Sunday, May 31, 2009
Speaker Michael Martin told the Commons that all claims for exes and allowances would be SUSPENDED until Parliament has put a new system in place.
But his orders have been IGNORED and dozens of MPs are cashing in by snapping up luxury items for their controversial second homes.
Many also fear their houses could be repossessed so they are piling in demands for mortgage payments.
They are stacking up so many claims for the current financial year that the taxpayer-funded bill will top last year's £9MILLION gravy train.
After Speaker Martin announced he was quitting amid mounting political uproar, the Fees Office rules on MPs' exes were thrown into chaos.
PM Gordon Brown announced there would be no more outrageous claims, with MPs only allowed to charge for a limited amount of rent, utility bills and council tax.
Tory leader David Cameron also declared his MPs would face tough limits, and an independent review is currently drawing up new restrictions.
However, no new rules have been formalised and MPs are hurrying to profit from the turmoil.
Many are still claiming for new kitchens, bathrooms, gardening, food, furniture and even costly plasma screen tellies.
One Conservative MP told the News of the World on Friday: "I'm sitting here doing my expenses now. If I don't I'll go bankrupt.
"Nothing has changed. The Fees Office have told me to fill out my expenses as normal. We can still submit some claims without receipts."
And a Labour MP confided: "The Fees Office agreed to some work on my house just after Christmas. I called them this week and was told to put in the receipts.
"I'm making sure I get paid before the system is scrapped. Dozens of us are in the same boat.
"You can't ask a builder to take away a new kitchen or undo the repairs to some windows, can you?"
However, our revelations will increase pressure on Mr Brown to speed up his promised Commons reforms. They show that MPs are still milking the taxpayer gravy train-even after hundreds have been exposed for appalling claims.
Last night ex-Labour MP Jane Griffiths heaped further shame on the main parties, claiming the whips forced young MPs to MAXIMISE their claims so they did not "let the team down."
The former Reading East MP said she was told to claim thousands of pounds for taxis she did not use.
"I don't drive a car so didn't claim any mileage allowance for travel in the constituency," she explained. "My whip said to me, 'You don't claim mileage, why not?'
"I said, 'Well, because I don't drive a car.' He said, 'You must get a taxi sometimes?' I said, 'I do sometimes but not that often.'
"'No,' he said, 'There's an allowance of £250 per month for taxis and you don't have to give receipts, you just fill in a form that says £250 for taxis.' And he added, 'I want you to claim that.' So I did because it would get the whips off my back. So I had money that morally I shouldn't have."
The PM now plans to unveil a new, agreed "Code of Conduct" for all MPs by the end of summer. It will be introduced after Sir Christopher Kelly's committee draws up new expenses regulations.
The code would cover their financial arrangements and make them promise to work hard for constituents. A Downing Street source told us: "This would guarantee an MP does what people want them to do.
"They would be told the basic level of service they're required to give. They would have to spend a certain amount of time in their constituency, be visible, respond to their constituents and hold so many surgeries."
The code would also create a mechanism allowing constituents to get rid of their MP if he or she broke the rules.
Over the past month, tens of thousands of disgruntled voters across the country have signed petitions to get rid of their MP.
So far 13 have announced they will quit. But all insist they will stay on until the next election, each pocketing severance payments worth over £50,000.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The disclosure followed a powerful call by the Tory leader for the 'full force of the law' to be deployed against MPs who have abused allowances.
Following a Mail on Sunday investigation Mr Cameron could now face searching questions about his own expense claims.
He took out the £350,000 mortgage - close to the maximum amount that can be claimed for - to buy a large house in Oxfordshire in August 2001, two months after winning his Witney seat in the General Election.
By nominating it as his second home, he was able to claim for the mortgage interest payments under the now-infamous Commons' Additional Costs Allowance (ACA).
There is no suggestion that he broke any rules. But mortgage experts say that if he had kept the loan on his London home and borrowed £75,000 less on the Oxfordshire property, taxpayers could have been saved more than £22,000 between 2002 and 2007.
Godfrey Bloom, the UKIP representative for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, who made headlines when he claimed that women do not “clean behind the fridge enough”, employs his 20-year-old niece and two other members of staff at TBO Investments.
Mr Bloom was director of research at TBO until he was elected to the European Parliament in 2004 and remained as a consultant until two years ago. He still owns 20 per cent of the company, which was fined £28,000 by the financial services regulator last October for “advice failings”.
Emma Brader, his accredited parliamentary assistant, and Victoria Skowronek, his secretarial assistant, were both working in the York headquarters of TBO Investments yesterday, six days before the European elections. David McLaughlin, another member of his staff, is a director of TBO Investments.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Youtube video launched by the Greens with the help of Tatchell's campaign manager.
The Green Candidate, who is he?
Peter Cranie, a well known anti-fascist member, is also an attendee of events sponsored by the Communist Party of Great Britain.
You can purchase your Che T Shirts and guns to advance the revolution at the following link.
Respect campaign for the Greens
"Prominent Respect members have stepped up their support for Green Party lead candidate, Peter Cranie, in the run up to the Euro-elections in June. Respect have decided not to contest these election but to ask our supporters to vote for the Green Party as the best placed left party to beat the fascist BNP."
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Up to 500 have gone on the rampage smashing shops and fighting.
More as we get it.
Nine people were arrested after hundreds ran riot in a town centre in protest against Muslim extremists who disrupted a homecoming parade of British soldiers.
More detail here;
Comment: Great to see it was our people protesting and not Pakistanis rioting. Looks fairly well behaved but you can be sure the authorities and the controlled British media will condemn our people!
Friday, May 22, 2009
"The atmosphere in Westminster is unbearable," Dorries wrote on the blog (blog.dorries.org). "People are constantly checking to see if others are OK. Everyone fears a suicide. If someone isn't seen, offices are called and checked."
