Time To Wave Goodbye Mr Speaker

The resignation of the Speaker’s spin doctor over the “mis-briefing” of the £4,000 in taxi expenses for Mrs Speaker caps a bad week for Speaker Martin.

The charge-sheet is getting longer and the voices getting louder, if he had any sense he would stand down before a way is found to push him out. That he was involved in efforts to hide MP’s expenses from Freedom of Information requests shows he is clearly the wrong person to lead parliament into a more open and transparent future. The revelation that the Speaker claims mortgage subsidy allowance for a property without a mortgage when he already lives in a grand manner at the public expense is a fiddle too far. This is an abuse fo the system which Martin has been using to featherbed his lifestyle and subsidise even his family’s lifestyle. Time to say “goodbye” Mr Speaker…

Labour’s Anathematising of Hain & Morgan the Organ

Guido has heard that it was made clear to Steve Morgan, Peter Hain’s sleazy campaign manager, that this year he was not welcome at the recent Welsh Labour Party conference. Guido has checked with the Labour Party press office and they will only confirm that Morgan did not attend. (Nor incidentally did the disgraced former Secretary of State for Wales).

That is a little strange for a man who likes to think of himself as an important Welsh Labour Party mover and shaker, usually he can be found glad handing and ingratiating himself with the Welsh Labour Party’s big-wigs in the bars. Wonder why he didn’t attend? Why miss out on all those photo and client-opportunities?

Could it be that he was a little embarrassed about his efforts on behalf of Hillary Clinton? Surely not. Could it be that despite all the spin from Morgan Allen Moore about the lobbyist industry’s APPC professional standards investigation going nowhere, it is getting seriously embarrassing for Morgan?

Morgan spun a line to the public affairs trade press that the complaint had been lodged by an aggrieved Tory ex-employee and would go nowhere. However when the APPC Management Committee met on 5 February they concluded there was a cause for complaint and referred it to the APPC’s Professional Practices Panel.

International spin merchants Grayling were rumoured to be on the verge of a multi-million pound takeover deal for MAM until this scandal blew-up and they pulled out days before the deal was to be agreed. Grayling were one of the founders of the APPC. Guido tried to get confirmation from David Thomas, Grayling’s finance director, without success…

+++ IAIN PAISLEY JUNIOR RESIGNS OVER SLEAZE +++

UPDATE : More on Slugger.

Usual fiddling politician resigning for no reason. “I am not going because of some hidden or some revealed wrongdoing”. So why resign?

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Due to the quantity of political sleaze being reported Guido has introduced a simple Pigs in Shit rating system for guidance on the misdemeanors of porcine politicians (guide here).
Speaker Fiddled Family Flights on Taxpayer’s Airmiles
Press Association

Gordon’s Undeclared Rent Under Investigation
Press Association
Wendy Praised Campaign Donors in Parliament
Sunday Post
24 London MPs Claim £20,000+ Overnight Accommodation
Sunday Times

Has Guido missed any sleaze? Answers in the comments please – will update above.

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Due to the quantity of political sleaze being reported Guido is introducing a Pigs in Shit rating system for guidance on the misdemeanors of porcine politicians.

Politically motivated mud throwing, technical reporting error / potentially honest mistake.

Definitely dodgy, unethical rule bending

Potentially fraudulent or criminal activity

Wee Wendy in New Funding Row

Wendy is facing another investigation by the Electoral Commission into a claim that she channelled £12,000 through the Scottish Industry Forum (SIF) a Labour front organisation to fund her constituency office. A Scottish Conservative party fundraiser, claims he was misled into contributing to her office at a fundraiser.
Purnell Fiddles Primary Residence to Dodge Tax

This is the classic property trick by politicians. Claim the mortgage subsidy allowance by saying your London home is your second home and the constituency home is your primary residence. When the MP comes to sell the London property this is a problem, only primary residences qualify to escape capital gains tax. Guido highlighted the primary/second home trick in December 2005 (see Four Lords a Fiddlin’). Guido is not going to give Purnell three pigs for fraudulent misrepresentation because he is so slippery he probably would escape prosecution.
David Davis Campaign Donation Declared by Lieutenants
A businessman who gave £20,000 to “essentially” support Basher Davis’ bid for the Tory crown had his donation declared by Andrew Mitchell and Nick Herbert. They say they used the money to support a researcher who worked on the Davis campaign.
Multi-Millionaire Paxman Pays Staff Below Minimum Wage
Well, well, well – according to his ex-staff he paid them £200 for a forty hour week, gave them no payslips, no contract and no agreed holidays. He treated them with his characteristic arrogance and high handedness. Answer the question Paxo – Did you pay tax and national insurance on their wages? The Screws story also re-hashes some of his affairs.
Peers Fiddle Tens of Thousands in Allowances

