Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Telegraph has so far maintained a studious silence over the expense claims of husband-and-wife MPs.

Given the the levels of past interest in the affairs of the Wintertons, the Balls/Cooper family and the Keens, this is unlikely to last. Read more

Second home allowances were in part designed to compensate for MPs being too embarrassed to vote themselves big pay rises. But this argument suggests that MPs are paid too little. In fact, international comparisons show that British MPs are doing relatively well.

Sure, there are better paid places to be a politician. Parliamentarians in Italy, Canada and the US do much better than their colleagues in the UK. According to the Senior Salaries Review Body’s analysis of international political pay (the table is reproduced below), Italians are paid about 67 per cent more than British MPs’ base salary of around £65,000 (and that was calculated before the collapse in the pound).

But many other countries pay about the same or are less generous. Australia pay 7 per cent less, France 5 per cent, New Zealand 15 per cent and Spain an eye-watering 52 per cent. Read more

Jim Pickard

In case you’re wondering – it had to happen sooner or later – it’s the turn of the Tories. Tonight will see the expenses spotlight fall on the shadow cabinet as the Telegraph publishes more expenses details.

One source tells me that Michael Gove, shadow education secretary, is already consulting his lawyers. Read more

Jim Pickard

Plenty of speculation around today that HM Revenue & Customs is looking into the curious way in which MPs can designate a property as their main home (with HMRC) and as a second home (with the Commons) at the same time.

This phenomenon – which means no need to pay stamp duty – has been reported on before in recent years. Hazel Blears is the latest MP to be caught doing it. Read more

Jim Pickard

Labour hurt as expenses scandal deepens Financial Times

Brown set for election wipeout Sunday TImes Read more

Has Miliband sacrificed his chances for a pushchair? Political Betting

Crooks Call Cops Guido Fawkes Read more

Jim Pickard

News flash from the Crown Prosecution Service:

Three former Labour Party treasurers – David Triesman, Matthew Carter and Peter Watt- will not face charges over proxy donations to the Labour party.

Serious concerns had been raised over money which David Abrahams, an obscure northern businessman, channelled to the party via several intermediaries.

As the Electoral Commission points out in a statement this morning: Read more

Who can stop him? Vince Cable’s book on the economy has climbed to number two on the non fiction bestseller list. He is second only to Jade Goody’s diary.

I’m presuming this list does not take account of Paddy Ashdown’s new autobiography, which is full of tales of jungle warfare and espionage. Who will prevail? The popular former leader, or the leader who never was? Read more

Jim Pickard

Local government aficionados (yes they do exist) have been closely watching events in Essex where the county council is planning to outsource many of its functions to the private sector.

The local authority is meant to be picking a private partner from a shortlist of two names, IBM and TI Systems. Up to £5.4bn of services could be outsourced. Read more

For better or worse, Jacqui Smith’s days seem numbered at the Home Office. But there is no queue forming to replace her. Several of the ministers being touted for the job are far from keen to take over.

Being home secretary is  difficult at the best of times; few have left the department with their political prospects enhanced. Plus the brief is about to become much harder. If Smith is moved, her successor will be bracing for the first significant upswing in crime since Labour came to power. As a recent Mori poll showed, home affairs is second only to the economy in importance for voters. It could still prove to be one of the dominant themes of the election campaign. Read more

Labour have trailed their latest party political broadcast on YouTube ahead of its broadcast tonight. The move has been billed as Gordon Brown’s brave return to his favourite video sharing site (YouTube if you want to, prime minister). There are a few trademark smiles and cringeworthy moments. But this is edited and (relatively) polished, unlike the prime minister’s notorious clip on MPs’ expenses.

If you want some real Brown YouTube magic, take a look at the second clip embedded below on “every child matters”, which was recorded on the day after Brown’s expenses riff. (Note that Brown has the same tie on.) Read more

Jim Pickard

The Daily Mail ran a fascinating story today quoting a cabinet minister warning that Nick Brown, chief whip, might “have to go” over his failure to suppress the Royal Mail rebellion.

The unnamed minister said that Brown had invited MPs to come up with compromise ideas and were free to sign a motion criticising the plans. “This sort of behaviour is quite extraordinary for the chief whip. If he carries on, he’ll have to go“. Intriguingly, a similar story also ran in The Sun. Read more

Jim Pickard

No idea. But it’s not Prince Charles or Prince Philip, apparently. Read more

Jim Pickard

A new PoliticsHome survey has suggested that Alan Johnson would be the best successor to Gordon Brown in the event of a leadership vacancy. Read more

Jim Pickard

A few readers have suggested that our New Labour anthem shortlist was unfair on the party of government. To address the balance, here are a few suggested theme tunes for the Tories ahead of June 2010:

 Read more

Jim Pickard

Things Can Only Get Better was the ditty which encapsulated the hopes and dreams of 1997. Ahead of the 2010 general election we were pondering what could replace it as the new Labour anthem.

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Jim Pickard

I was surprised to see Bob Marshall-Andrews quoted in The Independent telling Simon Carr: Read more