Thursday, May 21, 2009
A COUNCILLOR arrested last year in connection with a leaked BNP membership list has lost her seat, it emerged today.
Sadie Graham-Single is no longer councillor for Brinsley after Broxtowe Borough Council announced it is to hold a by-election for her seat.
The council has called the election following Mrs Graham-Single's failure to attend the requisite number of meetings during a six-month period.
In a statement, the council said her right to be a councillor ceased at midnight on May 12 - six months after last attending a meeting of the council's Sustainable Communities committee on November 12, 2008.
Mrs Graham-Single has been informed of the council's decision and the date of the by-election will be announced following a full council meeting on June 17.
Mrs Graham-Single was one of two people arrested last December in connection with the unauthorised publication of a BNP membership list on the internet.
She was arrested by Notts Police on behalf of Dyfed Powys Police, but was bailed pending further inquiries.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Nick Griffin will accompany Richard Barnbrook, a BNP member of the London Assembly, as his guest at the event on July 21, Mr Barnbrook said.
All members of the Assembly have been invited to the event.
Mr Barnbrook said: "I imagine there will be a to-do and a hoot.
"These things are going to happen more and more as the party goes forward."
A BNP spokesman added: "Richard Barnbrook has got an official invite in his capacity as a member of the London Assembly and he is allowed to bring a guest, which will be Nick Griffin.
"For him to snub an invite from the Queen would be absurd.
"It is something people are going to have to get used to because if we get elected MEPs, this is the kind of thing we are going to be doing on a regular basis.
"It is the emergence of a party from beyond the pale to mainstream."
The event will come after the June local and Euro elections, which could see the BNP gaining more local council seats and their first MEPs.
Nick Griffin will accompany Richard Barnbrook, a BNP member of the London Assembly, as his guest at the event on July 21, Mr Barnbrook said.
A BNP spokesman said: “Richard Barnbrook has got an official invite in his capacity as a member of the London Assembly and he is allowed to bring a guest, which will be Nick Griffin.
WORKERS at Aberthaw Power Station joined hundreds of contract workers across the country to stage a wildcat strike over the hiring of foreign labour.
Laggers and thermal insulation engineers at the Vale of Glamorgan plant downed tools in support of colleagues at the South Hook liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.
It was the second such action to be taken since in recent months following the controversial “British Jobs for British Workers” protests earlier this year.
The unofficial action started at the LNG site after strikers complained that an agreement by contractors to offer jobs to local labour had been broken when a contractor hired around 50 Polish workers.
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said he had been told by local union officials about a longstanding written agreement which required all contractors to maximise the use of local labour on the Milford Haven site.
He said: “There is widespread anger at repeated attempts in different projects around the country to exclude local people from job opportunities on these projects.”
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The shocking comment was revealed during a lunch Mr Farage had with former Labour Minister for Europe, Denis MacShane MP, after a Foreign Press Association conference on the future of the European Union yesterday (image alongside).
The news firmly places UKIP into the same bracket as all the other Westminster political parties with regards to ripping off the hard pressed taxpayers in the shocking expenses scandal which has engulfed all the political parties in Britain - except the BNP.
Talking on today’s BBC 2 Daily Politics Show, Mr Macshane was trying to defend his own personal outrageous expenses claims - and those of his colleagues - when he suddenly announced that this sort of thing was everywhere.
“I was with Nigel Farage of UKIP yesterday afternoon debating and he said quite cheerfully - you know what Nigel is like - I have got two million pounds in expenses from the European Parliament,” Mr Macshane said, obviously hoping that the announcement of this bit of thievery would somehow excuse his own.
Listen to the shocking sound file below:
Monday, May 18, 2009
“We have never issued such a leaflet,” Mr Walker said, adding that he had been contacted by the Northern Echo newspaper on Sunday and asked about the leaflet then.
“I told that newspaper that the leaflet was not ours, and that we would never issue such a thing,” Mr Walker said. “The newspaper would not tell me when or where it had been distributed, which made me highly suspicious.
”I am absolutely disgusted by this typical newspaper deception,” Mr Walker continued. “It is clear that this is just another ‘black operations’ trick drawn up by the local Communist Party front organisations who make a living out of spreading anti-BNP lies. Those responsible for this fake leaflet can be assured that we will do everything we legally can to track them down and see them prosecuted for this forgery.”
Mr Walker added that The Sun newspaper would also have to be taught that it could not reprint a pack of lies without suffering serious consequences. “They have not bothered to check if the serious allegations they have made are in any way accurate and although they name me personally as the one who distributed the fake leaflets, they never bothered to contact me for comment. What type of gutter journalism is that?”
Mr Walker pointed out that the BNP have “members who fought alongside the Gurkhas and ex-forces who have served alongside them in garrisons. They are as disgusted and appalled as I am that The Sun and its Communist Party allies can resort to such tactics. I consider this leaflet to be an incitement to racial hatred against the Gurkhas and I have made a formal complaint to the police today against The Sun for publishing this leaflet and also against whoever printed and distributed it.”
The BNP have this morning contacted the editorial and legal departments of The Sun newspaper and demanded that they remove the article from their online edition and also print a formal retraction of the story within the paper.
Mr. Walker will also be taking legal advice in order to sue The Sun newspaper for personal defamation.
*The guidelines adhered to by the National Union of Journalists state very explicitly that the BNP must never be covered fairly, and must always be smeared and attacked. This is the reason why the media is universally hostile to this party, even though this blanket hostility has alerted many members of the public to the fact of the NUJ’s twisted ideological agenda.
*Readers will also have noticed that the anti-BNP smears in the media are now coming thick and fast. Thankfully they will also get more and more outrageous as the increasingly desperate hacks realise that they have failed to stop the BNP’s surge in support.
