The Construction Bill passing through the House of Lords is a classic of its kind. Technical, boring and of little interest to most people, except for those in the industry who will profit or lose from amendments to the tune of millions. Lord O’Neill, the former Labour MP turned ermine-clad troughing piggy, decided to withdraw amendments to the bill after The Times’ Sam Coates spotted that he was paid by the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group.
Guido’s co-conspirator from the property world has now spotted that Lord O’Neill’s withdrawn amendments from the Local Democracy, Economic Development, Construction Bill have recently been re-tabled by Lord Borrie. The same exact amendments (Amendments 203A to 217A) without alteration.
Guido has gone to the trouble of underling the differences between the two amendments in red. Perhaps Lord Borrie personally feels strongly about construction contracts or he’s just mates with Lord O’Neill. Either way I’m sure Lord O’Neill’s sponsors, the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group, are happy with the coincidence.
They really are all at it in the Parliament of Whores…
MSM types keep telling Guido that Draper is “not an important story” / “a nobody” / “leave it, he ain’t worth it”. The fact is, that combined with the dancing tabloid celeb missus, he is in reality great box office and will be a comedy gift that just keeps on giving. He is Old School New Labour spin and hectoring bullying personified, if his mentor Mandelson is the Harrods of spin (thinks itself grand, actually tacky and glitzy) then Draper is the Morrisons (Northern, cheap and scruffy). In any event the readers lap it up in a “can’t stand him, what is he up to now” kind of way. Tim Montgomerie, gentlemen that is is, thinks Draper should be given a fair bat. Guido on the other hand thinks a baseball bat would be the right tool.
Where is the overdue comment system change you ask? Moderation is an absolute bore, but the transfer of hundreds of thousands of comments from Google’s blogger is proving difficult, also the new comment system is not up to scratch. In the face of Dollybots and window lickers what is Guido to do? Guido wants the new system more than anyone.
Happy St David’s Day to you all, and to Steve Morgan happy birthday and happy wedding anniversary. Morgan is unfortunately reeling from the recession and reaping the consequences of his sleazy spin antics being widely exposed. Morgan has reputedly been a very angry man since all his ambitions started collapsing, for the maestro behind Hain’s disastrous deputy leadership bid, life this last year has been challenging politically, professionally and personally.
His firm, Morgan Allan Moore, is in ruins with offices closed and clients drifting away. Not surprising really after the firm became the first to be booted out of the lobbyist’s club the APPC, for breaching the rules on client disclosure. The firm was even singled out for criticism by the Public Administration Select Committee in their report on the lobbying industry. A highly risky High Court libel case against a former employee turned whistle blower was dropped when evidence emerged to back up the whistle blower’s claims. Rumour has it that a director’s living room now doubles as the English “office”. On the political front Steve Morgan can’t even count on old mates now once loyal Peter Hain has publicly gone on the record to blame Morgan’s incompetence for his own downfall.
Quite cunning of Morgan to have his wedding (and birthday) on St David’s Day, avoids any danger of him forgetting flowers (presumably daffodils) for the wife, which must be a danger when you are on your fifth marriage. At least his marriage to Deborah (half his age) isn’t falling apart. Is it?
Grandad Fawkes was a Fabian in his youth (we are all allowed a few follies), he once recounted to a young Guido the day he lost his faith in the Labour Party. He was in his mid-twenties, on the lowest rung of corporate management and was delighted to be invited out with his superiors to a fantastically expensive restaurant (on expenses).
This was in the miserable seventies, industrial strife was terrible, strikes and union unrest were marking the decline of the country. Despite all this Grandad Fawkes believed in the ideals of equality and justice for all. On a neighbouring restaurant table he noticed union bosses recognisable from so many television news broadcasts, where they would without fail bemoan the plight of their members. The union bosses were enjoying themselves immensely, ordering the best wines and cigars like plutocrats. In that moment he realised his naivety.
