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Margaret Hodge Worked for PriceWaterhouse

When Margaret Hodge went off on one about the ‘Big 4’ professional services firms this morning, she awkwardly forgot that half the shadow cabinet have employed staffers from PricewaterhouseCoopers during the last year. Could there be anything else languishing deep down in Hodge’s memory that she needs reminding of? Something that happened before she became an MP, perhaps? Maybe to do with a past career choice?

Between 1992 and 1994 Hodge worked as a senior consultant for, you guessed it, PriceWaterhouse, as they were known before the 1998 merger with Coopers & Lybrand. Guido would ask what her duties were, but she’d probably just dodge the question…

LibDems Non-Retraction Retraction Press Office Chaos After Anti-Tory Briefing

The Liberal Democrats are claiming that their vicious briefing against their coalition partners was sent out “in error”. Apparently it was an update to an old briefing. Guido is calling bullsh*t. Firstly the briefing was deliberately sent from a party branded account, separately from a coalition friendly briefing moments before. When the LibDems slag off the Tories they do it with the bird logo. When they are behaving they do it, rather splendidly, with a blue version of their logo:

Secondly it went out on their website. Hardly a case of bad trigger finger. They have quietly deleted it online now, but have not corrected their original email. They tell Guido “we may feel the need to issue a print retraction” in due course, but for the time being they are only telling anyone who asks. When it was put it to the masters of spin that their explanation did not “have the ring of truth to it” they promptly and swiftly cleared the whole matter up: “well… [PAUSE] that’s what we are saying.” Not just Balls that is having a bad day…

Kate Prank Call From “the Queen”

Luckily Brian Leveson is off to Oz so he can clamp down on this blagging of private information…

LibDems Vicious Briefing Against Tories as Osborne Sits Down

Clegg was shaking his head during the mansion tax discussion in the House and he’s clearly still smarting.  LibDem HQ have just sent out a stinging briefing against their coalition buddies:

Conservatives tax cuts for the richest

The only tax cuts the Conservatives support are ones for the very rich. At the General Election, their priority was to cut inheritance tax for millionaires. In the Coalition, Liberal Democrats have blocked these plans and instead we are cutting taxes for millions.

Handbags!

Omnisham-balls: Ed Balls Fluffs Autumn Statement

A full house of criticism for Ed Balls dire response to the Autumn Statement. He fluffed his first line and it was all downhill from there…

He had an open goal, all he had to do was keep it simple…

Hodge the Dodge: Satire is Dead

Question-dodging Margaret Hodge had some nerve asking the PM about tax avoidance today, and when she got her phone out to tweet afterwards the irony knew no bounds:

Never mind the fact that she still hasn’t answered Guido’s repeated questions about her own tax arrangements. Come on Margaret, what was that about failing to answer questions? 

PMQs LIVE: Statement to Follow Edition

pmqs

Comments in the comments please…

Hodge the Dodge Slams Chuka’s Staffer

chuka-two-faced

Paragon of tax virtue Margaret Hodge is still dodging Guido’s questions over her own Stemcor arrangements, but that didn’t stop her from popping up on the Today programme this morning to call on the government to stop using professional services firms:

“I think using the power of the public purse to purchase contracts is an important power that we have and the big 4 are getting more and more government business as this government chooses to outsource a lot of back office activities so there is a lot of financial payroll. All sorts of activity taking place, audit of local authorities, audit of foundation trusts. Lot of work out there And I think if the big 4 want to access that work they have got to show that they are responsible companies who act properly and who don’t support anybody in trying to avoid tax in an aggressive way.”

Tut, tut, good on Hodge for nobly standing up to the likes of PricewaterhouseCoopers. What a shame that two-faced tax-avoidance campaigner Chuka Umunna doesn’t agree. Chuka recently announced that until January 2013 he is lucky enough to have a PwC analyst working for him, with their £20,000 wage kindly paid for by the company.

pwc2

He isn’t the only one, Rachel Reeves also has a PwC research assistant on board, as did Ed Balls earlier this year. Surely the shadow cabinet will want to take heed of what the chair of the Public Accounts Committee says and dispense with the services of these aggressive tax dodging enabling firms…

Wormtongue Speaks

Sir Jeremy Heywood has rather intriguingly penned a piece for today’s Indy, stepping into the public eye to plug his ‘crusade’ for open government. As ever Wormtongue was at his disconcerting best:

“For as many years as Britain has had a centralised civil service we have been rather good at collecting information. From the first censuses in 1801 to the creation of the Central Statistical Office by Winston Churchill, the amount of information gathered and held by Government has exponentially increased as our society has become more complex. Today we hold  raw information on everything from pupil performance by class, crime levels on every street in the country and the success rate for every single operation in your local hospital. We can even tell at the touch of a button how late your train into work is likely to be.”

Big Brother is watching you…

£2 Billion for Davey’s Gravy Train Aid

daveyTwo weeks ago George Osborne caved in to the LibDems on green subsidies, today there is another victory for Ed Davey on so-called ‘climate aid’. £2 billion of taxpayers’ money will be sent abroad to pay for, among other things, wind farms in Uganda. Good thing there will be lots of positive news for hard-pressed families in the Chancellor’s autumn statement to soften the blow. Or not. Another perfectly coordinated Coalition policy announcement…

Unpaid, Exploited, Lambs to the Slaughter

slaughterWith previous employees having had to go above and beyond the call of duty, you would have thought Andy Slaughter would be able to stump up some cash to pay his interns. Indeed the Labour MP was all for the idea back in 2010, putting his name to an EDM calling for the House to “recognise that in practice many Parliamentary internships qualify for the national minimum wage and further urges IPSA to create an interns fund to pay them fairly”. Quite right too.

Yet Slaughter has fallen short when it came to putting his money where his mouth is. On Friday he began advertising for unpaid volunteers to help in his constituency office, helping with casework and policy research. Apparently he thinks this doesn’t constitute a real job and is only willing to chip in for lunch and travel expenses. With perfect timing, today Parliament is debating a bill calling for a ban on advertising for unpaid internships. Awkward…



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Quote of the Day

Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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