Monday, March 8, 2010

This Is What a Feminist Looks Like

Sticking with the International Women’s Day theme, Guido had to chuckle when he saw that Jo Swinson, the chairman of the Liberal Democrat’s “Real Women” campaign, will be chairing a panel of feminists today. The Campaign for Body Confidence will look into “combating body image pressure felt by women and girls today.” Funny Ms. Swinson doesn’t quite practice what she preaches. Was it body image pressure that led her to claim a £27.94 receipt from Boots, including £5 for eyeliner, a £5 lip liner and £12 for “R&M Eye Kit” on her expenses? Not forgetting the electric toothbrush and hair-dryer. The Fees Office drew the line at the £19.10 tooth flosser.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bercow Reported to Standards Commissioner

After Guido’s story yesterday about the controversial and murky “Friends of Speaker Bercow” fund-raising group, it seems a member of UKIP in the Speaker’s constituency has put a complaint in to John Lyon about a letter he received. Guido imagines Bercow wouldn’t have been so stupid to have used the Speaker’s stationary to beg for money, but the secretary of the fund has said Bercow was responsible for drawing up and passing on names. If the allegations that potential donors were invited to the Palace of Westminster are investigated then this could be a serious problem for the embattled squeaker…

Minister Resigns Over Expenses

Phil Heatley, a politician in New Zealand immediately tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister when it appeared that a $70 receipt for two bottles of wine at a party conference had been accidently claimed on his expenses. Heatley told the press “I believe I’ve failed to live up my own standard and for that I’m embarrassed and immensely sorry.” He immediately repaid the money.

In other news it is thought that over £100,000 of the £1.2 million set to be repaid by British MPs is still outstanding, three MPs are awaiting trial and some of the worst troughers are still in government.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Labour Billionaire Donor’s Pension Steel

Labour’s non-dom donor Lord Paul, who was stripped of his job in government due to fiddling his expenses, personally bankrolled Gordon’s leadership campaign and has promised all the money required to fight an election campaign. And it’s not like he can’t afford it. Paul made his millions through steel conglomerate Caparo. Hardly a man of the people, or indeed cut from the Labour Party cloth, a party he claims to love and support (ever since he stopped donating to the Tories under Thatcher). Just a brief look at how he treated his workers would be enough to send shivers down the spine of any loyal Labour activist.

Back in 1989 the Caparo took control of the cash-rich Armstrong Engineering. The company’s pension fund was just over 30% in surplus. Under Lord Paul’s control Caparo then spent the better part of a decade refusing to top up the fund despite the fact that it was having to pay out over £6 million due to a early retirements and a redundancy program, this was on top of the £8 million it was already paying to retirees. Lord Paul’s ownership created a fourteen million pound hole in the companies pension funds.

By 2000 the pension trustees and accountants recommended that the company inject  £2 million a year into the pension pot to plug the cap. Paul accepted however Caparo never made a single payment and instead announced in 2002 that the final salary pension scheme was to be frozen. The unions slammed this “appalling treatment” by Lord Paul of his workers and inevitably picket lines were formed.  As with Robert Maxwell’s raiding of pension funds, the Mirror, the paper most read by trade unionists, remains silent and hasn’t reported a word about Lord Paul so far.  Kevin Maguire, the Mirror’s political editor is as close to Downing Street as any journalist, has only recently conceded that the Labour Party should not be taking money from Lord Paul.

With Gordon’s own pension raiding activities, it is perhaps no surprise that the Prime Minster is so at ease accepting donations from a man who profits by raiding the pension schemes of his workers. The money that should be in the pockets of loyal steel workers is now propping up the declining bank balance of the Labour Party via Lord Paul’s off shore bank accounts…

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Osborne on Sky : What About Lord Paul?

Earlier last week Guido highlighted Lord Swarj Paul and promised he would be returning to the subject. Osborne was on Sky News this morning and was pushed over Lord Ashcroft’s tax status. Osborne eventually retorted that Labour politicians were never questioned about Lord Paul.

Lord Paul provided some 20% of the funding for Gordon’s leadership campaign and the billionaire has promised “that if there is an election and the money is wanted, whatever I can pay I will. I am a believer in Gordon Brown and his leadership..”.  When Labour supporters discover how Lord Paul made his fortune they will be dismayed…

UPDATE : Guido has been needling that friend of the workers, Kevin Maguire, on this issue.*  Our Kev never misses a chance to have a go at Lord Ashcroft, yet has been silent about Lord Paul.   He has just tweeted that “Lab[our] shouldn’t take his dosh”.  Progress. Perhaps he has now had a look into Lord Paul himself…

*Before anyone asks, Guido has long said Ashcroft should come clean.  See herehere and here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Brown-Bankrolling Non-Dom Peer Considers Quitting Over Tax

Non-domiciled Lord Paul of Marylebone, donated over £355,000 to Labour and £45,000 directly into Gordon’s 2007 leadership campaign. Despite his huge wealth he still found it appropriate to claim £38,000 from the taxpayers in Lord’s accommodation expenses despite, by his own admission, having never spent a night in the property.  He is reportedly set to quit the House of Lords, not over his expense claims, but to avoid tax.