As a result the smears might well increase over the next few weeks, but will become increasingly far-fetched as election day approaches — as is the case with the forged Gurkha leaflet.
The BNP assures the media that it now has the financial and organisational capability to take them on with the full force of the law and will not hesitate to ensure that media liars are exposed and punished for their crimes.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Writing in the Daily Telegraph of May 15th, Dr Sked, who founded UKIP in 1993, said that “(B)efore anyone takes up the advice that Lord Tebbit has More.. given on radio not to vote in the European elections for the three main parties, perhaps we should be shown the expenses claimed by MEPs of the minor parties represented at Brussels.
“Two people elected as UKIP MEPs last time have been indicted for fraud,” Dr Sked wrote. “Why should a vote for their party serve better than a vote for the major parties?”The condemnation of UKIP by its founder could not have come at a worse time for that party.
A secret internal inquiry by the European Parliament has found widespread abuse of expenses by Members of the European Parliament, where UKIP currently has ten members.
The main criminal activities employed by MEPs centres on employing fictitious staff or unqualified family members.Europe’s anti-fraud watchdog has launched an investigation after learning about the audit which was kept under wraps by the MEPs who were shown the damning report at a secret location.
In other words, the UKIP, Labour and Tory MEPs have all seen the report - but have kept absolutely quiet about it, because it exposes them all as yet another extension of the Swillminster feeding trough.The inquiry centres on misuse of the annual parliamentary assistants’ allowance of £130,000 available to all 785 MEPs to pay staff - a total of more than £100 million.
Franz Bruner, Director-General of OLAF, the EU’s internal anti-fraud squad, confirmed that he was launching an inquiry and had demanded to see the audit report by the end of this week.
In one case staff working for one MEP received a Christmas bonus worth 19 times their monthly salary.This report provides the answer as to why none of the UKIP MEPs have ever made their expenses claims open to public audit, despite undertaking to do so.Sources say that when the details contained in the new report are finally released to the media, they will show that the UKIP party has been neck deep in the expenses scandal as well, on a scale which will dwarf even that of the Westminster scandal.
Examples ranged from a former government whip who “bought out” his partner from her share of a London flat at a cost to the taxpayer of thousands of pounds, to a Tory grandee who spent thousands of pounds of public funds on his country estate before selling it.
The MPs, who all backed the 2007 Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill introduced by David Maclean, the former Conservative chief whip, will face questions over their use of expenses and will come under pressure to return money.
Supporters of Mr Maclean’s Bill said they were acting to protect the confidentiality of constituents. Yet MPs opposing the Bill told the Commons repeatedly that its main impact would be to keep expenses secret.
The latest disclosures came as the fallout from the MPs’ expenses scandal showed no sign of letting up. David Chaytor, a backbench MP, was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party after he admitted he had claimed nearly £13,000 for the mortgage on a London flat after it was paid off.
The Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service are due to meet this week to decide whether to start a criminal inquiry following the Telegraph’s investigation into the misuse of the expenses system by MPs from all sides of the House of Commons.
The latest disclosures include:
- David Maclean, who introduced the 2007 Bill, spent more than £20,000 doing up his farmhouse under the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) before selling it for £750,000.
He was entitled to the money because the property was designated as his “second home” with the Commons authorities, yet Mr Maclean did not pay capital gains tax on the sale because the taxman accepted it was his main home.
- David Clelland, the Labour MP, “bought out” his partner’s share of a joint mortgage on a flat in London in a deal which cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds plus legal fees. After the deal, which was approved by the Commons fees office, his taxpayer-funded mortgage interest payments increased by almost £200 a month.
Mr Clelland, who cited the “increasingly bureaucratic” nature of the expenses system and fears of “press intrusion” as reasons for ending the joint mortgage, also submitted a claim including 36p for fuses.
- Fraser Kemp, a former government whip and one of Labour’s key election strategists, made repeat purchases of household items within weeks of each other for his one-bedroom flat.
He bought 16 sheets within seven weeks and tried to claim for a £1,699 television only for the fees office to turn the claim down.
A year earlier he had successfully claimed for a £599 television. Last night he described some of his purchases – including the bed linen – as an “error” and offered to make repayments.
- Julian Lewis, the shadow defence minister and one of the most outspoken opponents of the disclosure of MPs’ personal details, asked if he could claim £6,000 expenses for a wooden floor with acoustic underlay but was told by officials in the fees office that this “could be seen as extravagant”. However, he was permitted to claim £4,870 to upgrade the London flat, as well as £352.20 in legal fees for settling a dispute over unpaid service charges. Mr Lewis also claimed £119 for a wall-mounted trouser press and £5 for a “sweater tidy”. Last night he described the ACA as an “absolutely rotten system”.
- David Ruffley, the shadow Home Office minister, “flipped” his second home from a London flat to his Bury St Edmunds constituency before spending thousands of pounds on furniture and fittings. He successfully claimed for a £1,674 sofa – but was refused the full amount when he claimed for a £2,175 46-inch Sony widescreen HD television from Harrods. An attempt to claim £6,765 for the purchase of several bedroom items was reduced by £4,748.
Not all of the 98 MPs who supported Mr Maclean’s Bill in 2007 had questionable expenses. Some submitted low or zero claims including Labour’s Martin Salter and Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP.
The latest disclosures came as Gordon Brown and David Cameron faced increasing pressure to do more to address the scale of the abuse of the expenses system.
Since the Telegraph investigation began nine days ago, one minister has stepped down from his post, two Labour MPs have been suspended from the parliamentary party, while a parliamentary aide to the Conservative leader has also resigned his role.
Last night the Prime Minister pledged to take action against ministers who abuse the expenses system and claimed he was “appalled and angered” by the disclosures.
