Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where Could Gove be Going?

Conversation in Westminster never seems more than two minutes away from reshuffle speculation, with attention focusing on the weeks after the European elections. The argument that Cameron should delay in order to keep wannabes in line over the summer is outweighed by the fact that in doing so he would be putting ministers in jobs for barely six months before an election. With No.11, FCO and the Home Office out of play, one question that keeps coming up is what to do about Michael Gove? With little time to reform another high spending department speculation is growing he could be given a more frontline role for the general election – as party chairman.

The theory goes that Cameron will need to throw an authentic Eurosceptic bone to the party ahead of 2015 after the UKIP drubbing, and Gove, as inner-ish circle, can be trusted not to go off the reservation. As ConservativeHome said this morning, there is a precedent for putting up pugnacious chairman in election years: “It’s worth noting that the nearer a poll got, the bigger a hitter the Chairman was likely to be: Parkinson, Tebbit and Patten were all pre-election chairmen.” Though the question that comes to Guido’s mind is, would he want the job?

And what would happen over at education? Osborne protege Hancock stepping up to replace Gove is worth a punt, with Liz Truss eyeing up Willets cabinet attending job at BIS. If Guido was a betting man…

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Peter Lilley Fails to Declare Little List of Energy Interests

Number 10 policy board adviser Peter Lilley regularly bigs up big oil in speeches to parliament, bemoaning climate change laws that “require us to replace cheap fossil fuels with energy sources that are at least twice as expensive and less reliable” last September and then going after vested interests in November:

“Politicians and environmental campaigners have a vested interest in fanning that suspicion to divert attention from the increases in the cost of energy that the political elite are planning in the move to increasingly costly renewables, with the added costs that they impose on the transmission network.”

What Lilley didn’t mention on either occasion was his own vested interest as the £47,000-a-year non-executive director of Tethys Petroleum Limited, an oil and gas exploration company based in Central Asia. He is also a director of Facor Energy Limited, a new shell company which is yet to begin trading. Considering he’s been an MP for nearly 31 years, he should probably know better than to breach the members’ code of conduct by failing to declare an interest…

Friday, April 18, 2014

Put Carswell in No. 10

New City minister Andrea Leadsom achieves fame at last on the front page of the Indy today over her Margaret Hodge-style inheritance tax reducing trusts. Which reminds Guido that now she’s has been promoted to the Treasury that leaves a vacancy on the Downing Street Policy Board. Headed by Jo Johnson, the Policy Board is a Conservative party body, not to be confused with the No. 10 Policy and Implementation Unit. Whereas the Policy Unit shapes government policy, the Policy Board is a party instrument set up specifically to take views from backbench MPs. Some say it is merely a tool for backbench party management and a bauble for ambitious MPs. That may be.

Downing Street need someone who is not a yes-man, someone who is respected by his colleagues and someone who can bring radical, reforming ideas to the table.

They should look no further than Douglas Carswell… would he take the job?

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In a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday voters strongly backed Carswell’s ideas. Carswell should surely have a hand in writing the Tory manifesto…

Monday, April 14, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Evans Accuser Denies Witch-Hunt
+ + Admits Witnesses Communicated Before Trial + +
+ + Wollaston’s Role Laid Bare, Told ‘Victim’ to Press Charges + +

One of the claimants who accused Nigel Evans of sexual assault has given his first and only interview exclusively to this blog. Guido confronts the accuser with claims that he lied in court and colluded with others as part of a conspiracy to destroy the former deputy speaker. The crucial role of Tory MP Sarah Wollaston in the case case going to court is laid bare, the claimant gives his reaction to the verdict and reveals he is considering launching a civil action against Evans. He also gives a tacit admission that witnesses were in communication with each other before the trial.

When Nigel Evans was found not guilty of all charges on Thursday the first reaction for one of his seven accusers was shock. Shocked because I couldn’t understand how the jury reached its conclusion on my count with the wealth of evidence that was presented in Court. I have to accept that, but it’s a bloody hard pill to swallow.” The judge did not agree in his summation about this supposed ‘wealth of evidence’.

That shock, he says, turned to anger when Evans appeared defiant in interviews with several Sunday newspapers. Nigel would not admit a crime, he did admit making an inappropriate drunken pass at me. Surely that is wrong. His audacity in the aftermath of the trial is galling. To see him paint himself as the victim in all this is just awful.” 

