Cameron Criticises Jacqui Smith

Dave has just told LBC Radio: “I think it is also important that the arrangements that we go into, we can explain them in a reasonable way to a reasonable person, and they would think that we were being reasonable. I don’t think her arrangements really pass that test.” On the subject of her claiming her main residence is her spare room Dave said: “I do think it is a little bit hard to believe, but she has now got to defend it in the court of public opinion.” She may have trousered £116,000 but Guido thinks it will cost her the parliamentary seat.

Draper : I Didn’t Go to Berkeley

David Hencke has got Draper to admit that contrary to the impression he gave him for a recent Guardian profile, his qualification comes not from the world famous Berkeley, but from a small private institution called the Wright Institute in California.

According to the report

Unlike Berkeley, the privately owned Wright Institute, according to its website, does not offer full-time degrees. Instead it is aimed at graduates who want most of the week off for other activities. It says: “Our new masters’ programme is designed for students who want a high-quality graduate education and prefer to attend classes on weekends only.”

This course is remarkably good value by American standards, for just $6,525 you too can get a masters…

UPDATE : Draper says this morning that he didn’t go on this particular course, his course was full time. He says he never said he studied at Berkeley, University of California, he said he went to Berkeley, California. To study. Different you see. Yet on his professional website it mentions nowhere that he studied at the Wright Institute, just “Berkeley, California”. It is all the Guardian’s fault and he is going to sue. Stop digging Derek. You will be laughed out of court.

Same Old Draper, Spinning Lines Once Again Exposed for Exaggerating His Credentials

Derek Draper boasts of having an M.A. in Clinical Psychology, Guido wondered if his education could perhaps be applied usefully to the occupant of No. 10, Downing Street. So Guido thought it would be a bit of a laugh to track down Derek’s Master’s dissertation and see if it had any pearls of wisdom that could be applied to the state of mind of the Prime Mentalist.

A quick bit of Google research brought up a recent profile (July) and biography in the Guardian written by David Hencke. In the largely sympathetic article we learnt that Derek is a reformed character and no longer the legendary unsavoury spinner. Even a bitter old foe like Roy Hattersley has been won round:

He is Like a Character in a novel. There is always a whiff of danger because you don’t know what he is going to do next

The spin doctor turned psychotherapist has returned to the Labour fold … Hattersley, who recently lunched with Draper, says: “I believe he is now a changed man. He’s got older, is more measured. I don’t whether it is because he is now a psychotherapist or his marriage but he has changed. He will be an asset to the party.”

Helpfully the Guardian biography includes his CV:

Born August 15 1967 in Chorley, Lancashire

Education Southlands high school, Chorley; University of Manchester, economics; University of California, Berkeley, MA in clinical psychology

Family Married to GMTV presenter Kate Garraway. One daughter

Career 1990-92, constituency secretary to Nick Brown; 92-96, researcher for Peter Mandelson; 96-99, director of lobbying firm GPC Market Access. Briefly a columnist for the Express and presenter on Talk Radio; Currently a psychotherapist with a practice in London.

Having now discovered where he got his qualifications Guido contacted the registrar of the prestigious Berkeley campus at the University of California to track down the dissertation. He, and the academic librarian, were unsuccessful in finding the dissertation. Strangely the registrar could find no actual record of a student called Derek Draper:

Because the information you provided did not match any records in our database, we asked the school to research your request. The school was unable to locate either a degree or enrollment record for the subject of your verification request.

Nothing. Derek Draper never studied psychology at Berkeley, University of California. His professional practice website implies he did, though if you read it carefully it says “in” rather than “at”.
Like all good “celebs” Draper has an agent, the CV he sends out to potential bookers says, you guessed it; Berkeley, California. The truth is that a leopard can’t change its spots, he learnt how to spin from Mandelson, like his master he can’t help himself. Derek Draper wants to be Labour’s answer to Iain Dale, instead he seems more like Labour’s version of Jeffrey Archer. A fantasist who exaggerates himself for his own psychological reasons.

