Steve Richards Takes Lobbyists’ Money

steve-richards-lobbyist

Guido can reveal that Steve Richards, the Indy’s political pundit and sometime TV talking head, has taken up a role with the public affairs lobbying firm Hanover Communications. When Guido spoke to Steve he was a little sheepish and seemed unsure of his role, he said he would be providing political advice to the firm. According to Charles Lewington, the former spinner for John Major who founded Hanover, Richards will be a “strategic advisor”. Hanover’s clients include fracking pioneers Cuadrilla, assorted investment banks like Goldman Sachs, various arms dealers, big oil corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Richards says he has cleared it with the Indy and “it won’t affect his writing”.

Wonk Watch: Tight Bright Blue Intern Screw

The same day that dripping Tory wets Bright Blue back calls to ‘strengthen the minimum wage’ they have put an advert out for a job of their own:

“Bright Blue is looking for an intern to support the executive of Bright Blue with a range of activities, including research, communications, organising events and conferences, and administrative tasks. We are looking for a creative, hard-working individual who will contribute new ideas to the group.”

So what strength will the minimum wage be for this gig?

“The role being advertised is a voluntary one.”

Zero. Zilch. Kaput. 

They make some noise about paying if there are set hours, but:

 “We would like the intern to support us for 3 months, starting from 20th January 2014. They will be expected to be with the Director of Bright Blue once a week, and attend our monthly executive meeting and any events we host.”

Rich kids only, SVP.

200 Ministerial Car Journeys Taken Without a Minister

More than 200 government car journeys were undertaken last year without a Minister in the car. After George Osborne pledged this morning to make government smaller and leaner, Guido suggests the Chancellor has a look at the government car data for 2012/13 that was quietly published today. In 2012 the government car pool was broken up and a vehicle given to each department, yet a small pool was kept for ‘top up journeys’. Hidden within these additional rides is some very poor planning, or very lazy Ministers, who are using this service to ferry their red-boxes unaccompanied around the country. And we’re paying for the pleasure.

The Deputy Prime Minister is amongst the worst offenders, using empty cars to ferry his boxes 52 times. Hague relied on this trick 41 times and Gove 23. While the worst offender was former Trade Minister Lord Marland, who clocked up a bizarre 61 extra journeys on our tab for his boxes, the LibDems seem to have a particular penchant for this perk. David Laws managed it 21 times, Sarah Teather 14 and Danny Alexander 22 times. That is one cut the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has not managed to find. 

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond is clearly struggling with the 5.7 mile commute from his constituency in Wandsworth to his desk in Westminster; he has got his box sent over 19 times on top of the 138 ‘top up’ journeys he took himself. By comparison Cabinet Ministers such as Osborne, Maude, Greening, Clarke, Shapps and Hunt managed to organise their departmental business with zero such trips. No costs for these journeys were published. 

Say No to Yeo: Tim Gets Tepid Backing

Junior minister and topless enthusiast Dr Dan Poulter has organised a letter of support for the re-selection of his troughing neighbour. Apparently Tim Yeo “has a lot of fuel left in the tank” and “remains very active.” On the golf course perhaps…

On the bright-side for Tim, Poulter’s letter is a marked improvement on the effort by Crispin Blunt, who himself survived such a deselection bid. The former minister said Yeo was an “elder statesmen” and his constituents need someone who knows “how to get around the system”. If Blunt actually spoke to anyone in the seat, he would understand that was the problem…

IMF Contemplating Mass Expropriation in €-Zone

IMF-exproriation

Christine Lagarde the French chief of the IMF narrowly escaped being charged recently. Her candidacy’s main cheerleader for the IMF was George Osborne, Guido had his doubts at the time. The IMF is searching for a solution for debt laden European states to stop the €uro collapsing. Stop spending more than you tax is considered naive – how will the ruling elites get re-elected if they stop bribing the electorate with their own children’s money? Option 6 in the IMF’s discussion paper on the subject is brutally straight-forward. The final act of financial repression is to steal from everyone who has savings with a 10% wealth tax.

You have been warned now – just like Cypriot political insiders were – don’t keep any capital in €urozone banks. The IMF argues that the element of surprise is essential for the success of a capital levy…

Review of 2013: A Very Bad Year for MPs in Guido’s Crosshairs

It was a very bad year for the lying, cheating, criminal politicians that found themselves in the crosshairs of this blog. Guido was in court to see Chris Huhne sentenced to eight months for perverting the course of justice. You can enjoy it all over again by watching our Guy News specials recapping how Huhne lied and lied and lied again, a musical tribute to him “going down”, and 14 lies in 60 seconds. For the full story of how Guido hunted Huhne, from the day he walked out on his family and went to the gym having just told his wife he was leaving her for another woman, to his guilty plea, resignation and prison sentence, click here.

