Labour Plea to Hodge Over Joan Ryan Local Party Complain to HQ Over Expenses Piggy Candidate

If one can judge an expenses piggy by the company she keeps, it’s telling that Joan Ryan’s friends in high places include Tom Watson and Margaret Hodge. Ryan has even tapped up Hodge to write to residents in Enfield North, Hodge helpfully describes her as “a great campaigner with strong values” and ” a first-rate MP”. Obviously forgetting that she was kicked out last time after claiming £4,500 for work on her second home and having to pay back over £5,000 in mortgage interest. Now former Enfield Labour leader Jeff Rodin has pleaded with Hodge to withdraw her endorsement in a letter seen by Guido:

“All the good work that has been done by the Labour Borough Campaign Team in raising the profile and standing of Labour in the whole of Enfield would be undermined by the selection of Joan Ryan… Of the 5 candidates, it is my view that she is the one whose selection would most please the current Conservative MP and his campaign Team, and also would be most likely to damage the prospects for Labour in the Borough both for the 2014 Local Election as well as the next General Election… I have no doubt that there is more that the Conservatives plan to reveal if she is selected.”

As if that were not enough, local Labour councillors Derek Levy, Don McGowan and Ozzie Uzoanya are complaining to the party’s head office accusing Ryan of sending “misleading” leaflets to constituents. “Such behaviour is unacceptable as it is misleading to members. We will be notifying Labour Party Head Office”, they say.

Selection is on Sunday. The knives are out…

See also: Labour Accuse Candidate of ‘Tower Hamlets-Style’ Stitch UpTom Watson Fingered Over Plotting DinnerVoters Warn Labour Expenses Piggy Not to RunLabour Expenses Piggy Tries to Run Again.

£120 Billion of Government Waste: The Worst Offenders

The TPA’s new Bumper Book of Government Waste outlines £120 billion of savings, £4,500 for each household in Britain. Which by no coincidence is almost exactly the same as the current budget deficit. These are some of the worst offenders.

William Hague’s taxpayer-funded snake stuffing is a classic…

Exclusive: Energy Ctte Dismissed Sir Robert Smith Shell Conflict

When the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee met in the Thatcher Room this morning, Yeo was “strongly questioned” and the Tories on the committee made it clear to him in no uncertain terms that if he had coached a witness there was no way back for him. Guido understands that Labour members demanded his immediate resignation.

A source in the room tells Guido:

“I don’t know where the Lilley story came from, it was never going to be him. He’s the most junior committee member in terms of tenure. Robert is the most senior and he has always acted as chair in the past when Tim has been absent. He is quite popular on the committee, and seen as a steady pair of hands.”

Interestingly, Guido’s source confirms that there was “a brief discussion” regarding Sir Robert’s potential conflict of interest from his Shell shareholdings, though “the committee agreed that as he is the natural interim chair” that there was  “no suggestion he’s ever done anything wrong” so “should step up in this case.”  The committee have replaced one conflicted chairman with another, though Sir Robert Smith’s case pales in comparison with the sums Yeo was getting away with. Just because you declare a conflict of interest, it does not mean it goes away. That should be Yeo’s lasting legacy…

Mercer Feared Guido Would Get Him Again Wet Blanket Standards Commissioner Least of Crook’s Worries

As disgraced cash-for-questions Tory Patrick Mercer plotted his dodgy Fiji deal, there was one thing concerning him above all else:

“Do you know the website Guido Fawkes? Guido Fawkes will be all over this. Like a dose of clap. He really will. Trying to find out where the corruption is in it.”

He wasn’t worried about being caught by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, he was worried about Guido. This blog uncovered Mercer at it with lobbyists in 2011, when he took £10,000 from a security company and sponsored a pass for its Managing Director. The authorities did nothingThe warning signs were there, the complaint went in, but the corruption continued…

By the admission of a crooked MP, the rules are so weak that an Honourable Member thinking of taking cash for questions or selling amendments to lobbyists dismisses the threat of reprimand. Guido and the rest of the free press are the only ones guarding the guardians. As someone, somewhere once said: sunlight is the best disinfectant…

Deadline Day For MPs’ Expenses Claims Today Happy Tax Freedom Day!

Are you an Honourable Member yet to get his or her money’s worth from the taxpayer this year? Fancy an iPad, laptop, or maybe if you’re feeling particularly piggy a cosy little rent-swap this Thursday morning? There are just a few hours left for greedy MPs who have left it late to submit expenses claims for this financial year. Guido’s source in IPSA is expecting a fair few claims to come in on deadline day, so it isn’t going to be a cheap one for the taxpaying public. Fill your boots.

Ironically, today is also the ASI’s Tax Freedom Day. This means that for the average citizen, today is the day you start to actually keep the money you earn; everything you have made so far this year went to the state in tax. Perfect timing.

Former Prime Mentalist’s £1.37 Million Income Spin

Embarrassingly, the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath has been found to be Parliament’s top outside earner, in absentia. The Guardian reports, sympathetically:

“Gordon Brown earned more than £1.37m from giving speeches around the world. Brown said the income supported an office that he uses to “support my ongoing involvement in public life”, with £600,000 going to charity and none of the money to him personally.”


