incredulity, about their stupidity in allowing themselves to be suckered in a sting like this. Their behaviour, prima facie, does indeed bring the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as Parliament, into disrepute, because it appears that former Cabinet ministers are more interested in making money than they are in properly representing their constituents.”

Jack Straw, 23 February 2015:

“I am mortified that I fell into this trap, despite my best efforts to avoid this, and my previous public criticism of colleagues of all parties who have done so in the past. Of course I am kicking myself.”

That sound you can hear is the world’s tiniest violin…

Miliband Weaponises Straw

Miliband is quick out of the blocks in trying to use Jack Straw’s suspension to hit the Tories:

Dear Prime Minister,

I write this letter to you not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.

I believe MPs are dedicated to the service of their constituents and the overwhelming majority follow the rules. But the British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.

Two years ago I said Labour MPs would not be able to hold paid directorships or consultancies after the next election.

My party is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs.

Today I can confirm that these measures will be included in my party’s General Election manifesto.

The low levels of trust in politics demands clarity and I urge you to follow my lead in banning paid directorships and consultancies.

There have been too many scandals about conflicts of interest in recent years.

It is time to draw a line under this and ensure these current allegations are the last.

I am sure you will agree this is a problem which affects all parties.

I believe these are circumstances which demand action and leadership.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Yours,

Ed Miliband

Miliband knows the business folk and lawyers on the Tory backbenchers will not put up with it. Canny…

WATCH: Rifkind And Straw – The Footage

According to Dispatches:

The fictitious company
PMR, a communications agency based in Hong Kong was set up, backed by a fictitious Chinese businessman. PMR has plenty of money to spend and wants to hire influential British politicians to join

[…]

Jack Straw Suspended From Labour Party

Labour statement:

“We have seen the disturbing allegations against Jack Straw in the Daily Telegraph. The Chief Whip has spoken to Jack Straw. He has agreed to refer himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and in the meantime he

[…]

Straw and Rifkind Caught in Cash for Access Sting

Jack Straw is filmed boasting:

“I’m well aware of the fact that I bring my name. I know everyone anyway, I’ve got their phone numbers… If I’m doing a speech or something, it’s £5,000 a day, that’s what I charge.”

[…]

PWC to Host Labour Prawn Cocktail Offensive

In their continued quest to pretend they are on the side of business, Labour frontbenchers are being wheeled out to meet local capitalists up and down the country:

What the invitation fails to mention is “Donington Court” is a regional […]



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Andrew Neil on the dying Dead Tree Press

“I read more bloggers now than mainstream columnists, because they’ve got more interesting things to say. Too many columnists today make you think, ‘Yeah, I think you’ve said that 10 times before and I’ve just noticed your column has not go a single fact in it’”.

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