Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Gordon’s Slush Fund

The Mail on Sunday this morning is following up on this story. Guido will have more revelations next week…

Something Odd in the Banking Bill

Guido is suspicious about this seemingly innocuous amendment in the new Banking Bill:

Banking Bill
Part 7 — Miscellaneous

Weekly return

Section 6 of the Bank Charter Act 1844 (Bank to produce weekly account) shall cease to have effect.
The 1844 Banking Bill ensured transparency in the operations of the Bank of England. It has been good enough for over 164 years.The section the new Banking Bill seeks to abolish reads as follows:

And be it enacted, That an Account of the Amount of Bank of England Notes issued by the Issue Department of the Bank of England, and of Gold Coin and of Gold and Silver Bullion respectively, and of Securities in the said Issue Department, and also an Account of the Capital Stock, and the Deposits, and of the Money and Securities belonging to the said Governor and Company in the Banking Department of the Bank of England, on some Day in every Week to be fixed by the Commissioners of Stamps and Taxes, shall be transmitted by the said Governor and Company weekly to the said Commissioners in the Form prescribed in the Schedule hereto annexed marked (A.), and shall be published….

Surely it can’t be that they don’t want us to know how fast the Bank of England’s printing presses are going to be running?

Krazy Kaschke Kraut

Rather than going into tedious detail about why LabourHome’s Alex Hilton is being sued by Johanna Kaschke, Guido just wants to say that Johanna Kaschke is definitely ‘one cherry short of a Schwarzwalderkirschtorte’.

Last year she claimed to be “a member of the GMB Union, the Respect Party, the Communist Party”, this year she is a member of the Conservative Party. Blue clearly is the new red. Mockery is not actionable Kaschke, so don’t bother sending a writ…

Friday Caption Competition (You’re Nicked Edition)

Hain : CPS Statement in Full

CPS decides no charges for Peter Hain MP

5 December 2008

The Crown Prosecution Service has today advised all concerned parties that there is insufficient evidence to charge Peter Hain MP with any offences in relation to donations made to Mr Hain’s campaign to support his bid to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in mid 2007.

Stephen O’Doherty, reviewing lawyer from the CPS Special Crime Division said: “Although Mr Hain did not report all regulated donations to the Electoral Commission within the 30 days stipulated by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, in order to prove a criminal breach of the Act the Crown must first prove that Mr Hain held the position of either a ‘regulated donee’ or, if operating via a ‘members association’ he was the ‘person responsible for dealing with donations to the association’.

“The evidence in this case shows that Mr Hain’s campaign was run through an organisation named ‘Hain4Labour’ which was made up of members of the Labour Party. That organisation had its own bank account and the funds for Mr Hain’s campaign were solicited for that account and cheques donated were made out to that account. Those were all characteristics of a ‘members association’ as defined in the Act. Mr Hain was not a signatory to that account and did not direct where funds should be spent.

“In light of this evidence, I have concluded that Mr Hain was not the ‘regulated donee’ and nor was he the person responsible for dealing with donations to the association under the terms of the PPERA.”

“As to who should have been responsible for reporting these regulated donations, it is not possible to prove from the evidence available that any other individuals involved with Mr Hain’s campaign fell into the category of being either the regulated donee or the person responsible for dealing with donations. Accordingly I have advised the police to take no further action.”

Following a review into donations received to support Mr Hain’s election campaign by the Electoral Commission, the matter was referred for investigation to the Metropolitan Police Service in January 2008. Following their investigation, a file was submitted to the CPS in July 2008.

So you can raise some £100,000 without declaring it to the Electoral Commission in support of an elected politician using a shady “think tank” / slush fund and get away with it, so long as you muddy the waters enough. The Progressive Policies Forum was a slush fund. It had done nothing, had undertaken no known political activity, had no employees, no policies and there was no forum or indeed any meeting ever. When it quacks like a slush fund, acts like a slush fund and washes money like a slush fund, it is a slush fund.

Was it really not possible for the CPS to prove who was responsible for dealing with donations? Some donations we know were sent to the offices of Morgan Allen Moore, Steve Morgan was running the campaign. Steve Morgan, told Radio Wales on January 8, 2008 that he had been brought in to the campaign to “bring order to chaos”.