“The bottom line is that any MP who is found to have defied the rules will not be serving in my government,” Mr Brown said.
“I want to assure every citizen of my commitment to a complete clean-up of the system — that wherever and whenever immediate disciplinary action is required I will take it.” The position of Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, remains under threat. A “no confidence” motion could to be tabled against him this week. In a leaked letter to Tory candidates campaigning in next month’s European elections, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said the Opposition backed “the office of the Speaker,” suggesting that the Tory leadership was losing patience with Mr Martin personally.
Officially, both Mr Brown and Mr Cameron back him – although a growing number of MPs favour his early removal on the grounds that he has mishandled the expenses affair.
Anti-fascist campaigners Searchlight launched a formal complaint with BBC director general Mark Thompson after a series of broadcasts which, the organisation said, broke strict election rules on impartiality. Searchlight said the BBC was claiming the BNP were the main beneficiaries of the "anti-politics" sentiment caused by the MPs expenses scandal, when in fact the UK Independence Party and the Greens were ahead of the far-right party in the polls.
A BBC spokesman said the corporation "is obliged to treat all political parties... with due impartiality" and said the BBC "strongly contest" Searchlight's allegations.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
First Mr Collett left the details off hundreds of thousands of Euro election leaflets. Then, Mr Collett used a war plane with Polish insignia, and now?
Take a look for yourselves...
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Since being elected in 2005, Mr Malik has claimed the maximum amount allowable for a second home, amounting to £66,827 over three years. Last year, he claimed £23,083 from the taxpayer for his London town house, equivalent to £443 per week. The Telegraph can disclose that the “main home” for which Mr Malik pays out of his own pocket - a three-bedroom house in his constituency of Dewsbury, West Yorks - has been secured at a discounted rent of less than £100 per week from a local landlord who was fined for letting an “uninhabitable” house.
Mr Malik also rents a constituency office from the same businessman, Tahir Zaman.
Mr Malik’s arrangement means he pays below market rent for his main home while billing taxpayers thousands for his second home in London. His second home claims have included £2,600 for a home cinema system — which was cut in half by officials — and £65 for a court summons for not paying council tax.
Neither Mr Malik nor Mr Zaman would say last night whether they had signed a formal agreement for the lease of the constituency house, although Mr Zaman said the rent was below the market rate. The landlord’s wife said the house appeared to be occupied by a constituency worker during the week.
expenses illustrates the potential problems of an MP being able to nominate what appears to be the family home as his second home, enabling him to claim tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
The case of Mr Malik’s
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, faced similar allegations after she was shown to have claimed her family home in Redditch as her second house.
However, the Home Secretary said she had always paid rent to her sister at a commercial rate.
As a minister, she also said she spent the majority of her time in London.
Mr Malik’s arrangements relating to his constituency home will also raise questions as to whether a minister could be beholden to a businessman who offers him discounted rent. Mr Zaman lives next door to Mr Malik’s home in Dewsbury. Mr Zaman and Mr Malik also have a rental agreement relating to the constituency office in a nearby shopping parade. Mr Malik claims for the cost of renting his office from parliamentary office allowances.
Yesterday, following a week of disclosures about MPs’ expenses by The Daily Telegraph, Elliot Morley, the former minister, was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party and Andrew Mackay lost his job as David Cameron’s aide.
Today, details of claims made by married MPs are disclosed. A former Cabinet minister is also exposed for over-claiming more than £8,000 on her mortgage.
Mr Malik bought a home in Peckham in 2001 for £85,000 — four years before he became an MP. After being elected to Parliament in 2005, he nominated the property as his “second home” and began claiming the maximum amount available in parliamentary expenses.
During the first year as an MP, he made 13 separate claims for different items of furniture or electrical appliances totalling more than £7,000. The fees office blocked several items and he eventually received £6,147. He also regularly claimed the maximum allowable £400 a month for food.
The most contentious item was a £2,600 home cinema system including a 40in flat-screen television. The fees office paid half, after initially rejecting the claim.
It blocked claims for a portable DVD player and an iPod during the same year.
The spending on the Peckham house continued during 2007-08, with 24 separate claims for furniture, decorating and electrical goods. These included a £671 fireplace, a leather daybed sofa and a £510 fitted wardrobe.
Mr Malik was also reimbursed for a £730 “massage chair”. Last night, the MP said he had a “back problem”.
The Justice Minister said he would repay the £65 he claimed for his non-payment of council tax courts summons.
In total, in three years, Mr Malik claimed £66,827 for the property - £18,173 less than the original cost of the house.
However, the spending on his “second” London home stands in stark contrast to the cut-price arrangements for his constituency property.
Mr Malik’s landlord last night told The Daily Telegraph: “He is definitely paying well under the market value rent.”
When asked if Mr Malik paid £100 a week, Mr Zaman said: “I’m renting [out] the next door [property], [it’s] half the size of his property, they pay me more rent than what he’s paying me.”
In 2005 Mr Zaman pleaded guilty to letting a house to a family of five despite a council enforcement order classing building as “uninhabitable”.
He was fined £450 and ordered to pay £200 costs.
Mr Zaman receives more than £4,000 annually from Mr Malik in office rent. The money is funded from a separate system of parliamentary expenses.
The landlord’s wife who lives in a neighbouring property said that Mr Malik only used the property at weekends and a member of his staff stayed there during the week.
“He [Mr Malik] is a good friend and neighbour,” she said. “He comes here just at the weekends... Usually he comes here alone.”
Mrs Zaman said a constituency worker she knew only as Paul occupied the house during the week.
Yesterday, when asked whether someone stayed in the property during the week, Mr Malik would only say: “I am happy to confirm that I do not rent it out or derive any income from it.” Last night, in a statement issued by Mr Malik he strongly denied wrongdoing.