Evans has expressed considerable anger with Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, who the claimant confirms played a crucial role in the decision to press charges: “I met with her twice and we talked on the phone twice. She outlined that she believed I had a duty of care to other people to take it forward”.  Wollaston has even been in touch since the verdict. “That was it until after the trial when we spoke once.” Did she pressure him? “At no time did Sarah put me under any pressure whatsoever.” Did she, as Evans implies, have an ulterior motive? “I reject that idea entirely.” Many of Wollaston’s colleagues disagree…

This claimant was not accused by the defence of changing his story, unlike other witnesses during the trial. He was however accused of colluding with the other witnesses. When asked if he communicated with any of the other witnesses, the ‘victim’ dodged the question. When interviewed by the police they are obliged to ask you if you know or have reason to believe that anyone else has been a victim. I gave the police a bunch of names of people I knew had had similar experiences with Nigel.” Guido asked again. “Some of the victims knew each other. People who know each other talk but not about the evidence they are going to give in Court.” Guido says he will take that as a yes. This is the most defensive the ‘victim’ gets during the entire interview. He again refuses to answer but insists: “When I gave evidence I gave over my mobile phone to the police to analyse knowing that even deleted data could be recovered. The defence could find nothing in that data to prove their collusion suggestion because it just wasn’t the case.” Nothing in writing.

At this point Guido put it to the accuser that he was part of a witch-hunt, a conspiracy between ruthlessly ambitious people telling lies to destroy an honest man. He had been found out and Evans had been shown to be not guilty. “I am ambitious but I’m not ruthless. I have gained nothing from this. I wouldn’t have gained anything if they jury had returned a guilty verdict either. I have put myself through a long and painful trial where elements of my private life have been laid bare. I know I have ‘anonymity’ but my family and friends have easily pieced together which bits have been about me and that has been humiliating. I was advised by friends that going forward with my complaint would harm my chances of having a career in politics. I wasn’t focused on that. I was focused on doing the right thing and I stand by that.” No such anonymity for Evans.

Nigel Evans was cleared by a jury. They found that the accusers’ allegations could not be proved and indeed there were doubts about the testimony of the accusers. The admission that communication took place between witnesses before the trial suggests the judge was right to not “rule out the possibility that some form of collusion had taken place between some of the complainants”… 

Friday, April 11, 2014

What Do the Tories Offer a Working Class Kid From Rochdale?

Tory Code of Conduct Cop Out

The Tories’ new code of conduct for their MPs is entirely voluntary, with the party distancing itself from having to deal with any complaints by making clear staff grievances are “entirely a matter for you to handle”. Which means if a staffer complains about their boss, the complaint is dealt with by… their boss.

Appendix A: Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers) and their employees: Code of Conduct

Rights and responsibilities of employees

Rights
All employees, whatever their role or level, are entitled to:
 be treated with dignity, respect and courtesy by their employer, colleagues, House
staff, contractors, visitors and members of the public;
 be valued for the work that they do;
 be free from any form of discrimination, victimisation, harassment or bullying;
 work in an environment free from unwelcome behaviour and inappropriate language.

Responsibilities
All employees should:
 conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner;
 be fair and just in all workplace dealings;
 listen to the views of others;
 understand the difference between normal work disagreements and
harassment/bullying.

All employees are responsible for ensuring they understand what behaviour is required of
them and that their conduct does not cause offence. Everyone shares a responsibility for
understanding the sensitivities and feelings of others and avoiding behaviour that could cause
offence or distress. Equally, all employees should be free to carry out their duties free from
unfounded allegations of discrimination, harassment or bullying.

Rights and responsibilities of Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers)

Rights
All Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers), like their employees, are entitled to
be treated with respect and dignity. They have the right to:
 expect to carry out their parliamentary business free from unfounded allegations of
discrimination, harassment or bullying;
 expect employees to be as helpful as possible, to act with honesty, probity and so
uphold the reputation of the House and of the Member as a member of the
Conservative Party.

Responsibilities
In return, Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers) are expected to:
 interact with their employees in a fair, reasonable and consistent manner;
 use appropriate channels should issues relating to delivery standards arise;
 fully co-operate with the Conservative Pastoral Care Team (CPCT) should a
grievance procedure be instigated;
 ensure their employees act in accordance with the spirit and ethos of this policy in
their dealings with House staff;
 lead by example to encourage and foster an atmosphere of respect and tolerance;
 not use their position to bully, abuse or harass employees or assume a threatening or
intimidating style or discriminate against them.

