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TORYGRAPH SPILL ON BALLS! Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper in expenses revelation

By Julian Harris
May 15th, 2009 at 10:20 am | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized


The adorable couple have, apparently, been flipping homes like nobody’s business.

“We paid for their million pound property portfolio” says Guido.

In just one term of Parliament, the couple have claimed (according to my hurried and admittedly flawed mental arithmetic) £102,000 in “second home” claims alone.


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Friday Fright Live?

By Angela Harbutt
May 14th, 2009 at 7:47 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

Blinky Balls

Can it be true ? There are suggestions that Ed Balls and Ms Cooper may be the Telegraph’s headliners tomorrow.

But they will surely sleep soundly. As New Labour have told us a million times “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” .

Update. Clare Short on front page of Telegraph website…… how long can this strip tease go on – and just what is the finale ?

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LibDem leader must grasp opportunity to become “clean up” Clegg

By Angela Harbutt
May 13th, 2009 at 1:21 pm | 7 Comments | Posted in UK Politics


It is immediately clear why the Telegraph decided to run this story after revelations surrounding the other two parties (and ahead of any grand finale the paper may have planned). It doesn’t have a huge amount of punch.

Nick needs to be certain that any claim made by any Liberal Democrat MP was within both the spirit and letter of the law AND would withstand public scrutiny. Technical, minor errors should be repaid – and this process has begun.

But if -after a full assessment of the facts which have been brought to light – any LibDem Parliamentarian has breached this code, serious disciplinary action must follow.

But, it’s not just Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons. The reputation of the party rests on the behaviour of all our parliamentary representatives.

Largely overlooked as the wider “Fiddlegate” story was leading every news cycle, Sunday’s News of the World made assertions about Chris Rennard’s expenses claims as a member of the House of Lords.  The allegations should be relatively easy to investigate and rebut.

The issue hinges on the newspaper’s claim that Lord Rennard’s Eastbourne property is not his “main residence”. It needs to be shown that it is. In a clear, complete and unambiguous fashion.

Lord Rennard, of course, is not just a Lib Dem peer, he is the party’s chief executive -and so also accountable for his conduct as an employee. The Federal Executive next meets on 18th May. But Nick will surely have put this issue to bed by then.

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Cameron: It’s payback – but not punishment – time

By Mark Littlewood
May 12th, 2009 at 3:52 pm | 8 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

david-cameronIt’s payback, but no punishments – as far as Cameron is concerned.

Cameron confirms that Tory Shadow Cabinet members will pay back some of their more extreme claims – Gove coughs up £7,000 for furniture, Letwin forks out two grand for the tennis court repairs himself, Lansley gets hit for about two and a half grand, Alan Duncan’s £5,000 gardening bill is going to be paid back. Maude and Grayling will no longer claim for their second homes. Villiers will also follow suit “later this year”. Cameron repays eight thousand for a “borderline” maintenace work claim.

New Tory internal rules: claims go online as they are made; “flipping” is banned; capital gains tax will be paid on profits of sales of second homes; no more claims for food and furniture.

No one has been kicked out of the Shadow Cabinet or had the whip removed.

I wonder whether the Tories crime policy would be that the penalty for theft should be that the cash be repaid – but the miscreant should not go to prison.

Nick Clegg is going to have to do better than this if any LibDem MPs are implicated.

On a separate matter, Norman Tebbit is given a warning that he is walking a fine line (urging  people to vote UKIP on June 4th, in a national newspaper, is apparently consistent with retaining the Tory whip in the Lords).

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The three people who should run the new audit body…

By Mark Littlewood
May 10th, 2009 at 5:32 pm | 33 Comments | Posted in UK Politics


On Monday, MPs will be asked to support a new body to independently audit Parliamentarians’ expenses. To be remotely credible, the body will have to run by hard-edged, no-nonsense types who the public would trust to keep a close eye on any and all misconduct. We could do a lot worse than getting the three people pictured above to head up the body.

They are  – from left to right – Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes), Heather Brooke (whose legal challenges have opened up the whole can of worms) and Matthew Elliott (chief exec of the Taxpayers Alliance). They all have a track record of being on the side of the public on this issue – and 100% against politicians feathering their own nests at your and my expense. The major problem is that all three of them are probably too principled to accept some cushy salary in the public sector.

It’s much more likely that the new body will be run by a bunch of supine old farts in wigs, tights and buckled shoes. When that happens, expect public confidence in our Parliamentarians to fall further still.