That line again.

Leaving aside that no evidence is offered up for these charitable donations, the cost of a few staffers and some flights around the world does not cover the other half million. Either it has been paid down to Gordon or Sarah somehow, or it’s all just sitting there in the “Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown” bank accounts, meaning Gordon’s direct income from speaking is not being taxed as direct income. It’s dishonest either way.

UPDATE: Always happy to help, Guido pointed out the Metro’s incorrect headline:

Wouldn’t want Gordon’s spin catching on…

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Greediest of Them All?

Labour haven’t yet been stupid enough to select expenses piggy Joan Ryan as their candidate in Enfield North, though the LibDems really do need to take a look at themselves. They have reselected shamed trougher Richard Younger-Ross, who was kicked out as MP for Teignbridge (now Newton Abbot) in 2010 after infamously claiming £1,235 for four mirrors to furnish his London flat. He also bought a £1,100 stereo system, a £1,475 chest of drawers and a £500 ‘Don Juan’ bookcase with taxpayers’ money. Sure that will reflect well on voters when he knocks on doors in 2015…

Voters Warn Labour Expenses Piggy Not to Run

Earlier this month Guido revealed that expenses scandal piggy Joan Ryan was begging her local Labour party for support as she tries to run again in 2015. That despite being kicked out by the electorate after claiming £4,500 for work on her second home and having to pay back over £5,000 in mortgage interest. As if having the nerve to show her face in Enfield North again wasn’t enough, now she has been accused of trying to stitch up the Labour selection in neighbouring Enfield Southgate; Guido is told she brought along dozens of new members to the local CLP’s AGM in order to back her pal Ibrahim Dogus. Guido has repeatedly asked Ryan why she is sticking her oar in but for some reason she doesn’t want to talk. Her own former constituents have certainly had enough. This is from her local paper’s letter page this morning:

You’d have thought she would get the message…

Champagne and iPhones – on the Taxpayer, Natch +NHS England Blow £177,028 on iPhones For Staff+ +Parliament’s £280,000 Deal for Exclusive Wines+

There was plenty of your cash being artfully projected up walls in this week’s Sun column. Firstly Guido revealed that NHS England, the new public body set up to implement Tory health reforms, has blown a staggering £177,028 on top-of-the-range iPhones. 400 to be precise – enough to pay for seven newly trained nurses. Which makes you wonder about their “key aim of securing the best possible health outcomes for patients by prioritising them in every decision it makes.”

Over in Parliament, the Men in Tights have awarded snooty wine merchants Ellis of Richmond a £280,000 contract “for the supply of a global selection of quality still and sparkling wines” for the House of Commons wine list. MPs were “seeking to appoint a single supplier, who can demonstrate that they have the ability to consistently supply the best quality Wines, Sparkling Wines, and Champagnes” which “are not widely available on the High Street”.

Of course none of that ordinary common plonk would be good enough for the subsidised boozers who rule over us.

Parliament’s Literary Secrets

The Men in Tights’ favourite method for blocking the release of awkward information about MPs is citing the Data Protection Act over and over again. Regardless of the fact that the Commons library is funded by the taxpayer, Guido has been told Parliament will not publish the names of books loaned by individual MPs over the last few months. Apparently letting the public know what MPs are doing with their money is a breach of those Honourable Members’ privacy.

Sadly, that means Guido cannot reveal the name of the curious MP who rented – and has not returned – rent boy scandal MP Mark Oaten’s “Screwing Up”, or the fact-finding digger who took out – and kept – Tim Tate’s “Child Pornography: an Investigation”. We will never know the names of the three MPs who are struggling to finish Janan Ganesh’s Osborne biography, they haven’t returned “The Austerity Chancellor” after several months’ hard work. Nor, of course, the would-be red-faced rookies who needed the low down on “How Parliament Works”, and thought it best to keep on to their copy, just in case.  As for the name of the MP who felt the need to lift “The Jew is Not My Enemy”? Guess we’ll never know if the recommendation was on the orders of Nick Clegg…

Glass House Prices

The fact that Tory MP Stewart Jackson hasn’t even sold his house will make his battle with IPSA’s expensive legal team, Cherie Blair’s Matrix Chambers, all the more interesting. Especially since he isn’t even considering selling up. Guido is however more amused by Jackson’s claim that house prices were falling in his area, so the value of his property couldn’t possibly have increased by 20% as IPSA claim. Which is somewhat ironic given that Jackson’s wife is none other than Daily Express property hack Sarah O’Grady, known for headlines such as “House prices rocket to a three-year high”, Biggest house price rises in a year”, “House prices surge for second month in a row” and “House prices on rise again”. And many, many moreStewart obviously isn’t a reader…

Clock Ticking For MacShane

Some good news to end the week on: police have handed a file of evidence against Denis MacShane to the CPS.

Decision time…

Read all Guido’s stories on expenses cheat MacShane here.

