Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

The Fat Lady is About to Sing

All those who pledged to support a private prosecuton of Lord Levy should now have received an update by email and text message.

As was always intended, we will make a final decision as to whether to seek a prosecution following the conclusion of the all-party Public Administration Select Committee’s deliberations. They will be publishing their report into “Honours and Propriety” on Wednesday.

Well over two hundred people have pledged financial support for a prosecution. As we have seen with this second Donorgate wave of Labour fundraising sleaze, there will be no end to corrupt political fundraising until those concerned realise that they risk jail. This can’t be allowed to go on unpunished. Harman, Hain and others claim ignorance of the law and forgetful mistakes. The opportunity to unforgettably impress on politicians the disgust of voters with the system is approaching…

Twinkle Toes Vince Cable

Daily Food Allowances :School Children, Armed Forces, Prisoners, MPs

Dizzy had a piece that struck Guido as demonstrating where our politician’s real priorities lie. Guido has turned it into an easy to understand graphic. Take a look at the average spending allowances per day on food as voted for by politicians. According to the government, Army and RAF personnel (on base) get £1.63 per day spent on them, and the Navy (when in port), gets £1.78 per day. Schoolchildren in state schools now get on average some 50p up from 37p since Jamie Oliver. (Admittedly for only one lunch meal, but it is still nevertheless revealing.)

Now compare that with the average spend per day on food for prisoners. £1.87. Those in a Young Offenders’ Institute get a budget of £3.81 per day, over double the armed forces. How much do politicians get? £20 per day, no receipts required. 12 times as much as a soldier. Can it be any clearer where their real priorities lie?

They are literally gorging themselves in the trough at the taxpayers expense whilst heroes go short.

UPDATE : Metropolitan Police Dogs have more spent on their daily food than squaddies do.

Yvette’s First Class Package

A Labour party press release arrives in Guido’s inbox from Mrs Balls, headlined “Next Steps for Social Housing”
“Labour’s Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, has announced a package of measures and extra investment to make social housing fairer and more effective. The plans will re-focus social housing around the needs of the tenants and will make it easier for young families to move to larger homes when they need to.”
Fairer and more effective packages?

Mr and Mrs Balls are paid by the taxpayers quarter-of-a-million a year between them, yet so hard done by are they that they still claim a package worth tens of thousands extra in mortgage subsidy on top. They own two homes and with the CGT reforms dreamt up on the back of an envelope after George Osborne promised to slash IHT, they will be voting themselves a handy reduction from 40% to 18% on property capital gains. So the constituency and London home owners who already benefit from a tax-free allowance worth £40,000 annually to pay their mortgages, will vote themselves a nice little bonus tax cut. They will then be able to sell their taxpayer funded second home and only pay the reduced capital gains – a 55% tax cut for MPs.

Somehow Guido doubts that kind of package will be offered to ordinary young families who don’t vote themselves the nomenklatura benefits available to the political class. Fairer and more effective packages? They are having a laugh…

On the Hercules to Basra

Sky’s Glen O’Glaza doesn’t seem to have enjoyed himself on the 44 hour Basra-Kabul round trip. He questions the wisdom of Gordon’s media handlers in organising a schedule which made it difficult for broadcasters to file a story. Not much point in a photo-op without being able to send back photos…

Beau Bo D’Or’s
take on the trip for Channel 4 made Guido smile. Press play.

Gordon Brown flies into enemy territory.

UPDATE : According to information in the comments Gordon didn’t fly out on Hercules and risk using the transport he deems appropriate for the squaddies. Courage?

Parliamentary Panto

Panto season is upon us:

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what value of assets the Bank of England has accepted as collateral for loans to Northern Rock; (2) what proportion of the Bank of England’s total assets are represented by claims on Northern Rock and its assets.

Kitty Ussher: The sum borrowed by the company is confidential.

Oh no it isn’t! Despite much inconsequential huffing and puffing from Schillings you can still read in detail about Northern Crock’s supposedly confidential finances here.

The Coming Economic Downturn

Just flicking through this morning’s Pink ‘Un must be grim reading for Darling and Brown:

UK home affordability hits 15-year low

Decline in UK confidence hits hiring

UK producer price inflation hits 16-year high

The authoritative investment bank Morgan Stanley is now predicting a U.S. recession next year. Given that the British economy is debt-bloated and during the feast years Gordon just splurged on more spending rather than putting something aside for a famine, the U.K. economy is heading for a very hard-landing next year. The Tories will be very glad that Gordon didn’t call that election. Happy Christmas…

Labour Party Christmas Advent Calendar

Courtesy of LibDemVoice.

Which World Leader Has Open Blog Comments?

President Ahmadinejad has not got a reputation as the most liberal world leader, in fact Iran tries to censor the internet by blocking access to foreign websites.

