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Archive for the ‘resignation’ Category

Iain Dale and others are reporting that David Laws has gone. One thing: if true, it is important to establish the precise reason for his ‘resignation’ (sacking by Cameron). Having said that, it is also important to establish what were not the reasons too. For instance, certainly not the reason would be the one David Blackburn has just supposed in a uncharacteristically shoddy and pretty wrongheaded piece for him:

According to Con Home and several other sources, Laws has resigned. This is hugely regrettable as Laws is a star performer and I feel he has been the victim of a media gay-hunt that belongs to a bygone era. The sums of money involved are slight in comparison to some, and there are arguments that other ministers should resign for having committed similar or worse offences and for having shown markedly less contrition. But it is refreshing that a minister would resign over a personal transgression with haste and dignity.

This is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, Laws has had little or no chance to demonstrate he was a ‘star performer’. He was starting to look promising and seemed to be grasping the wisdom of the Tory policy on the debt and structural deficit. Well done for that, but stardom it hardly warrants. Second, to ‘feel’ that he was the ‘victim’ of some mythical ‘media gay hunt’ is arrant nonsense. His sexuality had nothing to do with it, aside from the fact that he was clearly embarrassed about it and this provided him with a motive for being so incautious with his expenses and then concealing this potentially damaging fact from his new boss. There was and is no ‘media gay hunt’. Outrage about his public/private hypocrisy, yes – bigotry and prejudice, no. That is in Blackburn’s imagination and, I think, was uttered because of some kind of personal disappointment rather than any genuine understanding of the sequence and significance of events [like I have, lol]. Again, I’ve got to say that I find that surprising from this writer.

Third, and most significantly, Blackburn makes some sort of point about the relative scale of previous incidences of irregular expenses arrangements with a frankly childish ‘they didn’t so why does he?’ argument. Well, if he thinks that that false equivalence will wash with anyone then he hasn’t understood idea-one of what’s been going on here. Cameron stood on a ticket of cleaning up parliament and being tough with his ministers if they step out of line in principle. The amounts involved (and 40k seems like a lot to me) are not important. The way the money was channeled is. Laws bent the rules in a deeply suspicious way, far more even, if we are to entertain Blackburn’s relativist argument for a moment, than your average trougher who simply took advantage of those rules but did so by the book, i.e. without adding their own, personal interpretation that advantaged them, or, indeed, a loved one, even more.

As to his mention of ‘other ministers’, who, I wonder, does he mean? Cameron? Labour ministers? Cameron can hardly fire Labour ministers who’ve already lost their jobs, for heaven’s sake, so what on earth does he mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Suffice to say, it’s the most muddled-up post of his I think I’ve ever read.

So much for the Blackburn gay witch-hunt theory. The real reason why Laws had to go is because Cameron is keeping his word. He has always understood the scale of anger at the expenses scandal. He also realised that Laws could not be talking about painful cuts in public spending one second and defending his own venality another. That’s called an ‘untenable position’.

In other words, the only thing Laws’ sacking has demonstrated to me is not that he is dignified – I’m sure he is – but that David Cameron really does mean what he has says and that, dear readers, is the really ‘refreshing’ thing about this new government and about this incident.

But what follows is crucial. A sound, imaginative replacement must be found. Blackburn says, alarmingly, that it might be the lunatic Huhne. That would be a disaster not just for this government but for the entire country and Cameron must intervene to stop it instantly.

The only man with the gravity and intellect for a job like CST in a time of economic trauma and dislocation is John Redwood. Whether the Prime Minister likes it or not, Redwood is the right man for the needs of this country at this parlous point in its history.

What the Libdems want simply doesn’t matter.

Update:

Well, they’ve got it badly wrong and given Danny Alexander the job according to ConHome. That is a disastrous decision and it will come back to haunt this coalition. You cannot compromise on the economy for the sake of the coalition and certainly not with someone as wet behind the ears, untested and lightweight as 37 year-old Alexander (yes, I know, he’s been bigged up over the past few weeks because of the negotiations. Big deal).

Too many Tories are going to be too pissed off too quickly with any more appointments like this one. This may even be the one that tips them over. I think this is the first real sign that this coaltion cannot and will not last long. For one thing, unlike the corrupt Labourists, as amply demonstrated by Brown, Conservatives do not believe in the idea of clinging on to power at any price. The coalition could soon be toast.