Labour peer Baroness Billingham, who has a flat in Hampstead and a country house in Suffolk claimed £26,983 in 2006-07 in overnight allowances inexplicably. Another Labour peer and former senior trade unionist Lord Brett, who lists his address in Who’s Who as a flat in Dolphin Square declares his main residence as his home in Cumbria allowing him to claim £27,887 last year. This scam is outright fiddling which Guido pointed to years ago.
Michael Ancram Claims £20,000 to Paint House
Yet more piggery, the multi-millionaire 13th Marquess of Lothian and Earl, Michael Ancram explains that the taxpayer had to paint his property and remove moss from the garden. Why?

Derek Draper’s Missus is Tangoing With Someone Else

Shhhh, Don’t Mention the Sleaze!

Last week at PMQs there was no mention of MPs caught with their hands in the till, paying their 80 year old mothers out of public funds, running up car mileage allowances that would take them round the world by road, claiming housing subsidies to pay their own children rent, “employing” ex-wives who lived nowhere near their constituencies and children who were in full time education. No mention of the generous daily food allowances despite the subsidised bars and restaurants. No mention of the MPs who claim for expensive second homes which are actually their primary residence. Yet yesterday Cameron and Brown both announced they were intent on cleaning up the sleaze.

Will the political class mention at PMQs the issue that the rest of us want to hear about?

MPs Four Times More Likely toCommit Fraud Than Benefit Claimants

According to the National Audit Office 1 in 2585 benefits claimants were successfully prosecuted or cautioned for benefit fraud in 2006-07.* Whereas for MPs the numbers so far identified are (after Conway), 1 in 646 parliamentary expense claimants. Four times as high…

Is it any wonder that the latest Populus poll has 73% of the population viewing all politicians as equally sleazy, with 14% thinking Brown’s government is more sleazy than the Major government. Dave is sufficiently worried about the sleaze issue re-surfacing that he has summoned Tory MPs to an emergency meeting of the parliamentary party.

This definition is doing the rounds at the moment:

Politics pol·i·tics, pronunciation: ˈpä-lə-ˌtiks

Function:
noun plural but singular or plural in construction
Etymology:
Greek politika, from neuter plural of politikos political. From poli meaning many and tics which means blood sucking grubs.

Which seems correct to Guido…

*via Chris Dillow.

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Peter Hain is using his Commons expenses to pay his 80-year-old mother £5,400 a year for “secretarial assistance”. Although Hain was supported by civil servants, special advisers, private secretaries and secretaries on becoming a minister in 1997, he continued to pay Adelaine Hain.
Sunday Times

Bob Spink, employs his former wife as a £28,000-a-year secretary, even though she lives 150 miles from his constituency. Apparently this is not alimony, she manages databases for him. He also employed his lover and her daughter.

Mail on Sunday

Nicholas and Ann Winterton claim rent subsidy allowance to pay the rent on a flat they owned outright and which they put in a trust for their children. Effectively meaning the taxpayer pays their children £30,000 a year for nothing.
Mail on Sunday

Alan Johnson, the health secretary, gave special access to a National Health Service contractor owned by one of the biggest donors to his deputy leadership campaign, holding a private meeting in his offices with Dr Reg Race of Quality Health, who had earlier given £5,000 to Johnson’s deputy leadership campaign.

Johnson met Race at the Department for Health on November 12, according to questions answered under the Freedom of Information Act. Unusually no civil servants were at the meeting and no minutes were kept. Quality Health has millions in contracts with the NHS.

The Times

Electoral Commission to investigate dodgy proxy donor via 50 year-old Pakistani “student” to Alan Johnson’s campaign.