MP Second Home Profit Repayments in Full

IPSA has today released details of MPs who made profits on the second home capital gains. Tory Stewart Jackson is being sued for £54,000 after failing to agree a repayment plan. Andy Burnham still owes £2,850.24 after creaming off a £4,456.08 capital gains profit, to be repaid by November this year. John Denham is due to pay back £5,394.80, David Willetts owes £7,230.74, James Paice £9,177.12, Andrew George is paying back ten grand and Brian Donohoe still owes £7,369.36. Philip Hammond is on his last repayment of £34,883.54 capital gains. Most MPs have already paid back the cash they made, David Gauke forked out £26,762.76, John Whittingdale £12,441.00, Tim Yeo £3,215.74, David Jones £81,446.00, Greg Campbell £61,403.18, and Hazel Blears £7,644.00. You can see the details in full here.

Labour Expenses Piggy Tries to Run Again

Expenses trougher and Labour’s former Enfield North MP Joan Ryan has some nerve. In a letter to her local Labour Party seen by Guido, Ryan begs them for her support, saying she wants to run again in 2015: “we have to select the best candidate to win for Labour in Endfield North… now I’m asking for your support to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate”. Apparently with a straight face, she insists “had it not been for the changes to parliamentary boundaries we would still have a Labour MP in Enfield North”.

Definitely nothing to do with the fact that during the expenses scandal Ryan was exposed as having claimed £4,500 for work on her second home, having to pay back over £5,000 in mortgage interest the following year. Her wikipedia page was mysteriously edited at least ten times from inside the parliamentary estate in an attempt to remove details of her expenses indiscretions. For some reason no mention of any of this in Ryan’s letter. And certainly no apology. Her local party have given her short shrift so far, the final selection meeting is tomorrow…

UPDATE: Ryan’s ex-agent Chris Deacon has come out against her plans for a return:

“I think the membership feels that for us to win we need a fresh, new candidate to take the party forward.”

MPs Ask For More Staffing Expenses Despite 25% Increase

As Guido reported in his Sun column at the weekend, greedy MPs are asking for even more of our money in expenses cash despite having their staffing budget raised by an unbelievable inflation busting 25% last year. In emails seen by Guido, piggy MPs claim that dealing with an increased number of problems due to cuts to local public advice services means they should be entitled to yet another “substantial” increase. They have been told where to go in no uncertain terms by the clearly unimpressed Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority:

“MPs will be aware that, following a comprehensive review and consultation, we increased the staffing budget by up to 25% in 2012-13. In the current economic climate, we consider this already substantial budget (£144,000 for London Area MPs and £137,200 for Non-London Area MPs) to be at the limit of what we, as a publicly funded body, are able to provide to MPs.”

They have some nerve…

Nice Work, If You Can Get It

parli

It’s Four in the afternoon, in the middle of the working week.

Do you know where your MP is?

Via @Bishop_of_Souls

Alright for Some MPs Will Work Only 10 Days Between Now and June

Parliament will ‘prorogue’ this coming Thursday or Friday for the end of this session. The Privy Council advises the Queen to tell the Lord Chamberlain to boot out our Honourable Members, summoning them to only return again on May 8 for the State Opening of Parliament. A nice little holiday with a bit of campaigning for the local elections.

They will then rise again on May 21 for Whitsun Recess, returning on June 3. Where’s Guido going with this? Well most MPs will work for 10 days between now and June – and that is naively assuming that they will work on Fridays – which they won’t. Fifteen days off at least. Oink oink.

Clegg Says Scrap MPs’ Booze Subsidy

Clegg initially tried to deny the existence of the Commons booze subsidy on LBC this morning, but when presented with the facts by Nick Ferrari the Deputy PM gave in: “I haven’t seen the prices, but my knee jerk reaction is why should MPs be subsidised for drinking in the House of Commons?”

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The £5.8 million subsidy would be a good place to begin, but it is also worth pointing out that since parliament’s watering holes are inside a Royal Palace, many of the bars pay no rent or business rates whatsoever. Research by the ASI calculates that they are saving £1.4 million-a-year as a result. All at the taxpayer’s expense…

Here are some of the other posts on the issue Guido has put out over the years:

Private Eye: Five Years Behind Guido

Private Eye is out of date again. The week after Guido suggested Eric Joyce’s latest brush with the law was a good excuse to scrap the Commons booze subsidy, today Private Eye follows suit:

“The fisticuffs that followed outside Westminster’s own subsidised Sports and Social boozer involving Eric Joyce MP (again), might have been avoided had the participants all been paying full whack for their grog”.

Guido welcomes Lord Gnome on board his five year campaign

Here are some of the other posts on the issue Guido has put out over the years:

Rent-Swap Victory: Expenses Piggy Linda Riordan Sells Up

Regular readers will remember how Guido has been on the case of shamed Labour rent-swapper Linda Riordan. In October last year it was revealed how this expenses piggy rented out her London flat to another MP and skimmed off an extra £1,000-a-month in profit from the taxpayer, charging a rent of £1,560 on a property where her mortgage costs her some £500-a-month.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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