He said: “Dewsbury has been my home since 2004 when I moved there a year prior to becoming the MP. Overall I spend the majority of my time in Dewsbury because, although I spent half the week in London when Parliament is in session I spend most of recess at my main home in Dewsbury.
“The vast majority of my costs [on the London house] have gone on food, insurance, council tax, gas, electricity, security and mortgage interest.
“All these costs are regarded as basic essentials in terms of the ACA [expenses system].”
He also said his rejected claims had been a misunderstanding.
He said: “With hindsight of course I would have acted differently on these items but as a new MP, with a Green Book that was full of subjective rules and a guidance team that knew the limits for items, but chose not to share them with MPs, it was inevitable that almost every MP would have items questioned at some point.”
Job: junior minister at the Ministry of Justice
BREAKING NEWS: Shahid Malik "stepping down" as justice minister
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Records seen by The Daily Telegraph show that Mr Clegg regularly claimed at or just below the maximum possible under the Additional Costs Allowance, which may be used by MPs to run a second home.
The disclosure came as Mr Clegg made a series of high profile media appearances criticising the allowances system.
“People will just simply despair that all politicians look either ridiculous at best or corrupt at worst,” he said. Mr Clegg has also frequently made play of the issue of MPs’ expenses during regular clashes with Gordon Brown.
Last month, he stormed out of a meeting with the Prime Minister in protest at their inability to agree a system.
Within six months of being elected to Parliament in 2005, Mr Clegg bought a house in his constituency and began charging monthly interest repayments of £1,018 on the £279,000 mortgage on his expenses.
He also submitted the stamp duty, land registry and legal costs, totalling £9,244.50.
Over the following months, he fitted the house with a £2,600 kitchen, and had £5,857.63 worth of decorating done.
He claimed for carpets, a laminate floor, tiling and sanding, curtains, blinds, curtain rails and repairs to a garage door.
After a shopping spree at IKEA in 2006, he submitted claims for items including cushions costing £4.99, a £2.49 cake pan and £1.50 paper napkins.
The following July, Mr Clegg had £680 worth of gardening carried out, including work to “build small wall in rose garden”, followed by £760 for the repair of his garden path.
He wrote to the Commons fees office: “When I bought the house the garden had been neglected for years and was very overgrown.
The work undertaken was to deal with this and get the garden back into a position where it can be maintained easily going forwards.” He then employed a gardener to work for four hours a week, submitting claims for £260 a month.
In a form covering the period Aug 2 to Dec 13, 2005, Mr Clegg submitted a claim that included £1,657.32 for food. Last summer, the Liberal Democrat leader said the pressures of the financial crisis had forced his family to stop shopping at Ocado, the online retailer that distributes groceries from the Waitrose supermarket.
The claims also include two bills for the Liberal Democrat leader’s home phone in Sheffield, one for £105.88 and the other for £121.56. These detailed four calls to Colombia, including two mobile phones, three to Vietnam, including two mobiles, and 21 calls to Belgium, including six mobiles.
Contacted by The Daily Telegraph about his claims, Mr Clegg said: “These international calls should never have been charged to the taxpayer and I apologise . I have paid back the total cost of £80.20.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The former Tory chairman said the vote gave anyone outraged by MPs' abuse of expenses an 'ideal opportunity' to send a message to all three main parties by not voting for any of them.
The call from a senior party grandee is an extraordinary challenge to David Cameron's authority in the run-up to the June 4 poll.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, 78-year-old Lord Tebbit said it was clear that Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs had been behaving like 'welfare junkies' addicted to abusing their Commons allowances.
'Local elections, the great British public should treat just as normal,' he said. 'But at the European elections, in my judgment they should send a very sharp message to the leaders of the three national parties by not voting for any of the national party candidates.'
Norman Tebbit, who was one of Margaret Thatcher's closest allies, refused to say which of the smaller parties he believed voters should back.
'I wouldn't seek to give any advice on that,' he said. 'But if there was an enormous fall in the vote for the major parties, the message might get through.'
Lord Tebbit did say that he would urge the public not to support the 'socialist' British National Party, which he described as 'Labour with racism'.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The disclosures will further alarm taxpayers and add to concern over the operation of the House of Commons fees office, which is supposed to police the parliamentary expenses system.
After they were approached yesterday, three Conservative MPs announced that they would be repaying money they had claimed to maintain or heat private swimming pools at their second homes.
Over the past four days, the Telegraph has published a series of articles detailing questionable expense claims made by MPs from all political parties, including members of the Cabinet and shadow cabinet.
Last night, the Metropolitan Police announced that it was considering complaints it had received about the expenses of six MPs, including Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, and Alistair Darling, the Chancellor
The British National Party has launched its campaign for next month's European Parliament elections, predicting it could win up to seven seats.
The party is contesting all 69 seats at stake in the UK mainland regions, on a platform of demanding the country withdraws from the European Union.
Leader Nick Griffin, a candidate in North West England, said the BNP also wanted to stop Turkey joining the EU.
His party was a threat to "tired, corrupt old politicians", he added.
The BNP, which currently has no Euro MPs, is contesting about 465 county council seats in England's local elections, which also take place on 4 June.
This is up from 39 candidates four years ago.
At the BNP's campaign launch in Essex, Mr Griffin said: "There's no protest vote like a British National Party protest vote, because all the others are in it together.
"Everyone knows we are the ones that they hate... We are the ones who are really a threat to their rotten, internationalist, liberal system.
"So we are the ones people have got to vote for if they want to protest against what the old politicians - the tired, corrupt old politicians - have done to this poor country of ours."
Outlining his party's anti-immigration stance, Mr Griffin said: "Not all immigrants are terrorists but all terrorists are immigrants or their immediate descendants."
