Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Expenses Claims Parliament Doesn’t Want You to See

Flamboyantly-named IPSA chief Marcial Boo is plotting to shroud MPs’ expenses claims in secrecy once again. Boo has told John Bercow that politicians’ claims for small stationery items should be kept hidden from the public because the delicate flowers are facing ridicule in the press. In the interests of openness, accountability and transparency – principles IPSA clearly have no interest in – Guido is publishing some recent claims that they want to keep secret:

  • David Cameron – bulldog clip, 7p
  • Austin Mitchell – pencil sharpener, 2p
  • Cheryl Gillan – calender, 4p
  • Jeremy Hunt – paper clips, 5p
  • Emma Lewell Buck – pencil sharpener, 5p
  • Liz Kendall – pencil sharpener, 7p
  • Harriet Harman – drawing pins, 10p
  • Ken Clarke – ruler, 11p
  • Andrew Mitchell – Tipp-ex, 13p
  • Sarah Teather – staples, 17p
  • Chi Onwurah – mouse mat, 18p
  • Alan Johnson – fold back clips, 34p
  • Vince Cable – scissors, 43p
  • Nadhim Zahawi – hole punch, 53p
  • Alistair Darling – glue stick, 64p
  • Vera Baird – dustpan, 69p
  • Gordon Browncalculator, £1

It goes without saying IPSA should be acting in the interests of the taxpayer and not simply sparing MPs’ blushes, but there is also a wider point here. Jim Devine submitted false invoices for printing costs, an expenses claim he was eventually jailed for. Keeping this seemingly trivial claim secret might have meant he got away with it. That alone shows why every expenses claim, however small, must face the disinfecting glare of sunlight…

Monday, August 11, 2014

£173,000 Simmonds Quits Saying Expenses Are Too Low

Mark Simmonds has told the BBC that his decision to quit parliament was due to the “intolerable” impact of expenses rules on his family, saying his allowances don’t allow him to rent a big enough house in London to bring up his children. Last year Simmonds was named by his local paper as the most expensive MP in his county after they found he had claimed £173,436.96 in expenses for 2013. He cost the taxpayer:

  • £137,426.92 payroll
  • £13,005.38 office costs
  • £5,910.00 staffing expenses
  • £25,000 employing his wife Lizbeth as his office manager

Simmonds and his wife directly took home over £160,000 from the taxpayer last year, as well as claiming for tens of thousands more in other expenses. On top of that, IPSA rules allow MPs to claim £27,875 a year for rent. He says that is not enough to bring up his family in London. Guido imagines his missus told him he wasn’t going anywhere so he might as well start on getting a proper job and making some proper money…

Bercow’s £1,300 MP Funeral Bill on Expenses

Guido couldn’t help but feel the taxpayer had been short-changed when he read in today’s Sun that John Bercow claimed £1,300 on expenses to go to Paul Goggins’ funeral. A worthwhile trip perhaps, but could he not have done it cheaper? Guido decided to find out.

The Speaker charged us £45 for a car from parliament to Euston station and £67.50 for the return journey the following day. A quick browse of Guido’s Uber app (other free market-supporting smartphone-friendly cheap car travel services are also available) shows we could do the journey for a tenner each way.

Bercow did much better on his train journey. He billed £239.10 for him and two staffers to get up to Manchester, the standard fare. Though when he got to Manchester, the Speaker inexplicably blew £500 on cars across the city. Since the trip was only meant to be for a church service and then the funeral, Guido struggles to see why he spent so much on taxis. We reckon we’d have spent £50 at the absolute maximum.

Finally, Bercow put himself and his staffers up at the posh Park Inn by Radisson hotel at a cost to the taxpayer of a cool £364. There are plenty of budget hotels well situated in Manchester. Guido chose the Ibis Budget, which would have given us three rooms for £96.

Bercow total: £1,290

Guido total: £405

Every little helps…

Thursday, July 3, 2014

SPEAKER WATCH: Pointless Parliamentary Vanity Prizes

Browsing the Parliamentary Intranet, as is his wont, Guido has come across the ‘The Diversity and Inclusion Awards’ that took place on Monday. Another Bercow wheeze that we are paying for. “All parliamentary passholders are eligible to be recognised by the annual award”, and apparently the judges “had a hard job to choose from the high calibre of nominations, over 40 of which were submitted.” Don’t all rush at once.

Congratulations to all the worthy winners, in these powerful categories:

Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Runner-up: Martin Smith (Deputy Business Relationship Manager, PICT)
Winner: John Thursfield (Portfolio Manager, DHRC) and Salma Dean (Peer’s staff)

Catalyst for Change
Runner-up: Polly Meeks (Inquiry Manager, International Development Committee, DCCS)
Winner: Catherine Tyack (Joint Clerk, Public Administration Select Committee, DCCS)

Most Improved in Access and Inclusion
Runner-up: Dane Smith (Visits Officer, Parliamentary Education Service, DIS)
Winner: Tony Williams (House of Commons Information Office, DIS)

Inspiring Role Model
Runner-up: Tom Goldsmith (Head of the Office of the Chief Executive, OCE)
Winner: Abiola Babalola (Senior Management Accountant, DF)

Special Recognition Award
The judges also conferred a Special Recognition Award to someone who was noted for having made a number of contributions to different areas of Parliament, including work on equality analyses across Parliament, support to individuals, and co-chairing of ParliOUT.
Winner: Jenny Radcliffe (Business Change and Project Manager, Security Arrangements Renewal Programme, Office of the Parliamentary Security Director)

 The only catalyst for any change that Guido can see here, is towards a new speaker. 

