LibDems Livid at Olney’s £68,000 Salary For Four Day Week

There is near mutiny in LibDem HQ after party staff discovered Sarah Olney is being paid £68,000 for a four day week. When Olney quit as Vince Cable’s chief of staff after just six weeks, she was given a cushy non job as head of “special projects”. LibDem sources in the office are bewildered as to how Olney fills her days, she doesn’t appear to do any work and the only email staff remember her sending is the HQ “Hero of the Year” award, which in previous years was done by the PA. Most of the aides in LibDem head office are on £20,000-£30,000, there is outcry among the troops that Olney is on triple their wages for what is ostensibly a nothing job, and for which she only does a four day week. Members’ subs being well spent…

UPDATE: The LibDems have launched an investigation to find who leaked details of Sarah Olney’s salary to Guido. Our mole in the office says it is being carried out by the party’s head of fundraising Emma Cherniavsky. Good luck…

Momentum Claim They Only Spent £38,743 on Election

The Electoral Commission has today launched an investigation into Corbynista shock-troops Momentum to establish whether the group “breached campaign finance rules in relation to spending.” The questions the probe:

“Whether or not Momentum spent in excess of the spending limits for an unauthorised non-party campaigner in the UK Parliamentary general  election;
whether or not Momentum submitted a return that did not include accurate donation information and/or the required declaration stating that the donation return was complete and accurate; whether or not Momentum submitted a return that was not a complete statement of payments made in respect of controlled expenditure; whether or not Momentum submitted a return that did not include all invoices for payments of more than £200.”

Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s Director of Political Finance and Regulation and Legal Counsel, said:

“Momentum are a high profile active campaigning body. Questions over their compliance with the campaign finance rules at June’s general election risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in elections. There is significant public interest in us investigating Momentum to establish the facts in this matter and whether there have been any offences. Once complete, the Commission will decide whether any breaches have occurred and, if so, what further action may be appropriate, in line with its enforcement policy.” 

Momentum reported expenditure of £38,743. Guido said it back in November, that sounds impossibly low…

Chuka Lying About Boris and Brexit Bill

Chuka Umunna has emailed supporters this morning claiming “Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the Government wouldn’t pay a penny in a divorce settlement – Europe could go and whistle, he said”This is a lie that keeps being repeated by hardline Remainers.

This is what Boris said, from Hansard: “the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate, and I think that to “go whistle” is an entirely appropriate expression”. Very clearly he says the EU can “go whistle” for “extortionate” … “sums that I have seen that they propose” (which were the reports of €100 billion at the time). All along Boris has said Britain will pay what it owes. In August he said“Of course we will meet our obligations. We are law-abiding, bill-paying people. We certainly have to meet our obligations”. Chuka’s claim that Boris said we “wouldn’t pay a penny” is a straight lie…

H/T @mrharrycole

Remainers Fibbing About ‘Brexit Bill’

If you believe these Remain ultras this morning, the “Brexit bill” we are paying is £100 billion. This figure is from the FT’s report – though what Bradshaw, Doughty and Lammy aren’t telling their followers is that the FT article makes clear we are only actually going to pay half that amount. Deliberately not using the net figure to inflate the number… tut tut.

In any case, even calling this a “Brexit bill” is misleading. Half of the £50 billion-ish figure is simply our continuing contribution during the transition. As Henry Newman points out, the rest is what we would have paid if we had remained. It is not a new bill caused by Brexit. Sensible Brexiters are staying calm and not believing the Remainer hype – this is cash we just owe, and it will all be worth it when we leave…

Labour Call Centre Staff on 12 Hours a Week Get 30p Pay Rise

Staff at Labour’s Newcastle call centre aren’t exactly over the moon about a 30p pay rise they’ve been given in line with this month’s increase to the National Living Wage. A collective eye-roll took place as party’s call centre operators were told in an email:

“We are pleased to inform you that in line with the increase of the Living Wage rate, effective from 1st December your hourly paid rate will rise to £8.75 per hour.”

