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Brown’s biggest balls up yet

By Angela Harbutt
May 31st, 2009 at 6:01 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in UK Politics


Vince Cable must think that Christmas is about to come early for him. It would seem that Gordon Brown wants to make Ed Balls the new chancellor in the up-coming reshuffle.

When we all finish rolling around the floor laughing, we should maybe ask the question “why have his advisors in the bunker not told him the sheer lunacy of the action”?  

Pick one of the following.

1. There is no one in the bunker stupid.

2. They were too scared they would be shot.

3. They did but Gordon was in the corner,hands over ears, shouting “la la la la I’m not listening”.

4. They thought Ed Balls was as good as a cyanide capsule and probably for the best.

5. He They have annointed Ed Balls as the next leader & want to raise his profile.

I personally favour answer 4, though in the mad world of Labour-land i dont rule out 5 (Pete and Ed do now sit next to each other in Cabinet after all).

If reports are true, then after some arse-saving warning about “the potential dangers” involved ( erm yeah..), Lord Mandelson has said he is ready to support the move as part of a final attempt to revive goverment’s fortunes” . Please note the word “final”. 

Another question for you. Is Mr Mandelson..

1. Sitting there head in hands, wondering where it all went wrong

2. On the phone to Mr Johnson as we speak

3. On the phone to Ed Balls as we speak

4. Still deciding which horse to back (we know he likes to leave it late).

I dont know either, though I’m pretty certain it’s not answer 1.

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Sort out the party and do it now

By Angela Harbutt
May 31st, 2009 at 4:27 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

Just when we were all getting fatigued with stories of the Commoners raiding the cash box, The Sunday Times brings us fresh tales of skulduggery in “the other place”. One Labour peer and one Lib Dem peer are accused of some serious fiddling of allowances.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead makes some sort of a fist of it. A true Labour peer, (starting out life as a postman before climbing the trade union pole to the top) Lord Clarke does a full mea culpa in the paper. His admissions are simply toe-curling. He admits to regularly falsely claiming overnight allowances, pocketing around £18000 a year and, more shockingly, that he was told to do it “as a way of getting remuneration in the absense of salary”. Worringly he ranked as the lowly 169th highest claimant for overnight expenses across 2007-2008. The cat, as they say, is well and truly amongst the pigeons.

The Lib Dem peer Lord Dykes of Harrow Weald is an altogether a different matter. The paper states that Lord Dykes has claimed £66,000 since 2004 by claiming his main home is in Normandy – despite one Normandy neighbour stating that “they are here only one or two weekends a month. It is a second home”. Lord Dykes response to the paper thus far has been only to say that his main home is in France.

Maybe his neighbours are mistaken. Maybe he does live in France and can, as Agent Orange identifies, easily explain how he clocked in 139 days in the House of Lords in the year 2007-2008, and maybe he was too busy (or in France?) to clarify his position with the Sunday Times more fully.

But the question must now be, who within the party is advising Lord Rennard and Lord Dykes to stay quiet? And if they are not being advised by the Party to  stay quiet, if indeed, they are defying the party by their refusal to explain themselves, then why is no action being taken? This is doing the party harm.

I am not sure why it took 4 days for the Federal Executive to issue a lamentable 5 point plan on expenses that I could have written in ten minutes. I am also not sure why we as a party are so forthright on our suggestions for reform of the  system, and so backward at putting our own party in order.

But action must surely be taken now by the party, or it will be the party itself that will have to face reform.

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BREAKING NEWS: Glenda Jackson repays £8k in expenses for Labour report

By Julian Harris
May 31st, 2009 at 2:08 pm | 8 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

glenda-jackson-c1968Glenda Jackson has been forced to repay £8,000 in expenses that funded a report promoting the Labour Party, according to the Telegraph (who else?).

The article also outlines a number of previous cases in which Jackson has merged parliamentary expenses with party business.

‘In March 2006 she claimed £7,500 in office expenses from the taxpayer to pay her local party for the “provision of constituency services during 2006”.

The payment was made to Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party. ‘

This continued in following years and payments were also made to a Labour party product entitled:

“Computing for Labour”

Imagine what that covers.

The article also claims that Jackson is one of parliament’s “least value for money” MPs. In spite of attending only 27 per cent of votes and speaking only twice in debates in 2007-08, she claimed over £135,000 in expenses.

I suppose Hampstead is expensive, darling.

As a surprise to some, she has decided to contest the new Hampstead & Kilburn constituency whenever her clumsy boss decides to go to the country and face his political end.

Even prior to this story breaking, odds have recently shortened on Lib Dem candidate Ed Fordham winning the seat.

Jings and crivens! We do do God!

By Julian Harris
May 31st, 2009 at 12:11 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

god_two“To be honest, what I’ve seen offends my Presbyterian conscience.”

So allegedly said Gordo to Mr Marr this morning.

Good Lord. I don’t even know where to start; and being overcome with pollen allergy, I won’t try. Except to say we all know what people really mean when they qualify their words with “To be honest.”

Anyone see the full interview?

Oh and…

… today’s Torygraph story about Labour MP and Socialist Campaign Group member Frank Cook expecting the taxpayer to cover a £5 “donation” he made to a House of God fund reminds me of an anecdote Iheard told by Gyles Brandreth one delightful evening.

Back in his parliamentary days, he narrated, he had been desperately trying to figure out how to avoid paying constant amounts of cash into various community raffles. The plight of an MP, he told us, was underrated in this regard; constituents forever expected one to have contributed generously to their latest collective enterprise.

“Oh you don’t have to buy all those raffle tickets” assured PM Major.

“But I do! They’ll crucify me otherwise” cried Brandreth.

“No no” said Major, “You just carry around a back up supply of variously coloured raffle tickets”, and pulled from a top pocket such a collection, ready for their devious use.

Haha! Hoho!

Maybe it worked better on the night.

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LibDems overtake Labour in opinion polls

By Mark Littlewood
May 30th, 2009 at 9:33 pm | 12 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

Just to show how amazingly febrile the present political atmosphere is, compare tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph ICM poll with the post from Julian, below.

The poll puts the LibDems ahead of Labour – for both the Westiminster and European elections. These are staggering figures – and point to Labour teetering on the brink of oblivion. Is this finally the just reward for Nick’s high media profile over the past ten days?

Westminster: Con 40%, Lab 22%, LibDem 25%

European: Con 29%, Lab 17%, LibDem 20%, UKIP 10%, Green 11%, BNP 5%

UPDATE: The Sunday’s Telegraph coverage is here