Daily Archives: January 29, 2008

Jim Pickard

A growing number of pundits are wondering why the mainstream press aren’t writing much – if anything – about Lee Jasper. The London mayor’s race adviser has been subjected to a stream of allegations made by Andrew Gilligan, the investigative reporter, in the Evening Standard.

Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, was fuming to me the other day at how the story was being ignored by papers including the FT. 

Derek Conway is whip-less. His political prospects look bleak. His constituency association is weighing up whether to back him as an independent MP. The question is, do the Tories want to risk a by-election?

Mr Conway’s seat is Old Bexley and Sidcup. It covers an area that was represented by former prime minister Ted Heath for more than half a century. It has one of the lowest proportions of ethnic minorities in London, and the highest level of home ownership. It should be as blue as the ocean. But Mr Conway’s bungling has probably put the seat into play. 

Let’s face it, British politicians are the Lilliputians of the world of political money scandals. However much time journalists spend muckraking, whatever misconduct is uncovered, it is almost always small fry. Our politicians, for the last decade or more, seem incapable of corruption on a grand scale.

Hot_tub Where is the Randy "Duke" Cunningham of Westminster? The former Republican congressman pleaded guilty in 2005 to taking $2.4m in kick-backs. He cavorted with prostitutes (feeding them grapes in Hawaiian hot-tubs) and used private jets — all on the expense account of defence contractors. He did not need his party leader or a standards commissioner to tell him to step down. 

Five European leaders are meeting on Tuesday night in Downing St to discuss the world’s economic problems. That’s no bad thing, but how much are Mssrs Brown, Sarkozy, Prodi, Barroso and Ms Merkel really going to achieve in talks lasting no more than a few hours?

Kenneth Clarke, whom one might have expected to be sceptical about the whole thing, told Sky this morning that such events are useful, provided they can be kept informal. The former Chancellor says it is important, in an inter-connected world, to know how your counterparts in Europe are going to react to any given event.