Market forces

William Hague, it seems, has launched a campaign against people trafficking. Apparently too many end up working in, ahem, human resources for as little as £15 a time.

£15 is also the cost of joining the Conservative Party. Clearly there’s a going rate for being screwed by someone who doesn’t care about you.
Catesby Esq

Charity Commissioners to Re-Investigate Smith InstituteGordon’s Spin Merchants Front-page His Bad News

On Saturday The Telegraph followed up on Guido’s story from earlier this month about the Smith Institute and today it has a leader and an article on the subject. The Charity Commissioners received calls from the Times, Bloomberg and The Telegraph chasing the story, which seems to have galvanised them into action. They have announced that they intend to re-investigate what is effectively Gordon’s slush fund and charitable successor to his “blind trust”, the Industrial Research Trust.
All are chasing what could be a dynamite scandal for Ed Balls and Gordon Brown, the Smith Institute’s use of Treasury tax rebates on donations to the “charity” to fund Ed Balls’ salary and subsidise what is the secretariat for Gordon’s government-in-waiting. The prospect of being able to lay abuse-of-office charges at the door of No. 11 has hacks salivating.

Now call Guido cynical if you will, but on the day the Charity Commissioners announce their intentions, and the Telegraph articles show the press chase has begun, we learn from a deftly placed story in the government’s favourite mouthpiece, The Sun, that tragically Gordon’s son has cystic fibrosis. A good day to front-page the tragic news?


Previous here, here and here.

Levy Makes An Admission

Martin Bright has been all over the Loans for Lordships story. In this week’s New Statesman he recounts a recent conversation he had with the Sleaze-Master General himself.

The exchange took place at this year’s Labour Party conference during a reception hosted by the GuardianObserver, where Levy took it upon himself to act as an unofficial “meeter and greeter”.

Levy and I started talking, particularly about a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on the “cash for honours” affair which I had presented and had been broadcast that same night.

Levy was his legendary charming self. Disarmingly, he told me that his wife had watched the programme and found it very fair. I was delighted, but said there was one matter I felt I had to raise with him. What did he make of the general point I made in the programme: that the loans from wealthy party supporters were not intended as loans, but were to be converted into donations?

He gripped my arm like a long-lost friend and said, by way of answer: “Only some of them.” I asked him what he meant and whether he could point to any specific loans. He volunteered the name of Lord Sainsbury, the billionaire former science minister who had lent the party £2m.

The point is that large donations, under this government’s own legislation, had to be declared, but loans did not. So what exactly was Levy saying to me? Did he misunderstand my original question? That is possible, but he had gone on to give me an example. Was he joking? Again possibly, but it’s an odd matter to joke about. Or was he merely expressing his hope that the loans would be converted into donations?

Guido thinks that this is an admission of some guilt. If Sainsbury’s loan wasn’t really a loan and the intention was always to turn into a donation at some point, that is an offence. A false loan which disguises a donation is surely an evasion of the legally required reporting of donations under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000?

UPDATE : According to an impeccable source who has just emailed me, the Yard’s attention has been drawn to the Martin Bright story in this week’s New Statesman.

Crisis at Christmas

The next NEC meeting?

As Christmas approaches it is the traditional time to think of those less fortunate than ourselves. You know, the hopeless, friendless and soon-to-be bankrupt. Someone has established a blog to Keep Tony Blair as PM. I’m not quite sure why, as the link was received by Your Servant via multiple intermediaries. Heavy irony suspected.

For genuinely pitiful loneliness, of course, you have to go to people trapped in the state sector. Take this poor old chap. Be honest: could you live with yourself if you came back in January and found that he had gone the same way as Benny Hill? Probably “yes”. But that’s not the point. Take time to pay him a visit. Never forget: a blog is for life, not just for Christmas.
Catesby Esq

BA unveils new tailfin design

Staff and passengers now permitted to wear crosses, crucifixes, St Christophers, lucky amulets, voodoo dolls to ward off the Evil Eye etc etc.
Catesby Esq

Labour Activists Embarrassed By Prescott

The comments on LabourHome say it all;

Surely somebody else could be put up to doing PMQS. Prescott has had most of his other jobs taken from him. Usually, it’s a laugh (mostly at him, but he can crack a good joke every now and then), but even by his own awful standards, it was an embarrassment.

I firmly believe that John Prescott should have been sacked and should not even be in the position.

JP had been encouraged to be “off sick”

Hello Home Office Blog Watchers

Peter Griffiths, head of the Home Office Information Services Unit told the Online Information Conference in London yesterday –

“Blogs are increasingly used as a political tool. Political blogging has risen rapidly in the last 18 months and will no doubt be important in next year’s French elections. The most visited political blog Guido Fawkes is as popular as Private Eye magazine. Fawkes publishes his server logs on his site to show that politicians go there and use the site.

“There are stories that appear in the media that we tracked using traditional press cuttings services, but blogging is not tracked by cuttings agencies. Monitoring news is important as so much affects us as a government.

“We see a number of newspapers are crediting the blogs that gave them the lead. The Home Office used its library current awareness service to track blogs.