Sunday Mirror

Wendy Alexander faces prosecution over foreign donations scandal.
Sunday Herald

Justice Unseen is Justice Denied

Guido has tried to find out what punishment was meted out to Lord Hoyle yesterday. He was in trouble for getting caught taking undeclared cash-for-access from lobbyists for arms dealers to meet with the Defence Procurement Minister. The Lordship’s disciplinary committee, chaired by Lord Woolf (the former Chief Justice) met in secret yesterday and we the people are not entitled to know the result. Such is our democracy…
So let Guido pass judgement; Lord Hoyle is a shameless whore of parliament, he travels first class on the taxpayer’s gravy train at the expense of the people, his priority is personal enrichment and the evidence is that he is more than willing to do grubby deals with arms dealers in the shadows, so long as there is money in it for him. In a better world that would have been the publicly given finding of Lord Woolf.

Lobbyist Regulator to Investigate Morgan the Organ Further

The Spin Industry’s APPC Management Committee (background here) has decided to consider and investigate the complaint against Morgan Allen Moore further. The Committee is looking for more information about the conduct of MAM and Morgan the Organ. Further evidence and consideration of specific charges under the APPC Code of Conduct will be considered at a meeting on February 4.

So you have another 24 hours to put in any further complaints…

Sleaze, Sleaze, Sleaze and More Sleaze

The Conway family firm will presumably go into liquidation come the next election. Guido understands that Derek is not unpopular in his constituency, nevertheless having a candidate who is known to have enriched himself out of the public purse to the degree that his family has, will provide ready capital to his opponents.

Duncan Borrowman, his LibDem challenger has complained not only to the police about Derek, but about his son to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

More sleaze due today : Lord Hoyle is up in front of a Lords disciplinary committee this afternoon. He got caught taking cash for introducing an arms company lobbyist to the minister in charge of weapons purchases in the Lords.

Doug Hoyle was a former Labour MP and government whip before hopping on the unelected gravy train, although not a hereditary peer his son Lindsay is the MP for Chorley, so the family will suckle on the teat of the taxpayer for many years to come. If Doug is found guilty of abusing his position will Gordon Brown remove the Labour whip from him? Has the moral compass lost all sense of direction?

So Gordon, What About Wendy? Harman? Johnson?

Did Dave dither? He says he slept on it and thought better, well he may have thought better not to lose votes, better not to annoy the activists, better to upset David Davis than Guido and Tim Montgomerie – who knows?

The important thing is, he has now dealt with the sleaze issue decisively. What is Gordon going to do? After the Abrahams scandal broke Gordon demanded the resignation of Peter Watt. He told the monthly press conference immediately afterwards that undeclared donations were unlawful and unacceptable and that was why Watt had to go.

Since then we have had Hain – he went – but we still have Harman, Johnson and Wendy. Why haven’t they gone? They broke the law. Why are they still lawmakers and ministers of the crown?

Had a Liquid Lunch

Looks like we should have ordered champagne….

Poll : Should Conway Go?

Guido is running a poll until midnight in the right-hand-column. Should Conway lose the Tory whip?

Conservatives Want Conway Gone Away

Over at ConservativeHome the grassroots are united. Derek Conway should go. Many activists saying that they don’t want to be on an equal sleaze footing with Labour.

“The silence from the party leadership is deafening and very depressing” complains one activist, “There is no excuse for Conway’s actions I really will protest long and hard if Cameron does not withdraw the whip and call for his constituency party to deselect Conway.” The grassroots are looking for decisive leadership “David Cameron now MUST taken action to clean up the mess.” Mark Fulford summarises the attitude of many “David Cameron: the clock is ticking. Derek Conway is undermining trust in Conservatives and has to be thrown out, now. No ifs, no buts.”

Usually loyal Conservative bloggers are also giving Conway the thumbs down. Over on CentreRight, Alex Deane frames it not in terms of tactics or strategy, rather as a question of old fashioned right and wrong. Tim Montgomerie says Cameron is making the wrong choice. Shane Greer wants Conway to stand down. Conservative Party Reptile wants “serious measures”, A Tory Blog wants him to consider his position. Dave has to “show some cojones in contrast to Brown” says the Englishman, Letters from a Tory is disheartened and disbelieving. Loyally, Dale says he is not going to join in the public kicking of his friend. But he doesn’t defend Derek either.

