Of all the departments that make up Her Majesty’s government, Guido would have thought the one that doesn’t need to blow huge sums of taxpayer cash on foreign junkets would be the Department for Communities and Local Government. Somehow the department have spent £217,130 on visits abroad since 2010, no signs of a trip to a Sydney casino though. When Guido put it to them, DCLG sources pointed to the fact that the department has made savings of over half a billion pounds over the current spending review period and most of the travel was for mandatory trips to the EU. A useful figure to keep handy…
Powerful stuff from John Prescott in his Sunday Mirror column where he frothed about Maggie one last time. Prezza went off on one about the Tories hijacking her funeral:
“Even in death, she is spinning from her grave. She claimed she never wanted a state funeral, but she planned to give herself the same ceremonial one as the Queen Mother. And her “children”, the out-of-touch Tory Boys Cameron and Osborne, are getting YOU to foot the £10million bill for the biggest political propaganda exercise this country has ever seen. This is what “Operation True Blue” is about. It’s not a remembrance. It’s a rebrand.”
So what does he have to say about the news that the full funeral plan, including scale and therefore price-tag, was signed off by both Tony Blair (who Prezza was Deputy to) and Gordon Brown? The biggest political propaganda exercise this country has ever seen” – devised under his Labour government.
There’s one silver lining for the Tories…
Well at least he didn’t hit him…
Back in July John Prescott claimed he was the victim of an elaborate plot by the Tories to smear him over dodgy government credit card purchases. Central to Prezza’s conspiracy theory was a redacted letter from Gus O’Donnell, with Hull’s next top copper demanding an investigation into the apparent cover-up. The story was run by Political Scrapbook, and even the Observer weighed in. Now there is egg-on-face all round as the whole theory was debunked this morning, with an answer to Prezza’s Parliamentary Question in the Lords revealing the letter in question was censored simply to redact factual errors:
“A factual error in the Cabinet Office reply of 18 November 2011, incorrectly suggesting that departmental civil servants had been disciplined for the use of the Government Procurement Card under the previous Administration, was removed from the version of 21 November. In fact, the fraud stemmed from seven transactions on a cloned credit card. A second paragraph was also deleted from the version of 18 November in error. The Cabinet Secretary has written to the noble Lord to explain the background.”
Prezza can take off his tin foil hat…
Lord Prescott explains to the Yorkshire Post…
“The House of Lords is a bit like a job centre, you have to go down there to get paid expenses, and it just gets totally tiring”.
Guido has a sore head from Political Scrapbook’s drinks last night. As revenge he has some bad news for them. They thought they were on to a winner earlier this week with a story claiming that John Prescott was the victim of a vicious Tory smear campaign. It was claimed that a series of questions over Prezza’s use of public credit cards were placed in MPs’ names without their knowledge. However, the Table Office have now conceded that the entire mess was down to a simple admin error by them, as the Tories insisted all along:
Dear Mr Elphicke,
I can confirm that the questions were wrongly recorded as being in the name of Sir Alan Beith due to an administrative error in this office. We took steps to correct this shortly after they were tabled, when we realised the error had been made. Unfortunately, when the questions were answered, some were returned under the original wrong name of Sir Alan Beith, which overwrote our correction. We have since corrected this again and I have just checked the Parliamentary records and confirmed that they all now appear correctly in your name.
I am very sorry for this error and the inconvenience it has caused you – please do get in touch if there is anything further we can do to assist.
Clerk, Table Office
House of Commons