Olney Summed Up

Sarah Olney is looking for your support, something doesn’t add up…

Brexit Means Bonfire of Costly Farming Regulations

Before Christmas Guido reported that Andrea Leadsom was the first Cabinet minister to produce a departmental plan for Brexit. Today the Environment Secretary reveals what Brexit means for farming: a bonfire of cumbersome regulations that currently cost the industry million of pounds a year. When we leave the EU Andrea’s farming minister George Eustice will end the ‘three crop rule’ regulating how many different crops farms must plant. Defra say this will allow 40,000 farmers to grow the foods people want and add millions to the economy.

Barmy Brussels diktats defining what makes a hedge a hedge or when a puddle becomes a pond will be binned. Paperwork required from flood-hit farmers will be reduced, as will the number of expensive government inspections. Most satisfying of all: farms will no longer have to pay for and display ridiculous 6ft by 4ft propaganda billboards publicising the EU contribution for grants, as they are currently required to do. Millions saved, millions added to the economy, hundreds of thousands of hours saved. As the old joke almost goes, how does the Environment Secretary compare with colleagues on Brexit? She’s outstanding in her field…

Khan’s Nick Clegg Moment: TfL Travelcards Hiked By 2%

“From today, I’ve frozen all TfL fares until 2020″ tweeted Sadiq Khan yesterday, linking his followers to a page on the TfL website listing fares which have been frozen. The Mayor was being misleading at best, downright untruthful at worst. The link he tweeted did not include the fares that are going up. 

Buried on the TfL website is the news that daily and weekly caps are rising by an average of 2%. The price of a monthly Travelcard (zones 1&2) will rise by £2.30. Adult Day Travelcard prices have been hiked by up to 50p, Child Day Travelcard prices are going up by 30p. Travelcard season ticket prices are rising by an average of 2%, some by considerably more than that. If you’re a commuter you will likely use a Travelcard and Khan’s fake “freeze” will not apply to you.

During the mayoral election Khan promised: “Londoners won’t pay a penny more for their travel in 2020 than they do today”. In his manifesto he said he would “freeze London transport fares for four years”. The new TfL fares released yesterday confirm that these promises have been completely and utterly 100% broken. While Westminster and the media are focused on other things, Khan is getting away with Nick Clegg-level dishonesty in the capital…

Gloomy Wonks are EU-Funded Europhiles

Britain will be “older, more unequal and blighted by Brexit”, according to a gloomy new report from the IPPR think tank. Apparently there will be a decade of disaster and misery caused by the Leave vote. Two things the Guardian didn’t include in their write-up: The IPPR was formerly run by the head of the Remain campaign Will Straw. It is funded by the EU. Probably worth mentioning…

Taking Out the Trash Day: Nick and Fi on £140,000 Each

Downing Street has chosen the first day of the Christmas holidays to publish the salaries of government special advisers. Theresa May’s joint chiefs of staff Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy are on £140,000 each. There are now 83 SpAds costing the taxpayer £7.9 million a year…

Khan Hires Mandy

Sadiq Khan has hired Peter Mandelson to advise him on Brexit. No doubt the importance of protecting pensions will be top of his priorities list. Khan and Mandelson fell out badly during the Labour leadership election in 2010 when Sadiq, then Ed Miliband’s campaign agent, blasted Mandy as part of “the New Labour attack machine” spinning “the same old messages”. Mandy hit back at Khan suggesting he wasn’t engaging in “grown-up politics”. At least they can now unite opposing Brexit. Another stunning Khan appointment – don’t forget to bill ’em through a company

LibDems Given Maximum Expenses Fine, Broke Electoral Law, Referred to Police

The Electoral Commission has given the LibDems the maximum £20,000 election fraud fine, ruled they committed multiple offences and referred them to the police. Guido had previously told how LibDem candidates had split their spending between their local and national spend – they even had a handy spreadsheet used to cook the books. Time and time again the LibDems told us they had done everything above board. The Electoral Commission’s investigation uncovered 307 payments totalling £184,676 which the candidate had split between local and national spend, but which were missing from the national return. They have ruled that the LibDems committed multiple offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act and issued them with the maximum fine. They also slammed the LibDems for contributing to “damage to public confidence” and “detriment to transparency in politics”. Here’s the real kicker: the Electoral Commission notes that knowingly or recklessly making a false declaration is a more serious criminal offence, of which they believe the LibDems are guilty. They have referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police…

EU Showers Gold on Urine Energy Boffins

urine-scientists

The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive states that 20% of its total energy needs must be met with renewables by 2020. Time is running out, so Brussels is bankrolling boffins to avoid the embarrassment of missing the target. That’s why almost €3 million was spent on a four year project trying to generate electricity. From urine…