Lord Paul has been Brown’s very own non-dom donor and has been repaid handsomely by Labour with a peerage, membership of the Privy Council and until his recent expenses scandal was the Deputy Leader of the House of Lords. So close is Lord Paul to Gordon that he was willing to personally bankroll the autumn election that never happened in 2007. Paul said “All I know is that if there is an election and the money is wanted, whatever I can pay I will. I am a believer in Gordon Brown and his leadership, and I think he’s the best person in the country.” Hence Guido’s amusement today to hear that Paul is ready to jump ship.  He is considering whether to give up his seat in the Lords to avoid having to pay tax in the UK. Which shows where his priorities really lay…

Labour has attacked Lord Ashcroft while turning a blind eye to the activities of one of their biggest donors. Lord Paul has refused to pay tax in this country yet is greeted with open arms by the Labour leadership desperate to get their grubby fingers on some of his controversially raised fortune.  Paul is ranked the 88th richest man, living, in the UK.  This nom-dom, expenses fiddling, conglomerate owning peer has some interesting skeletons in his cupboard to which Guido will be returning. How he amassed his fortune will turn the stomachs of many Labour supporters…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Disgraced Cameron Crony Becomes Lobbyist

In times gone by honourable men when disgraced would enjoy a last brandy before reaching for their revolver.  Now “right honourable” men when disgraced become lobbyists.  Andrew MacKay was the “senior political parliamentary adviser to David Cameron” (according to a statement he made to the police).

Having with his MP wife Julie Kirkbride double-claimed for mortgage expenses for years he is lucky not to be facing charges.  He tried to spin his way out when he was caught but an enraged local Conservative Party membership ousted him acrimoniously.  So much for MacKay’s crisis management spin skills.

On Monday Dave told us that about

“… the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.  I’m talking about lobbying – and we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisors for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way… It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest…  if we win the election, we will take a lead on this issue by making sure that ex-ministers are not allowed to use their contacts and knowledge – gained while being paid by the public to serve the public – for their own private gain.

rsz_andrew_mackay

Andrew MacKay is Cameron’s ex-adviser, his dubious ethics are now a matter of public record.  Why wait until he is Prime Minister, Dave can demonstrate the truth of his words by signalling that MacKay is no longer part of the “cosy club at the top”, that he will take a lead and not let MacKay use his contacts for his private gain.  MacKay should be shown the cold shoulder by the shadow cabinet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Please Sir, I Want Some Morley

With eye-watering audacity Elliot Morley has whined to his local paper that he has been treated unfairly, and most outrageously said he wants to keep his resettlement grant:

“I think withholding the resettlement goes against natural justice. In effect it turns common law around, which judges me guilty until proven innocent. It is one of the many ways I have not been treated fairly. I would point out I have repaid in full and do not owe any money in relation to expenses.”

Not sure Mr Morley quite gets it yet.

Carry On Claiming M’Lords

Clerk of the Parliaments Michael Pownall has given the Lords almost free reign to continue troughing after his meek and timid review into Peers who have broken expenses rules. Yesterday he cleared nine peers and referred just one for further scrutiny. Most of them had been up to the classic trick of claiming overnight allowances despite not really requiring them. The Sunlight Centre was repeatedly knocked back when pursuing former Lib Dem CEO Lord Rennard about this so it comes as no surprise that a total whitewash has been undertaken by Pownell.

Not only did he clear offenders, in an attempting to clarify the rules Pownall has made things worse. The Peers now just have to spend one night a month, while the House is sitting, at whatever location they choose to state as their “main home”, be it their own, a spouse’s home or even a relative’s place.

In other words a Member of the House of Lords can now make up to £30,000-a-year by spending ten days a year at a residence, of their own designation, outside of London. (One night per sitting month and £174 overnight allowances the rest of the time.)  Yet again it really is “all within the rules”.

Speaker Suspends Payments to Theft Charged MPs

Some sense seems to be prevailing over the theft charged Labour MPs.   Labour say they have (belatedly) withdrawn the whip from them. About time…

Speaker Bercow has ordered that resettlement grants of up to £64,000 to the three MPs, who are standing down at the election, would be suspended until the Court has reached a verdict. Writing to Malcolm Jack, the Commons accounting officer, Bercow said:

“I instruct you to suspend any payments which would otherwise be due … in any case where criminal proceedings are brought in relation to any claim for expenses until the criminal proceedings have been finally disposed of.”

Guido would go further and take away not only their resettlement grant but their pensions as well.


Seen Elsewhere

Scottish Crisis Moves South | Nick Wood
English Democrats Accidentally Celebrate Yes Victory | Pink News
Union In Its Current Form is Dead | Janan Ganesh
Labour Could Be Split in Two | Sun
Ashcroft Poll: Why Scotland Voted No | Buzzfeed
Boris: Change Barnett Formula | Sun
Cameron is Back | Dan Hodges
What Happens Now | James Kirkup
Cairo of the North | Quentin Letts
Labour are the Biggest Losers | Phil Collins
Westminster Will Never Allow Referendum Again | Daily Mash


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