Karen George, head of the Home Office library told them how the blog monitoring was done –

“In July 2005 they had a meeting with the press office to set up a montoring service on a trial period of six months.

“As news of what we were doing for the press office spread we were asked by lawyers, IT and all areas of Home Office made requests. Issues like ID cards produce a peak in blogs. In November of this year we already on 1888 alerts. We have 12 librarians that monitor blogs on a daily seven day week basis. These come in as feeds, the tools make the job easier, they cannot replace the skills of the professionals. Fundamental information professional skills of knowing your audience really comes to light. In just over a year it has become a key part of our department service, the benefits include a public enquiries unit that we can alert to media campaigns that are Home Office issues. There is now an enquiry department that is ahead of the news. As a result the department has a better relationship with its users.”

12 blog monitoring librarians working seven days a week? You Mongs! What a waste of the taxpayers money. Ever wondered how Guido found out about this story within hours of you mentioning it? Guido uses Google Alerts, Blogpulse and Technorati to track every mention of him on the web. Total cost £0.00.

So you Home Office information professionals monitoring this blog, know this, you are a total waste of money. Online services can do the job for free 24/7. You are wasting your time monging about on blogs. The government cares more about the public attacks it receives from bloggers than the attacks on the public from muggers. You should all be sacked and the money diverted to finding all the foreign criminals the Home Office released without trace so that they could steal Tim Montgomerie’s bike.

Guido Exposes, AM Apologises

Even from across the Atlantic this blog reaches out to give the finger back to politicians…
Bates apologies for hand gesture

Nov 29 2006

A Welsh Assembly member apologised today after his rude hand gesture was captured on film and posted on the internet. Liberal Democrat AM Mick Bates was seen holding up his middle finger during a debate in the Assembly chamber yesterday.

A video of the incident appeared on the Guido Fawkes blog, accusing Mr Bates of directing the gesture at Assembly Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas. A Lib Dem spokesman said Mr Bates, the AM for Montgomeryshire, was in fact engaging in some “light-hearted banter” with Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas.

In a statement Mr Bates said: “My gesture was not directed to the Presiding Officer, for whom I have enormous respect and affection. “I was showing Rhodri Glyn Thomas which finger he should use to operate the Assembly’s modern push-button voting system. “If anyone has taken offence then of course I apologise for that.”

Bates’ claim that he was instructing a fellow politician on how to vote is of course blatantly untrue. But that is what our politicians do, with complete and utter contempt for the voters and the truth. Why didn’t he just say he was fooling around and he is sorry?

Guy News TV : Welsh Politician Gives Speaker the Finger

Welsh Politician Gives Speaker the Finger

Mick Bates AM (Lib Dem), and David Davies MP/AM (Conservative) interesting hand-gestures towards the Presiding Officer in the Welsh Assembly chamber.

A Candle in the Wind

As a disbelieving country comes to terms with its grief that the Labour Party might be going bankrupt, Your Servant Catesby, Esq can only repeat the statement he gave to the assembled press corps on the steps outside Catesby Hall:

“We are today a nation in a state of shock, in mourning, in grief that is so deeply painful for us. (Gulp) It was the People’s Party. (Pause. Stare into middle distance.) It was a wonderful and a warm human party, although often sadly touched by tragedy. (Extract onion from pocket, wipe tears from eye). It touched the wallets of so many others in Britain and throughout the world with …. etc etc.”

It’s lucky that Labour are in hock to the Co-Op, because they arrange cheap funerals, don’t they? Sir Elton John will be performing a specially re-written version of the “Red Flag” in St Paul’s Cathedral (creditors permitting).

What Labour could do with now is a new leader with experience of handling dodgy accounting, escalating expenditure in excess of income, a pensions black hole, debt being deferred into the future to a point where it cannot be paid off and an underperforming front-line.

Catesby, Esq

Tick Tock, Tick Tock….

Labour facing “cash flow difficulties”.

Catesby, Esq

Press Complaints Commissioner Complains About Blogs

Alastair Campbell chaired a session at the CRE Race Convention where the PCC’s Tim Toulmin complained about blogs during a session on, errm, “freedom of speech”. He basically advocated self regulation, something Guido already does. There is not a hope in hell that this blog would ever comply with an imposed code of conduct. How would it even be enforced? If anyone tries to close this blog down in the U.S. where it is hosted (despite first amendment protections of the U.S. constitution) it would be mirrored in minutes in a second jurisdiction. What would they do, cut off the internet?

Maybe with a bit of self-regulation Devil’s Kitchen will stop himself swearing and Recess Monkey will manage to mention the Loans for Lordships scandal – or more likely hell will freeze over.

Incidentally, is Guido the only one amused to discover that the CRE Convention held a race relations industry £1000-a-table* black-tie event at the Sheraton on Park Lane last night? It was apparently

“A fantastic networking opportunity bringing together public, private and voluntary sector managers, race equality professionals, community leaders, government representatives and celebrity guests.”

Wonder if the people of Bradford and Dagenham appreciated the inclusivity of it?

*not including VAT.

