One not to miss – Observer, War breaks out in Downing Street

From today’s Observer, By Toby Helm Political Editor:

War breaks out in Downing Street

A year ago Nick Clegg told the Observer he didn’t want to boast of victories over the Tories. But now, as the conference season opens, he has changed tack and gone on the offensive.. Read on……

Good Day To Bury Bad News? Cameron Does U Turn on Personal Photographer!

Amongst the general hoopla of the announcement of a royal wedding and the engagement of William to Kate, number10 slipped out a statement that responsibility for paying his personal photographer, Andrew Parsons, and videographer Nicky Woodhouse, would return to the Tory Party from the public payroll.

Quite right, these appointments exposed hubris at the centre of government and trying to get the story of Cameron’s U-Turn out on this ‘good day to bury bad news’ as it was once infamously put, by a former labour press officer, exposes political cowardice as well!

Previous Story:

Hubris, Arrogance and Vanity, Cameron Appoints Personal Photographer!

And now the circus moves to Birmingham. It's time for those nice cuddly and rich, Tories!

As the Tory Party gathers in Birmingham for their conference, delegates are dismayed that their celebrations have been ordered ‘put on ice’, for fear that images of conspicuous consumption and celebration would become public and not look at all good in this age of austerity.

Mobile phones and Youtube, now terrify the Tories as much as Labour it would appear. The Labour Party were said to be terrified last weekend, when the ‘brothers’ were celebrating their victory over both members and MP’s, that footage would make it online.

Lord Strathclyde has already cancelled his latest, ‘legendary’ champagne soiree at this years conference, on Dave’s orders.

Now time for Tory expenses embarrassment!!

Lord Taylor of Warwick a Tory peer and practising barrister, has been charged with six counts of false accounting in relation to alleged dishonest claims he made for £11,000 in subsistence costs.

It has just been announced that he has resigned the Tory Whip.

He tried unsuccessfully to become an MP, Cheltenham in 1992, losing to a Liberal after a disgraceful campaign with significant racist undertones. Embarrassingly this was one of the then safest Tory seats which they lost with a black candidate. Afterwards working as a Government Adviser, Lord Taylor became the Tories’ first black member of the Lords in 1996.

£11,000 is a lot of money!  Did no one realise that he had ‘padded’ his claims? Was Cameron unaware of this before today? Why was the whip not withdrawn sooner? Why did the Tories wait for him to jump?

There will be more to follow this sixth parliamentarian to be charged, as the police carry out further investigations into members of both Houses of Parliament.

His five fellow accused are former Labour MPs – Eliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine – serving Labour MP – Eric Illsley and Conservative peer – Lord Hanningfield are already charged under the Theft Act.

Current score: Labour 4 – 2 Tories.

Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park, is in difficulties it would appear over his accounting in his expenses returns for the money used in his campaign. There are strict upper limits placed on election expenditure and are being alleged to have been exceeded in this case. £11,003 was the limit here, just 1/24 of the sums donated by him since 2007. Funny how the sum of £11,000 keeps cropping up!

Zac Goldsmith is ‘filthy rich’ so a challenge was always likely because for Zac, the upper spending limits were but mere small change! If proved, this will be another embarrassment for DC when he is riding so high in the polls.

He has donated £264,000 to Richmond Park, his local Conservative association since 2007, a record I believe, for a single candidate! Most of it generated by being a Non Dom tax evader for most of this time, no doubt! Until very recently that is.

Oh Dear! Business as usual!


Emergency Budget – Far From Fair or Balanced!

I mentioned in my previous posting on the Budget, that further probing would reveal the ‘devil in the detail’. They would reveal themselves if there were any uncomfortable facts hidden deep inside the ‘Red Book’. There are such details and now they are public.

The details unearthed so far, not by Labour this time, but by, of all people, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) an economic lobby group, not noted for major criticism of Conservative Governments in the past, as it is about as right wing as they come. Robert Chote, of the IFS, has gone on record, with the evidence that tells the lie, to any claim that this budget was fair!

The IFS has now done a detailed analysis of the Budget, including the inconvenient facts, buried deep within the ‘Red Book’, it confirms the overall regressive nature of the Budget, that had been trumpeted, by some Government Ministers, as the ‘Fairest Budget in History!’ The use of such ridiculous hyperbole, now shows clearly the essential hubris running through the Government currently.

Some of the evidence for a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ moment, was visible on Question Time on the BBC last night. Vince Cable batted for the Coalition Government, he visibly wilted in front of the audience as it appeared to have dawned on him, during proceedings, that the LibDems may just have been had on the Budget and he made a very poor job, at least for him, in defending his increasingly indefensible looking position. Audience reaction, to his attempts at justification, also appeared to strike home hard.

Looks likely that they have made a serious miscalculation on this one and there are already signs of LibDem backbench restlessness, as they are getting a wall of flak from their constituencies and in particular their own Party Members. To their horror, they have realised one important fact overlooked until now, they did not fight as hard as they did, in the General and Local Elections, for LibDem MPs just to become lobby fodder, to drive through such a draconian Budget as this one, now the full facts are appreciated.