If anything, this leaves staffers who are victims of handsy MPs in a weaker position than before…

Via Channel 4 News.

Osborne to IMF: I Told You So
Third Year of Expansionary Fiscal Contraction

osborne7

Chancellor Zero is no more. Growth is back, even the neo-Keynesians at the FT and the wonks at the IMF can’t deny that the UK expanded faster than the rest of the G7 last year and will probably do the same this year. George Osborne is in Washington today to gloat that

“despite warnings from some that our determined pursuit of our economic plan made that impossible. All of this demonstrates that fiscal consolidation and economic recovery go together, and undermines the pessimistic prognosis that only further fiscal stimulus can drive sustainable growth. Indeed that is precisely the wrong prescription for our economies…”

Ed Balls got it wrong is the core message. Labour will point to per capita GDP which is still 10% lower than it was in 2007 – that will be a second term objective for the Chancellor. Balls will less convincingly say George has missed his deficit target, less convincing because Labour would have missed it by more and opposed almost every measure needed to reduce the deficit. The neo-Keynesian argument that higher unemployment would increase the welfare bill and thus the deficit has been proven to be wrong. Unemployment is down from what it was under Gordon Brown, with the warnings from the likes of David Blanchflower of 4 to 5 million unemployed having turned out to be political hyperbole that has fatally damaged his career as a sage. That “expansionary fiscal contraction” that left-wing wonks and economists said would never come is entering a third year…

Leading left-wing wonk and wannabe Labour MP Will Straw argued in 2011 that Britain’s economy faced the risk of a Japanese-style “lost decade” and that “expansionary fiscal contraction” was a “voodoo theory”, and even that there was no such thing as an expansionary fiscal contraction. In 2011 Guido argued the point at length with Will on the BBC’s Daily Politics:

Having failed at the time to get an on-air apology from Will for his role in Gordon Brown’s Treasury, three years later he must now accept that he was wrong about a lost decade and wrong that there was no such thing as an expansionary fiscal contraction. Over to you Will – as growth is expected to hit 3% you have a second chance to offer an apology…

 

Chief Whip Emails: Keep Your Hands Off the Staff
Code of Conduct is “Entirely Voluntary”

The Nigel Evans case will have lasting repercussions it seems:

Dear Colleague,

From time to time, colleagues approach me for guidance in terms of handling grievances which may have arisen in the course of their employing staff.

The Prime Minister has therefore asked me to draw up a code of conduct and grievance procedure which you may be interested in adopting within your office, mindful that Members’ staff are employed directly by the Member. Adoption is entirely voluntary for colleagues and copies of the code of conduct and the grievance procedure are available either by emailing gcwo@parliament.uk or by writing to me, c/o the Government Chief Whip’s Office.

We intend to undertake a review of the code and procedure in early 2015. Meanwhile, the 1922 Committee are continuing to develop their own ideas for the best form of grievance procedure, which they are hoping to bring forward shortly and these will also form part of the review.

Chief Whip


If MPs “pork the payroll” there could be consequences…

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WATCH: Cameron Signals Evans Return

“I’m sure he will want to get on with working with his constituents in the Ribble Valley and, as for the future, I’m sure it’s something he’ll be discussing with the chief whip when he returns to Parliament.”

 He’ll be back on the terrace in no time…

Watch Evans Statement: No “Celebration or Euphoria”

“I’ve gone through 11 months of hell.

I’ve not been alone. Many have walked with me, including my team at Clitheroe and Westminster, my constituency association, my family, my friends, my constituents, and indeed many people who I don’t even know have sent messages of support.

In my darkest and loneliest, there were only two, or one, set of footprints in the sand.

And those of you of faith will know they weren’t mine.

The fact is I have got work to do. It’s the work that I have done for the last 22 years.

So this isn’t a time for celebration or euphoria.

Bill Roache just a few weeks ago from this very spot said there are no winners in these cases and that’s absolutely right.

There are no winners. So no celebrations.

And the fact is I’ve got work to do, work that I’ve done for the last 22 years.

All I can say is that after the last 11 months that I’ve gone through nothing will ever be the same again.”


Seen Elsewhere

Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome
UKIPers Will Come Home in 2015 | Sun


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Guido-hot-button (1) Guido-hot-button (1)


A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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