Labour’s manifesto demands a £10 an hour minimum wage for all workers over 18…

Labour insiders told Guido that staff are only guaranteed 12 hours work a week, and receive an email on Friday evenings telling them how much work is available the following week. A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is an accredited living wage employer. We don’t comment on staffing matters.” The party simultaneously claims to oppose work insecurity…

McDonnell: “You Don’t Need a Number” For Nationalisation Costs

Two gems from McDonnell on Marr this morning: he reckons when the government borrows to spend it is guaranteed a profit: “On those returns you will always get more than you pay out”. And he says the cost of Labour’s nationalisation programme is… nothing: “You don’t need a number because you swap shares for government bonds”. Not serious, and yet still McDonnell is closing the gap on Hammond on the economy…

From Husky Hugging to Coal Mining

Greg Barker, now m’Lord Barker of Battle, Cameron’s husky hugging companion and former swivel-eyed Energy & Climate Change minister, has found a use for his experience gained in Government. Long a fan of Russian billionaires, Barker is the newly-appointed chairman of EN+, a Russian energy and aluminium conglomerate controlled by oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Barker’s first job is to bring a veneer of respectability to the energy company as it floats on the LSE. He’ll have his work cut out…

EN+’s owner is certainly close to the Kremlin: wikileaked US diplomatic cables described Deripaska as one of “the two or three oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis”, while the US still refuses to give him a visa due to his links to organised crimeDeripaska’s dealings with Manafort won’t help his cause…

More troubling are EN+’s ties to VTB Bank, the Russian lender that has been sanctioned by the US and EU since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. As the Spectator pointed out:

EN+ says it intends to use the ‘primary proceeds’ of the share offering ‘to repay a portion of its debt’ – which is owed largely to Russian banks such as VTB (also an EN+ shareholder) that helped bail out Deripaska’s businesses with Kremlin support after the 2008 crash, and are currently subject to US and EU sanctions. So London investors’ money will be flowing back into Putin’s other-wise ostracised banking system. 

With sanctions still in place on VTB and Russia, Barker has to convince investors that this deal does not violate sanctions. He’ll have an even harder time explaining to Cameron why he’s working around sanctions his own government helped put in place…

Aside from all that, take a moment to reflect on the sheer cynicism of a husky hugging Climate Change hyping minister becoming Chairman of a coal-mining to aluminum smelting conglomerate. One Tory grandee told Guido that Barker “must be short of cash.” 

Simon Stevens Embraces £350 Million For NHS

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens used to hype up the risks to the NHS of leaving the EU. He even went on Marr during the referendum to personally condemn Vote Leave’s £350 million a week figure. So Guido welcomes Steven’s conversion to the cause at today’s NHS conference in Birmingham, where he has called on the government to spend the Brexit dividend on the NHS: “Vote Leave for a better funded health service – £350 million a week”. Having his cake and eating it? Or is Stevens finally embracing the benefits of Brexit…

Police Consider Action Against Scandal-Hit Lavery

Police are poised to investigate scandal-hit Labour chairman Ian Lavery after he received £165,000 from a 10 member trade union which he ran before becoming an MP. A Newsnight investigation broadcast earlier this month found the socialist hardliner enriched himself via mortgage transactions over the 18 year period when he was General Secretary of the NUM Northumberland Area. The revelations followed an earlier investigation by the Sunday Times’ James Lyons who exposed how Lavery benefited from a miners’ benevolent fund. A report by trade unions regulator the Certification Office raised questions over a string of mortgage transactions and a “severance payment” of nearly £90,000…

A Northumbria Police spokesman said:

 “Northumbria Police had previously received a complaint which was recorded and put on hold to allow an investigation by the Certification Office. Following the outcome of this investigation Northumbria will review the findings of the Certification Office’s report, which has now been received to establish if any further action is required by the force.”

A spokesman for Ian Lavery said he was “unaware of any police investigation”. Another Labour MP to lose the whip? Or will Jez keep his mate on…

EU Budget Latest: €2 Million for “Private Storage of Cheese”

The European Parliament adopted amendments on the draft EU budget this week. A line-by-line breakdown of spending proposals was circulated to MEPs – it’s eye-watering even by the EU’s troughing standards. €2 million for “private storage of certain cheeses” really grates, as well as €700,000 for a “manual of good practices for cruises”. All-time-classics of outrageous splurging…

Independent MEP Steven Woolfe said:

“The EU is actually a parody of itself. If the British people needed further reminding of why they voted to leave the EU last year it’s set out in black and white in this year’s budget. ‘Ocean literacy for all’, a ‘Manual of good practices for cruises’!? The mind boggles. Presumably, the ten million Euros spent on ‘storage measures for skimmed-milk powder’ is to ensure that, in the event of a nuclear holocaust, Eurocrats in Brussels will still be able to enjoy a white Americano as they slowly die from radiation poisoning…”

Roll on 2019…

European Council Orders 4,000 Bottles of Champagne on the Taxpayer

The European Council has put out a tender for 4,000 bottles of champagne with the bill charged to the taxpayer. UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock challenged the splurge during a plenary debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday night. Bullock said:

“The Council put out a public tender for 4,000 bottles of champagne. Perhaps we could in Britain could have our share of that, I think it works out about 500 bottles by our budget contribution, to celebrate Brexit. We’d even share for 148 bottles if we divided equally between the countries… but seriously when half of Europe is in crisis with austerity biting, you are ordering 4,000 bottles of champagne.”

The European Council is an EU body comprising of the heads of state or government of member states. It is not required to have its accounts approved by the European Parliament. Raise a toast to Brexit…

Labour MPs Accept Thousands From Russia Today

Remember when Russia Today’s Afshin Rattansi fibbed that they don’t pay politicians to appear on their programmes? Labour MP Rosie Duffield has declared £500 “from Russia Today” on 12 October:

Loony Chris Williamson accepted £1,000 from the Russians for two appearances in October:

Labour MPs taking Moscow gold…

Corbyn Stands By Disgraced Lavery

Labour Party chairman and top Corbynista Ian Lavery is one of the biggest wrong ‘uns in Westminster. If there was any natural justice in Labour they would have sacked him when the Sunday Times’ James Lyons exposed how he shamelessly benefited from a miners’ benevolent fund. Last night Newsnight’s John Sweeney had more: Lavery received £165,000 from a 10 member trade union which he ran before becoming an MP. Their investigation finds the disgraced socialist hardliner enriched himself via mortgage transactions over the 18 year period when he was General Secretary of the NUM Northumberland Area. He also took a huge redundancy package before his election in 2010. Trade unions regulator the Certification Office found:

  • 1994: The Northumberland Provident and Benevolent fund lends Lavery £72,500 to buy a house. In 2007 the union forgave the loan, leaving Lavery £72,500 richer…
  • Lavery also kept £18,000 from an endowment fund associated with the mortgage;
  • 2005: Lavery sells 15% of his house to the union for £36,000. By 2014 the value of the house had fallen. He bought the stake back from the union for £27,500. A notional profit of £8,500…
  • 2010: On stepping down from the NUM Northumberland Area, Lavery receives “termination payments” totalling £89,887.83. Quite some termination package…

As Sweeney reports:

“The regulator says that neither Mr Lavery nor the union could provide documentary evidence of the process or the decision by which Mr Lavery was made redundant – or why, given he was leaving for a job as an MP, he needed any redundancy payments at all.”

In total Lavery stands accused of creaming off £165,000 from the union. Lavery is inside Corbyn’s inner circle. It makes a mockery of everything Jez claims to stand for that he has kept his broacialist brother in the tent despite a scandal which should have ended his career several times over. Indeed the Leader’s Office has given him a raft of promotions along the way. Is there anything Ian Lavery could do that would convince Corbyn to sack him?

Tory MP Demands Cabinet Office Investigates Sir Craig’s Book

Following Guido’s story on a potential breach of the Special Advisers Code of Conduct in Sir Craig Oliver’s memoirs, a Tory MP has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood demanding an investigation. Andrew Bridgen asks the two killer questions: why was Sir Craig permitted to publish information that the Cabinet Office admits could prejudice relations with the US? And did Sir Craig breach the SpAds Code of Conduct by failing to discuss his memoirs with the Cabinet Office prior to signing the book deal? This line of the letter is particularly interesting:

“If the rules were broken, there is precedent to confiscate the profits of the book sales. In 2000 the Government obtained a court order for it to be paid £90,000 of royalties owed by the publisher Jonathan Cape to George Blake for his unauthorised 1990 memoir “No Other Choice”. I hope you will investigate these serious issues promptly.”

