Saturday, May 09, 2009

Ministers Sweat It Out On Gravy Train Shame

More of Brown's greedy ministers have been caught with their snouts in the trough as MPs sweat it out in the expenses racket which continues to rock Westminster and fills the air with the rotten stench of corruption. 

For the first time, a little-known Tory has made it to the Gravy Train's hit-list of shame but that brings no relief to Brown's rabbit-eyed ministers who continue to be caught out in the headlights. 

Frantic efforts to explain away the rotten core at the heart of government is falling on the deaf ears of an increasingly angry public drip-fed a daily diet of damaging, damning deceit. 

But spinning efforts continue as ridiculous accusations of 'smears' and 'chequebook journalism' are the only lines of a weak and feeble defence and the obligatory police 'mole-hunt' a smokescreen for a public-spirited whistleblower.

The shocking extent of cabinet greed over parliamentary expenses is exposing Brown's New Labour ministers flitting and flipping their second homes without a by-your-leave and milking the expenses system for all its worth.

But no minister has had the guts to say sorry or even apologise. 

As the Telegraph's round up of sleaze shows no sign of abating, some MPs are reported to be on suicide watch as they break out in a cold sweat. Making them sweat is a start. A fitting punishment for their sins.

Time and again ministers are trotting out the pathetic excuse that they were only acting "within the rules" which is no defence in a war crimes tribunal and cuts no ice in the court of public opinion. 

Acting within a set of rotten rules without an ounce of moral dignity lays bare a greedy bunch of chancers who have become detached from reality.  

Punters meanwhile have to pay for their lavish lifestyles while forced to scrape a living and struggle to make ends meet out of their own pockets. 

Former chairman of the commons sleaze watchdog, Sir Alistair Graham, has said politicians have displayed a “lack of moral leadership” over their expenses.

The Orange Party goes much further. These greed merchants are nothing short of common criminals. They should be made to pay back their ill-gotten gains, hounded out of office with tails between their legs and force a by-election to clear the air of the rotten stench.

Today it's junior ministers who have hard questions to answer about their sordid little scams. 

And that reveals the corruption is not confined to the cabinet but spread through government like a cancer. 

Top of the dung heap is wealthy tourism minister Barbara Follett, who claimed more than £25,000 on expenses for security patrols at her home because she said she didn't feel safe in London.

The Telegraph reveals "street-wise" Follett, along with immigration minister Phil "nappies" Woolas, health minister Ben "changing rooms" Bradshaw and care services minister Phil "living in'' Hope, have all exploited the MPs' expenses system.

Questions are also raised about the expenses of two former ministers, Keith Vaz and Barry Gardiner. 

They come after the newspaper published suspect claims made by Brown and 12 members of his cabinet revealing that Brown paid his brother for “cleaning services” at his private flat.

Ministers are clinging to the hope that revelations over top Tories may take away some of the heat. 
But New Labour has the most MPs and created a whole gaggle of ministers and pay-roll-MPs with spurious fancy titles to keep them sweet, toe the line and stuff the commons with their cronies. They are the government. 

As the Telegraph's relentless crusade continues with its revelations, just one lowly Tory has been singled out so far:
• Greg Barker, the shadow climate change minister, made £320,000 after buying a flat with the help of taxpayers' money, and selling it after only 27 months. 

Meanwhile ...

• Phil Hope, the Care Services Minister, has spent more than £37,000 on refurbishing and furnishing a modest two-bedroom flat in south London.

• Ben Bradshaw, the Health Minister, switched the designation of his second home to a property he shares with his partner in west London. Mr Bradshaw now claims the entire interest bill on the property – despite owning only half the property.

• Phil Woolas, the Home Office Minister, claimed for items of women's clothing, tampons and nappies. 

• Barry Gardiner, the former environment minister, made a profit of almost £200,000 after buying a Westminster flat and claiming thousands of pounds to renovate the property. Mr Gardiner's main home is only eight miles from Parliament.
The Telegraph's investigation into MPs allowances from all parties should be applauded as a vital public service but at the centre is unsung hero, Heather Brooke, who started the ball rolling with the arduous task of using the Freedom of Information Act to try to find out the dodgy expenses. 

