The body language was wonderful at this morning’s joint appearance between Darling and the former Prime Mentalist:
Did someone say ‘forces of hell’?
Gordon Brown tried his very hardest not to flip out in a room full of journalists as he gave the Press Gallery lunch earlier, but he managed just 3 minutes before having a crack at the Sun. He saved his true venom for Sam Coates of the Times though, who has had the impenitence to question Brown’s financial arrangements since he left office. Asked if he wished he had stood down at the last election, Brown replied “when I hear you, sometimes I do.” The fake smile failed to mask the snarl.
As questions mounted about standing down and how little time he had spent in Westminster, McMental quipped: “it’s lovely to see you but I have no desire to be part of frontline politics.” Clearly, given his Commons attendance.
Has the curse of Jonah finally been broken?
Lovely day had by all the Brown family at Raith Rovers cup win in Edinburgh – happy lads—
Sarah Brown (@SarahBrownUK) April 06, 2014
Gordon Brown was present yesterday when his beloved Raith Rovers beat Rangers 1:0 to win the Ramdens Cup.
He even cracked a smile…
Gordon has always taken a keen interest in Raith Rovers, going as far as to negotiate the sale of players in a pub car back while he was the Chancellor. According to Damian McBride:
What spare time Gordon had up in Scotland he poured into not just supporting his beloved Raith Rovers, but pulling strings behind the scenes at the club, sometimes becoming a bit too involved. I rang him in October 2006 and said I’d had a call from a Scottish journalist who’d heard the bizarre rumour that Gordon was seen in a pub car park in Kirkcaldy after midnight apparently negotiating contract terms with Trinidad international Marvin Andrews. Gordon was silent, then said: ‘Have they got photos?’
Finally the long curse that has blighted sports teams, markets, aeroplanes, banks, companies, governments and nations looks to be lifted. If the curse of the one-eyed son of the manse has been lifted, we hope Gordon’s tormented soul will lighten too…
The £10,000-a-week expenses Gordon gets from his company are clearly not enough for the Prime Mentalist, who new figures reveal has claimed £215,000 in public duties cost allowance in the last two financial years. The money is offered so ex-PMs can “fulfil their public duties”, though since Gordon has said he is an “ex-politician”, barely bothers attending parliament and spends most of his time flying around the word giving speeches for huge sums of money, Guido is struggling to work out why the taxpayer is still topping him up. Especially considering he is still pocketing his £66,000-a-year salary as an MP. Presumably he will tell us he “isn’t receiving a penny of this money personally” either.
UPDATE 21 March 2014: The above video was removed from the BBC iPlayer archive at Gordon Brown’s insistence. This is a copy hosted on our own offshore server rather than any third party provider.
Since 2010 Gordon Brown has submitted more Press Complaints Commission complaints than he has delivered speeches in the House, meaning you won’t read about the financial affairs of the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown in the papers. So Guido was pleased to have the opportunity to share the story with a wider audience on the Daily Politics this lunchtime.
Brillo asked the pertinent question of Gordon: “Mentally, is he out of it?”
The last piece of business in the House before half term tomorrow will be an Adjournment Debate by the member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. Dropping in for a rare ten minute speech, you might have thought the former Prime Mentalist would be standing up for his oft abandoned constituents, who don’t see very much of their wayward MP. Nope.
Gordon will be speaking in the Commons about educating Syrian refugees which, while a noble cause, is a little convenient given that he is currently fundraising under that banner. When he’s not globe-trotting as UN Envoy for Education (which essentially consists of having his photo taken with Malala a lot) Gordon is coining it on the speech circuit. His rare appearances in Parliament should be to represent the interests of his constituents rather than to wangle money out of the British government for his latest pet project. Using Parliament as a begging bowl is beneath even him.
Gordon Brown has since leaving Downing Street raised over £3 million to support charitable projects yet has given less than a £1 million to charity. Nearly three-quarters of the money raised has gone on his office and globe-trotting travel expenses that run at over £10,000-a-week – allowing Brown to vainly swan around in Davos like old times. Gordon Brown always insists that he does not profit from the arrangement and that all the income goes either directly to charities or to support other charitable public service projects.
The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown is not a registered charity, it is a private limited company. Guido’s investigation reveals – by piecing together some 133 declarations made in Gordon Brown’s parliamentary register of interests – a picture of the until now private accounts since the company was set up by Sarah. Brown has declared to parliament that the total amount paid to the company since 2010 is £3,605,197. According to a recent announcement on the company’s website, only £912,702 has so far been given to charity after three years. Leaving over £2 million to be accounted for when according to the latest available records the company had only £160,978 in cash at the bank. You can see an itemised spreadsheet compiled from Guido’s investigations here.
The company admits it budgets £550,000-a-year for expenses to meet salaries, accommodation costs and staff expenses. Gordon can be paid as much as $100,000 for a single speech in America to investors at finance conferences. By funnelling his speaker fees through the company he does not have to pay tax on the income, even though it covers the £10,000-a-week expenses for Gordon and Sarah to maintain the jet-set premier lifestyle they were accustomed to when in Downing Street, travelling first class around the world and staying in top five star hotels attended to by flunkies. Something Gordon would not be able to do on his backbench MP’s salary…
Leaving aside the naked positioning and re-writing of history by Ed Balls in his New Statesman interview, there was one line that the fearless interviewer did not pick up on. When asked when the Shadow Chancellor last spoke to his political father Gordon Brown, Balls replied: “he actually emailed me today about a by-election coming up in the next couple of weeks”. Well we are certainly overdue one in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath…
The other line that made Guido chuckle was Balls’ claim:
“I can disagree with Nick Clegg on some of the things he did but I’ve no reason to doubt his integrity, we’ve never, I don’t think, ever had a cross word.”
Which will come as news to the Deputy Prime Minister, who said over Christmas:
“I always try to keep a good sense of humour, and if I have an argument with someone to keep the argument about what the argument is about and not allow it too often to become sort of personal. I make one exception, for a man named Ed Balls. But other than that I try not to make it about insults and stuff.”
Well we can forgive him that…
Gordon Brown has taken the time to represent the people of Kirkcaldy in the pages of the New York Times. Like a drunk shouting on a park bench about the apocalypse, Gordon’s new line is that he saved the world but nobody was listening:
“In early October 2008, three weeks after the Lehman Brothers collapse, I met in Paris with leaders of the countries in the euro zone. Oblivious to the global dimension of the financial crisis, they took the view that if there was fallout for Europe, America would be to blame — so it would be for America to fix. I was unable to convince them that half of the bundled subprime-mortgage securities that were about to blow up had landed in Europe and that euro-area banks were, in fact, more highly leveraged than America’s.”
Remember kids, Gordon “not only saved the world, but we saved the banks too.” Yes, the food banks…
What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester
George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:
“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”
Owen Jones says:
We also need Zil lanes.