So who decides the ‘right way’ to staff an MPs office? 1 February 2008
In response to the scandal over Derek Conway’s employment of his son for doing no work, there have been understandable calls from some commentators to change the way parliamentary staff are employed and monitored. But what worries me about this discussion is that people appear to believe that there is one agreed way for an MP to do his or her job, and likewise for the way they employ their staff.
Tory MP publishes detailed expenses
Is it likely, with the news that Tory MP, Ben Wallace, has decided to publish a detailed breakdown of his expenses claims that other MPs will now follow suit? Something tells me they won't, not sure why but I just doubt that many of them will. Some of them will not want to because they think it is a witch hunt, others probably won't want to because if they do people might find out that they've been claiming for money to pay for things that they shouldn't have.
Value for money from Parliament?
Let’s face it. Parliament has become to some another of those monopoly nationalised industries that Labour always think work in the public interest, but which the public love to hate. People pay through the nose for the subsidised nationalised industries whether they use the service or not. The service is often not up to the standard they want. Now there are similar criticisms of the cost and performance of Parliament.
Desperate Tories: Trying to Bury Conway News?
At last a story from a Tory about goings on in a prison cell near you. But alas not from Iain Dale's bessie Derek Conway who is going out of way to state that he doesn't think he "ripped anyone off" by passing loads of money to relatives and their mates while getting no work back. Instead Iain Dale has his M & S XXLs in a twist over the bugging of Shafiq Khan MP. This occurred allegedly during a routine prison visit to a constituent who happens to be a USA target for extradition to face terror charges.
So what happened to DD's letter?
There's a nasty anti-democratic whiff to the revelation that the cops have bugged an MP. Naturally, I'm curious about a parliamentarian who has "ordinary, routine meetings" with someone suspected of Talibano-beardism, but that doesn't excuse what looks like a blatant example of contempt of Parliament by the Met. I'm told that it's not a case of mistaken bugging, and that the Yard are being quite bullish about eavesdropping on Sadiq Khan. Sir Ian Blair will have to explain why he's free to ignore Parliamentary convention.
Ken Livingstone - Darling of the Right
I voted for Ken Livingstone in 2000 and 2004 and, barring something astonishing happening, will vote for him again this year, despite holding my nose to keep out the stench of his opportunistic support for Killer of the Yard and his gun goons. Mind you, I'm a crotchety left-of-centre sod who's keen on public transport, likes a drink and hates neocons. So far, then a perfect fit. However, this discussion came up twice recently while talking with a couple of friends who don't exactly fit that image.
Brown is all that stands between Blair and the EU presidency
What started off as a joke is growing more serious by the hour. Bets are being laid on the next EU president and the favourite is one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair. Ladbrokes has cut him from 3/1 to 2/1, perhaps after the Guardian piece this morning. Put aside the (rich) comic value of all this, the appointment has its logic. If you want the EU to pack a diplomatic punch (I don't) then this depends to a huge degree on getting heavy-hitter who knows how to work the circuit. Who better than the globe-trotting Blair?
Blair: ‘I'll be president of Europe if you give me power’
And what power would this be? Why, the power to intervene in matters of defence as well as trade. And so the EU acquires overt military expression, and another tranche of sovereign power is ceded as the foundations are laid for a revived European Empire. Cranmer won’t say he told you so, but he told you so.
Have the Blairites commenced hostilities with the Brownies?
In a previous post I gave Gordon Brown until May before he was given the boot. I may have wrong. You see, he could be going much sooner. Not wanting to sound like a gypsy palm reader, I think I see a pattern emerging! Two former Senior Labour Ministers have been critical of their own party this week. The two critical interviews do not seem that damaging when taken individually, BUT when you look at the targets of the criticism and take into account that they came only days apart, Gordon Brown and his supporters will know exactly what is going on.
Crunching Credit - why is Vince Cable still a voice crying in the wilderness?
Vince Cable has been warning for many years about spiralling debt in this country. But, rather like Noah, his words have, until now, fallen on stony ground. The stoniest ground it seems to me being in parts of the financial services industry, closely followed by the opposition parties. Now we are all paying the price for this palpable neglect, but none more so than those who face the threat of the repossession of their homes.
Quite literally the nanny state
For what it’s worth, I think that the new proposal from the Conservatives is actually rather good. It entails each newborn and their mother having the services of a maternity nurse for the first week after leaving hospital. According to the Observer, it would cost ‘at least £150m a year’. I think a closer figure is £212m per year - my workings are at the end of this post. Whether or not it survives, I think the Conservatives - and I mean this genuinely - are to be congratulated on putting forward an ambitious, policy proposal. I hope that full, detailed costings and implementations are brought forward.
Why concentrating on scandal misses the point
Political blogging is young even in its mother country, the United States. In the United Kingdom it is barely out of the cradle and murmuring its first words. Political blogging here insofar as it has come to the attention of mainstream journalists has come to their attention because of a couple of sites- notably that of Guido Fawkes. Guido writes about political scandal all the time. If you want the latest word on Peter Hain or Wendy Alexander or Harriet Harmon, head over to his blog and he’ll be sure to enlighten you. He doesn’t write about policy because he says its boring- he’d prefer to concentrate on the juicy scandals.
It’s back to a smiling Gordon with Ipsos-Mori
Is Gord’s party really doing better than in 2005? The results of Ipsos-Mori January face to face survey of more than 2000 people are just out and give Labour a one point lead - a huge change on the last survey by the pollster just three weeks ago. Unlike this survey the earlier poll was by phone.
These are the latest shares with comparisons on the earlier survey CON 37% (-5): LAB 38% (+6): LD 16% (+1). The fieldwork took place the week before last finishing on January 23rd. A YouGov poll that closed on the same date had an 8% Labour Conservative lead.
Labour’s ICM deficit moves up to 5%
Has the Conway business actually helped Dave? A new ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph tomorrow has the following shares with changes on the last published survey from the pollster - CON 37% (nc): LAB 32% (-3): LD 21% (+1). These numbers will certainly ease Tory jitters and deflate the bubble of expectation amongst Labour supporters that followed yesterday’s MORI poll showing the party with a one point lead. All these changes, it should be said, are within the margin of error.
Sunday Times: illegal bugging of Muslim MP - Wilson Doctrine breached ?
The Sunday Times leads with an interesting scoop, involving two topics about which we have written about here on Spy Blog, namely the Wilson Doctrine executive administrative prohibition on tapping or bugging the communications of Members of Parliament, and the controversial attempt by the US government to extradite British Muslim IT technician Babar Ahmad to the USA, without presenting any prima facie evidence to a British Court.
A golden opportunity for David Cameron
Team Cameron will be relieved they got through the weekend without another killer Conway style blow on MPs' expenses. Cameron needs to take the side of the public against the MPs. Some clever planting of policy stories, as Patrick Hennessy pointed out, diluted the impact of revelations on the subject, such as there were, in the weekend papers. Indeed, some of the worst headlines related to Labour and the renewed troubles of the party's leader in the Scottish Parliament, Wendy Alexander. She has been reported to the fiscal over non-declaration of donations.