Here is a clue*:

—–Original Message—–
From: Huw Roberts [mailto:huw@huwrobertsassociates.com]
Sent: 24 April 2007 16:23

To: ian@tmcommunications.net; alan.cummins@waitrose.com; ‘Dai Davies’; russell.goodway@thechamberofcommerce.org.uk; showell@freshwater-uk.com; gary.mawer@up-ltd.co.uk; kate.lewis@morganallenmoore.com;
frank.specsavers@virgin.net;
nigel.roberts@paramountinteriors.com;john@clearco.co.uk

Cc: steve.morgan@morganallenmoore.com; andrew.bold@walesoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Subject: Dinner

Dear all

Thank you all for joining us at dinner last night. I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable event as well as very helpful to Peter’s campaign. As I am now off to France to recuperate, Kate Lewis has very kindly agreed to follow up on the delicate matter of the contributions to the campaign fund.

Cheques, made payable to “Hain4Labour” should be sent to Kate at Morgan, Allen, Moore, Bay Chambers, West Bute Street, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5BB.

Best wishes,

Huw

Is it really impossible to determine who on the campaign team was responsible for donations?


Bear in mind, if Hain had “bought the election” having spent double the expenditure of the other candidates, he would now be deputy leader of the party of government, and beholden to secret donors unknown to us. That is not a minor technicality.

*The authenticity of this email was confirmed by Huw Roberts to the journalist Martin Shipton of the Western Mail.

Clegg Right to Boycott Speakers Ruse

Nick Clegg is not allowing the Speaker to get away with packing the committee looking into the Green affair, the LibDems will boycott the committee. The Speaker plans to establish a seven strong committee with four Labour placemen in the majority. A fix in other words.

Another LibDem, Chris Huhne, gave one of the most spirited speeches in defence of Green’s whistleblowing and against the government’s heavy handedness.

The unprincipled partisanship of the Labour hierarchy over this has driven the LibDems to side with the Tories again. If the next election is competitive Labour may regret having driven the LibDems towards the Tories so many times on so many issues…

Banks Have to Make a Profit

As the politicians all start to bash the banks for not passing on the full rate cut, Guido asks how can the recapitalisation of the banking system be successful if they don’t make a profit? This is the danger with quasi-nationalisation – once you start putting political considerations before commercial imperatives, banks will be perpetually loss-making burdens on the taxpayer.

The fact is the banks have to earn a spread from the rate they lend against the rate they borrow, otherwise you get into the Northern Rock position with the cost of borrowing exceeding the return on lending. Politicians will nevertheless huff and puff regardless of reality.

UPDATE : The government is going to force banks to double their holdings of government bonds, supposedly to increase their “liquidity reserves”. Handy when the government is desperate to find buyers for gilts to keep itself afloat. If they have to buy gilts, it will make it even more difficult for banks to extend credit to corporate borrowers… doh!

Met Letter to Jacqui Smith : “We Needed Consent, We Got Consent”


Via Wikileaks

Jeremy Corbyn Most Rebellious MP Again

corbyn jumper

There is something marvellously truculent about Jeremy Corbyn. He is once again, according to Philip Cowley’s analysis, the most rebellious whip defying MP. Given that part of the reason for getting rid of Tony Blair was to restore party discipline it is amusing to see that the parliamentary Labour Party is more revolting now than it was under Blair; “Gordon Brown’s first complete parliamentary session as Prime Minister, saw Labour MPs defy their whips on 103 occasions. That compares to 96 occasions in Tony Blair’s whole first Parliament.”

Download full analysis (pdf).

House Prices Fell 16% Y-o-Y, Car Sales Down 36.8% November

The pound is at a record low against the euro this morning (1.15). Today we’ll probably see the Bank of England cut base rates to 2%. Alistair Darling says we’ll be out of recession by the second half of next year – which seems to Guido very, very unlikely. The government says it will be underwriting the entire mortgage business, not just through quasi-nationalisation of banks, but by guaranteeing defaulting borrowers for 2 years. This is not a recipe for sound money. At this rate we will soon have to rename the currency the Great British Krona…

Speaker Underwhelms

Not exactly his finest hour was it? He really is the most chippy useless speaker to have sat in that chair. He is a terrible champion of parliamentary democracy.