On its opposition to Turkey joining the EU, he said: "While we are in the European Union we most definitely, and above all else, oppose its expansion to bring 80 million low-wage Muslims into Christian democratic Europe."
BBC accused of 'whitewash' over coverage of BNP's rise to power
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Lord Naseby, a Conservative peer and former deputy speaker, said that the standing of Parliament had been brought “right down into the pits” and there may be a need for an immediate general election.
Michael Gove, the shadow education secretary, spent more than £7,000 in five months furnishing a London property in 2006 before “flipping” his second home designation to a new property he bought in Surrey. He then claimed more than £13,000 in stamp duty and other fees from his Parliamentary expenses for this property. Mr Gove’s behaviour surprised colleagues because the former journalist was only elected in 2005 and is close to Mr Cameron.
Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, spent thousands of pounds renovating a thatched Tudor country cottage shortly before selling it. He redecorated inside and out with premium paint at a cost of £2,000 and re-shingled the driveway. He then “flipped” his expenses to a Georgian flat in London where he claimed for thousands of pounds in furnishings including a Laura Ashley sofa.
Francis Maude, the shadow minister for the cabinet office, attempted to claim the mortgage interest on his family home in Sussex. This arrangement was rejected by the Fees Office. Two years later, Mr Maude bought a flat in London a few minutes walk from a house he already owned. He then rented out the other property and began claiming on the new flat: the taxpayer has since covered nearly £35,000 in mortgage interest payments.
Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, claimed thousands of pounds to renovate a London flat 17 miles from his family home. Mr Grayling already owned three properties within the M25 but still bought the flat with loans subsidised by the taxpayer. He then claimed for work on the property for up to a year after it was carried out. This enabled him to claim close to the maximum amount allowable under the expenses system during different years.
Cheryl Gillan, the shadow Welsh secretary, claimed for dog food on her expenses. Last night, she said that she would repay the money.
Not all members of the shadow Cabinet were implicated. Mr Cameron and William Hague, his deputy and shadow foreign secretary, both had relatively straightforward claims. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, claimed for a chauffeur using his office allowance.
Cameron doesn't need to steal from taxpayers. Cameron was educated at Eaton and has a personal fortune of £31 million. You don't get more distant from the working class than that!
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Hazel Blears: claims for three different properties in a year
Gordon Brown: house swap let PM claim thousands
Andy Burnham: had an eight-month battle with the fees office after making a single expenses claim for more than £16,500
Alistair Darling: stamp duty paid by public
Caroline Flint: claimed £14,000 for fees for new flat
Geoff Hoon: established a property empire worth £1.7 million after claiming taxpayer-funded expenses for at least two properties
Lord Mandelson: questions over timing of his house claim
David Miliband: spending challenged by his gardener
Paul Murphy: had a new plumbing system installed at taxpayers’ expense because the water in the old one was “too hot”
John Prescott: two lavatory seats in two years
Jack Straw: only paid half the amount of council tax that he claimed back on his parliamentary allowances over four years
Shaun Woodward: millionaire minister received £100,000 to help pay mortgage
Phil Hope spent more than £10,000 in one year refurbishing a small London flat
Keith Vaz claimed £75,500 for a second flat near Parliament even though he already lived just 12 miles from Westminster
Michael Martin used taxpayers' money to pay for chauffeur-driven cars to his local job centre and Celtic's football ground
Vera Baird tried to claim the cost of Christmas tree decorations
Greg Barker made a £320,000 profit selling a flat the taxpayer had helped pay for
Margaret Moran switched the address of her second home, allowing her to claim £22,500 to fix a dry rot problem
Ben Bradshaw used his allowance to pay the mortgage interest on a flat he owned jointly with his boyfriend
Phil Woolas submitted receipts including comics, nappies and women's clothing as part of his claims
Barbara Follett used £25,000 of taxpayers' money to pay for private security patrols at her home
Barry Gardiner made £198,500 profit from a flat funded and refurbished at taxpayers' expense.
Alex Salmond claimed £400 per month for food when the Commons was not even sitting
Saturday, 09 May 2009
Melodramatic warnings by "senior" Labour party figures that any desertion of Labour will offer free passage to the BNP in the European and local elections does not simply reflect a despairing anticipation of a Labour wipeout; it also betrays an old arrogance, a belief that only "the left" (even the etiolated version of it represented by New Labour) stands heroically in the way of the triumphal advance of the far right. Yet New Labour could not wait to repudiate everything the Labour party had ever stood for; and this left its former heartland a political desert, ripe for colonisation by the BNP.
The white working class was seen as an insignificant remnant of the population, since a majority of the British people appeared to have been levitated into a middle class that Labour courted with such assiduity in the 1990s. The rest could be left to their fate in forlorn estates of liquor shops covered with chicken wire, leaky drainpipes, semi-wild dogs and tattered flags of St George – everything that symbolised the last gasp of a disappearing working class.
That a gloomily introspective Labour party should now present itself as the only bulwark against racist parties is a vain effort to retrieve the disregarded and neglected, those sacrificed to its own will to survive.
It is significant that the term "working class" was expunged from the political vocabulary after Margaret Thatcher had demonstrated the transforming power of globalism. She understood that the best way to be rid of troublesome organised labour was to destroy the economic base on which it depended; and she was an early proponent of outsourcing manufactured goods. She set about the demolition of industry with gusto, and with it, the unmaking of the working class, her allies the invisible army of apparently invincible global economic forces.