So Much for Becoming an “Insider”

In a step which Guido self-consciously saw as a bit too “Westminster insider”, the producers of Westminster’s answer to the Oscars, the Channel 4 Political Awards, asked him to pre-record some pithy comments about the nominees. The idea being presumably that when Jon Snow says “and the nominees are…” they go to video with the names, plus a few talking heads handicapping the runners and riders before the envelope is finally opened and the announcement made followed by gushing luvvie acceptance speeches.

Despite generously taking the time out to doing the filming, Guido is clearly too far below the salt to be invited to the actual ceremony itself. Or possibly it is because he said in one of the intros something like

“I have known John Bercow for 20 years, he is ambitious, articulate, a talented performer in the chamber, there is only one problem with him – he is a shit.”

The Channel 4 producer nearly choked, Guido’s invitation to tonight’s cermony never arrived…

PMQs Depression Edition

UPDATE : Not a mention of MPs expense fiddles. Anyone would think they are all at it…

Memo to PMQs Briefing Team

If today Dave doesn’t bring up the issue of MP’s expense fiddles, many ordinary viewers of the TV highlights will take the conspiracy of silence as a clear signal that “they are all at it”. The silence of the house on tackling abuses by rogue members is shameful.

Most people are disgusted by the venal money grubbing fiddles that MPs get up to. Figure out how to channel that disgust and you are on to a vote winner. Sleaze and incompetence dispatched the Major government. They can once again lubricate the exit of this government as well. Incompetence has already been established. Making “Labour” and “sleaze” synonymous will make voting for Labour distasteful.

Up the Khyber TV

The Miliband led foreign policy has taken a quirky turn. Britain used to send navy gunships to foreign lands that were becoming troublesome. Now the Foreign Office buys local television advertising space pleading “don’t attack us.” Soft power versus hard power. Does it make more sense to advertise on Pakistani TV than do as the Americans are doing and bomb them? Perhaps.

Guido is an advocate of a new cultural offensive against medieval Islam. The weapons should be Playboy magazine, MTV (in particular the Pussy Cat Dolls latest video), Coca Cola and iPods.

When it comes to convincing disaffected young muslim men of the superiority of the West, girls in mini-skirts will trump girls in burqas every time.

Second Complaint Over Jacqui Smith to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner

The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner told the Centre for Open Politics he can’t accept the evidence of a newspaper article alone. Well how about Jacqui’s own words?

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…

Jacqui Says

From Jacqui’s own website (www.jacquismithmp.labour.co.uk/biography):

Can the taxpayers have their £116,000 back please?

Hat-tip : Old Holborn

Ed Balls “Talks Down the Economy”

“I think that this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s…” says Ed. Not exactly little Miss Sunshine is he?

Michael Trend Precedent is Worrying for Jacqui Smith

Sir Michael White reckons that Jacqui Snith will get away with it. Guido, ever the optimist, is not so sure. The atmosphere currently is very unsympathetic to expense fiddles by politicians, particularly fiddles on this scale. The Michael Trend precedent is not encouraging for Jacqui, nor is is the precedent established by Mr & Mrs Balls.

You may wonder how that is so – after all Ed and Yvette got away with their fiddle. Yes they did, but only after arguing that their constituency home was their main residence. They claimed that they spent more time at the constituency home and therefore that was their primary residence, allowing them to claim expenses for their more expensive London home. That argument was accepted by the authorities.

Jacqui wants us to accept the opposite. That her main home is her sister’s London home where she lodges, so she can claim for her more expensive constituency home. She will have to show that she spends more time at the London flat than seeing her own kids. Crucially, is it three or is it four days a week that she spends away from her kids? The Balls’ argued successfully that in the recess and school holidays they spent the majority of the time away from London, it is hard to believe that Jacqui would stay in London when parliament is in recess and remain away from her family. Why would she do that when she was previously a whip? There would be no reason to stay away from her family and constituency.
That recent Balls precedent is going to be a difficult obstacle. However the Michael Trend precedent is even more worrying for Jacqui. In 2003 the Tory MP was found guilty of abusing the allowances system and ordered to repay £90,277, he was also suspended from parliament and stood down in disgrace at the following election. His crime was to claim the same allowance as Jacqui has when he was staying with a friend in London. Trend claimed he “believed that I could properly continue to designate London as ‘home’ for the purposes of ACA, even though, in domestic terms, Windsor had become my “main residence”.” This is apparently Jacqui’s position. It was not accepted. There was no doubt in the Standard’s Committee’s minds that there was no “real scope for doubt that the words “main residence” were intended to have other than their natural meaning.”

