Joan Smith, also known as Mrs Denis MacShane, wrote…
“I am sick of my country and this hysteria over MPs. People have been led to believe that we are governed by a corrupt political class. This is sanctimonious nonsense.”
When the soon to be defunct UK Film Council first realised that it was under threat from Hunt and Vaizey The Times reported that they had brought in spinmeisters Portland PR. The luvvies denied that they were using £60,000 of taxpayers’ money to have lobbyists pressure the government to change their mind about the decision to scrap the organisation.Vaizey said in reply to a Parliamentary Question this week:
“The Film Council has said that the brief was confined to media monitoring and collating stories and comments, drafting internal and external communications, and the handling of international media and press inquiries. “
However as members of the lobbying regulator APPC, Portland are required to officially declare all clients they have done public affairs (“PA”)work but do not for public relations. In the latest APPC register, Portland have very clearly declared their contract with the UK Film Council as “PA Consultancy”, not public relations. It looks like someone has been telling Vaizey porkies.
Not only does this confirm the original Times story which was flatly denied, it also breaks a swathe of government regulations, namely that quangos “must not use public funds to employ external public affairs or other consultants to lobby Parliament or Government with the principle aim of altering government policy or to obtain increased funding.” Busted.
The case for scrapping was that the organisation was too big and wasted too much money on six-figure salaries. Neatly illustrated in their press release reacting to today’s decision – it contained three different press officers’ contact details.
Three hours after the news about MacShame broke on this blog, how are the Labour blogs dealing with the issue? LabourList – silent. LeftFootForward has nothing on MacShane. LiberalConspiracy still hasn’t mentioned that the cops are onto the leftie attack-dog. Political Scrapbook is still dealing with yesterday’s PMQs. Compare and contrast how Derek Conway was treated by ConservativeHome. They demanded firm action immediately.
The Labour leaning blogosphere’s credibility really suffers at times like this from being reluctant to criticise allies. If you are looking for news and comment about Dennis MacShane, or about the sitting Labour MP Eric Illsley’s forthcoming day in court, the ongoing police investigation into Margaret Moran or the three other former Labour MPs in court on criminal charges there is no point going to left-wing blogs…
UPDATE : Looks like Guido shamed LabourList into publishing something – the official Labour Party press release – 40 minutes after this post went up. No further comment or analysis…
He has had the whip withdrawn by the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Victoria Street is furiously distancing themselves from their once celebrated attack dog…
UPDATE : The Telegraph and their wunder-disk note the suspected fraudster “also submitted more than a dozen invoices to the Parliamentary authorities from the “European Policy Institute”. Each bill was for “research and translation”. The EPI was controlled by his brother, Edmund Matyjaszek.”
Keeping it simple it seems.
UPDATE II : The word “forgery” keeps coming up in conversation with well placed sources. Sky and The Guardian are also claiming the original complaint came from the BNP. Whether or not this is true, it is being pushed hard by the suspected fraudster himself.
UPDATE III : The mysterious European Policy Institute was it seems founded by MacShane in 1992 and he served as its director until 1994. Fancy that. Reminds Guido of Hain’s slush fund the Progressive Polices Forum…
This is what Denis MacShane claimed £125,000 in office costs for:
‘Ello ‘ello ‘ello…
From the Standards and Privileges Committee:
“At its meeting on 12 October, the Committee agreed that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should report to the Metropolitan Police Service the conduct of the Rt hon Member for Rotherham, Mr Denis MacShane. In accordance with procedures agreed in 2008 between the Committee on Standards and Privileges, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Metropolitan Police, the Commissioner’s inquiry into a complaint against Mr MacShane will be suspended until the question of possible criminal proceedings has been resolved.”
UPDATE: Sources have suggested this might have something to do with the £125,000 suspected fraudster MacShane claimed for a garage he said was his constituency office.
UPDATE II: It’s not looking good.
As Dave welcomed Schwarzenegger into Number 10 he said, rather cringefully that “He’s going to help me terminate the budget deficit.” Perhaps given the fact that California is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the Prime Minister should take Arnie’s advice with a pinch of salt. Entertaining Maggie and the Terminator in one day, there’s got to be a joke there somewhere…
Despite promising to create countless quangos during the election, the promised axe is coming down hard today on 192 quangos that will be abolished, with another 289 being radically overhauled. 380 quangos are staying including the BBC World Service, despite the Beeb’s scaremongering graphics. The sound of public sector fat cats gasping was audible across the airwaves this morning.
UPDATE: The list goes up on the Cabinet Office website, which subsequently goes down with all the quangocrats seeing if they still have a job. Try for yourself here.
UPDATE II: The DCMS confirms the UK Film Council is a goner.
UPDATE III: The full list:
All of Rupert Murdoch’s British rivals have got together to complain to Vince Cable that he is better than them. In a charge led by the Guardian Media Group (readership down 10%, losses up 77% to £171 million this year) they argue that he will be too dominant in newspapers and broadcasting. People forget that Murdoch bet everything on Sky, it almost bankrupted him. The Daily Mail also set up a satellite channel about the same time – younger co-conspirators won’t remember British Satellite Broadcasting’s “Squarial” – it failed. Now the Mail has joined with the Guardian demanding that the government handicaps Murdoch for being successful. The rivals put forward a specious argument about media plurality – though how News International buying the bit of Sky they don’t already own changes plurality from a consumer’s point of view escapes Guido. Murdoch succeeded and in doing so he single-handedly broke the BBC / ITV duopoly. Before the advent of Sky we had less media plurality.
What is really the biggest danger to media plurality? Failure, newspapers going bankrupt and out of business. The editor and management of The Guardian would be better employed trying to reduce their losses rather than pulling down their competitors.
The BBC, Channel 4, the Telegraph and Mirror groups have all joined in the complaint to Vince Cable. Ironically it is the BBC that arguably crowds out potential competitors by offering products which it is very difficult to compete against, because the BBC has no need to make a profit. If the Guardianistas are really concerned about media plurality why don’t they do what Murdoch did – set up their own satellite channel. Guido for one would love to see a Guardian/Mirror channel launched, with their media brand’s partisan values up against a Fox-style Sky.
Go on Rusbridger, do something to increase media plurality, rather than just moaning about a lack of it…