A Labour party that saw its original constituency erased from the political map readily abandoned the victims of these processes, those it had always taken for granted. "Our own people", they possessively called them, adding that, no matter what Labour did, "they had nowhere else to go". This fateful miscalculation is at the root of the current discomfiture of New Labour. People always have somewhere else to go; and where many of them have gone – or are going – was regarded at first by the Labour party as a symptom of perplexity or apathy. Only later did Labour fully appreciate the depth of disaffection of its wayward children, and the disorientation they expressed when they spoke of living in a country they no longer recognised as their own. This has led Labour into a competitive auction with the BNP; especially through the efforts of its immigration minister, who seems to believe that an expression of distaste for foreigners – including the unfortunate Gurkhas, whose unique position he saw as setting "a precedent for future decisions on other immigration categories" – is the surest way back into the hearts of the party's estranged voters.
There is a deep irony in this. For many supporters of and sympathisers with the BNP make the point that they are "the new Labour party". By this, they mean not "New Labour" as defined by Tony Blair in his repositioning of what (and who) Labour stood for, but rather, the contemporary equivalent of old Labour, when it first burst on to the political scene in the early part of the 20th century.
There are some compelling parallels. A hundred years ago, a Labour party, more radical than the Liberals, to which respectable "working men" had looked for protection, was busy outflanking it on the left. Members of the Labour party and trade unions were often dismissed from their workplace as industrial troublemakers. "You'll never work in this town again" was the taunt hurled at those who made a principled stand against efforts to suppress the working-class movement. In the process, martyrs were made, and the cause of organised labour strengthened. The party was regarded by respectable society as dangerous and deluded, a threat to order, against nature and a violation of all they held dear; an unhappy precursor of today's BNP, which offers a caricature of its Labour predecessors.
The echoes of this are unmistakeable in the current attempt to outlaw the BNP. Its members sometimes make explicit the similarities they perceive between a Labour party knocking at the door of the political establishment in the early 1900s and the efforts by the BNP today to gain acceptance – evidenced in an attempt to distance itself from its racist origins, to reassure the country that what it most wants is only justice and recognition for those it represents; "inclusion", in the contemporary jargon.
The similarities should not be exaggerated. The Labour party bore the hopes of millions of people whose economic and social function in the industrial process could not be denied. The BNP depends for much of its support upon a smaller base, particularly those left high and dry by the collapse of the industrial base. It is significant that the "white working class" was recently rediscovered, not only in Nuneaton, Barking and Burnley, as a result of "perverse" voting patterns, but also across vast areas of the US in in last year's presidential campaign. In both countries, the term "working class" had for a long time been excluded, outcast, like the phenomenon it designated. Only when the working class made its own voice heard, refusing to accept its status as "underclass" or "white trash", was a social group rediscovered, which, under the powerful blanket of silence thrown over it by the media, might as well until then not have existed.
You don't have to agree with what the British National party stands for to recognise the legitimacy of its concern for "these people", those written off by a party which, assuming seigneurial rights over their vote, had exiled them to the periphery not only of its own consciousness, but also of the declining industrial towns and cities they inhabited.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
If he didn't, he can take legal issue here:
I don’t think we should be gambling on the three main parties alone managing to stop the BNP. That’s why we are putting the clear message across to vote Green to stop Nick Griffin getting elected to the European Parliament. For more details visit http://www.stopnickgriffin.org.uk/
ANTI-RACISM campaigners took to the streets in South Yorkshire last night as they organised a picket of a pub where the leader of the BNP was appearing.
Nick Griffin addressed a meeting of his far-right party at the Fleets pub in Smithies Lane, Barnsley, as protesters staged a demonstration outside.
We Brits don't do free speech, thank goodness
Less than a month before local government and European Parliament elections, Labour is facing a wipeout in county council town halls in what could be the worst local election results for 30 years.
Its share of the poll in the Euro elections will be doing well if it tops 20 per cent on current signals, with the British National Party stalking its first beachhead on the lucrative European stage.
Senior politicians are drawing up cross-party plans to fight the British National party in next month’s local and European elections, amid fears the far-right party could stage advances by exploiting an “anti-politics” tide sweeping the country.
Harriet Harman, deputy Labour leader, and Eric Pickles, Tory chairman, will hold talks next week to draw up a strategy designed to isolate the BNP and to co-ordinate a united response in areas where the party is campaigning.
Mr Farage also predicted his party could stand in the way of an electoral breakthrough for the far-right British National Party in the north of England.
Politicians generally, rather than any one party or MP, will be damaged by the disclosures on MPs’ expenses. They will discredit mainstream politics, reduce turnout and benefit anti-establishment groups. So watch how other parties, especially the British National Party, do in the European elections on June 4.
Labour and the Conservatives are preparing a joint strategy for combating the BNP at the local and European elections next month.
Douglas Alexander claimed £5,183 for storm windows and £3,868 for storm doors
David Miliband claimed almost £200 for a pram but was turned down by the Commons authorities
Margaret Beckett's £600 claim for hanging baskets and other items for her garden was turned down
Gordon Brown used his expenses to pay for some Noah's Ark blinds
Andy Burnham tried to claim back £19.99 for an Ikea bathrobe
Hazel Blears claimed for a stay in the luxury Zetter boutique hotel in Clerkenwell
Geoff Hoon bought two televisions using taxpayers' money
John Prescott used his allowance to install mock Tudor beams on the front of his home
And Jack Straw admitted he sometimes didn't know exactly what he was claiming for. 'Accountancy does not appear to be my strongest suit,' he said.
The most widespread abuses relate to the Additional Costs Allowance, which exists to reimburse MPs for the cost of running a second home, either in their constituency or in London.
Dozens of MPs switch their “second” home from London to their constituency, and sometimes back again, to enable them to carry out extensive renovations or buy household goods for both properties.
Although parliamentary rules state that a second home should be the one where an MP spends the least time, officials in the department that signs off expenses appear powerless to prevent members arbitrarily nominating different addresses at different times. Because all addresses are to be censored when the expenses claims are published, there would have been no way of knowing that such apparent abuses were going on.
