The PalArse of Westminster


Exposing the hypocrisy, greed and incompetence of our "respected" elected political "elite".

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Drugs and Political Hypocrisy

I have written many times on my Nanny Knows Best site about the absurdity of the drugs laws that we currently have in place in the UK, and the hypocrisy of those politicians who legislate against drugs.

I even wrote to Theresa May in May 2010 about the issue, read it here, needless to say I was fobbed off.

It is therefore interesting to read what Guido Fawkes has written today:
"An interesting snippet from Damian Thompson’s new tome on addiction – The Fix: 

'As with heavy drinking, there was an aspirational aspect to it. Dope smoking was associated with public schoolboys and especially Old Etonians. An acquaintance of mine smoked quite a few spliffs with David Cameron, the future Prime Minister. 

Whether Cameron tried anything harder at Oxford isn’t clear, but it’s interesting that, in 2012, neither the Prime Minister nor the Chancellor of the Exchequer had denied snorting cocaine. Neither, come to think of it, had the current President of the United States, nor his predecessor. 

One of these days someone should write a book entitled Tory MPs Who Have Done Drugs. It wouldn’t necessarily be a slim volume. 

One former MP whom I know for a fact has a nose like a vacuum cleaner recently told his local radio station he’d never touched anything stronger than alcohol.” 

Guido reckons he could write a similar ”Politicians I Have Done Drugs With”…"
Politicians, hypocrites?

Surely not!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pastygate U Turn

Loyal readers will recall the pastygate affair, when Osborne put VAT on pasties.

Following a complete drubbing by the media and the electorate, the government has now changed definition of hot food.

Food such as sausage rolls or pasties sold on shelves - that is, cooling down, rather than being kept hot in a special cabinet - will not be liable for VAT. The definition of a "hot" pasty is being altered to allow the reversal.

In other words the government has performed a spectacular and humiliating U turn.

Unsurprisingly shares in Greggs have risen by 9%.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Ed Lester Steps Down - A Question For Beaker

Exaro reports that Ed Lester is stepping down from his post following the tax avoidance scandal:
"Ed Lester is to stand down as chief executive of the Student Loans Company, Exaro can reveal. It follows the furore over how the senior public official was paid through his personal-service company – with no tax deducted at source.

A spokeswoman for the Student Loans Company (SLC) confirmed that Lester has decided to leave when his contract runs out next January."

The question that now needs to be asked of Beaker Alexander is will the other 2,400 "off payroll" civil servants be also stepping down?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The "Small Society" - Danny "Beaker" Alexander Speaks

Following on the from recent disclosures about the Ed Lester's tax arrangements (which were contrary to the "spirit" of Cameron's and Osborne's public pronouncements on tax avoidance), the Telegraph reports that Danny "Beaker" Alexander (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) will tell MPs that more than 2,000 civil servants (on over £58K per annum) might be being paid their salary off the Government payroll.

Some of them have been paid that way for over 10 years in this way.

Beaker will say that he will publish the job titles and length of contracts of all the officials, although data protection rules mean he cannot publish their names (how "inconvenient!).
However, this is but the thin end of the wedge as the review did not include employees in the National Health Service or local authorities.

What ever happened to the "Big Society"?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Four Glasses Cameron

As we all know, the state is less than pleased with the amount of booze that we are knocking back. Cameron is keen to introduce a minimum price for booze, so that our daily consumption falls into line with the government recommended intake.

What is the recommended intake?
"Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week (and no more than four units in any one day). There are one and a half units of alcohol in:a small glass (125 ml) of ordinary strength wine (12% alcohol by volume)."
Yet, according to reports about our chillaxing champion Prime Minister, he polishes off four glasses of wine with his Sunday lunch (at least two units more than the recommended dose)!

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Liar Liar

In 2008 David Cameron promised to end “the era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling”.

In 2012 he plans to give parents, with children under the age of five, £100 vouchers to attend parenting classes.

Can you spot the difference children?

Yes, that's right, he was lying in 2008.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Barking Mad - Greg Barker

The appropriately named Greg Barker is rather fond of his pet dachshund Otto, so much so in fact that he apparently brings to dog to work with him and heats the dog's puppy warmer in the staff microwave.

Aside from the health implications of using a food heating device for warming a pet's warmer, is this so very bad?

Well Barker is in fact the Energy Minister, and his office is the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Given that the government is so concerned about the alleged environmental damage done by greenhouse gases and is advising us not waste energy, is it not a tad wasteful and hypocritical of Barker to waste energy on warming the dog's warmer?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Advice To William Hague II

Following on from yesterday's advice about telling company bosses that they must work harder, may I also suggest that you have a word with your colleagues in Whitehall who have elected to spend seven weeks at home during the Olympics!