But his own very public blog allows comments from unregistered users, which means that like on this blog you get the mob making comments. He has comment moderation but it is (as here) pretty liberal. John Jacobs from the USA tells Mahmoud “I hate you. You are retarted. That simple, mentally retarted”. More intelligently another American posts a comment “I think you are an evil leader. Freedom and tolerance are necessities in this day and age, and the fact that your country kills intellectuals, journalists, minorities, etc. is horrible and deeply disturbing. People say America is so horrible, but you can live in whatever fashion you want to, and if the government does something you dont like then we can protest. Our government is great because it is of the people, for the people and by the people. Change your ways.”

In contrast as an experiment (after discovering that they were using payroll astro-turfers) Guido has been joining Downing Street Ministerial webchats on and off for months and posting polite pointed but critical questions to the likes of Ed Balls and other ministers. Not once has a single question got through, yet Guido can post critical comments on the Iranian president’s blog freely.

Paddick Confesses Guilt

Guido is looking forward to the London Mayoral elections hotting up, especially as the LibDems have chosen a strong personality to contest against Boris and Ken. Brian Paddick, the former top copper, is running on their ticket. Sort of.

He apparently has his own views on issues and doesn’t plan to pay much heed to the party machine. Guido asked him bluntly

Is it true that you have made it clear to Cowley Street that you will be doing your campaign your way and that since leaving the police you have adopted a new mantra: “I take advice, I do not take orders.”

Paddick replied straightforwardly “Guilty as charged!”

There Will Be Mulled Wine and Hangovers…

You should have received your invite by now. No word yet as to Stanislav’s attendance.

Beg for an invite from Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com.

Tories Call for an Inquiry into Balls’ Bung

The Tories are calling for a Civil Service inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a 2005 payment of nearly £100,000 to Ed Balls from the already under statutory investigation Smith Institute. The payment was allegedly for his work on two pamphlets published by the Institute. Ex-employees confirm that he was never seen at the Institute’s offices during his 8 month tenure despite being paid an unheard of (for wonkland) monthly salary of over £10,000.

The Smith Institute was used as a slush fund for the Brownies. It functioned effectively as Gordon’s policy and political secretariat in his long putsch for the premiership. Once Gordon Brown was installed in No. 10, Konrad Caulkett moved seamlessly from his executive position at the Smith Institute to become a Special Adviser in Downing Street. During Konrad’s time at the supposedly non-political charity he assisted Ed Ball’s 2005 election campaign in his Normanton constituency whilst still drawing a salary from the charity.

Who stumped up for Ed Balls’ generous payments package? Could it have been wealthy property developer John Milligan? Pictured here with Brown, he is a trustee of Gordon’s charity, the Smith Institute, has given tens of thousands to the Labour party and even made a personal donation of £25,000 to Gordon’s leadership coffers.

For some strange reason Ed Balls failed to properly declare his income from the Smith Institute or get the necessary Treasury clearance required for a Special Adviser before taking the sinecure. The rules were designed to prevent conflicts of interest. It also turned out that the Treasury had made undeclared payments to the Smith Institute, by mistake of course, which were only discovered when Guido succeeded in pushing the Charity Commissioners to investigate. They were the result of a mix-up according to yet another Smith Institute trustee Paul Myners, one of Gordon’s favourite businessman who only remembered (during the week the investigation was announced) that he was himself supposed to make good the payment, some two years later.

Of course the Smith Institute received free advice and polling data from another trustee, Deborah Mattinson, whose firm coincidentally won government contracts for which they charged the Treasury £3 million. Do you think there is a strong piscine smell here?

Friday Write Off

Blogging will be light on Friday (isn’t it always) because Guido will be in London for Xmas drinks and would love to see friends of the blog. He would particularly like to see new friends from the comments, like Stanislav, and may even stand you a drink. A gang of co-conspirators will be there and it will be very merry.
So if you would like an invite, email Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com. Sorry, no lawyers.
Guido will be identifiable in the fetching Guido Fawkes long-sleeve T-shirt available for delivery in time for Christmas* from here. The perfect £15 gift for Guido fans like Sir Michael White, Peter Hain, Liam Fox, Tom Watson and (they do a tailored ladies version) Melissa Kite.

UPDATE : Just confirming a venue. Will get back to you all shortly.

*2008

“British Jobs for British Workers”Law Lords Rule Labour Party Guilty of Racial Discrimination

Raghib Ahsan took the Labour Party to an industrial tribunal on the grounds of racial discrimination. He won his case but the Labour party appealed and it went all the way to the House of Lords. The Law Lords unanimously ruled that the Labour Party was indeed guilty of racial discrimination under the 1976 Race Relations Act.

It took a ten year battle with the Labour Party before Raghib won. Guido has not noticed this well reported elsewhere. The full Law Lords ruling is here [pdf].