So it is no surprise to learn, that Unite’s Derek Simpson is not satisfied with his annual £150,000 package, nor his £800,000 grace and favour union house. He stays weekdays at the Waldorf, despite living a mere half-an-hour from the office. “Nothing is too good for the workers”they say. Derek Simpson enjoys the use of a luxury suite that usually rents for £500 a night. Unite, his union, is Labour’s biggest paymaster.
Ordinary union members couldn’t dream of the bling chauffeur-driven lifestyle he leads – paid for out of their dues.
Gordon’s visit to Southampton is not without casulties:
42 dock workers are to be axed at ABP … equivalent to 10% of the workforce … from across all sectors and will include senior managers … Trade in key areas has “dropped like a stone”… The jobs blow comes hard on the heels of a succession of bad news for hard-hit dockworkers and just days after Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed the port as “one of the most important parts of the economy”
A worried student co-conspirator has just emailed:
Just thought you might want to know Gordon turned up unannounced at Oxford University today to deliver the annual Romanes lecture, titled ‘Science and the Economy’. Despite beginning by talking about the fact Gladstone put more effort into researching and writing his Romanes Lecture than anything else he did in his life, Gordon’s lecture was the dullest of SpAd-written drivel. He also told a completely bullshit story about Einstein and his chauffeur (debunked here), even having the cheek to set it in Britain, adding to the lie. Finally, and no doubt striking fear into the heart of the audience, he invoked the curse of Jonah by praising Oxford’s scientific achievement and hoping it continues into the future. Will we ever discover anything again? I’d be surprised if the University’s still here this time next year after that endorsement!
Guido will be cheering Ireland on in the rugby tomorrow. England fans should note that on Wednesday the England rugby team visited Downing Street. Diplomatically he didn’t wish them luck (Scotland are in also in the six nations).
Prescott was on the Today show this morning complaining about Fred the Shred’s pension “rewards for failure”. How ironic that this is in fact an area of particular expertise for Prezza.
When he was sacked as Deputy PM, for generally being an embarrassing incompetent, he kept hold of his pension perks – including additional pension contributions from taxpayers even though he wasn’t working for them. Blair even let him keep two grace-and-favour homes, while stripping him of his departmental responsibilities. At the time opposition politicians railed at Prezza’s “rewards for failure”.
Lord Oakeshott, the LibDem pensions spokesman, said at the time: “First it was two Jags, then two pads. Now it seems we have two pensions Prescott. No fat-cat director in the private sector would dream of awarding himself such a generous pension for a part-time job.”
Chris Grayling accused Blair of misusing taxpayers’ money by keeping Prescott in government, said: “Just this extra pension cost to the taxpayer of keeping John Prescott in his position could have paid for four additional nurses. That is without other trappings such as his official residence and his ministerial car.”
Even Labour MPs like Geraldine Smith were stunned; “I think it is outrageous that the Deputy Prime Minister loses his department but keeps his position, his salary and the perks of the job. It seems absolutely astonishing.”
Prezza’s pension pot makes him a multi-millionaire, courtesy of the taxpayers.
UPDATE : It is satire that writes itself to know that Lord Myners of Short Selling chaired what was known as the Treasury’s “Myners Review” into the good governance of pensions.
Guido can’t help thinking that the row over Fred’s £8 million pension is a contrived bit of spin to distract headlines away from the £300 billion bet that HM Treasury is taking on RBS. Frankly Fred’s £8 / £16 million is neither here nor there in comparison to what the government is committing the taxpayer to underwriting. If this goes pear shaped Iceland will be nothing in comparison.