Labour in Hock to the Co-Op and Unions

Just had a quick look at the Labour loans reports, out of a total of some £23.4 m, just under £14m is owed to the Co-Op and it’s subsidary Unity Trust Bank. UTB is a joint venture with the unions.

UTB is how the union bosses launder their money to support the Labour party. UTB is a small bank which because it has concentrated so much of it’s lending risk with one rather risky creditor – the Labour party – is obliged to make monthly risk reports to the FSA. No surprise that commercial banks are unwilling to risk lending to the Labour party.

Tories Owe £35.3m – Who Are the Tossers Now?

The Electoral Commission has just released the new loans figures for the parties – showing who needs to sort out their debt problems.
The Tories are £35.3 million in the red – including a mysterious £3.6m loan from “Lanners Services”, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands tax haven.

Maybe the should take some of their own advice andsort it?

UPDATE : A source emails to say that the Tories expect to realise £30 million plus from the sale of 32 Smith Square and the AIB loan is related to the property.

Land of the Free – Not

Guido just tried to place a bet on Betfair. The bet was rejected because Betfair are afraid of breaching US gambling laws. Tossers. And they still have not got a Labour deputy-leadership market up..

Michael Grade defects to ITV

How odd: a rat joining a sinking ship.

This is, of course, the latest twist in the diabolical plots of Your Servant, Catesby Esq. – the Chairmanship of the Beeb has Master Percy’s name written all over it. Among other things. And if not Master Percy, whom will get this plumbest of the plum quangoships?

On the other hand, a thought occurs. Zero public accountability; ridiculously over-paid salary; magnificent opportunities for grand-standing self-publicity; total disconnection from reality and truth; perfect platform to humiliate and denigrate the Prime Minister.

Nice little retirement job for Blair….

Catesby, Esq.

What Kind of “Charity” is the Smith Insitute?

If you call the New Statesman you get an automated response system, which at the end directs callers to the Smith Institute. The Brown-backing New Statesman is owned by Geoffrey Robinson. Guido is making a wild guess here, but would be willing to bet that the Smith Institute gets a substantial amount of financial and other benefits-in-kind support from Geoffrey Robinson. Geoffrey is Gordon’s great long time cheerleader and paymaster-general.

The Smith Institute has a wholly-owned subsidary, SI Events Limited, which has a close commercial relationship with the New Statesman. It is all a bit incestuous isn’t it?

Constitutional Law for Dummies

Your Humble Servant, Catesby Esq, has been clearing out the attic (I’m building a Priest’s Hole on the offchance that British Airways launch a successful coup d’etat) and I came across some old exam papers. There’s a perpetual debate about whether exam standards have fallen or risen so I thought I’d reproduce the questions and you can form your own views.
Consider the following extract from a piece of legislation, the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925:

1(1) If any person accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person, for himself or for any other person, or for any purpose, any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person, or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.

Question 1. Who would be caught by this provision?
(A) An insignificant school teacher from Essex whom nobody’s ever heard of
(B) A fund-raiser who likes to swan around the Middle East pretending to be Lawrence of Arabia
(C) A rent-seeking parasite sponging off the taxpayer in the guise of a “special adviser”
(D) A Cabinet Minister
(E) All of the above
Question 2. You are a Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Party matters and your salary is paid by your Party out of donations. You have signed forms nominating a financial supporter for a peerage. What line do you think the Crown Prosecution Service will find convincing enough not to prosecute you:
(A) We have to put this all behind us and move to a period of renewal.
(B) I’m not very clever and I always sign anything put in front of me.
(C) I’m not very tall and I’m easily intimidated by attractive intelligent women dangling bunches of grapes in front of me.
(D) I was ill in hospital at the time and everyone knows that I held a spurious non-job with no real authority.
(E) I’m willing to shop the Prime Minister before he drops me in it.

Question 3. You are a senior Cabinet Minister – I mean, really senior – and you’re in the throes of a party donation scandal. Who comes to mind as a useful scapegoat to take the heat off yourself?
(A) An insignificant school teacher from Essex whom nobody’s ever heard of
(B) A fund-raiser who likes to swan around the Middle East pretending to be Lawrence of Arabia (but who might remember something damaging about you)
(C) A rent-seeking parasite sponging off the taxpayer in the guise of a “special adviser” (but who certainly knows something damaging about you)
(D) Another Cabinet Minister (who almost certainly doesn’t know anything at all, but will be believed if he makes up something)
(E) Any of the above
Question 4. You are still – just about – a really very senior Cabinet Minister in the throes of a Party donations scandal. How big a pay rise do you think the Crown Prosecution Service need to reflect their new responsibilities under your latest crackdown on crime?
(A) 10%
(B) 20%
(C) 30%
(D) 100%
(E) 100% plus a peerage for any outside QC called in to advise on particularly sensitive prosecutions.
How difficult are these questions, really?
Catesby, Esq.

Tonge Gobs Off Again

Baronness Jenny Tonge is a game trier. With all the grace and elegance of Euston Station. She’s the one who opined that if she had been born a Palestinian she’d probably have become a suicide bomber. Go for it, girl![…] Read the rest


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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”


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