If the government did confiscate Sir Craig’s profits that could mean an extra £350 to the NHS…

Salmond and Tasmina’s Boozy City Break

The Daily Mail has a great hit on the extra-curricular activities of Alex Salmond and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. They’ve been caught on a three day jolly to Strasbourg enjoying “three-and-a-half-hour lavish booze-fuelled dinners” at a Michelin star restaurant. Guess who is picking up the tab? The Mail reports “Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh is a regular presence at Mr Salmond’s side”. These pics were taken close to the hotel where Salmond and Tasmina were staying:

Och aye the two…

SNP Minister Claims £4.68 on Expenses For 0.9 Mile Taxi Ride to Speech on Physical Activity

A classic of the expenses genre north of the border from STV. They’ve caught SNP health minister Maureen Watt claiming £4.68 on expenses for a 0.9-mile taxi journey to give a speech, wait for it, on the importance of physical activity. Watt ordered a cab from the Scottish parliament, travelled five minutes up one street to Meadowbank Sports Centre, where she spoke promoting the “benefits of physical activity” for people with learning difficulties. Classic Nat hypocrisy.

Hammond Refuses to Budget For No Deal

For months Brexiters have warned the Treasury and civil service are not preparing properly for the possibility of no deal. Despite May and Davis starting to make more encouraging noises on no deal preparations, Philip Hammond writes in the Times that he won’t spend any money now to prepare for that outcome. In March Number 10 sources told Guido the likelihood of no deal was 50-50, those same odds were offered by a Cabinet minister to the Sun this week. Why would the Chancellor rule out budgeting for something which the government says could easily happen? That is just irresponsible. 

If Hammond won’t fund plans for no deal it simply doesn’t look like a credible option. It’s not hard to see that this clearly weakens our negotiating position with the EU. Also curious for Hammond to come out and say this given it is a direct provocation to Leave Cabinet ministers who asked for the money this week. Arguably a greater undermining of the PM’s position than anything in Boris’ article…

Corbyn’s “Defiance” of Mosley

Brave of Jeremy Corbyn to crow about his family’s principled defiance of Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts. It can’t have rubbed off too much on the young Jez: only a few months ago he was happy to accept a £300,000 election donation from Oswald’s son Max, a former blackshirt and campaigner against “coloured immigration”. Watch the Labour donor punch a policeman at a fascist rally below:

Tom Watson also took more than £200,000 from Mosley. “Defiance”…

Rudd Banking £30,000-a-Month Donations

Amber Rudd addresses Tory conference later on a day on which her leadership ambitions are again coming to the fore. She has used a wide-ranging interview in the Mail to attack Boris’ “red lines” (not sure he ever actually used the words “red lines”) and say her leadership rival shouldn’t give his views on Brexit. And the Times reveals she has hired Lynton Crosby’s firm CTF to help her keep her seat. Colleagues note that Rudd banked £30,000 in donations in June, the latest declared period, a huge sum in a very short space of time for someone supposedly just interested in keeping her seat in an election five years away. She has Lord Feldman fundraising for her, more evidence that she is the Cameron / Osborne / Remain choice for next leader. CTF insist their work is related solely to her constituency. The fundraising is intriguing though, quietly and very quickly Rudd is amassing a considerable war chest. Last night in Manchester her brother Roland hosted a champagne reception for the Remain glitterati…

UPDATE: Roland party organisers dispute the use of the phrase Remain glitterati, pointing out Gove and DD were also in attendance.

Tory MPs and Think Tanks Pan May Announcements

Conference has barely begun and Tory MPs and right-leaning think tanks and pundits are already kicking off about Theresa May’s announcements on tuition fees and Help to Buy.

Kate Andrews of the Institute of Economic Affairs:

“The Prime Minister is right to address the plights of young people leading up to Conservative Party Conference, but pledging over £10billion worth of uncosted policies will only burden them more down the road, as they face an increasing national debt and – inevitably – higher taxes.

[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Former public schoolboy Chuka Umunna told the  ‘Exit From Brexit Dinner’…

“Remainians, Remoaners, I don’t care what the label is, I’m proud. It’s fashionable to label everyone in this room as the liberal metropolitan elite . . . This caricature is promoted by a bunch of former public schoolboys!” 

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