+++ Shock Poll Irish Times : No 35% Yes 30% +++

RTE News Flash 22:08

The latest opinion poll on the Lisbon Referendum is showing the ‘No’ side surging ahead in a dramatic reversal of opinion. The TNS/mrbi poll in tomorrow’s Irish Times shows opponents of the Treaty with a 5% lead over those in favour.

Up to now, opinion polls on the Referendum campaign have consistently shown the ‘Yes’ side ahead, although opponents have been closing the gap. But now the ‘No’ side has done more than that, surging into a commanding lead with just a week to polling day.

The poll shows the ‘Yes’ side at 30%, down five points since their last poll three weeks ago, while the ‘No’ side is at 35%, up a staggering 17%, with ‘Don’t Knows’ down 12 at 35%.

If that result is repeated next week, the political establishment is heading for a crushing defeat and the Lisbon Treaty is dead.

Could Ireland save European civilisation again? We are a contrary people…

Dave : Chichester Right to Go

Cameron has just made a statement on Giles Chichester:

Giles Chichester is right to stand down as leader of our MEPs to prepare a full explanation of how his office is funded. Just as I expect our MPs to adhere to the highest standards, so must our MEPs. The tax-paying public have a right to know how their money is being spent and politicians have a duty to ensure it is spent properly.

13 Tory MEPs Still Hiding Their Expenses Even Now

Giles Chichester has resigned as leader of the Tory MEPs and his career is effectively over. Guido can’t see him being re-selected. As is always seemingly the way with these things we never see any criminal charges. The guilty politician will waffle on about “good faith”, “mistakes” and our old favourite “a technical breach of the rules”.

In reality it is criminal fraud. Returning once again to the subject, there are still, right now, 13 Tory MEPs who refuse to disclose what they have done with their expenses. Den Dover has a very similar set-up to Chichester, with hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to a family firm based in his home, he has a lot of questions to answer. Is it acceptable that public servants who work for the voters and spend public money won’t say where the money has gone? Guido doesn’t think so…

UPDATE : Apparently Chichester has already been re-selected to fight next years Euro-elections. Surely the Tories won’t want to run an expense fiddler? Surely?

+++ Rumour Chichester Resigning 4pm +++

UPDATE : BBC reporting Giles Chichester “set to resign”.

Euro-Corruption : Labour Not Gleeful, Just Audited

Labour’s Richard Corbett MEP has called, he says of the Tory Euro-MPs troubles:

“I suppose I should be jumping up and down with glee but I’m afraid we all get tarnished with the same brush.”

He says that they have fully audited expenses for all Labour MEPs and that he is “not aware of any service companies… Any member of the European Parliament found to transgress the rules should be dealt with appropriately. Labour MEPs have their accounts monitored by independent auditors since 2000. Will you mention my blog?”

Guido is getting his tarnishing brush…

+++ Cameron : MEPs Must Justify Expenses in 48 Hours +++

ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie has been on to Team Cameron. He is reporting that Den Dover and Giles Chichester have 48 hours to explain themselves or have the whip withdrawn – “Zero Tolerance”.

+++ Another “Whoops-a-Daisy” Tory MEP +++

Guido treads warily with this one since Den Dover MEP got The Sun (at the hands of Carter-Ruck) to apologise for accusing him of expense fiddling. Clearly Den Dover is very sensitive to suggestions that he is an expense fiddler.

He is the chief-whip of the Tory MEPs led by Giles Chichester, who has himself been caught whoops-a-daisy paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. So what of his colleague Den Dover? Here is an extract from his recently updated declaration of interest (full document here)

click to enlarge

It was updated shortly after Open Europe’s Transparency Initiative started asking him questions about his expenses. Den Dover said repeatedly he had nothing to declare in the past, but mentioned this time for no apparent reason, in passing, that his wife and daughter work for the company that he pays out of his expenses. Fancy that!

He didn’t mention that as well as paying his wife and daughter some £376,916 in salary, the company in question is based at his home address. The company has spent £32,462 on “repairs”. Presumably repairs to a property. Guido wonders which property could that be getting repaired at the taxpayers expense?

Did Guido mention that the family firm has had £56,411 in motoring expenses off the taxpayer as well? Finally, and this takes the euro-biscuit, the family firm makes five figure profits. Whoops-a-Bloody-Daisy….

Why is his wife’s family firm profiteering out of his expense claims? Shouldn’t the claims and payments be made on a costs basis, rather than a profiteering basis? The family is troughing enough at the taxpayers expense already without rubbing our noses into it and profiteering.