Not that anyone will notice the difference wrt the quality and quantity of work produced by Whitehall!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Advice To William Hague

Telling company directors to "work harder" is a tad hypocritical, given that the government had promised to work harder on reducing red tape.

A promise that it has not kept!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Advice To David Cameron - Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing

When texting your chums in News International in the future, please do remember that "LOL" means "Laugh Out Loud" not "Lots of Love".

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Groceries Code Adjudicator

Coming soon, from the government that claims that it wants to reduce the burden of red tape on business:

- The Groceries Code Adjudicator.

Another expensive and ineffective quango!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fracking Hell!

Lord Smith of Finsbury, the chairman of the Environment Agency, has given his support to the expansion of fracking in the UK.

Cameron Looks For Scapegoats

Politicians, when all else fails, seek scapegoats.

David Cameron is no exception and, for reasons best known to himself, has decided to blame accountants for the coalition's unpopularity with the electorate. Cameron is of the view that accountants are tainted with a negative brand value, and that voters have associated the coalition with accountants.

This is all in your mind David, the reality is that voters don't like your policies and are fed up with the coalition's incompetence (eg the Heathrow UKBA clusterfuck and the Jerrycan Crisis).

Oh, and by the way, accountants have a perfectly decent brand value; it is only tainted when accountants are associated with politicians!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Heathrow Clusterfuck - No Minister!

On 30th April the hapless and hopeless Damian Green (Immigration Minister) told Parliament:
"that the weather was to blame for a "blip" in arrival processing time at Heathrow"
He also denied that arrivals' processing was taking 3 hours.

On 1st May Green blamed the hapless passengers for being "confused" about how long the delays really were.

His lies have now quite rightly been exposed, BAA have produced figures that show that the immigration queue at Terminal 4 reached three hours.

Will Green be claiming that BAA are confused as well?

To add to the sense of government confusion and mismanagement over this issue, it seems that Theresa May (the Home Secretary) is very wisely set to introduce risk base profiling for immigration processing; this will radically reduce the time taken to process arrivals at Heathrow.

The funny thing is that this risk base profiling was the very reason that she sacked Brodie Clark, the former head of the UK Border Force, in November 2011. She claimed, at the time, that he had relaxed immigration checks without her authorisation.

I wonder what he will say about this?

When looking at the performance of the coalition the phrase "piss up in a brewery" springs to mind

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Cameron Plays With Fire

The Prime Minister has said that he is taking the matter of 2,000 "off-payroll" civil servants "very seriously", after it emerged senior civil servants could be minimising their tax by being paid through personal companies.

He is quoted by the Telegraph:
"It is never acceptable for Government employees to evade their responsibility in paying the correct amount in tax and National Insurance.

Let me reassure you that we are taking this matter very seriously, and as such have begun an urgent review of public sector appointees being allowed to receive payment via an agency or personal service company.
All very nice, if you are trying to appear to be on the side of the taxpayer, maybe.

However, he needs to remember that tax avoidance is perfectly legal and that by using the emotive word "evade" he is implying that some form of criminal action has taken place here.

Has he evidence that civil servants are evading taxes?

Wrt "paying the correct amount in tax", what exactly is the "correct" amount?

Cameron, a man who relies on accountants and trusts to manage his finances, is playing with fire here; he should be careful that he and his friends (such as Jeremy Hunt) don't get burned!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

David Gauke In Denial

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary, is in denial about HMRC's chaotic performance wrt answering the phones.

"HMRC does not have a target time for answering telephone calls.

HMRC uses a variety of measures to assess the accessibility of telephone services, which include the percentage of call attempts handled by its contact centres.

In 2011/12, HMRC has significantly improved the number of call attempts handled to 74% (compared to the 48% in the previous year)."
I guess he leaves such tedious matters (ie tax and dealing with HMRC) to his accountant?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Murdoch Not a Fit Person To Exercise The Stewardship of a Major International Company

Those politicians who have cosied up to media moguls in the past may care to read the report issued today by The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee entitled "News International and Phone-hacking Eleventh Report of Session 2010-12".

The conclusion is damning, and will affect Murdoch's business in the USA:
"On the basis of the facts and evidence before the Committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.
This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company. "
The report includes in detail:
"This report concentrates on the issue of whether witnesses have previously misled a select committee of the House of Commons. We have deliberately refrained from drawing conclusions about the evidence of any individual who has been arrested as we do not wish to risk prejudicing any future criminal trial. The Committee intend to produce a supplementary report when all criminal proceedings are finished.