Santa delivered an early Christmas present by jailing expenses fraudster Denis MacShane for six months. During sentencing the judge said MacShane’s £13,000 expense fiddling constituted “considerable and repeated dishonesty”. The true figure is in the hundreds of thousands. You can read how Guido has pursued MacShane down the years, including reporting him to the police when new evidence of his criminality arose, here.

It didn’t end in court. Patrick Mercer was forced to stand down at the next election after being disgraced in a cash-for-questions sting. Guido has always know Mercer was a wrong’un, so it was no surprise to hear the bent MP’s fear of this blog revealed in his own words. Another sleazy Tory, conflicted Tim Yeo, escaped the same punishment after being exposed in a sting of his own, though he wasn’t so lucky with his local party who decided to give him the boot. Stay tuned as Yeo tries to fight for his political life in the New Year.

Guido has been on the case of randy Lord Rennard, the hands-on LibDem peer known as the ‘Door Locker’, for years before 2013 brought about his demise. Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Jo Swinson were slammed in a damning report on Rennard’s sexual harassment and the LibDems’ lies were finally revealed. Read Rennard’s sex pest history in full here.

Finally, spare a mention for Mike Hancock. Forced to resign the LibDem whip as he is privately prosecuted for sexual harassing a disabled female constituent.  The leaks from the unpublished independent report into his behaviour are damning. 2013 has seen MPs targeted by Guido for their various financial, sexual or criminal misdeeds drop like flies. Roll on 2014…

New Year Honours Establishment Cronyism Troughing MPs, Spinners, Aides and Donors Bunged Gongs

Establishment cronyism at its most cynical in tonight’s New Year honours. The party leaders have rewarded expenses scandal hit MPs, spinners, aides, party donors and lobbyists, also buttering up potential candidates and local party association bosses. Their cronyism in full:

  • Sir Alan Parker – shadowy CEO of lobbying firm Brunswick. Gordon Brown is godfather to his son, he is a Labour donor. Has also holidayed with Cameron.
  • Karren Brady CBE – Cameron adviser on fiscal matters who has previously been arrested twice on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. In the running for a Tory seat.
  • Sir Kevin “Morally” Barron – Labour MP and head of the troughers’ union, the standards committee that lets off money-grabbing MPs. Watch Guido’s ding dong with him here.
  • Sir Peter Luff – Tory MP who bought three loo seats, three food mixers, two microwaves and ten sets of bed linen for his country house. Rent-swapper extraordinaire.
  • Marion Dowdings OBE and Simon Mort OBE – deputy chair of Cameron’s local party and chair of its supper club, and president of the Oxford West Conservatives, respectively. See what Dave did there.
  • Sir Keir Starmer – New Miliband adviser currently being lined up for a Labour seat. Well it can hardly be for his work at the Crown Prosecution Service, can it.
  • Peter Emmerson Jones OBE – has given tens of thousands of pounds to Osborne’s local party.
  • Lady Patricia Hobson OBE –  another big money Tory donor.
  • Emma Pidding CBE – chairman of the National Conservative Convention. C’mon.

This is why people hate politics.

Cost of Pilgrims Up 29% £23.6 Million Spent on Taxpayer Funded Union Officials Last Year

Guido was cautious when Francis Maude announced his reforms of trade union facility time, emphasising that they “need to be enforced across the public sector” if the cost to the taxpayer is to come down. New figures reveal the amount spent on Pilgrims – taxpayer funded trade union officials – has in fact increased from £18.3million in 2010/11 to £23.6million in 2012/13. That’s a rise of 29 per cent.


The Pilgrim reforms required government departments to guarantee just 0.1 per cent of wages would be spent on union time. 15 government departments have failed to meet the cap. Despite the crackdown, taxpayer-funded public officials are still spending their time on partisan trade union activity, wasting tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money each year. And the cost is going up, not down. A good New Year’s resolution for the Cabinet Office would be to actually enforce the pledges that it made…

Bah, L’Humbug! Hollande’s 75% Tax Rate Approved by French Courts

Francois Hollande’s Christmas present to the French people is a 75% tax rate. The hike was ruled unconstitutional a year ago but the French courts have u-turned and now, despite huge protests from business leaders and the country’s star footballers going on strike, those earning over €1 million will pay a top income tax rate of 75% to their socialist government. Another nail in the coffin of the Hollande plan that Miliband endorsed. Expect a queue of Ferraris on the French-Swiss border tonight…

MacShane Sentencing Today Case for a Custodial Sentence

Denis MacShane is listed to be sentenced by Mr Justice Sweeney at Southwark Crown Court at 3pm today. The case for a custodial sentence is clear.