It was Brooke who fought a  long battle with the government ending in a high court victory which forced a very reluctant government and commons to finally act, while at the same time blanking out crucial cross-checking information needed to nail the second homes scam.

Along with Gurkha Avenger, Joanna Lumley, the Orange Party reckons both deserve Brown's Medal of Courage.

The Telegraph meanwhile is sure to have something juicy stored up for nice 'n sleazy Sunday. 

Will it be bad news for Balls? Or will the Telegraph's vindictive campaign against Tory-boy Osborne reach new lows? Taxpayers and the rest of Fleet Street's finest will just have to wait and see. In the meantime - make 'em sweat.


Friday, May 08, 2009

If Cameron's Clean Is Brown A Dead Duck?

Ministers are desperately trying to change the narrative hiding behind the smokescreens, as shameful cabinet expenses blow up in their faces. But the squalid truth has been laid bare. The only question now: Are Cameron and top Tories in the clear?

Fighting a belated rearguard action, without a shred of morals between them, New Labour ministers are caught like rabbits in the full glare of the media headlights, rallying round each other to defend their sordid expenses scam

Under fire after the Telegraph blew the lid off the cabinet's expenses scandal, the headlines put Brown's name in the frame and his cleaning bill a stain on his character. Refusing to defend his ministers, Brown was left wriggling  and "just getting on with the job"

Another fine mess ministers have got themselves into. It's like watching a car-crash in slow motion and they have only themselves to blame. Only "following the rules" is a feeble defence that wouldn't stand up in the court of public opinion. 

The spin machine is working overtime trying to dig Brown and his bunch of greedy chancers out of a hole, putting up the smokescreens of 'smears' and 'chequebook journalism'. The obligatory mole-hunt isn't far behind.

Leaping to change the narrative and make out it's all the media's fault are two old hands. 

A senior New Labour MP, at the centre of a row over lobbyists links to parliament, Sir Stuart Bell and uber-spinner Mandelson. Mandelson bleating  about 'smears' is really all a bit rich.

Both should be treated with a large pinch of spinning salt in a pathetic attempt to spin away minister's shameful expenses.

Sure it will involve other political parties and it's a house of commons matter but this is the cabinet for goodness sake. How can any of them ever look their constituents straight in the eye again?

Bell kicked the ball off in March when he popped up on BBC Newsnight with allegations of an 'expenses for sales' scandal: "All of the receipts of 650-odd MPs, redacted and unredacted, are for sale at a price of £300,000, so I am told."

But only few months earlier, Bell was at the centre of a row over lobbyists' links in parliament, accused of failing to fully disclose their connections to business.

Sir Stuart, one of Blair's political knights for "services to parliament", was among three MPs accused by campaign group, Spinwatch, of withholding information from the electorate and parliament about their business activities, reported by the Guardian in January. 

One question lingers. Was Downing Street tipped off there was something in the air before Brown made his foolish YouTube video and made a mess of it all in the commons? 

It all boils down to public trust. And no doubt it may be all change when Tory expenses are revealed. Cameron this afternoon called on ministers to explain themselves. But quite frankly when it comes to expenses, who gives a toss about the Tories.

The Tories are not the government, yet. Revelations would have to be damn damaging to take the heat off Brown. If nothing much is raked up, the mud will stick on Brown and his cabinet, signing their death warrant as elections loom ever closer.

Can any punter put a name to the face of a top Tory? Cameron of course and perhaps Hague. But who cares about Osborne - except his enemies at the Telegraph and a BBC trying every twist and turn to turn the story away from its political masters. 

The shamed government is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted, leaving the filthy state of the stables behind them. 

Caught with their snouts in the trough and without a shred of morals, they are left hiding behind rotten 'rules' which they've blatantly exploited to fund lavish lifestyles. 

Angry? That's one word for it. Taxpayers can think of many others. 

Interestingly some of the usual ministerial suspects are missing from today's revealing list which could be a taste of something nasty to come as the public is drip-fed the damaging diet. 