275. As to the veracity of the evidence the Committee has received, we are able to draw the following conclusions about certain of the witnesses, and about News International corporately:

• Les Hinton misled the Committee in 2009 in not telling the truth about payments to Clive Goodman and his role in authorising them, including the payment of his legal fee. He also misled the Committee about the extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone-hacking extended beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire to others at the News of the World (see paragraphs 84, 85 and 91).
• Tom Crone misled the Committee in 2009 by giving a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement (see paragraph 118) and sought to mislead the Committee about the commissioning of surveillance.
• Tom Crone and Colin Myler misled the Committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing (see paragraphs 130 and 140).
• Corporately, the News of the World and News International misled the Committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking; by making statements they would have known were not fully truthful; and by failing to disclose documents which would have helped expose the truth. Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators, as they also professed they would do after the criminal convictions. In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies’ directors—including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch—should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility (see paragraphs 32, 33, 60, 62, 132 and 141).

276. The effect of these actions and omissions is that the Committee’s Report to the House in February 2010 on Press standards, privacy and libel was not based on fully accurate evidence. False evidence, indeed, prevented the Committee from exposing the true extent of phone-hacking.

277. Rupert Murdoch's final admission at the Leveson inquiry that a cover up has taken place at the company may mean that the investigations conducted by Burton Copeland have been used by people at News International to perpetrate a falsehood. As such we believe there is a strong argument that the company has no right to restrain disclosure of the file. We call on the company to waive legal privilege, so that the Burton Copeland advice and investigations can be published and submitted to the Leveson inquiry.

278. While our select committee may have been constrained in some of its lines of inquiry or in the witnesses we chose to summon, nevertheless our committee has been able to uncover key information thanks to parliamentary privilege. It should be acknowledged that some vital information has only been revealed due to the powers of Parliament, that would not have been able to be produced for the Leveson inquiry or other ongoing civil litigation. 

Indeed, as a result of our questioning, important changes to financial governance at News International have been made. Hindsight is a wonderful tutor, though News International will regret that they did not use our predecessor committee’s 2010 report to undertake a thorough investigation of the wrongdoings within their business.

279. The integrity and effectiveness of the Select Committee system relies on the truthfulness and completeness of the oral and written evidence submitted. The behaviour of News International and certain witnesses in this affair demonstrated contempt for that system in the most blatant fashion. Important lessons need to be learned accordingly and we draw our Report to the attention of the Liaison Committeewhich is considering possible reforms to Select Committees.

280. We note that it is for the House to decide whether a contempt has been committed and, if so, what punishment should be imposed. We note that it makes no difference—in terms of misleading this Committee—that evidence was not taken on oath. Witnesses are required to tell the truth to committees whether on oath or not. We willtable a motion inviting the House to endorse our conclusions about misleading evidence.

The Heathrow Clusterfuck - Damian Green Backtracks

There is nothing more satisfying than watching a politician who has quite obviously lied, squirm when his/her lies are exposed.

Congratulations to Damian Green, the hapless and hopeless immigration minister, who has been exposed as telling porkies in less than 24 hours.

Yesterday Green was in Parliament telling MPs that the weather was to blame for a "blip" in arrival processing time at Heathrow (aka known as the Heathrow Clusterfuck).

Toady, having been proven to be talking absolute bollocks and derided by all and sundry, he now admits that there is of course a major problem at Heathrow.

The Telegraph quotes his squirming on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme:
"Of course there is a problem - that is why I have spent some time explaining what we are doing about it.
What's really important in this is that airlines, airport operators and Border Force need to work together. That is the way we solve it; that is the way passengers will have a better experience.

Official Border Force figures show that it is about an hour and a half. I agree that that is too long.

I can see why people are annoyed by that. 

We are taking significant steps to make sure that Border Force is more flexible so that we have the right people in the right place at the right time."
Being a bit of a lying toad he tried to shift some of the blame to the hapless passengers for being "confused" about how long the delays really were.

However, Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company IAG, was not going to let him get away with that nonsense:
"There is no confusion about the length of queues.

The Government is supposed to be both the regulator and the service provider and is doing an inadequate job in both.

We have a crisis. Anyone who has been through an airport in recent times has experienced unacceptable levels of delays. 

We have the PM and the Chancellor travelling the world telling people that Britain is open for business. The reality is actually very different."
The question is, are the government and Damian Green capable of fixing this clusterfuck before the Olympics?

Maybe they would be more inclined to take action if they had to experience the delays themselves, instead of being given fast track VIP clearance on arrival in the UK?