MacShane is guilty of false accounting, fiddling his expenses and defrauding taxpayers out of £12,900 in forged receipts. In November 2012 he was suspended from the Commons by the Standards and Privileges Committee, whose damning report concluded that his was “the gravest case which has come to us for adjudication”. MPs have gone down before, the authorities see MacShane as the worst of the lot.

 They found that he:

  • Claimed nearly £20,000 a year in expenses for an office based in the garage of his South Yorkshire home.
  • Signed claims with a “nom de plume” purporting to come from a General Manager who did not in fact exist.
  • Knowingly submitted nineteen false invoices over a period of four financial years which were plainly intended to deceive the Parliamentary expenses authorities.
  • Claimed thousands of pounds for eight computers that got ‘lost’ or were taken by interns.
  • Claimed £12,900 for invoices from his EPI slush fund. He didn’t provide a single receipt for payments.

MacShane abused his position as a public servant, forging receipts to deceive the authorities, costing the taxpayers and constituents he was supposed to serve thousands. It is true that MacShane has pleaded guilty – usually grounds for leniency – however he did so only after being charged and presented with the incontrovertible evidence of his forgeries. All of which he previously denied, spinning the most ludicrous cock and bull story. Mr Justice Sweeney should remind lawmakers that if they become lawbreakers the law will be unsparing. Only jail time will suffice…

Miliband’s Union Henchman Forced to Apologise to Commons

Miliband’s “Spokesman on Trade Unions & Industrial Relations” Ian Murray will be forced to apologise to the House this afternoon by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after he failed to declare his interests regarding his union paymasters while legislating on, ironically, the Transparency in Lobbying Bill. Whoops.

Happy Christmas! Pay Your Rent

Hammersmith and Fulham council’s unwavering drive to get value for money for taxpayers doesn’t stop at Christmas.

They are spreading the joy and Christmas cheer to their local council tenants, marking the season of goodwill and definitely not wasting money by sending them all festive cards.

Warning them to pay their rent.

At least there’s a sprig of holly…

Mirror Clocks On to 'Clocking In'

Regular readers will not be surprised by this morning’s Mirror splash that shows Tory crook Lord Hanningfield clocking in and out of the House of Lords in under an hour to collect his daily £300 expenses. Guido has been warning of this scandal for years. In June 2010 he wrote:

s0OYczBh“There is also a very obvious flaw in this which Guido likes to call the “Rennard Model”. There will be nothing to stop Lords turning up in the morning to collect their £300 and then disappearing off for the rest of the day – it is going to be an honour system – something that is very lacking in Westminster.  If these changes haven’t been properly thought through then the this system is looking just as prone to abuse as the last set up.”

Time for Hanningfield to name and shame ‘at least fifty other peers’ he claims are up to the same trick.

Guardian Advertises for Unpaid Interns After Claiming Exploitation is "Ruining Journalism"

The Guardian has been a vocal campaigner in sticking up for unpaid interns. Their pages have played host to an endless list of articles making clear where the paper stands. “Join the fight against unpaid internships”, they have urged“We shouldn’t have to work for free”, argued another piece. One article described unpaid internships as “institutional exploitation”, another claimed they are “unfair and open to abuse by vested interests”. Earlier this year the Guardian ran a brave piece arguing “unpaid internships and a culture of privilege are ruining journalism”. Strong words.

Today the Guardian is advertising for a limited number of editorial experience internships for next year. Successful applicants will be “getting involved in editorial activities”, so there is no dispute that they will be doing real work. For which, so say the Guardian’s own comment pages again and again, they deserve a fair wage. So how much is the Guardian offering?

“These placements at the Guardian and Observer are unpaid”

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Minister Responsible for HMRC Reported to HMRC

David Gauke, who as Exchequer Secretary is the minister responsible for HMRC, has himself been reported to HMRC for not paying his interns. Unpaid internship campaign website Graduate Fog has caught him advertising for an unpaid six-month post where the successful candidate will be required to carry out “administration, basic correspondence, diary management, fundraising, campaigning and related tasks”. Intern Aware have passed the details onto HMRC, who last month promised to investigate every employer reported to them and impose fines of up to £5,000 for those found using unpaid interns. Looks like they’re going to have to have an awkward chat with their own responsible minister…

IPSA's False Deal

IPSA have confirmed their recommendation to whack up MPs’ pay to £74,000. Their reforms in full:

  • A one-off uplift in salary to £74,000 in 2015, an increase of 9.26%, to address the historic shortfall. Thereafter, MPs’ pay will be linked to average earnings – if they go up, so will MPs’. If they don’t, neither will MPs’.
  • A new pension on a par with those in other parts of the public service, saving the taxpayer millions. Following public consultation on our proposals from earlier this year, we have decided to increase MPs’ pension contributions further, reducing the cost to the taxpayer even further.
  • Scrapping out-of-touch “resettlement payments” worth tens of thousands of pound per MP. These will be replaced with more modest loss-of-office payments, which will be available only to those who contest their seat and lose.
  • A tighter regime of business costs and expenses, including ending the provision for evening meals.