Nevertheless, Cameron, Hague and Osborne will now have to pray they'll come up smelling of roses and leave the other lot rotting in their own stench of sleaze and corruption. 


Lies, Damn Lies And Ministers' Expenses

Shamed Brown and his greedy ministers are left wriggling after their sordid expenses scams laid bare the rot at the heart of the cabinet. Caught with their snouts in the trough and without a shred of morals, they are left hiding behind rotten 'rules' blatantly exploited to fund lavish lifestyles.

Brown and his cabinet are under fire after the Telegraph blew the lid off the sordid expenses scandal dogging greedy ministers in the fag-end government.

How can any of them ever look their constituents straight in the eye again?

Released with immaculate timing to hit the 10pm TV news, wrong-foot newspaper rivals and send Downing Street into a spin, the explosive revelations are a welcome public service for the poor punters who have to pay for minister's expensive expenses life of luxury.

Put up as the 'acceptable' face of government and untainted by a flipping 'second home', cheerleader Hattie Harman's feeble attempts to justify the outrage with the usual claptrap on the BBC's Today programme cuts no ice with voters and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

New Labour lackeys are falling over themselves to put up smokescreens. Expect the usual indignation over the alleged mole who allegedly leaked to the Telegraph and pathetic bollocks over 'chequebook journalism'. The belated back-lash from spinning Mandy has already started, having the gall to attack it all as "smears". But if ever there was a public interest justification this is it.

Tory, LibDems and lowly Labour MPs too are sweating. But that's not the issue. At the heart is Brown and his bunch of greedy cabinet colleagues without a shred of moral dignity between them.

They are members of the cabinet. Top of the heap. Bleating about "just following the rules" doesn't cut any ice with voters. MPs set the rules. Where's the moral dignity? Why make those dodgy claims in the first place? Just because you can and think you can get away with it because everyone was at it, doesn't make it right.

Why can't a minister just come out and say sorry? What I did was foolish, it was wrong. I just went with the flow of the gravy train. But instead the country has to put up with the usual NewLabour speak lines, trotted out to try to justify greed with feeble excuses.

Guido has published a handy pork-busters guide to the lies and double speak.

Of course the whole rotten, squalid sham needs cleaning up and no doubt it will after parliament's independent sleaze watchdog comes up with a plan all parties can sign up to.

But why has it taken so long to get round to doing anything about it? And what kind of example is the cabinet setting, with its culture of greed that breeds a bunch of chancers who think they can get away with it.

So far Brown and 12 of his ministers have been named and shamed by the Telegraph. Right in the firing line of damaging headlines, Brown is being forced to explain away some of his claims, which included the bare-faced cheek of paying his brother for "cleaning services".

Many MPs from all parties were already breaking out in a sweat as five years’ worth of expenses claims were due to be published in July, under the Freedom of Information law.

That would have exposed the naked truth and allowed journalists and the public to cross-check who was doing what, where, when and with whom and exactly how much taxpayers were having to stump up to feed the greed.

But there was outrage from the media as it was revealed crucial information on the receipts would have been blacked out, making it difficult for taxpayers to get the full extent of the parliamentary scam and cross-check expenses with second homes addresses.

The Telegraph's uncensored copy of the receipts, laid bare the extent of the fiddles and how some ministers used every trick in the book to exploit the rotten system.

Desperately trying to put a lid on the whole sordid affair and limit the damage ahead of July's publication, Brown suffered a humiliating commons defeat last week when he was forced to drop his half-baked plans for a quick fat cat bonus fix, announced on his foolish YouTube video in a blatant piece of party political posturing.

The Telegraph leader sums it up: "The systematic misappropriation by MPs of the allowance paid to defray the expense of keeping a second home is one of the great scandals of modern public life."

This goes far beyond the sniggers of taxpayer-funded bath-plugs, barbecues and busty babes. This is a sustained and shameful abuse of taxpayers money which has been going on for years to fund another bunch of fat cats. All officially sanctioned.

The explosive revelations take time to digest. The Orange Party's silliest so far? Two-Loos Prescott claiming for new toilet seats.

Of course it all boils down to public trust. But now the government is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted, leaving the filthy state of the stables behind them.