The Committee ruled that “Mr Trend should have recognised that, by claiming Additional Costs Allowance in relation to his Windsor home, the taxpayer was meeting some of the core running costs of what was in reality his main residence. He should have realised that this was wrong. Accordingly, we agree with the Commissioner that Mr Trend was negligent and has breached the Code of Conduct by making improper use of the Additional Costs Allowance and by failing strictly to observe the administrative rules relating to the Allowance.”

It is hard to see how, in these parallel circumstances, Jacqui Smith should not suffer the same fate. Ordered to repay the fiddled £116,000 and suspended from parliament. In which case she will have to resign as Home Secretary.

Draper’s Champagne Socialism : Do the Union Members Approve?

Guido approves of the decadent way DraperList hands out champagne willy nilly to encourage readers to comment and sign up for Derek’s twitterings. Co-conspirators here are lucky if they get a T-shirt. Just hope the poor credit-crunched minimum-wage-paid members of the union which funds his ego trip – Unite – are as understanding. As these Twitters show, Draper is literally p*ssing their money away for his own egotistical reasons:

just before i go to bed i have decided to give a bottle of champagne to my 1000th follower.
did i really decide this last night? must have been a bit pissed. oh well, a promise is a promise

Hard to see how it serves the workers interests to pay out their dues to Draper’s fans in the form of champagne…

In Defence of Some Banker’s Bonuses

Brokers and Traders have contracts like everyone else, they usually have performance related pay. When Guido was a trader he was recompensed with a share of the profits. There was no basic salary, no pension plan, no company car, no expense account, medical plan, per diem allowance, subsidised bar, subsidised restaurant, mileage allowance, staffing allowance, additional costs allowance, John Lewis list, nothing but a share of the profits and losses. No complaints, Guido ate what he killed and mostly ate well.

If the mortgage traders and derivatives traders have lost billions for an investment bank and the stock brokers and commodity traders have made millions, than why should the winning traders be punished for the losses of the losing traders? Are politicians now in favour of some form of collective punishment?

Do any of the politicians currently bashing the bankers really think banks can break contracts with traders just because politicians says so? The banks would be sued in court and lose. Cameron says “it is insulting to take money from taxpayers to use for their bonuses” – the taxpayer would be worse off if the profitable traders left and reduced the banks future profitability or, worse still, sued. He should know better, he probably does, yet he is just reflecting populist rage. Not his finest moment of leadership.

UPDATE : Given the state of the economy for which they are responible, presumably Hector Sants of the FSA, Mervyn King of the Bank of England and the numerous Treasury mandarins who monitor our economic well being will forgo the millions in bonuses due to be to be paid to them this year? Go on set an example, Gordon has it in his power to order it so.

Anti-Corruption Group Calls for Investigation of Jacqui Smith

The Centre for Open Politics has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards making a formal complaint regarding Jacqui Smith’s expense fiddles:

Jacqui Smith Complaint to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner

Interesting dilemma: if there is any question of a police investigation of her “Obtaining by Deception” under the Fraud Act, she would have to resign as Home Secretary.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Web 1.0 v Web 2.0

Just had a “why didn’t you reply” exchange with someone whom Guido really did not intentionally mean to ignore. This may seem very Web 1.0, but email really is best. Despite now getting some 800 emails a day, this is still the best way of communicating with Guido. If you know the number text via SMS is slightly higher priority (or call the voicemail number on the blog 0709 284 0531, this is texted to Guido via Spinvox). Twitter is completely ignored – would you converse with a thousand unknown people? Facebook is rarely logged into. Forget the other social networks.