IPSA seem to be taking the approach that they have to come to some sort of deal with MPs; that if MPs agree not to fiddle their expenses, sign up to a more reasonable expenses regime, increase their contribution towards their gold-plated pensions and give up their resettlement payments, then they can have a pay rise. This is a false offer. There is absolutely nothing to stop IPSA toughening up on expenses and pensions and ditching the resettlement grant with no pay rise sweetener attached. The only ‘deal’ on the table should be that all these things happen without the condition of a pay rise…

IPSA's Imaginary Pay Problem


Writing in The Times this morning, IPSA’s Sir Ian Kennedy is adamant

ipsaWe will announce a one-off pay rise. Thereafter MPs’ pay will move with the pay of the rest of us. That’s a sensible way forward, which we will implement after a further review of conditions in 2015.

I know there is a tension between the reasoning and the politics but we were asked to fix the problem for a generation, not for a news cycle. That is what we have done. The alternative approach takes us back to the days of political deals, with scandal never far away. I can’t believe anyone seriously believes that is the way forward.

Of all the problems in politics, the problem of underpaid MPs is not one that Guido or the voters have noticed. MPs are paid a handsome £66,396, plus another £14,728 if they chair one of the 39 select committees. If they make it to Cabinet, the pay goes up to £134,565 — more than doubling their salary. They are paid a basic salary that puts them in the top income decile. For this, as Gordon Brown shows, they have to do nothing. They also get another £20,100 towards accommodation expenses. Hundreds of them are paid more as ministers or for having extra responsibilities – chairing committees. The average MP costs taxpayers over £100,000 in pay and personal expenses.

It is little acknowledged by IPSA that since 2000 MPs’ earnings have outstripped the consumer price index and since the 1980s their earnings have risen from double the average to the triple figure that they enjoy today. Although politicians are professionally skilled in advancing an argument, they will find it impossible to convince the public that they have gone from being worth twice the average wage to being three times as much. There is no lack of applicants for MPs’ jobs. There is no pay problem.

They Just Don't Get It

According to IPSA’s anonymous polling 69% of MPs want to milk the taxpayer of even more cash, so why are they all being so shy in public? This weekend only three were willing to go on the record to back their 11% pay rise.

David Ruffley says he is “minded to accept” being paid £76,000-a-year. That would be the same David Ruffley who Guido exposed for his “obnoxious” behaviour. Bright-eyed hopefuls leave his office in floods of tears, some being binned after only days. The same David Ruffley who claimed £1,674 for a sofa and £2,175 for a 46 inch HD television during the expenses scandal. Now he wants more.

Then there is Jack Straw, standing down but hoping to give his colleagues a nice farewell gift. During the expenses scandal Straw was accused of trying to prevent MPs’ claims from being published because he did not want the public to find out about renovations to his own home.

And thirdly Peter Bottomley, warned about excessive expenses claims in 2009 after demanding £6,000 for windows and £980 for bookshelves. He now thinks he deserves more of your money.

TV producers are struggling to find pundits to defend the rise today. They should start with these troughers…

Maggie's Children Unimpressed With Autumn Statement Burns: 'We are Dying a Third More Slowly'

Speaking at a packed London fundraiser for the Margaret Thatcher Centre last night, Maggie’s representative on earth, Conor Burns, cut through the euphoria being felt in some parts of the Conservative Party this morning:

“I am convinced if Margaret Thatcher were still here today, if she and Keith Joseph and all the others that set off on that radical revolution from 1979, if they were here today, they would be thinking that their principles – those of personal responsibility, freedom under the rule of law, taxation that incentivises people to do better –  could equally be applied to the challenges of the next thirty years as they so successfully applied them to the challenges of the thirty years after they set off.

Tomorrow we will have the Autumn Statement, the government will congratulate itself on some if it’s successes. we will be told we maybe borrowing maybe ten billion fewer than we thought we might be borrowing a year ago. We will be told the deficit is down by a third, it’s all good news but it’s like going to the doctor and the doctor telling you that you are dying a third more slowly. This is not exactly a universal cause for celebration.”

Somehow Guido can’t picture Osborne using that particular analogy this morning.

True Terrible Impact of Bedroom 'Tax' Revealed

Labour are forever telling us that the bedroom ‘tax’ is a vindictive and pernicious policy that will cause misery for thousands across the country. Well today the devastating consequences have come to light. Worcester News has the story of one victim, Lisa Taylor, a mother in Warndon.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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