This is another fine mess ministers have got themselves into and have only themselves to blame.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Cabinet Expenses Blown Out Of The Water

Brown and his cabinet are under fire after full details of their expenses were leaked to the Telegraph which has blown the lid off the sordid expenses scandal dogging greedy ministers. 

The explosive revelations lay bare the rot at the heart of Brown's cabinet and threaten to bring the fag-end government crashing to its knees in looming elections. 
So far Brown and 12 of his ministers are being exposed by the Telegraph including justice secretary Jack Straw, communities secretary Hazel Blears and welsh secretary, Paul Murphy.

Expenses from regular MPs from all parties are expected to be drip-fed in the coming days. 

As the explosive list was revealed, Downing Street was forced to work  overtime trying to explain away some of the claims, which included the bare-faced cheek of Brown paying his brother for "cleaning services". 

Many MPs from all parties were already breaking out in a cold sweat as  five years’ worth of expenses claims were due to be published in July, under the Freedom of Information law. 

That would have exposed the naked truth and allowed journalists and the public to cross-check who was doing what, where, when and with whom and exactly how much taxpayers were having to stump up to feed the luxury lifestyle.

But there was outrage from the media as it was revealed crucial information on the receipts would have been blacked out, making it difficult for taxpayers to get the full extent of the parliamentary scam and cross-check expenses with flipping second homes.

Now it's understood the Telegraph has seen uncensored copies of the receipts, which lay bare the extent of the fiddles  and how some MPs used every trick in the book to exploit the rotten system. 

Details revealed by the Telegraph include: 
• Brown paid his brother Andrew more than £6,000 for "cleaning services" over the course of two years and reclaimed the money from the taxpayer. He also claimed twice for the same £153 plumber's bill - money which he paid back today after the Telegraph pointed out the discrepancy to Downing Street.

• Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, claimed money for three different properties in the course of a year, and spent almost £5,000 on furniture in just four months after buying the third property.

• Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, claimed back twice as much for his council tax as he had actually paid. He later repaid the money and apologised for the error.

• Paul Murphy, the Welsh Secretary, splashed out more than £3,000 on a new hot water system for his second home, explaining in a letter to the parliamentary fees office that his water was too hot.
Desperately trying to put a lid on the whole sordid affair and limit the damage ahead of July's publication, Brown suffered a humiliating commons defeat last week when he was forced to drop his half-baked plans  for a quick fix, announced on his foolish YouTube video,  following  a whole raft of sordid expenses scandals involving his greedy ministers.

Earlier today two homes secretary Smith was accused of further expenses fiddles amid claims she'd refurbished her family home in her constituency, claiming her "main" home was a spare bedroom in her sister’s London house, putting her job further on the line.

Wary of rivals stealing a march ahead of publication, the Telegraph is playing the whole exclusive close to its chest, with more details due to be revealed in tommorrow's splash. 

As for the mole-hunt and who leaked the damaging disk in the public interest, Benedict Brogan now with the Telegraph from the Mail will be keeping that one very close to his chest. 


Ode To Dolly Draper

Shamed spinner Derek 'Dolly' Draper has been left wandering the wilderness after quitting as 'editor' of LabourList. Full of regret and spinning to the end, his parting shot was to call on the Party to rally round Brown. 

Set up to rival other hugely popular political blogs, Draper's LabourList had a lot going for it. But it was plans for another scurrilous site, Red Rag, with grossly unfounded smears against top Tories which led to his downfall. Smeargate exposed the lies, deceit and corruption at the rotten heart of Number 10.

So Farewell Dolly Draper.
What a strange name.
Sounds a bit like Dolly the Sheep.
Were you a New Labour clone, 
Or just following the flock?

A wolf in sheep's clothing? 
Now we will never know,
As you head off into the wilderness, 
Without even a hard drive 
To remind you of the good times.

LabourList won't be the same without you.
All those nice decent people you'd lined up. 
They'll just have to find a new Labourhome,
Or leave comments on Guido with silly names.

Red Rag was a good name. 
'Tis a pity she's turned out a whore.
Branding Tory smears as "absolutely totally brilliant"
Was not one of your better ideas. 
Getting caught out by Guido even worse. 

