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…

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:

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…

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?

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…

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…

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…

He Lied and Lied and Lied

Jailed expenses crook Jim Devine has been ordered to pay his former office manager £18,000 in damages after a judge ruled that he had defamed her to cover up his own criminality. Marion Kinley alleged Devine had stated I’d […]

+ READ MORE +

Guy News Musical Special: So Long, Farewell Maria

Goodbye…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Miller Drowns Out Osborne’s Good Economic News

George Osborne must be furious that because of Maria Miller no one is talking about the IMF’s forecast that Britain will be the fastest growing leading economy this year. They have today announced their prediction that UK growth will reach […]

+ READ MORE +

WATCH: “Are You Going to Resign, Maria Miller?”

Great stuff from Sky’s Sophy Ridge, who has spent the day standing outside Number 10 shouting at Cabinet ministers. Miller’s face…[…]

+ READ MORE +



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