Lord Hoffman was absolutely damning of the Labour Party defence proffered, before he resigned, by Peter Watt –

…it seems to me unacceptable. It is nothing more than the old plea that you have nothing against employing a black person but the customers would not like it. In essence it is a defence of justification based on political expediency. It may salvage the purity of the personal motives of the selection panel but it does not in my opinion satisfy the terms of the 1976 Act, which does not allow any justification for “direct” discrimination. It simply says that one shall not discriminate on racial grounds.

Last month the Labour Party was found guilty of deliberately discriminating in favour of a white candidate because of the sensitivities of the constituency. A white Briton got the job over a brown Pakistani Briton. So is this what Gordon means by “British Jobs for British Workers”?

Perhaps this story was lost in the uproar about Donorgate and the loss of 25 million bank account details by the government. Guido can’t help thinking that if the highest court in the land had just found the Conservative Party guilty of racial discrimination, that Alex Hilton, Kevin Maguire, Polly Toynbee, Roy Hattersley, Jackie Ashley together with the leader writers of the Guardian and Independent would all be working overtime. The silence is deafening.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Ashcroft Should Come Clean

Labour is getting hammered for breaking the laws on political funding. Rightly so, there needs to be criminal prosecutions in order to make it clear that the laws are to be obeyed. The Tories are working around the laws, which may be legal, but it is slippery. It is also bad politics, slushing money through unincorporated associations is just not on any more. Ashcroft’s tax arrangements are only a private matter if he is a private person.

Ashcroft’s influence on the Tories, like that of Lord Sainsbury for Labour, has been in the national interest. Billionaire Lord Sainsbury helped finance New Labour, dragging the Labour party from socialism towards an accommodation with the Thatcherite settlement and at the very least an acceptance of the market economy. Sainsbury financed progressive think tanks and pressure groups as well as the Labour party itself, to the betterment of the country. It was in the national interest to have a non-socialist alternative governing party to the Tories. Like Ashcroft he got stuck in rather than just sending £15 million plus of cheques.

Ashcroft has an equally involved approach, he has made an evidence based case to the Tories to change their game for the better. He has encouraged them, with financial incentives, to campaign professionally. He has pushed the party to appeal to the young aspirational middle classes once again, rather than just their core voters. It has got to be in the best interests of the country to have an opposition that is electorally competitive and appealing rather than ideologically marooned. Ashcroft is not a sinister Blofeld type character, he like Sainsbury has constructively used his wealth to better his party and (eventually) his country. But the increasing perception that Labour is trying to capitalise on is that he is a shadowy tycoon manipulating Cameron. It is in his own interests to come clean and it is definitely in the interests of the Tories that he comes clean – soon. If not people will be entitled to assume he has something to hide.

Politics in Britain suffers from a disconnect between cynical voters and disingenuous politicians. Any lack of clarity and the voters presume the worst – usually correctly. The money laundering, for that is what it is, endemic in British politics is just not acceptable. Every penny should be accounted for and sourced, whether it is Midlands business types or Muslim moguls. If they don’t like the publicity than they shouldn’t donate. Corruption is only possible in the shadows, in the sunshine we can see clearly, whatever reforms are made should be on the basis of total transparency. State funding is a lazy option, it also presumes that political campaigning is of such importance that it should be funded – it isn’t. In Europe there is plenty of state-sourced funding corruption, it won’t make things any better.

Politics is needlessly expensive, we don’t need so much politics or so many politicians and their hangers on. Politicians need to be taken down a peg or two, having to raise money only from people who are prepared to openly support them might bring some much needed humility and make them more connected to voters. If people are too ashamed to openly support politicians, it is the politicians who need to improve their reputation.

Blinky Balls on Marr

Ed Balls was spinning happily away on the Andrew Marr show when all of a sudden the blink rate went into overdrive when he was asked about the bottled election. Marr asked him had he told Brown to raise his game, Ed said words to the effect “of course not”, Marr retorted “shouldn’t you?”, Ed started mumbling.

For Andy Marr, this constitutes an all out attack. Mrs Marr’s articles in the Guardian are less than adulatory of late. Are they disappointed?

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Abrahams did get government fast-tracking after donationSunday Telegraph
96% of Muslim Friends of Labour cash came from one donor Sunday Times
Planners fast-tracked Labour donor’s business park scheme Indy on Sunday
Wendy hit by more revelations – Sunday Herald
Scottish Labour loses top donor in sleaze rowScotland on Sunday
Son of millionaire MP Sarwar guilty of £850,000 money laundering scamScotsman

Oh and…

Hugh Grant parties with vice-girlsNews of the Screws

Tory Spin Breaks Fundamental Rule

CCHQ have just sent out a “Why, oh why” press release about the OFT ruling from the shadow Farms Minister, James Paice, headlined “The price of milk should not be fixed”.

There really is no point crying over this…

+ READ MORE +



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