Poll : Should Conway Go?

Guido is running a poll until midnight in the right-hand-column. Should Conway lose the Tory whip?

Conservatives Want Conway Gone Away

Over at ConservativeHome the grassroots are united. Derek Conway should go. Many activists saying that they don’t want to be on an equal sleaze footing with Labour.

“The silence from the party leadership is deafening and very depressing” complains one activist, “There is no excuse for Conway’s actions I really will protest long and hard if Cameron does not withdraw the whip and call for his constituency party to deselect Conway.” The grassroots are looking for decisive leadership “David Cameron now MUST taken action to clean up the mess.” Mark Fulford summarises the attitude of many “David Cameron: the clock is ticking. Derek Conway is undermining trust in Conservatives and has to be thrown out, now. No ifs, no buts.”

Usually loyal Conservative bloggers are also giving Conway the thumbs down. Over on CentreRight, Alex Deane frames it not in terms of tactics or strategy, rather as a question of old fashioned right and wrong. Tim Montgomerie says Cameron is making the wrong choice. Shane Greer wants Conway to stand down. Conservative Party Reptile wants “serious measures”, A Tory Blog wants him to consider his position. Dave has to “show some cojones in contrast to Brown” says the Englishman, Letters from a Tory is disheartened and disbelieving. Loyally, Dale says he is not going to join in the public kicking of his friend. But he doesn’t defend Derek either.

Cameron’s office say that he will keep the party whip according to Ben Brogan, claiming the punishment is for the Commons to decide, washing his hands in the same way Gordon said it was a matter for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to deal with Peter Hain. Not good enough, show leadership, don’t dither. Politicians just don’t seem to get how everyone outside the Westminster Village is disgusted with their self-serving ways. They are their own judges and jurors. They are more often than not guilty of venality yet they almost always get off…

Cameron should dump Derek, not dither indecisively as more and more sleaze drips out, Conway is a repeat offender according to the Mail’s front page. The Tory brand risks becoming re-contaminated…

(Great headline in the Mail, where do they get their ideas?)

The view of Guido’s readers is clear, Derek Conway’s financial arrangements are unacceptable. If Cameron does nothing, it is a case of accepting politics as usual. Fiddling thousands of pounds off the taxpayers to finance your son’s education is not acceptable. Lawmakers can not be law breakers.

Cameron has the power to withdraw the whip from Conway, his constituency party have the power to withdraw their support for him as a candidate. What is it to be?

Incidentally, do you think we will see articles from Sir Michael White et al explaining that it is a trivial amount of money? Will we see those who have been writing apologia on behalf of Hain, Harman, Johnson and Wendy Alexander doing the same for Derek Conway? Don’t hold your breath…

Derek Conway Should Repay the £40,000

Tory MP Derek Conway has got caught out and he is being given a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. He paid some £40,000 over four years to his son to finance his way through university out of your taxes. There is not a scrap of evidence, apart from Conway’s say-so, that his son did any work in return. Nobody outside the Conway family is willing to back up the claim that the son did any work.

The Select Committee on Standards and Privileges is recommending Conway pay back some £13,000 that it reckons was over-paid. Reading between the lines they suspect, but have been unable to prove, that no work was done whatsoever. Can you think of another profession where if £40,000 was paid to a family member for nothing in return the police would not be called in?

UPDATE : Duncan Borrowman, LibDem candidate for Conway’s seat has written to the police demanding an investigation.

Daily Food Allowances :School Children, Armed Forces, Prisoners, MPs

Dizzy had a piece that struck Guido as demonstrating where our politician’s real priorities lie. Guido has turned it into an easy to understand graphic. Take a look at the average spending allowances per day on food as voted for by politicians. According to the government, Army and RAF personnel (on base) get £1.63 per day spent on them, and the Navy (when in port), gets £1.78 per day. Schoolchildren in state schools now get on average some 50p up from 37p since Jamie Oliver. (Admittedly for only one lunch meal, but it is still nevertheless revealing.)

Now compare that with the average spend per day on food for prisoners. £1.87. Those in a Young Offenders’ Institute get a budget of £3.81 per day, over double the armed forces. How much do politicians get? £20 per day, no receipts required. 12 times as much as a soldier. Can it be any clearer where their real priorities lie?

They are literally gorging themselves in the trough at the taxpayers expense whilst heroes go short.

UPDATE : Metropolitan Police Dogs have more spent on their daily food than squaddies do.

Yvette’s First Class Package

A Labour party press release arrives in Guido’s inbox from Mrs Balls, headlined “Next Steps for Social Housing”
“Labour’s Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, has announced a package of measures and extra investment to make social housing fairer and more effective. The plans will re-focus social housing around the needs of the tenants and will make it easier for young families to move to larger homes when they need to.”
Fairer and more effective packages?

