Transparently still in trouble
A simple principle would, we were told, clean up politics. That principle was "transparency". In other words if voters can see who gives a politician or party substantial sums of money we can judge for ourselves whether the donor's got anything for his money. Sounds simple although, in practice, has proved anything but.
A barrel full of rotten apples
If your best mates clubbed together and gave you £103,000 when you needed it, you'd remember it, wouldn't you? Remarkable, then, that UK Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain didn't. He's accused of not registering seventeen donations towards his campaign for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party, totaling this amount. His forgetfulness is all the more astonishing when you consider that his campaign far outspent those of his rivals. So this was a large wodge of cash that public standards watchdogs weren't told about. Even Tony Blair, with his £500,000 salary from J P Morgan, his book deals and the rest couldn't simply miss £103,000.
Why Hain must go
Of all the reasons why Peter Hain should go, here’s my top one. Right now a quarter of British families are caught up in Labour’s hideously complicated means-tested benefits – tax credits, etc. If they “forget” to declare income, it’s called benefit fraud – an offence for which Hain’s department successfully prosecuted 28,800 people in 2006-07. Yet now that Hain himself has forgotten to declare income he has a get-out clause: declare late, and you are automatically off the hook. Not so for those being hounded for over-payment of tax credits.
Is it time for Hain to leave the stage? by Paul Linford
I have, in the past, been a great admirer of Peter Hain. Up to around about 2002/3 he was a strong progressive voice within government who was occasionally given licence to challenge the orthodoxy as when, for instance, he advocated a higher top rate of tax.
Labour cries "Osborne!"
Labour is not holding back on George Osborne. MPs are being deployed across the wires and studios to shout "hypocrite" at the Shadow Chancellor. One, Ian Lucas, has issued a long list of "questions he must answer". Even a minister - Shahid Malik - has got in on the act. They quite naturally want to knock him off his rather impressive stride by dragging him into the donations mire. So where are we?
Tory Funding Scandal: Deliberate Obfuscation of Donors
The sordid details of the Sir George Osborne attempt to bury bad news for Peter Hain have trickled out all day. These "Wish of George Osborne" donations have been steaming in throughout 2007. From January to December inclusive. It was not until 7 December 2007, as he continued his assaults on Hain's situation, that GOO asked for advice on whether he should have been registering the donations. Although there was a short period in which the advice was that this figure almost approaching half a million pounds did not have to be added to the Register of Members' Interests this soon passed.
Another angle to George Osborne's £500,000
Ben Brogan notes that Labour is doing its best to big up the Osborne donations story but there really is no comparison with Peter Hain's undeclared £103,000. George Osborne told the Electoral Commission about the money channeled via CCHQ to his Shadow Chancellor's office. Perhaps he should also have made a declaration to Commons' authorities but he clearly wasn't trying to hide it. The best two observations on the Hain money were made by...
Is Brown's Electoral Commission submission complete?
Here's an interesting thing, anyone remember the Gordon Brown leadership website domain registrations and Silverfish from early in 2007? Well, why is it that Silverfish do not appear on Brown's Electoral Commission submission as a benefit in kind?
It's time for the flat tax
The Daily Telegraph has published a plea for a simpler tax system on its comment pages this morning. The paper highlights that stamp duty now brings in £6.75 billion a year - nine times the amount brought in by this tax in 1997. It rightly highlights how so much of the money we pay in tax is wasted rather than being spent in the manner wanted by taxpayers.
Your Body Belongs To The State
Not even the People's Republic of China goes this far. True, 95% of all their transplant organs are taken from executed prisoners. But so long as you don't get condemned to death, your organs are safe. Here in Bottler's Britain, having abolished you know what, the commissars are thinking much more expansively. And today the Supreme Leader tells us the state should own your body organs. He wants to change the presumption of body ownership from you to the state health commissariat.
The first President of Europe
Europe has its caesars, emperors, kings, kaisers and popes, and now, courtesy of the Lisbon Treaty, it is about to get its first president. And Cranmer prophesied years ago who this would be, and the Rt Hon Anthony Blair denied the aspiration shortly afterwards, but who believes a politician when they’re giving assurances that their humility surpasses that of all their colleagues?
Nick Clegg on public services
I couldn’t attend yesterday’s Liberal Democrat manifesto conference (I was at another Lib Dem event in Harrogate), and so like many people I have had to rely on the copy of Nick Clegg’s speech that is posted on the party website and various comments by other bloggers (I recommend James Graham and Paul Walter).
What to do instead of nationalising Northern Rock
It appears that the government is flirting with nationalisation because it is having trouble persuading the shareholders of Northern Rock to see things its way. It is a very cumbersome and potentially very expensive device to try to get shareholders to do as the government wishes, when the government has a much easier way of doing it.
Why MPs need to back their pay deal in full
I had lunch today with one of our MPs, a long term friend we specifically decided politics was off limits for the day. They did said they will be voting against the full pay rise because of all the work they were doing in support of the police claim and it would be hypocritical to do otherwise I told them I thought they were wrong and we left it at that ,but here I thought I might explain why.
MPs may lose voting rights on their own pay rises
Harriet Harman has indicated that this year may be the last that MPs get to decide their own pay rises. The Senior Salaries Pay Board decided MPs should get a 2.8% pay rise this year whilst the British government is forcing English civil servants (but not in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland where they have their own democratic governments) to accept pay rises under 2%.
What next for Blair ... Viscount Dodgy of Dossier?
Why should politicians get rich at all? When President Harry Truman left the White House in January 1953, he had no income apart from his meagre army pension from the First World War. Yet he refused offers to take well-padded corporate posts, because he feared it would damage the dignity of the office. The man who had authorised the use of the atom bomb walked out of the Oval Office to become plain Mr Truman and to live out a life of modest obscurity.
Tories back to 10 points ahead
Through December there were some somewhat contradictory polls - we saw YouGov putting the Conservatives way up at 45%, then an ICM poll showing Labour recovering. That was followed by a YouGov poll that also showed Labour recovering…but that was taken in the few days before Christmas when it’s had to believe a reliable sample could have been drawn. It looked like Labour might have been recovering. Populus’s poll this month didn’t show the same sort of recovery in Labour’s support, but it did show the Tory lead falling thanks to them loosing support to the Liberal Democrats. Now two new weekend polls, one from Ipsos MORI for the Sun and one by YouGov for the Sunday Times suggest the Conservative lead is back up into double figures.
Is Gordon now staring defeat in the face?
Two more polls show increases in the Labour deficit. A week ago Gord returned from his holiday and went on the publicity offensive with a series of set-piece interviews and high profile announcements. For days there was hardly a TV bulletin without him featuring. This wasn’t a re-launch, we were assured, but it had all the makings of one. Brown was trying to get the initiative back and to build on the improvements in Labour polling fortunes that we had seen in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.