Quite frankly, after the promotion of another Libdem lightweight to a cabinet role for which he is most certainly not qualified, especially at such a crucial moment for the British economy, I’m not sure how I feel about that prospect yet. Maybe, after all, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

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Shaping up as a half-decent, expensively-educated, millionaire Chief Treasury Secretary though he might have been, I’m awfully sorry, but David Laws’ political arse is grass. He can’t argue the case for public spending cuts when he, apparently, has been pretty happy to sponge off the state on behalf of his partner for the longest time.

So the only question to me is: who will fire him? His party leader, Clegg, or his boss, the Prime Minister?

My view? Cameron must pull the trigger immediately because what Laws did particularly is just the sort of troughing, fiddling, pocket-lining, venal rule-bending Cameron has been condemning in principle and often for over a year. He fought the election on that platform, for heaven’s sake!

Frankly, Laws fired himself the moment he chose not to reveal any of this as being a potential problem to his boss before he was appointed (I do not for one moment believe he didn’t realise or didn’t understand the rules – in fact it’s surely hard to believe that of a double first Cambridge economist – and it won’t wash regardless, even if he sticks to that lame line).

But who to replace him? Well, how about John Redwood? I think it’s high time Cameron picked someone like him for the cabinet anyway. Besides, he’s much smarter and more experienced even than Laws in many ways, and genuinely believes and can explain the Friedmanite solution to Labour’s debt crisis that we now so desperately need. He’d also be a handy bulwark against the economic mixed brew that is Saint Vince and his presence would vastly help to shore up the Tory back benches. A win-win scenario potentially, then, both for the party and, in my humble, for the country.

Oh, and sucks to the bloody Lib Dums. They can either suck it up and stay in government, or they can destroy this blessed coalition in a fit of indefensible pique.

I just can’t wait to see how Deputy Nick decides to handle this one.

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Stalking donkey horse – outspoken Brown critic, Barry Sheerman

The countdown to Brown’s exit, that is. Barely has the dust settled from the Czech cave-in over Lisbon and the torrent of Labour-sourced, anti-Brown briefings has begun. Already, for instance, this morning’s Times has a front page village report that our useless and unwanted Prime Minister has acquired a stalking horse (stalking donkey more like, but I digress) in the form of Barry Sheerman. The report reveals just how deep the discontent within the Labour government now runs, just how desperately fragile Brown’s authority has become and just how appalling his leadership of the PLP has been, particularly over the expenses issue.

It’s worth a gander:

GORDON BROWN last night suffered fresh challenges to his authority amid growing turmoil over the expenses scandal.

Barry Sheerman, the veteran MP and critic of the prime minister, was on the verge of standing for the position of chairman of Labour’s parliamentary party on what will be seen as a “Gordon must go” manifesto.

The chairman is regarded as the “shop steward” for backbench MPs. The incumbent is Tony Lloyd, a Brown loyalist.

MPs from all wings of the party offered Sheerman their support for his “stalking horse” bid, which could be formally announced this week. Alan Simpson, of the left-wing Campaign Group of MPs, said: “Gordon has found himself floating adrift from his colleagues. I think if Barry Sheerman stood, he might find a surprisingly high level of support.”

Another MP said: “If Barry wins, it would mean Gordon has lost his party. It would be hard to see how he could carry on.”

The fresh plotting came as it emerged that dozens of Labour MPs will openly defy the prime minister by refusing repayment demands from Sir Thomas Legg, the Commons expenses auditor.

Frank Field, the former welfare minister, became the most high-profile “refusenik” by announcing he would not pay back the £7,000 — mainly in “excess” cleaning costs — that Legg demanded. He is among 50 MPs querying demands from Legg.

Field, who when the expenses scandal broke had been described as a “saint” because of his low claims, spoke of his anger at being put in the “rogues’ gallery”. He was particularly angered by the way Legg introduced retrospective caps on claims for expenses such as gardening and cleaning which had previously been cleared by the Commons fees office.

Instead of the £7,000, Field sent a cheque for £117 to Legg with a letter querying his logic.

“It’s like driving along at 25mph in a 30mph zone only to receive lots of tickets which say you should not have been driving over 20mph,” he said.

Amid signs of cabinet despair over Brown’s poor handling of the scandal, Harriet Harman, the deputy party leader, has let it be known that MPs found guilty of “technical” expenses breaches are unlikely to be forced to repay cash.

She is expected to be a candidate in any future leadership contest and Brownite loyalists privately believe she is undermining the prime minister by currying favour with disillusioned backbenchers.

