People’s Champion? No Sorry From Sarah

Labour MP Sarah Champion is today paying back the £17 she claimed on expenses for a Remembrance Sunday poppy wreath. Apart from a short statement confirming she would reimburse the taxpayer, Champion has maintained radio silence in the face of searing public criticism. The Labour majority in Rotherham was halved when Champion was elected in 2012 following the MacShane scandal and UKIP are narrowing the gap. Is a ‘sorry’ so hard?

“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.

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?

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 its advisory board and get a foothold in the UK and Europe.

12 MPs who already had significant outside interests were invited to apply for jobs with PMR.
Not all politicians are for hire. Half of those approached didn’t respond. One said he wanted to check us out in Hong Kong so we took it no further. And another said he just wasn’t that interested. Of the others, two stood out – Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.

12 eh? Hope IPSO don’t get on their fishing trip high horse again…

Battered and Bruised: Murphy Slammed Over Irn Bru-Gate

These are the headlines taxpayer-funded Irn-Bru quaffer Jim Murphy is waking up to North of the border this morning. The Scottish Sun says he is “battered and Bruised” after a day of ridicule, the Daily Record accuses him of “drinking Irn-Bru on the taxpayer”, while the Herald dubs the expenses claim “Girders-gate”. The editorial in the Scottish Daily Mail is damning:

“It is clear Labour have an electoral mountain to climb but they would find it much easier if they stopped cutting their own ropes and sliding all the way to the bottom time and time again… The light at the end of the tunnel may be no more than a burglar’s torch. For embarrassingly, Mr Murphy’s Westminster expenses show he indented the taxpayer for the princely sum of £1.30 for two cans of Irn-Bru. And while his expenses claim is hardly as egregious as the duck houses and moats fellow members of the Commons – flipping houses for all they were worth to line their pockets with our money – awarded themselves not so long ago, it is damaging all the same. It is a gift to his political opponents, given how adroit they are on social media. Twitter immediately filled with images of people sporting cans of Irn-Bru while proudly declaring they had bought them with their own hard-earned money… This makes it all the more disappointing that he has been foolish enough to let a piffling claim for soft drinks become a stick with which his enemies can beat him.”

Pay it back, Jim…

Tim’s Troughing Far From Yeo-ver

YEO

Three decades of his MPs’ salary, expenses and all those lucrative green energy interests and troughing Tory Tim Yeo is still at it. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun, even though he is leaving Westminster in just three months, Yeo has hired his long-suffering wife Diane as his new office assistant. Parliament dissolves in a matter of weeks so the taxpayer is paying the Yeo family to packs his bags…

Tory MP Slammed By Expenses Watchdog
+ Ordered to Pay Back £1,000 in Incorrect Mileage Claims 
+ Claimed ‘For Twice the Distance Shown on Google Maps’

+ Guilty of “Incorrect” and “Laissez-faire Attitude” to Expenses

Tory MP Bob Blackman has been found guilty of repeatedly over-claiming for his mileage expenses by IPSA and has been ordered to pay back more than £1,000 to the taxpayer. In a damning report released this morning the expenses watchdog […]

+ READ MORE +

Outgoing MPs Claim For New Laptops and iPads on Expenses
… And They Don’t Have to Give Them Back When They Leave

Shameless MPs standing down at the election are rinsing the taxpayer for brand new laptops and iPads on expenses before they leave parliament… and they DON’T have to give them back.

Two weeks after Andrew Lansley announced he would quit […]

+ READ MORE +

What the Helic? SpAd Bill Soars to £8.4 Million
+ + + No. 10 Stuffed with 27 Special Advisers to the PM + + +

£8.4 million of taxpayer cash was spent on 103 SpAds in the last year, a 17% rise on the year before.

Chasing headlines in 2010, Cameron made a big deal of cutting the number of SpAds from 82 to 61. […]

+ READ MORE +

Bumper Boozy End of Term Blowout for MPs Tonight

It’s going to be a late sitting tonight on tedious end of term legislation – which means a bumper night for parliament’s bars:

From: Government Whips Admin Unit (HOC)
Sent: 15 December 2014 13:19
Subject: Todays Business

Given 2 UQs

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Chuka has been trying to spin the Siemens row:

Chuka Umunna: It’s no different from Sky News quoting a business leader.

Adam Boulton: Except yours says ‘VOTE LABOUR’ at the bottom.

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