Netherlands-based research group ValueFromUrine is yet to report its conclusions despite finishing its work in August. It claims its technology is based on the “innovative principle” of using microbes and charged metal rods to draw out hydrogen, ammonia and phosphorous from wee. These elements are apparently useful in industry and for electricity generation. The research was partly inspired by a secondary school homework project put together by a group of Nigerian teenagers. Their dirt cheap pee-powered generator was presented to the world with much fanfare in 2012 but has since been comprehensively debunked by scientists and energy businesses. Likewise, ValueFromUrine’s overall principle is sound but not commercially viable because a £4,000 pump is needed to keep vital bacteria alive in the apparatus. €3 million up the wall…

Full “Confidential” Bung Claims By Green Party Chair

This is the full 30 page report written by Kingston Green Party chair Ryan Coley alleging the party was offered a £250,000 bung to stand aside in Richmond. Coley has confirmed to Guido that he co-wrote the report. A lot of questions for the Greens to answer here…

UPDATE: At some point tonight the Green Party put in a copyright complaint to our previous host – this from the party that prides itself on transparency – so it is now hosted elsewhere and will be available by email to anyone who wants it (team@order-order.com) if we have any other problems. Bear in mind that they originally said they denied all knowledge of it – now they claim copyright.

Full PDF download here.

Green Party ‘Offered £250,000 Bung Not to Stand in Richmond’

green2

The Green Party was offered a £250,000 inducement not to stand a candidate against the LibDems in Richmond, according to the chairman of the local Greens. Ryan Coley, the Kingston Green Party chair, claims his members were pressured by party officials not to run a candidate because the party had been offered £250,000 conditional on standing aside for the LibDems. Guido has obtained an internal report written by the local chairman and members Clare Keogh and Kieron Merrett. They complain “party staff added pressure” on them, “telling us that there was an offer of a large donation to the party which was conditional on the party demonstrating its desire for a progressive alliance”. They allege the offer amounted to £250,000 and the order to stand aside came “on the instruction of the Chief Executive“.

green1

The report says the offer failed the party’s donation scrutiny procedures and the donation did not go through. After Guido put the allegations to the Green Party they confirmed they would investigate. A Green Party spokesman does not deny the offer of the bung:

“This is an unofficial report from a handful of members of Kingston Green Party and is not officially recognised by either the national Green Party or the local party in question. Many of the claims are disputed and this report has been referred to the Green Party Regional Council and will be looked into as soon as possible.” 

This is a bombshell allegation – not denied by the Greens – that a wealthy donor offered them cash to stand aside for the Remain cause. Local Greens are furious with Caroline Lucas and Jon Bartley over this…

UPDATE: The Greens have a carefully worded new line:

“The Green Party has not accepted any donations connected with the Richmond Park by-election and no donation offer was made on the basis that the Party choose not to field a candidate. Any donation accepted by the Green Party must meet strict ethical criteria and that includes the donation not being used to gain leverage over strategic decisions.”

Guido has asked them if an offer was made in relation to the ‘Progressive Alliance’, as the local chair claims, and why party officials told the local party such an offer existed. They have declined to answer…

Government Values Guardian Readers Most Highly

per-reader

Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, is complaining that the government has spent some £5 million on advertising in the Tory press. By which he really means advertising in the popular press, the Daily Mail and The Sun get the most advertising revenue because they sell the most papers. Doughty says “I personally don’t think it’s appropriate to see extensive government advertising alongside homophobic headlines or the sort of language we last saw in the 1930s.” The snowflake left are rallying around advertising boycotts of publications they don’t like. 

Guido took a look at the same data in a different way; how much does it cost to to reach an individual reader? On that basis the government overpays to reach a Guardian reader (£2.15), 12 times what it pays to reach a Mirror reader (£0.18). Now Whitehall may have different objectives, Guido suspects it is advertising for more diversity officers on Guardian’s job pages and telling Mirror readers to claim benefits, stop drinking and eating sugar on the tabloid’s pages. Or possibly they are just over-paying to reach broadsheet readers…

Treasury Implements Amy Lame Tax

lame

The Treasury has warned public bodies they can no longer employ staff through personal service companies – a direct challenge to Sadiq Khan to change the tax efficient contract of his aide Amy Lame. Khan’s controversial ‘Night Tzar’ receives her taxpayer-funded £35,000 salary (for two days’ work a week) through her company Amy Lame Ltd, a highly unusual arrangement for a public servant. Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke has today ordered public bodies like City Hall to ensure this is not allowed to happen:

“Public sector bodies should be leading by example… From April 2017, where a public sector body engages an off-payroll worker through their own limited company, that body will become responsible for determining whether the rules should apply, and paying the right tax… the responsibility for determining whether or not the rules apply will remain with the public sector body, who will need to inform the agency or third party of their conclusion.”

Will Khan and City Hall now end Lame’s cushy tax arrangement?