This issue is in the process of testing the loyalty, of everyone signed up to the Coalition, to breaking point perhaps? We shall see?

Labours’ poor performance at the polls has resulted in one amusing happen stance, that may yet end up with the best Candidate for Labour Party Leader, not on the ballot paper. I speak of course, of Labour’s Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, who may yet find her feet at the dispatch box, only to be superseded by someone else, with lesser ability.


Emergency Budget, was it worth waiting for?

Tuesdays Emergency Budget, delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, on behalf of the Coalition Government, was probably the most political, in every sense of the word, that I have ever heard or, even perhaps any of us, will ever hear again.

The Chancellor set himself the goals of cuts with care and fairness at the heart of the budget. Did he succeed?

I am afraid we might have to wait a little while for the details become apparent, under Labour, the ‘devil was always in the detail’ and close inspection frequently uncovered vast expenditure or borrowing, kept below the radar in the Budget Speech itself. Not much chance of this here, but embarrassing detail may yet be revealed.

Before the election, many had considered George Osborne, too young and light weight, to boot. He has emerged from the experience of his first Budget with his reputation enhanced, as a serious heavyweight political player. At least we now know, he is no ones fool and indeed if the future is kind to him, may even be a good Chancellor as far as these things are judged.

Political considerations run through the Budget like lettering through rock. He has a fine line to walk if his claims that his Budget has fairness built in, is to survive close inspection. It will have to deliver, the squeeze on the public sector and on benefits must appear fair, once implementation is under way.

We have discovered recently, that Labour’s concealment of the true position before the election was over, was basically a con trick, even the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters would have been withdrawn if Labour had been returned to office. Labour’s breathtaking cynicism has been exposed and this area disproportionately adversely affected. Perhaps this explains the fact that Labour in Rotherham, is held in frank contempt,  especially vitriolic are those who voted Labour recently it seems.

We will all welcome the increase in basic rate tax allowances and the linking of pensions to incomes once again but the increases in value added tax, VAT, from 17.5% to 20% a rise of over 14% in this most regressive of taxes will impact most heavily on those already at the bottom of the pile.

The freeze on Council Tax next year is to be welcomed, because it sends a message to all local councils that they will not be able to fleece the Council Tax payers to cushion the ending of local council profligacy. No small wonder then, that the ‘Consultants’ are already ensconced in council offices, desperately looking for cuts as I write and Councillors are reported to be unusually glum!

The 25% reductions required of parts of the public sector and the 2 year moratorium on pay rises for the over £21,000 earners, will seriously impact on spending power amongst such a large body of workers that further decline in Rotherham’s local economy is, I am afraid, inevitable in the short and medium term as spare cash dries up in our pockets and reduces still further local spending power.

One of the functions of this Budget, though not explicitly stated, is to bear down on the problem of personal debt, which is so high, that it must be brought down, though not without much pain for those affected. The costs of servicing all of this personal debt is so large that this alone could stifle any spending driven retail business recovery.

It is already clear that the overall balance of this Budget is not neutral in it’s effects, the bottom segment of society will be required to pay a disproportionately high price because of the changes announced yesterday and therefore I believe it to have failed, in it’s fairness criteria, because overall this Budget is a regressive one.


What planet is MacShane on?

The Rt Hon. Dr Denis MacShane MP, or the Rt Dishon. Dr Denis MacShame as some of his blogger friends are wont to call him and much worse besides, has embarrassed himself yet again.

On Monday, MacShane rose as if to ask a pertinent question of the Prime Minister who had just given parliament a report on the situation in Afghanistan, but no, he gets up on his hind legs, more supportive than they were during the rape adjournment debate, at least at this early hour and started to read out previous words of wisdom from the Queens Speech of 26th May, it is recorded thus for posterity:

Mr Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab):

On 26 May, during the Queen’s Speech debate, I said:

    “It is time to assert the principle that war is too important a matter to be left to generals. We need to assert the authority of this House and the authority of a politically elected Government over the lack of strategy in Afghanistan.”-[ Official Report, 26 May 2010; Vol. 510, c. 246.]

Therefore, I welcome the Prime Minister’s keen interest. We have had too much of this war dictated by the red tops, with their jingoism, and the red tabs, with the generals’ priorities before those of the nation. I wish the Prime Minister well in what is clearly a change of strategy, with a politically elected Government in charge.

The Prime Minister, more than a bit surprised and amused at this unusual approach from MacShane and without delay came out with a suitable riposte:

The Prime Minister:

“I thank the right hon. Gentleman. I was once told that the first sign of madness is to read out one’s own speeches”

No madness here! but the most illuminating episode yet of this arrogant, self important, self aggrandising, egotistical, greedy, ignorant  and frankly embarrassing Labour MP.

Everyone in Rotherham flinches with embarrassment and shame as they see him perform in public, on television or in Parliament.