Mr and Mrs Balls are paid by the taxpayers quarter-of-a-million a year between them, yet so hard done by are they that they still claim a package worth tens of thousands extra in mortgage subsidy on top. They own two homes and with the CGT reforms dreamt up on the back of an envelope after George Osborne promised to slash IHT, they will be voting themselves a handy reduction from 40% to 18% on property capital gains. So the constituency and London home owners who already benefit from a tax-free allowance worth £40,000 annually to pay their mortgages, will vote themselves a nice little bonus tax cut. They will then be able to sell their taxpayer funded second home and only pay the reduced capital gains – a 55% tax cut for MPs.

Somehow Guido doubts that kind of package will be offered to ordinary young families who don’t vote themselves the nomenklatura benefits available to the political class. Fairer and more effective packages? They are having a laugh…

359 Lords-a-Fiddlin’

Sam Coates in The Times has another research based snouts-in-the-trough piece. The evidence is that at least 359 Lords, that is the majority of the them, are fiddling their expenses. The evidence whilst circumstantial is particularly compelling. Can it be a coincidence that, according to the article;
  • 359 of the 550 Lords who claimed “day subsistence” — a £78.50 payment for meals and taxis — claimed the maximum on 95%of occasions or more.
  • 272 of the 406 peers who live outside London and claim “overnight subsistence” for hotels — worth £159.50 — claimed the maximum on 95% of occasions or more.
  • 338 of 514 Lords who claim office expenses, worth £69 a day, claimed the maximum on 95% of occasions or more. Unlike the House of Commons, secretarial costs are paid to the peer to distribute.
Essentially this is a tax-free fiddle with no receipts required. Guido has pointed to the prevalence of this fiddle before. Many of the same peers, particularly Labour ones, also get on a few Quangos as well to pad out their retirement as if the gold-plated, non-contributory pension benefits they voted themselves when they were MPs were not enough already. The gravy train flows thick and fast for many ennobled MPs.

What particularly irks and disgusts Guido, is that they claim £78.50 for “subsistence meals” per day and children in state schools get meals costing 40p per day. Shows their real priorities doesn’t it? They really know how to look after themselves don’t they?

MPs Expenses – A New Hero Emerges

MPs expense figures have just been released.* Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering) is the least expensive MP coming in at under £44,551. Liam Byrne (Lab, Birmingham Hodge Hill) is four times as expensive at £178,116.

Guido called Hollobone’s office to try and figure out the anomaly:

Guido Fawkes “Is Hollobone there?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Can I speak to him?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Thanks.”
Guido waits patiently.
Office “It is me.”

It turns out that the reason he is some £23,340 cheaper than even Dennis Skinner (£67,891) is that he doesn’t employ any office staff. He answers his own correspondence (he can type) and he says dealing with constituents is his favourite part of the job. So it is no surprise that he is rated in the top decile for responsiveness by WriteToThem.com, whereas Liam Byrne, despite all his staff and great expense, comes 158th.

According to data from TheyWorkForYou.com, Philip Hollobone

  • Has spoken in 105 debates in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Has received answers to 194 written questions in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Is a member of 2 select committees.
  • Replied within 2 or 3 weeks to a very high number of messages sent via WriteToThem.com during 2006, according to constituents.
  • Has voted in 87% of votes in parliament — well above average amongst MPs.

How is it that he can be an excellent constituency MP for a third of the average cost of the rest?

*Thanks to Bloomberg for doing the number crunching.

What Did They Do With Gisela?

This morning Quentin Letts in his sketch wonders what the Labour whips did to Gisela Gordon is Lying Stuart during Brown’s EU treaty statement yesterday. He points out that she was noticeably missing despite having helped on the

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Name & Shame MPs Who Vote Themselves Tax Cut

Guido was at an impromptu meeting of successful* internet entrepreneurs held at the Adam Street Club. We were briefed by David Gauke from the Tory shadow treasury team who also sits on the Treasury Select Committee.
Basically the entrepreneurs

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Tim Yeo Does a Days Work

Guido has reflected on the high emission hypocrisy of Tim Yeo before. This week we read in the FT about him flying off for some golf. The article reveals that he actually went to the office on Monday, yes a

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Drinks All Round – The Taxpayer is Paying

There was a veritable tax parasites ball at Westminster’s fancy Atrium restaurant on Wednesday. The BBC spent some £5,000 pouring booze down MPs throats. Perhaps they were celebrating the expected 2,000 jobs being cut at the BBC? Maybe not, but

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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