DfID Slams “Poorest Performer” Baroness Scotland

scotland

The Department for International Development has delivered a scathing assessment of Baroness Scotland, labelling her Commonwealth Secretariat one of the “poorest performers” when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. A new DfID report out today has found “the Commonwealth Secretariat continues to underperform” and that “improvement is essential if DFID is to continue to fund the organisation”. The report warns “the Secretariat requires urgent organisational reform” in terms of “transparency” and “human resource management”, slamming Scotland’s department for its poor “financial management and budget discipline”. The Commonwealth Secretariat scored a mark of 2 out of 5 on transparency, accountability and value. This could not be a more damning indictment of Baroness Scotland’s exorbitant spending and lack of accountability…

Amy Lame Quietly Ends Cushy Property Deal After Guido Story

lame-house

Amy Lame has terminated the cushy property deal involving her company and her partner following Guido’s story last week. On Friday we revealed that Lame runs her taxpayer-funded company from the subsidised student accommodation of her partner, who she employs as company secretary. On Tuesday, Lame made two filings to Companies House: the first ending the employment of her partner Jennie Hogan, the second changing the company’s registered address from Hogan’s subsidised flat to a new address on Great Russell Street. It was a very naughty arrangement – Hogan let Lame run her taxpayer-funded business from her College flat in return for a share of the profits, all while no income tax was paid. Quietly ending the deal after Guido shone a light on it looks very guilty indeed…

Baroness Scotland For Sale

buy-scotland

Art lovers will be thrilled to discover a oil painting of scandal-hit Baroness Scotland is for sale. This Youldon, painted in 2007, was showcased recently by a group of lefty luvvie lawyers – now one lucky fan could hang the Baroness in their loo and reminisce about her asking for £300 of taxpayers’ money for a new toilet seat. Luckily the cost includes delivery and the frame. Don’t worry, just put it on expenses…

Suzanne Loses £5,000 Deposit

suzanne

The UKIP leadership contest was costly for Suzanne Evans: she unfortunately fell just short of the 20% needed to keep her £5,000 deposit. Added to the £5,000 she owed UKIP this summer, that means the party will have asked her for ten grand in the last few months. That’s around a fifth of UKIP’s total donations this quarter…

Cushy Property Deal For Amy Lame’s Taxpayer-Funded Firm

lame-house

Sadiq Khan’s aide Amy Lame runs her taxpayer-funded company from the subsidised student accommodation of her partner, who she employs as company secretary. Lame’s City Hall salary is paid into her company Amy Lame Ltd, meaning she pays no income tax. Amy Lame Ltd is registered to her partner Jennie Hogan’s address in leafy Mecklenburgh Square. The property is owned by Goodenough College, where Hogan is a chaplain – it is listed by the College as subsidised accommodation costing around one-third less than market rates. Hogan is a shareholder and company secretary of Amy Lame Ltd. 

It is a cushy deal – Hogan lets Lame run her taxpayer-funded business from her College flat. In return, Hogan gets a share of the profits. All while no income tax is paid. This is a financial arrangement that would make Ken Livingstone proud…

UPDATE: Tory GLA leader Gareth Bacon says:

“Another day, and there are further serious questions for Amy Lamé to answer. The Mayor of London should take control of this situation, reverse his decision to pay her through a personal service company and avoid bringing the reputation of City Hall into further disrepute.”

Vote Leave Alumni Tell May To Spend Brexit Dividend on NHS

brexit

Thirteen leading Leave campaigners including Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart have urged the government to keep Vote Leave’s referendum pledge and spend the Brexit ‘dividend’ on the NHS. Buried in Wednesday’s OBR report was the revelation that Britain will get back an extra £32 billion when we leave the EU, approximately the £250 million per week figure which Vote Leave said was the net amount currently being paid to Brussels. During the referendum Vote Leave famously suggested that money could be spent on the NHS. Today Gove, Gisela, Steve Baker and others say:

“When we leave the EU we will be able to take back control of the billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money we send to Brussels each year. We will be able to decide how we spend that money rather than EU bureaucrats. The OBR has revealed that the British people will get back over £10 billion net a year once we leave the EU. We believe that this Brexit dividend should be spent on our priorities – the most important of which is our NHS.”
The OBR verdict is that Vote Leave’s referendum pledge can ultimately be kept by Theresa May, it is up to her whether she wants to do it. It’ll be very interesting to see Number 10 and the Treasury’s reaction, the Brexiteers are starting to reassert themselves…

Gove Trousers £150,000 For Times Column

gove

Michael Gove is another who’s coining it now his political ambitions are on hold. The Gover is making a cool £150,000-a-year for his new column at the Times, which will no doubt delight some lowly reporters on the paper. It is a good column that’s always worth reading and is a fount of gossip and mischief. Still not earning him as much as Boris got at the Telegraph though. Gove is also writing a book, trousering a £17,500 advance from Harper Collins last month. He says it’s “impossible to calculate” how long it will take him to write. The subject is a mystery…

Osborne Making As Much as a Premier League Footballer

osborne

George Osborne might have been standing at the despatch box yesterday as Chancellor on a meagre £141,000-a-year. Instead, he’s trousered £320,000 for speeches to various bankers in the last two months alone. Pro rata that’s nearly £2 million a year, £40,000-a-week, over £5,500-a-day.[…] Read the rest

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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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