Usually the convention is that a PPS who opposes a government motion resigns for the reason that technically they are part of the government, even though they are unpaid. The FT’sWestminster blog lists ten PPS who have signed the EDM opposing Mandelson’s plans to make the Royal Mail pay:
David Wright (PPS to John Hutton), David Anderson (Bill Rammell), Claire Curtis-Thomas (Baroness Scotland of Asthal), David Hamilton (Ed Miliband), Mark Hendrick (Jack Straw), Stephen Hesford (Vera Baird), Sharon Hodgson (Dawn Primarolo), Ashok Kumar (Hilary Benn), John Mann (Tessa Jowell), Stephen Pound (Stephen Timms)
Laura Moffatt is a former PPS to Alan Johnson, her opposition might be a sign of where he really stands. Nick Brown, Gordon’s long time henchman and now chief whip is also said to be not keen mon the bill. It is getting a bit like the dying days of the Major regime when euro-sceptics openly defied the government…
Crisis, what banking crisis? Yesterday the City minister Lord Myners was showing off his art collection to the Labour glitterati, tonight John Prescott will be in the heart of the financial district partying with the rest of the London Labour Party to raise money from bankers at a £500-a-table “Gala Dinner”
For public consumption Labour are bashing the bankers whilst privately they will be dancing to their tunes, still hoping to tap them up for donations. Tonight’s gala venue is next door to Lehman’s building in Canary Wharf, so perhaps they won’t raise quite as much money as they hope – particularly since any bankers still with jobs are unlikely to have cash to spare from non-existent bonuses. Unless of course you negotiated your exit package with Alastair Darling, in which case you are sorted for life…
Baron Myners said recently “I have met more masters of the universe than I would like to, people who were grossly over-rewarded and did not recognise that. Some of that is pretty unpalatable. They are people who have no sense of the broader society around them.”
Broader society is suffering terribly as the banking and debt crisis ravages the economy. Yet the former Smith Institute deputy chairman, Guardian Media Group chairman, hedge fund director, long time Brown crony and newly appointed City Minister, Lord Myners of Short Selling, isn’t showing any signs of belt tightening. Quite the contrary, he is hosting gilded parties.
Yesterday he and Lady Myners “graciously” invited their friends from the art world, politics and upper reaches of the Guardian into their Belgravia home to view their multi-million pound modern art collection.
Guido has been unable to confirm which particular vintage of champagne it was that Sarah Brown, and the many other friends drawn from the ruling New Labour elite, were drinking. Truly, they are “people who have no sense of the broader society around them.”
This was sent around Labour PPS’s by Dave Anderson, PPS to Bill Rammell at the FCO. Note he says the issue is as important as the 10p tax issue.
In discussion with other colleagues I am aware that some PPS’s share my concerns regarding the proposal to bring a private partner into Royal Mail.
In line with meetings that we had with Alistair on the 10p tax changes, I am hoping to get a meeting with Lord Mandelson and Pat MacFadden and worried PPS’s. I hope that we can find a way forward that is acceptable to all parts of our party and in line with our manifesto commitment.
If you are interested in attending such a meeting can you let me know as soon as possible? My telephone number is 0790 xxxxxx and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave Anderson MP
Clearly the meeting didn’t go brilliantly…
UPDATE : You have to admire Mandelson’s sheer cunnning. He has just had the first reading of the Post Privatisation Bill a day early in the Lords. former postie, Lord Clarke, shouted “shame on you”. A good day to bury bad headlines.
Guido’s sympathies are with the Camerons. However cancelling PMQs is not the right response. The show must go on, every week the names of sons who have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq are read out and sympathies are offered. Democracy does not halt for those sons.
Perhaps the politicians felt uncomfortable continuing with “Punch and Judy politics” as normal when one of the main protagonists, David Cameron, has suffered such a deep personal loss. Perhaps PMQs just isn’t that important.
We are told that instead Brown, Cable and Hague will read statements to the House.
UPDATE 12:05 : Having heard the condolences perhaps it was for the best, the mood of the House was clearly not for “business as usual”.
UPDATE 12:35 : The scheduled unveiling of Margaret Thatcher’s portrait in Downing Street has also been postponed.
Over one hundred and forty Labour MPs have signed a motion opposing goverment plans to part-privatise the Post Office, three Cabinet ministers are known to be opposed, former cabinet ministers like the disgraced Peter Hain are campaigning against the plan and even lowly SpAds are threatening to quit carrying bags.[…] Read the rest