You gave the world Smeargate 
And the BBC has given you a nice obituary.
So shave off the scruffy beard, 
Get some proper psychotherapy 
And come back a new New Labour man.

Or just Go Forth and Multiply. If that's OK.

PS: How about some smears about peers and their dirty tranny habits.


Dame Ian McBride


Fall-Guy Smith Can't Take Heat Off Brown

The heat is on Smith as vultures circle and her days are numbered, in a cunning plan to take the heat off battered Brown. For the third day running the Downing Street/BBC team tried to set the agenda, leaving the disposable home secretary at the centre of the storms. 

After a bickering Bank Holiday something had to be done to prop up doomed Brown's leadership, put the spinning house in order and deflect away from the Supreme Leader with a popularist 'narrative'. 

Who better to deliver than two homes secretary Smith. The disposable home secretary was handed the poisoned chalice for that very reason, to be cast adrift. Just what the spin doctors ordered - or so they thought. 

Fighting for her political survival, each day brings another home office announcement to try to capture the headlines. But each day the disposable homes secretary manages to shoot herself in the foot and bully-boy Brown just can't manage to come up smelling of roses. 

Today the illegal DNA database topped the BBC's influential Today programme, whose running order is fixed the night before. So how do they know what's coming up. Who tips them off? 

Using a rearguard action by friends in high places, each day put Smith firmly in the firing line as each Today announcement was rounded on. That begs the questions: why this announcement and more importantly why now?

Why pop up on Tuesday with a silly little idea of a list of the banned, including a US shock jock who's only crime is to get up her nose?

Why pop up on Wednesday to tell everyone in Manchester they can fork out £60 to have their identity nicked at the shops, while Tory and LibDems vow to put the kibosh on ID cards? 

And why pop up today to tell innocent people their DNA will be on the illegal database for another 12 years?

The answer lies with the lies of Brownballs, trying to prop up a fag-end government, salvage their own political career from the wreckage and bury bad news. 

The Orange Party brings bad tidings for Brown and Balls. It isn't working.

A dab hand at ducking responsibility and accountability, 'smearing' Balls is starting to come unstuck. First his 'sexed up' Sats shambles was exposed and today, once again, over the Baby P scandal, he stands accused of simply propping up the misguided policies and bureaucracy which lies at its failing heart. Everyone's being blamed for Baby Peter's death, except Balls.

Facing fresh allegations today over her expenses fiddle, Jackboots Jacqui's days are well and truly numbered and Balls is set up for the home office helm. 

Get all the home office bad news out of the way this week, clear the desk and the air so another truly incompetent and totally unconvincing chancer can be handed a not-so-poisoned chalice. 

But all roads lead back to battered Brown. Mauled in the commons, the Tory and LibDem leaders, aided and abetted by Tory back-benchers, rounded on his Achilles heel. His deeply flawed personality, his downright stubbornness and bully-boy tactics leave a nasty taste. 

Fresh from his YouTube comedy act, being photographed in front of swastikas drove home the message. Deluded Brown's defence was to accuse the opposition of hitting on personality not policies. 

But policy gives you plenty of wriggle-room in politics. Bunkered Brown is oblivious to the stark truth that his 'personality' will be his Downfall. 

With iffy Smiffy out of the way to spend more time with hubby along with all the nasty home office stuff, that just leaves a discredited New Labour project in a no-win situation. Damned if they ditch Brown and damned if they keep him. 

Brown and his bunch of chancers living in La-La Land can't do right for doing wrong, clinging on to the vain Blair hope that things can only get better. Fat chance. It's still the economy, stupid as today The Economist slams Brown's highly political budget tax measures as "a nasty Brown mess".

Faced with  the ignominy of relentless ridicule as mistrust and betrayal turn to anger and hatred, how do you prise power from Brown's cold dead fingers? 

Take a tip from a national treasure and Gurkha Avenger. Do a Lumley. Talk him up: He's our leader, I trust him. Call his bluff: What exactly has been promised? Get frustrated: When will he deliver? Watch him squirm.

That gorgeous gal has missed her true vocation.