Monthly Archives: May 2010

>It’s All Too Much

>An MP doorsteps a constituent
Rabbit Humps Cat
I find it barely credible that David Laws is being lauded for his integrity by all sides of the House and sections of the media who are closing ranks around him.  We’re not only supposed to be grateful that he’s apologised, stood down quickly and repaid the money but that he’s also waived the usual severance pay for MPs.

The general tenor of his colleagues’ comments today seems to be that concerns for his privacy absolve him from any blame in the £40k expenses fiasco and he will soon be back in government.  The media is diverting attention on to his homosexuality and away from the fraud but that won’t wash.  If I wanted to keep my sexuality secret even I’d know not to divert £40k from taxpayers and pay it to my boyfriend – and I don’t have a double first in PPE.

He had every opportunity to set the record straight last year and I can only think that the reason he didn’t is because he didn’t foresee that he would ever be in government – and to be honest, neither did we!  How many other MPs have been let off the expenses hook or are keeping quiet because they don’t expect to come under scrutiny?

The deep damage and hurt done to this country and its people by the last thirteen years of Labour government won’t allow excuses now, no matter how bright the Minister.  Neither is being gay the issue here and we shouldn’t get railroaded by other MPs, Ministers or the press (Polly Toynbee is already all over the airwaves saying it’s a shame that he’s been hounded out because of his sexuality and she’s calling for new privacy laws!).

Cameron:  “A good and honourable man.”
Clegg:  “When these questions have been addressed, I very much hope that there will be an opportunity for him to rejoin the Government.’’
Ken Clarke:  “He may well’’ be able to satisfy the parliamentary standards commissioner that his expenses arrangements were excused by his desire not to reveal his sexuality.
Alan Duncan:  “… a much liked and talented person.  I’m upset by the hurt this must have caused him and I hope he’ll soon be back.”
Ian Duncan-Cough: “I am deeply sorry that he has had to go.  I have no question at all that he has the talent to be back.’’
Osborne: “put on earth’’ to do the job of Chief Secretary and bring down the deficit.
Liam Byrne: “… a hugely talented man and I think he does now deserve the space to gather himself together.’’

A more intelligent last word goes to Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights campaign group Stonewall: “If in future the multi-millionaire MP wants to channel £40,000 to a partner, perhaps he might consider writing a cheque.”

>Sunday Reflection

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>Sunday Round-up

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David Laws stands down He’s gone quickly and with as much dignity as possible in the circumstances but he’s replaced by Scottish Secretary, Danny Alexander.
The ‘pointless’ Saville Inquiry  “…the curious thing about the day is that most of the key facts are essentially uncontested, and have been since long before Saville. ”  Nineteen lawyers have become millionaires through the Saville Inquiry.
Afghanistan strategy reviewed at Chequers Government officials stressed last night that they were not anticipating any dramatic change of policy. The meeting would be an opportunity to “brainstorm” and pool ideas so the coalition could speak as one on tactics and the overall purpose of a mission now involving more than 9,000 UK troops.
Taxman vetoes peerage for Bamford  “Days before the list was published on Friday, Bamford wrote to Cameron withdrawing his name from the process”.  Party funding and ‘cash for honours’ are back in the headlines.
Muslim extremist, Zakir Naik, granted visa to enter Britain  “Naik will be appearing at Wembley Arena in London and in Sheffield on his British tour. ”  It seems we have another government in need of a backbone.  Has Michael Savage, the US broadcaster, been taken off the banned list yet?
Prisoners must have vote or Britain will face ECHR Several law firms launch claims on behalf of thousands of UK prisoners who are demanding compensation – estimated to be as much as £750 each – on the grounds they were illegally denied the right to vote at the last general election.
Air-head Featherstone warned  Indiscreet twittering gets new Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone into hot water.

Around the world:

Chinese dam causes earthquakes and landslides  “The local government hastily moved out of a prestigious new block after experts warned that it was unsafe but ordinary people have been left to fend for themselves.  “What kind of dogshit government moves itself out and moves us into somewhere like this?”  Er… …  one that thinks itself better than the people it’s supposed to serve?
Europe on the march over austerity measures  “Thomas Klau, of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said: “The welfare state will inevitably change and become less protective. But it’s important to remember that we in Europe are in a luxurious position compared to the rest of the world.  If we want to keep our first-class seat we will need to change the way that the carriage is built and run.” I assume he’s talking about the euro elite and their seats on the gravy train.
Russian Olympics whistleblower flees to UK He [Morozov] filmed the official being handed a shopping bag containing roubles and euros worth £90,000. At the end of the meeting the bureaucrat left with the cash.  He has already paid a price for speaking out… said that his company had been kicked off the Olympics hotel building site and had its machinery confiscated. He claims he is owed large sums of money by the state.
Sarkozy resurrects Napoleon’s dream of a ‘maritime metropolis’ “…landlocked Paris risked becoming an irrelevant “museum city” unless it tied its future to Le Havre, 100 miles to the northwest in Normandy at the mouth of the River Seine. The report has recommended the construction of a port called “Paris Normandy” at Le Havre, which would become not only a leading hub of international maritime commerce but also a cultural capital and gateway to Paris.”
UK economists urge Greece to give up euro and default on debt McWilliams called the move “virtually inevitable” and said other members may follow.  “The only question is the timing,” he said. “The other issue is the extent of contagion. Spain would probably be forced to follow suit, and probably Portugal and Italy, though the Italian debt position is less serious.  “Could this be the last weekend of the single currency? Quite possibly, yes.”
Attempts to curb press freedom in Italy No more reporting of criminal investigations before they come to trial (even if that takes years). No more recording or photographing of anyone, even a Mafia boss, unless that person approves. Only members of the state-approved “National Order of Journalists” allowed to film or record. Fines approaching half-a-million euros for publishers who transgress, with €20,000 per reporter also on the table.
Israel deploys nuclear subs off Iran The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and missile launchers. Tel Aviv, Israel’s business and defence centre, remains the most threatened city in the world, said one expert. “There are more missiles per square foot targeting Tel Aviv than any other city,” he said.
N Korea exporting nuclear technology International efforts to avert a full-blown crisis on the Korean peninsula were given greater urgency today after a leaked UN report claimed that North Korea is defying UN sanctions and using front companies to export nuclear and missile technology to Iran, Syria and Burma.
Volcanoes erupt in Ecuador & Guatemala Let’s all pay higher ‘green’ taxes, have compulsory recycling and buy into carbon credit trading scams schemes in order to stop this sort of thing – it’s the right thing to do.
Mobile phones implicated in loss of honey bees After three months researchers recorded a dramatic decline in the size of the hive fitted with the mobile phone, a significant reduction in the number of eggs laid by the queen bee. The bees also stopped producing honey. The queen bee in the “mobile” hive produced fewer than half of those created by her counterpart in the normal hive.
BP’s Gulf oil spill threatens 8,300 species of plants & animals   A true man-made environmental tragedy as undersea ‘dead zones’ are being created.

This week’s No Shit Sherlock Award goes to:

The British Chamber of Commerce for their warning of a ‘new’ recession  The worsening eurozone debt crisis and financial market upheavals of recent weeks risk plunging Britain back into recession, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) warns today.

After reading this week’s Sundays, how anyone can think we live in a sane, ethical world governed by intelligent, altruistic and benign leaders is beyond me.   That’s not a visionary gleam we see in their eyes, it’s just mad.

>Turkish GP: 2005

>Only 18 seconds long but it’s 18 seconds of heavenly sound:

The final ten minutes of the 2005 race

>Dennis Hopper (1936 – 2010), RIP

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Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

>Not Again!

>Here’s a tough one for Cameron.  Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws has quickly gained a reputation for being a man whose actions match his tough words on cutting waste in government departments but he’s now up to his eyes in an expenses row.

From 2004 to 2009 he claimed the cost of renting a room in his partner’s home – sums varying between £700 and £950 per month – and has already referred himself to John Lyon,  the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner  He’s also apologised and said he will repay the money (£40k) immediately.  He says it was done to protect the privacy of himself and his partner and that there was no profit motive.

Mr Laws also made a series of claims every month for maintenance, repairs, telephone bills and utilities.

Why didn’t he sort this out last year when the expenses scandal was at its height?  Whatever happens now, he’s tainted and it’s such a  let-down.

Law’s partner, James Lundie, works for Edelman UK, “the largest independent lobbying firm in the UK marketplace”.  He formerly worked as an advisor to Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy.  At the time of writing this, Edelman’s website is down so I can’t provide the link.

Btw – is £950 a month the going rate for renting a room in a flat in London these days?  If so, did Mr Lundie declare it to the taxman?  I also wonder if all this had something to do with David Laws’ non-appearance at Question Time – talk about coincidence.

>Quote Of The Day

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“It is an enormous change.  It explains some of the reticence.  It is expressly forbidden in the treaties by the famous no bail-out clause.  De facto, we have changed the treaty.”

Pierre Lellouche, French Minister for Europe