The profiteering factor from bills from his wife, authorised by him, to a business based in the family home is worse than Derek Conway. In total he has authorised payments of £758,143 to his family’s firm since he joined the Euro-gravy train…

The silence from Labour and the Lib Dems on this issue is revealing – top Tory MEPs are fiddling the system and they have nothing to say? Guido has tried to get comments from the Labour and Liberal Democratic Brussels press offices. Why would they be so silent? Could it be that they are all at it? Guido is coming for them too…

The only on the record comment Guido got was from UKIP’s Nigel Farage “Mr Cameron said he wanted to ‘clean-up’ British politics but so far Chichester has only been summoned to the bridge. He needs to take tough action if he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite.” Exactly…

He Says “Whoops-a-Daisy”, We Say “Corrupt”

Tory MEPs are led by Giles Chichester, who has been caught paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. Now he has been caught red-handed profiteering from public monies and only after days of calls for him to go, what does he say? He told West Country ITV last night:

…whoops-a-daisy I am shown up to have made a mistake. OK, hands up, mea culpa and I am putting it right.

Not “whoops-a-daisy”, not a “mistake”, Giles Chichester deliberately and disgracefully used a front-company to profiteer from his own expense claims. That is unethical, dishonest and a resignation matter. He is supposed to be fighting waste and EU-fiddles – not designing them.

He is now trying the Peter Hain ruse of reporting himself to the authorities, after he has been caught, no doubt he will go on to apologise for his “errors”, claiming that is was somebody else’s fault that he mistakenly profited from taxpayers funds in a shady under-the-counter arrangement.

He is not the only Tory MEP blatantly profiteering. Guido will be revealing another “whoops-a-daisy” later this morning…

Civil Service Swerves Jacqui’s 42 Days Speech Under Investigation Smith Institute Serves Speech

Guido drew attention yesterday to the Smith Institute giving a platform for Jacqui Smith to sell the 42 days policy. The Smith Institute is, as a tax-exempt charity, restricted from getting involved in politics or in matters not compatible with its charitable objectives. It is currently under investigation for a second time for breaches of the Charities Act.

So what was it doing last night? Any claim that the speech given by Jacqui Smith was non-political and made in her capacity as a government minister should be dismissed. Guido understands that senior civil servants ruled that it was a political speech – hence it was not reported or distributed via the official Government News Network or spun by civil service press officers. Quite correct and proper, she was after all making the case for a politically controversial policy.

So the speech was distributed only by the Labour Party’s press office. Which raises the question – what was the legally non-partisan Smith Institute doing getting involved in this controversial area a few days ahead of a close run vote, which theoretically could turn into a confidence vote for Gordon Brown? Another example of blatantly partisan politicking from the Smith Institute.

Super-Hero Gordon Cartoon Surprisingly Realistic

The new Captain Britain cartoon has Gordon Brown decisively instructing the comic book super-hero. Guido likes the realism…

Hat-tip : Rich Johnston

PMQs Live-Chat

Leader of Tory MEPs Under Suspicion

Dave has made an issue of transparency, promising that his expenses will all be made public and that he will insist on his MPs doing everything above board. The MEPs in Brussels, more used to the continental ways, are proving to be opaque and less than open about their dealings. 13 Tory MEPs have refused to make public their expenses. So public money is spent unaccountably by politicians who are supposed to be holding the EU Commission to account. Much of the cash is known to end up in the bank accounts of people close to the MEPs themselves.
  1. Sir Robert Atkins
  2. Christopher Beazely
  3. John Bowis
  4. Philip Bushill-Matthews
  5. Martin Callanan
  6. Den Dover
  7. James Elles
  8. Malcolm Harbour
  9. Caroline Jackson
  10. Timothy Kirkhope
  11. John Purvis
  12. Struan Stevenson
  13. Robert Sturdy
The 13 Tory MEPs above did not answer questions posed by Open Europe’s Transparency Initiative. It gets worse, the leader of the Tory MEPs, Giles Chichester, has been caught paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors.

That is an insurmountable conflict of interest. Even if, as is so often the way with political corruption, he faces no charges, he should at the very least be relieved of his position as Euro-Tory leader. David Cameron has publicly asked for “a full explanation and a detailed account of his Parliamentary expenses”. If it is not satisfactory or forthcoming, Chichester’s days on the Euro-gravy train are over…

+++ AP : Hillary Clinton to Concede +++

UPDATE : Reuters, running Clinton campaign denial.

Beer and Sandwiches Were Not On the Menu

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC is not really a beer and sandwiches man, so what was on the menu when he was seen slipping quietly into No. 10 yesterday afternoon?

Well, the Labour Party has 27 days to find £7.45m due by the end of the month. Where else are they going to find it?

The TUC no doubt went in to negotiate terms. Perhaps another bung from the government’s “union modernisation” fund to recycle into Labour Party coffers? Some new employment regulations? Perhaps a bit of public sector pay upward flexibility? Gordon will definitely have been listening to his paymaster…

The Crosby Effect Mapped

That was one successful strategy. Ken’s voters are under siege…

Hat-tip : Vote 2007

Sunlight Disinfects and Evaporates Expense Claims

At the European Parliament yesterday afternoon they held a hearing on the proposals from the Commission to limit access to information. Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, was there and gave evidence. The most interesting thing he said was that when he ruled that all MSP’s expenses had to be publicly declared, the result was a 30% drop in the total expenses bill.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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