Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Shine Light on the Standards Committee

John Mann has used his urgent question to not unreasonably request that all recordings of Standards Committee meetings are made public. How did the Committee come to the decision to give Miller such soft censure? Which members of the troughers’ union fought her corner? Shining the light on the processes of the Standards Committee is the very least that can be done to improve transparency. Worth noting that Leader of the House Andrew Lansley warns there could be more pre-2010 expenses scandals still to come…

Zac Goldsmith, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone are also using Miller to raise the issue of recall once again. Which begs the question what do Basingstoke residents think of the claim by Miller’s former constituency campaign manager Phil Heath: “whenever we had a meeting there was no family so that was definitely her second home.”

Two Thirds Say Standards Committee Should Be Abolished

69% of the public agree with Guido that MPs should not be allowed to sit on the committee that judges whether politicians are guilty of fiddling their expenses, according to a Survation poll for Breitbart London. 47% say Maria Miller makes them less likely to vote Tory in 2015, 55% say Dave has handled it badly and the same number say Miller is the worst expenses cheat since 2009. But you keep on fighting for her, Prime Minister…

Tory Official Quit After No. 10 Raised “Historic Complaints”

Tory official Iain Corby resigned as director of the Tory controlled Parliamentary Resources Unit after Downing Street called the Chief Whip about a series of allegations against him, Guido understands. PRU’s chairman, Tory MP Henry Bellingham, then convened a board meeting and Corby was out four hours later.  Bellingham insists that Corby was always planning to leave in the summer and is getting married to his male partner next month, although he has now left early. Bellingham stresses that he has “not seen any complaints about [Corby's] conduct” since taking over in November 2012, and that “any complaints are historic”. The previous chairman, Oliver Heald, is having an “urgent X-ray” and his office say he is unavailable for comment…

Monday, April 7, 2014

Troughers’ Union: Standards Committee Stuffed with Piggies

It is not just the chairman of the Standards Committee who is a trougher of the highest order. Sir Kevin Pork Barrel is aided and abetted on the troughers’ union by nine other MPs including Tory Christopher Chope, who was exposed during the expenses scandal for charging the taxpayer £881.25 to transport a sofa 85 miles from his second home to his constituency in order to have it reupholstered. Expenses piggy Chope also repaired the roof of his house on the taxpayer at a cost of £10,377, and installed a £2,600 bathroom paid for by us. Not satisfied with his fill, Chope also tops up the family income by employing his wife as his secretary.

Shamed former LibDem armed forces minster Nick Harvey is another member of the committee. Harvey stuck two fingers up at servicemen when he claimed £7 on expenses to attend a Remembrance Service. A furious Royal Navy officer marched up to Harvey and gave him the cash in an envelope in disgustHe only lasted a few more months in the job.

Also on the homework marking committee is Labour MP Alan Whitehead. Whitehead was found by the fees office to have overclaimed for his mortage interest in 2009, submitting a bill for £380 when should have claimed £198.66. Caught with his hand in the till, Whitehead was ordered to make a reduced claim the following month. Not only that, he then made a £89,400 profit when he sold his taxpayer-subsidised London home.

Then there is Tory Paul Beresford, who doubles as a dentist when he isn’t hard at work representing his constituents in Mole Valley. Beresford designated his surgery as his second home, putting three-quarters of the running costs of the property on the taxpayer, a total of £25,627.

Last but not least, Labour MP and people’s champion Tom Clarke designated the posh Sloane Club in Chelsea as his second home, claiming £1,500 a month while in London. Also on the committee is Geoffrey Cox who is not averse to being “overly legalistic” when he banks legal fees of almost £400,000 in outside earnings.

The PM has changed his tune this morning, he now says he is “very open to suggestions” for reforming the Standards Committee. Firing these troughers and bringing in properly independent arbiters to make judgements on allegations against MPs would be a start…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Friday, April 4, 2014

Labour Finally Twist Knife Into Miller

Labour have finally found someone beyond John Mann to go on the attack over Maria Miller. Pity that it’s only the perpetually useless Shadow Cabinet Office minister Chi Onwurah, but still:

“Letting Maria Miller off the hook speaks volumes about David Cameron’s leadership. His weakness and double standards on the issue of Maria Miller’s expenses are totally unacceptable and completely out of touch. He should not offer “warm support” to a cabinet minister criticised by a Parliamentary committee, but be making clear she should have cooperated fully with this inquiry. We had a contemptuous 32 second response from a cabinet minister followed by a pat on the back from the prime minister. It is yet another example of how Cameron only looks after his one of his own and always stands up for the wrong people. We must have the very highest standards in public office. There can be no going back to the bad old days of expenses.”

They’ve responded quicker to this than they did to the Budget. Better late than never.

Pickles Orders PwC to Investigate Lutfur Rahman

Following Monday’s Panorama investigation Eric Pickles has appointed professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to look into the allegations made about how Tower Hamlets is run. A file is being passed onto the Metropolitan Police for consideration. Pickles says:

“It is a matter of public record that I have long been concerned about a worrying pattern of divisive community politics and alleged mismanagement of public money by the mayoral administration in Tower Hamlets.

Following the receipt of a number of documents, I am now taking legal steps, in the public interest, to appoint inspectors to look into the allegations in respect of Tower Hamlets.

I hope this sends a strong signal that robust processes are in place to investigate allegations of failures in financial management and governance in local government, under the new regime introduced by the Local Audit and Accountability Act which replaces the Audit Commission.

This central action is not undertaken lightly, but localism requires local transparency, scrutiny and accountability, and these vital checks and balances must be upheld.”

Presumably Lutfur reckons Pickles and PwC are a bunch of racists too…

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chantler Ducks Miller ‘Smokescreen’ Allegation

Sir Cyril Chantler told the press conference at the Department of Health that he only found out at 5pm last night that his plain packaging review would be released today. Guido, and Lobby hacks, were told yesterday afternoon that it would not be published for sometime. Then suddenly it was rushed forward. Asked whether he thought he was a ‘smokescreen’ for Maria Miller, Chantler pointedly replied: “I am a paediatrician”. But, of course…

Maria Miller’s Plain Packs Smokescreen

Guido has constructed a news art-ifact to summarise the news flow today. How fortunate that the report into Maria Miller was published just as the government was about to make its big plain packs announcement.

WATCH: Maria Miller’s 31 Second Apology

There are 1.2 million reasons why she didn’t really mean it…


Seen Elsewhere

A Bold Plan to Reform Welfare | Ruth Porter
Clinton’s Busty Mistress Nicknamed ‘Energizer’ | Mail
Photo Analysis of Miliband’s Obama Visit | Buzzfeed
Dave Shouldn’t Have Moved Gove | Michael Howard
Bercow’s Nightmare | Alex Wickham
Miliband Abandons Britain to Meet Obama | Sun
Tequila-Quaffing Chat Show Plonker Clegg | Quentin Letts
Pragmatists v Romantics | Rachel Sylvester
I’m Sorry | Colin Brazier
Blair Was a Gradualist Prime Minister | Janan Ganesh
Why Blair Will Worry Ed | Steve Richards


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Owen Paterson lifts the lid on the Green Blob:

“I received more death threats in a few months at Defra than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland.”



Flight Watch says:

Russia Today is a cauldron of bullsh*t. The only people that take it seriously are deluded conspiracy theorists. Other RT journos have resigned citing the same reasons.

It’s about as believable as Press TV, KCNA of North Korea or the Daily Mirror.


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