Several ministers who have moved into grace-and-favour apartments in London — and who had previously claimed on private London homes — have suddenly decided that their “second” home is in their constituency, so that virtually all of their housing costs are met by the taxpayer. They include Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Geoff Hoon.
Other MPs, including Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, nominate their main family home as their “second” home so they can charge the taxpayer for their household bills and mortgage interest payments while living cheaply in flats or even the spare rooms of friends or relatives in London.
In some cases, MPs appear to be guilty of profiteering by spending thousands of pounds doing up flats or houses, charging the taxpayer for “repairs” then selling them on, before starting the whole process again at a new address.
Parliamentary rules forbid MPs from charging for work which “enhances” a property and makes it more saleable, but the details of some claims suggest otherwise; they range from a £14,000 claim for a wet room to £8,000 worth of fitted bookcases.
The Daily Telegraph has also discovered numerous cases of MPs buying furniture, including beds, wardrobes and armchairs, which are delivered to their “first” home and then claimed as expenses for their “second” home. In some cases the claims are queried, before being paid when MPs make assurances they have shifted the items to the other address.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
The massive sum reflects the costs of handouts and other state services provided over the lifetime of the average immigrant.
The figure would also apply to many of those who have already been granted asylum in Britain, according to campaign group Migrationwatch which commissioned the study.
The coalition argues that providing permanent residency for those long-term illegal immigrants who meet certain conditions – roughly half the total – would bring in more than £1billion of tax a year.
But Migrationwatch warned that such an amnesty would overburden the public purse during a recession and only tempt more migrants into the country.
The gang ran a fraud factory creating thousands of counterfeit documents enabling hundreds to cheat border controls, Isleworth Crown Court in west London was told.
Indians Jatinder Kumar Sharma, 44, his wife Rakhi Shahi, 31, and a second woman Neelam Sharma, 38 helped hundreds of migrants enter the country illegally.
Prosecutor Francis Sheridan said the trio opened the door to hundreds of unsuitable migrants without means to support themselves, leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill.
He said one member was even secretly recorded boasting how Home Office officials 'do not even bother to look' at documents and 'just stamp them blindly'.
Mr Sheridan told the jury: 'They were acting on behalf of clients to cheat the Home Office, to cheat the Home Office wholesale.
'They have made a fortune, there are no bones about that, they have made a small fortune at the hands of the Home Office.'
Metropolitan Police officers and officials from the UK Border Agency swooped on Univisa, based at The Crescent, South Road, Southall, west London, in February 2008.
They acted after a local newspaper journalist posing as a migrant uncovered evidence of counterfeit documents for sale, the court heard.
They discovered a mountain of 90,000 documents including false university certificates, academic records, bank statements and pay slips.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
They are meant to be about the future of Europe and the delivery of vital local services such as schools and social care. But in truth it will be the future of Gordon Brown that will be the main question hanging over the European and local elections on 4 June.
If Labour does badly, the recently revived muttering and perhaps even the plotting about the Prime Minister's future can be expected to thicken. The expectation that David Cameron is on course for victory in a general election next year will grow. If, on the other hand, Labour avoids disaster Mr Brown will be safe and on the Labour benches hope will be rekindled that Mr Cameron could yet be denied.
At first glance the European elections would seem to be the more severe of the two electoral tests for Mr Brown. The whole country will get the chance to vote in a straightforward proportional representation election. Labour's success or failure will be unambiguously recorded for all to see.
In contrast local elections are only taking place in shire – and thus mostly Tory – England. Only 27 county and seven unitary councils (including five new ones) are at stake. Any shortcomings in Labour's performance would seem capable of being dismissed on the grounds that little of national significance can be read into such unrepresentative results.
In truth, Mr Brown may well have less to fear in the European elections than he does in the local contests. This is for one simple reason. When the country last voted in European elections in 2004 Labour performed abysmally. It won less than 23 per cent of the nationwide vote, not least because the party was beginning to pay for the unpopularity of the Iraq war. Yet just 12 months later Tony Blair still went on to win a historic third term. Even the most recent opinion polls still suggest the party stands at 27 per cent in Westminster voting intentions. Getting 23 per cent or thereabouts ought not be too difficult. And so long as the result is not significantly worse than 2004, Labour's spin machine will be able to argue it can recover in 2010 just as it did in 2005.
Mind you, European elections have the habit of throwing up the unexpected. In 1989 the Greens famously won as much as 15 per cent of the vote, largely at the expense of the Liberal Democrats. Five years ago, Ukip that took the country by storm, securing as much as 16 per cent of the vote, with the Conservatives (and again the Liberal Democrats) losing out.
Labour's fear is that this time it will be the BNP that makes a sudden breakthrough and Labour will take the hit. Nick Griffin's party does best in working-class areas with high ethnic-minority populations in the North of England and the Midlands – in other words in traditional Labour territory.
But if past precedent is kind to Mr Brown in the European elections, it could be a serious source of embarrassment to him in the local elections. For this particular round of elections was last contested on general election day 2005.
True, people did not vote in those local elections in exactly the same way they did in the general election – the Liberal Democrats fared better and Labour and the Conservatives rather worse.
But even so, the results will provide a direct measure of how much Labour has fallen from favour since its last election victory.
Moreover, the few scraps of power Labour does have in shire England are all vulnerable. The party is defending just four councils: Derbyshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire. All four will be lost if the swing against Labour reflects that currently registered by the opinion polls. And never before has a party suffered a complete wipe-out on local election day.
Those with long memories will recall the last and only time that Labour suffered defeat in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. It was in 1977 during the darkest days of the last Labour government under Jim Callaghan, a government whose demise heralded 18 years of Tory rule. So perhaps Labour MPs would regard losing those two counties again as the clearest sign of all that Mr Brown is leading them to serious defeat.
John Curtice is professor of politics at Strathclyde University