Cameron’s office say that he will keep the party whip according to Ben Brogan, claiming the punishment is for the Commons to decide, washing his hands in the same way Gordon said it was a matter for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to deal with Peter Hain. Not good enough, show leadership, don’t dither. Politicians just don’t seem to get how everyone outside the Westminster Village is disgusted with their self-serving ways. They are their own judges and jurors. They are more often than not guilty of venality yet they almost always get off…

Cameron should dump Derek, not dither indecisively as more and more sleaze drips out, Conway is a repeat offender according to the Mail’s front page. The Tory brand risks becoming re-contaminated…

(Great headline in the Mail, where do they get their ideas?)

The view of Guido’s readers is clear, Derek Conway’s financial arrangements are unacceptable. If Cameron does nothing, it is a case of accepting politics as usual. Fiddling thousands of pounds off the taxpayers to finance your son’s education is not acceptable. Lawmakers can not be law breakers.

Cameron has the power to withdraw the whip from Conway, his constituency party have the power to withdraw their support for him as a candidate. What is it to be?

Incidentally, do you think we will see articles from Sir Michael White et al explaining that it is a trivial amount of money? Will we see those who have been writing apologia on behalf of Hain, Harman, Johnson and Wendy Alexander doing the same for Derek Conway? Don’t hold your breath…

Steve Morgan Sleaze Investigation

The Spin Industry’s self regulatory body, the APPC, describes itself “as the representative and regulatory body for UK public affairs professionals in the consultancy sector.” It was set up in the wake of brown-envelope lobbyist scandals by some of the more respectable lobbying firms to try and prevent the most egregious happenings that are endemic to a murky industry.

Guido has learnt that the APPC has received a complaint from James Davenport, a former employee of Morgan Allen Moore, concerning ten separate breaches of the APPC Code of Conduct by Steve Morgan, Hain’s campaign manager. The book is well and truly being thrown at “Morgan the Organ”…

Honour for Donor? Never Heard of Him, Oh I Proposed Him

The recently ennobled Lord Hameed’s companies have given £400,000 to the LibDems in the past two years. Lord Tim Clement-Jones is head of spin for DLA Piper’s public affairs and government relations practice as well as the LibDem’s party treasurer. (Incidentally, the LibDem’s voted to require lobbyists who were LibDem parliamentarians to withdraw from lobbying two years ago. Clement-Jones ignores the party ruling.)

When The Times asked Clement-Jones who it was who put Hameed forward for a peerage, he said that he had “no idea” who had proposed Lord Hameed. After The Times said it had evidence that it was him, he said: “I couldn’t remember that. That’s fine. I thought he was a very upstanding member of the Asian community and somebody who would make a very good peer.” An amazingly quick recall of why he proposed him when seconds earlier he couldn’t even remember proposing Hameed.

It gets worse, no declaration of the donations was declared to the Lords Appointments Committee. Lord Dholakia, the deputy leader of the LibDems and their representative sitting on the Committee knows Hameed but denies he knew he was the third biggest donor to the party. The party of course denies any link between the cash and putting Hameed forward for an honour. Stinks doesn’t it? Maybe Chris Huhne will write another letter to the police about it…

The Fat Lady is About to Sing

All those who pledged to support a private prosecuton of Lord Levy should now have received an update by email and text message.

As was always intended, we will make a final decision as to whether to seek a prosecution following the conclusion of the all-party Public Administration Select Committee’s deliberations. They will be publishing their report into “Honours and Propriety” on Wednesday.

Well over two hundred people have pledged financial support for a prosecution. As we have seen with this second Donorgate wave of Labour fundraising sleaze, there will be no end to corrupt political fundraising until those concerned realise that they risk jail. This can’t be allowed to go on unpunished. Harman, Hain and others claim ignorance of the law and forgetful mistakes. The opportunity to unforgettably impress on politicians the disgust of voters with the system is approaching…

Bad In Westminster, Worse in Scotland

The press is having a field day with Donorgate, nobody believes that knowledge of the Labour party’s illegal funding operation was restricted to Peter Watt. Jon Mendelsohn says Abrahams was lying when he said Mendelsohn knew about it, and is suing the Evening Standard, Guido doesn’t believe Mendacious Mendelsohn (send writs to the usual address Jonny).[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

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