Calling Devil’s Kitchen

The Devil is forever boasting that he never suffers a hang-over. Guido can confirm that he does pass out though. DK, if you are wondering what happened to your phone and wallet, call, they are safe…

Green Raid Footage

C’mon ComRes

Has the arrest of Damian Green and the hiking of beer and income taxes boosted Labour massively? ComRes has Labour up 4% to only 1% behind the Tories (down 6%).

The ComRes national numbers are Con 37%(-6), Lab 36%(+4), Lib 17%(+5). It also has the Tories ahead of Labour in Wales and Labour shooting up in the wealthy Tory heartlands of the south east of England.

Does that make sense to you? ICM and Mori have Labour with double digit deficits. Punters on Betfair make Labour 3/1 outsiders…

The Run on the Pound

Yesterday sterling had the biggest drop it has had since it was forced out of the ERM on White Wednesday in 1992. The pound was down 4% at $1.48 and it fell 2.9% against the euro and tumbled 4.8% versus the yen. It just goes to show how bad Britain’s situation is that this isn’t even front page news on every paper.

UPDATE : This just in from a co-conspirator:

Hello Guido,
I’ve been perusing the great work of fiction that is Gordy’s oops, the Chancellor’s growth forecasts, and on page 1 of Annex A: The Economy we have this bullet-pointed gem:

‘UK GDP growth of 3/4 % for 2008 with the economy contracting in the second half of the year’

Now, when the chancellor stood up at the dispatch box, three quarters of 2008 GDP growth were known:

Q1 0.3%
Q2 0%
Q3 -0.5%

In order to hit the forecast 0.75%, the economy has to grow at feisty 1% in the fourth quarter. Has the Chancellor been outside recently?

Is it any wonder that foreign investors have lost confidence in Britain, Gordon has missed his GDP growth forecasts every year since 2006. The Chancellor makes fantasy forecasts that no one believes, least of all HM Treasury, does he really expect GDP to surge this quarter?

UPDATE II : Some querying via email of how the GDP quarterly statistics are precisely computed by someone who seems to know what they are talking about; “There are lies, damned lies and statistics”.

Earned Equity

Following on from Boris’ idea ofearned citizenship, Iain Duncan Smith is pushing the idea that council tenants who seek work and “keep their families in good order… could earn a share of the equity in their homes… Social housing often acts as a block against people getting back to work, with lifetime tenure and lack of mobility” he told the Today show this morning.
Equity should be offered to: “those paying rent on time, keeping their families in good order, being part of the community… Estates have become ghettos of the most broken families and there are incentives for them to stay like that…”

70% paying rent aspired to owning their own home according to research by the Centre for Social Justice. Isn’t this something sensible that New Labour could support? Helping decent hard working low income families to become homeowners? It isn’t something for nothing, it isn’t privatisation, it is nudging with rewards. If the most difficult and troublesome households saw their neighbours being rewarded for good housekeeping it would incentivise them to literally put their own house in order. The workless underclass in public sector housing is disproportionately the source of most crime and social problems. Labour’s inability to make progress in this area despite huge expenditures is one of the biggest tragedies of the Blair years.

Report Summary download (pdf).

Harman Attempting to Nobble Speaker

A weak Speaker is a terrible blight on parliament. In Speaker Martin we have the weakest Speaker in modern times. Harriet Harman is trying to push him around:Dale has the scoop, Harriet Harman is convening a meeting of government, party and civil service figures, Jacqui Smith and Jack Straw, as well as Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, Jill Pay, the Serjeant at Arms and the Parliamentary Clerk, Malcolm Jack and a representative from the Speaker’s Office. Clearly they are trying to agree a fix. If it was a genuine attempt to resolve the situation honestly opposition parliamentarians would have been invited. Appropriately it leaked out.

Another Downing Street Aide Quits

Ben Brogan reports that Gordon Brown’s newly appointed “Strategic Communications Adviser” Nick Stace has lasted nine months. That long, eh?

He is off to Australia to get as far away as possible from the Prime Mentalist to take up a new job. The Downing Street bunker is returning to the hardcore plus Mandelson. Not a happy place is it?

+++ Pound Crashes Below $1.50 +++

And dropping… think this constitutes, as predicted by Osborne, a run on the pound.

+ READ MORE +



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