Afraid Guido is just perhaps too Web 1.0. Dale and Draper are so very into Tweeting trivia, if you want to know about Gio’s latest bowel movements or Dolly’s state of sobriety, Twitter is for you. Welcome to Web 2.0…

Labour Sleaze : Lord Moonie’s Cash for Questions Northrop Grumman Paid Peer £30,000 for 23 Questions

The Sunday Herald has got more trouble for Lord Moonie, who is already under investigation for Cash for Laws. He is paid £30,000 to act as a consultant to Northrop Grumman Corp., the U.S. arms manufacturer, distasteful but legal.

The sleazy Lord has however now been caught out asking Questions for Cash:

23 of the 46 written questions Moonie has had answered by the government in the Lords relate to defence work connected to Northrop Grumman Corp. These include the F35 joint strike fighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Airbus A400M cargo plane, the Navy’s Type 45 destroyer programme, and unmanned aerial drones for spying and bombing.

Moonie also asked a question about the Sentry Awacs early-warning aircraft. In 2005 Northrop Grumman won a £665 million contract to maintain and support the Royal Air Force’s Awacs fleet over 20 years.

Moonie was ennobled in 2005 but did not ask any parliamentary questions in his first three years as a peer, according to Hansard. But since mid-2008 he has asked almost 50, all on defence issues.

Angus MacNeil, the Nationalist MP for the Western Isles, said “The coincidences do not look good. I would like to think there was no motivation when Lord Moonie asked these questions, and I am sure he will be able to tell us why he didn’t ask any questions before he worked for this company.”

Moonie stepped down as an MP following boundary changes to make way for Gordon Brown and was enobled as a quid pro quo. Moonie also paid Gordon Brown handsomely for his old Kennington flat which he then sub-let to Alistair Darling. We are clearly not dealing with an obscure outsider here, we are dealing with corruption right at the heart of Labour’s Scottish Raj. Will Gordon Brown allow a corruptian investigation into someone so intimately connected to him?

Labour Sleaze : “Second Home Secretary” is on the Take

The Mail on Sunday has caught Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, fiddling her expenses to the tune of £116,000 – bang to rights.
  • She claims her “main home” is the one she stays in when in London – except it belongs to her sister.
  • She claims her “second home” is the home she owns in her constituency. However her own official website says she and her family live there.
Her SpAd claims “It has been cleared by the Commons Fees Office.” The Fees Office don’t clear anything, they take an “Honourable” Member’s word. The property records indicate sole-ownership of the property she claims is her “main home” is in her sister’s name. If she is in fact merely lodging with her sister, who is pocketing the taxpayer’s £500-a-week tax free? Can we have a Home Secretary who steals £116,000 from the taxpayers?

UPDATE : Don’t forget her husband is also on the payroll (£40,000) doing “research” – when he isn’t sending letters supporting her to the local paper – without mentioning his financial and marital relationship.

Johnson : We Have Only Wasted 1/4 of the Money

The Tories have announced they plan a spending cap on IT projects in view of the NHS super-computer disaster, where the budget has gone from £2 billion to £13 billion. Which is a complete joke considering that is more than Google will spend on research and development. The charge of waste must be hitting home, if this report from a co-conspirator is anything to go by:

I shared a train carriage today with Alan Johnson. He was having a loud telephone conversation overheard by the whole carriage telling everyone how worried he was the Tories would attack them over the lack of progress and tax payers money spent on the new computer system for the NHS. “We have only actually spent £3 billion, rather than the £12 billion we planned, so taxpayers are actually getting value for money….” were his very words.

On that basis the last charge of the light brigade was not a complete military failure, since some of the calvarymen survived.

Gordon’s Other Eye in Downing Street

Jeremy Clarkson has apologised for mocking Gordon Brown’s appearance – note he did not apologise for calling him an idiot. So the matter is closed says a Downing Street spokesman.

Guido can’t help wondering if the person who chose to hang David Austen’s “Green Electric Morning – Eye” picture from the National Art Collection on the wall in Downing Street might also be having a laugh.

[…] Read the rest

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