Finally a Politician Begs for Expenses Forgiveness

Japanese politician Ryutaro Nonomura has committed career harakiri, spectacularly bursting into tears at a press conference over questions about him fiddling his expenses:

Guido would like to see this level of remorse a little closer to home…

UPDATE: In GIF form:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tory MEP Troughers Try to Shut Down Dubrovnik Junket Story

Fourteen Tory MEPs took the gravy train to Croatia last week, recovering from the gruelling Euro election campaign by spending £30,000 on a taxpayer-funded “study day” at Dubrovnik’s luxury 5-star Imperial hotel, enjoying posh nosh and being entertained by world-renowned, and often lingerie-clad cellist, Ana Rucner. Though this time Ana managed to keep her mini-skirt on for her performance. As Guido revealed in the Sun on Sunday, Syed Kamall, the new leader of Tory MEPs in Brussels, only dashed back to London a day early from his “studies” so as not to miss seeing the England-Uruguay match in London. Now the MEPs who went on the jolly have been told to stonewall hacks investigating them living it up on the taxpayer, sending this email to the junketeers:

From: HOLTUM James
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2014 11:23 AM
To: CALLANAN Martin; ANDREASEN Marta; ATKINS Robert; KIRKHOPE Timothy; VAN ORDEN Geoffrey; FOX Ashley; MCINTYRE Anthea; CAMPBELL BANNERMAN David; FOSTER Jacqueline; ASHWORTH Richard; MCCLARKIN Emma; DUNCAN Ian; FORD Victoria Grace
Cc: FURBISHER John; HOLTUM James
Subject: Study days

Dear Members, you may have seen that you are mentioned as one of the attendees at ECR study days this week.

Our advice is to avoid any unknown numbers for a day or two, but in case you are caught off guard or doorstepped, here is the line that we gave the Mail…

Shutting down stories about wasting taxpayer cash, clearly Brussels has taught them well…

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Parliament Asks for Friends for MPs

An interesting job vacancy in Parliament:

Job Title: Induction Buddy for a Member of Parliament (Expression of Interest)
Number of Posts: 75-100
Type of Post: Internal – Expression of Interest
Hours: Variable during November 2014 – January 2015, and first two weeks after the General Election
Closing date: midnight on 19/06/2014

The Role
The Induction Buddy will be the first point of contact for a new Member of Parliament arriving at the House of Commons on their first day. The buddy will escort the new Member through the Members Induction Centre, answering or finding out answers to any queries that the Member may have and take them on a bespoke tour of Parliament. The Buddy will also be expected to provide on-going support to the Member in the weeks following the formal induction, providing the Member, or the Member’s Office with a first point of contact for any queries.

Why not, as a condition of their resettlement pay-offs, simply get those MPs who lose their seats to stick around for a few weeks to show their newbie replacements where the bars are and how to fill in their expenses forms?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ed in Thurrock: Labour Councillor Faces Benefit Fraud Charges

As if there weren’t already enough rakes to step on for Ed Miliband in Thurrock, a local Labour councillor has been charged with benefit fraud ahead of his trip today. Clare Baldwin has represented Labour on Thurrock council since 2011, this month she appeared in court charged with making dishonest representations so as to obtain housing and council tax benefit, allegedly dishonestly claiming more than £2,640. Labour have suspended Baldwin while she contests the charge, though Guido is told she still sits in the Labour group. Let’s hope no one brings this up this afternoon…

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

GuyNews Special: Walthamstow’s #BiscuitGate Outrage

Expenses are back in the news, so the Guy News special rapporteur decided to travel to sunny Walthamstow to ask Stella Creasy’s constituents what they thought about their MP’s #BiscuitGate troughing. A complaint was sent to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after St. Ella claimed £30.98 on expenses for Jammie Dodgers, chocolate fingers, kettle chips, sensations, Viennese biscuits, onion rings and Starburst sweeties for Labour Party volunteers.

The people of Walthamstow have spoken…

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Farage Fingers Wrong Blonde

The Times have done over Nigel Farage this morning, reporting that £60,000 of taxpayer cash paid into his personal bank account is unaccounted for. The £15,500-a-year was for the upkeep of his constituency office in Bognor Regis, but since Farage gets it rent-free the accusation is that he only spends £3,000-a-year on running costs. Leaving around £12,000-a-year missing. No doubt it will turn out to be within the European parliament’s lax rules. It doesn’t smell right, even if the payments are automatic.

UKIP pre-empted the Times splash yesterday by naming the anonymous ex-party official who has grassed Farage up to the EU anti-fraud office as Jasna Badzak:

“Jasna Badzak is a convicted fraudster serving a suspended sentence, whose allegations are unfounded and vexatious. She has never been a press secretary or confidant of Mr Farage’s. Your use of her indicates that you are writing an article with a defined end by inventing a road to achieve that end.”

Just one problem: the Times tells Guido that Badzak was not the source of the story. This could get messy…


Seen Elsewhere

Former Minister’s Join ‘Canberra Caterer’ Outcry | The Times
Stop Bercow | The Times
Speaker Cornered | Times
Britain’s Beheaders | Speccie
‘Underclass’ Is Dave’s Fault | Conservative Women
Civil Liberties/Privacy NGO Hires New CEO | Big Brother Watch
Why I Won’t Join UKIP | Dan Hannan
Who Will Stand Up for the Christians? | Ron Lauder
Labour Swing Extends Deep into Tory Seats | Lord Ashcroft
5 Tips for Tory Moles | LabourList
Time for a Labour Speaker | ConservativeHome


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Lord Glasman tells it like it is:

“The first thing is to acknowledge that Labour has been captured by a kind of aggressive public sector morality which is concerned with the individual and the collective but doesn’t understand relationships.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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