The Legg audit has led to about half of all MPs being asked to pay back sums claimed for cleaning, gardening, furniture and second home mortgages. Many Labour MPs blame Brown personally for allowing the scandal to flare up again.

If Sheerman, respected chairman of the Commons education committee and who is on the moderate wing of the party, were to back away other rebels are ready to fill his place.

Jane Kennedy, the former farming minister, is understood to be considering standing on an anti-Brown ticket. The Liverpool Wavertree MP warned in June that Brown’s refusal to resign could seriously damage Labour.

Malcolm Wicks, a former minister who is now Brown’s energy envoy, delivered a thinly veiled attack on the prime minister’s leadership, saying the party needed to rediscover its “backbone”.

Nick Raynsford, the former local government minister, said Brown had displayed “cack-handed incompetence” over the expenses issue. He said: “It is not, in my view, certain that Gordon will lead us into the next election.”

Many Labour MPs are braced for the publication next month of the official report by Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the committee on standards in public life, which will recommend radical reform of the expenses system. He is expected to say MPs should be forced to sell their second homes and to stop employing family members on the Commons payroll.

Brown’s handling of the expenses crisis will face further criticism tomorrow when Harman is expected to raise her concerns at a meeting of the Commons commission — the House’s governing body chaired by the Speaker.

By any standards, this is about as damning as things can get for Brown without an actual, direct challenge to his leadership. Now that Lisbon is done and dusted, itself an appalling crime against British democracy, there is nothing left to halt that direct challenge. It could come any day and I, for one, will welcome it with open arms no matter who we end up with in Brown’s place (even the hated Harperson or the scheming Lord Peter Mandelson). That’s how much I want Brown gone.

One thing is now certain, at least to me, my wish might well come true sooner than even I had predicted. The fraud, usurper and great ruiner of Britain could be gone before the end of this month!

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No, not with the ridiculous panic measure that is the £16Bn (plus or minus £13Bn) fire sale of a few assets, but by being forced to pay back 13 large of taxpayer readies that he, the Prime Minister no less, has troughed.

Meanwhile, as the pound begins to plummet, the penny begins to drop.

A Big Day after all, then!

PS: I have one response to Brown’s expenses misfortune as the police move in on his fellow Labourist fraudsters, currently whining away and trying to wriggle out of repaying their ill-gotten gains. It goes like this…

*sides splitting* Oh dear, Brown. Do stop. By resigning.

We’re all laughing policemen now. One more time!

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Could be. The expenses scandal, after yesterday’s revelations, is about to rear its ugly head again. This report from Peter Spencer of Sky News earlier seems to be suggesting so. Creepy Pete does well here, striking the right balance (unlike the biased BBC’s reporting), given that evidence so far shows that it’s far more likely the government generally and Brown in particular will be blamed for most of the corruption that’s been going on – and rightly so since most of the worst abuses have come from Labour MPs and even ministers, including Gordon Brown himself!

Donal Blaney even suggested this morning that it’s the expenses issue, not his eyesight, that will provide Brown with the excuse to get out of office with some degree of dignity. I’m not so sure after watching this report, but who knows? My feeling is that the Labourists are so punch drunk now, trotting out the horrible Yvette Cooper-Balls – herself a serial trougher along with her equally horrible husband – to try to limit the damage from the surge in the Conservative Party’s popularity, that they might have just given up. It’s a chilling thought, but it seems to me that they could be resigned to their fate and so will keep drawing the comfortable salary, treading political water and sinking the country ever deeper into debt right up until the very bitter end. A large proportion of these invertibrates seem to want to leave Brown in place, with Alan “Postie” Johnson well-positioned to take over, simply so that the former carries the can for what now looks like inevitable electoral annihilation. They will squeeze as much time out of their term simply to line their own pockets prior to unemployment. No Labour MP’s seat is safe now – and they all know it.

So it is a big day tomorrow, but mainly for Labour, who are stuck firmly between the proverbial rock and hard place, right where they deserve to be. Whatever the outcome of all this, the best they can expect is, as Spencer puts it, “zilch”. For them that would be a real result. That’s how bad things are for them – and that’s how little they care about the needs of the country. They’d sooner go on like this, paralysed and unwanted, than trigger a genuine challenge to their own, bankrupt and moribund leadership.

I still think Brown will be gone by early November (or sooner), mind you, but it will have a lot more to do with the Czech president’s actions than expensesgate and his failing eyesight. The plucky little Czechs I reckon are about to cave in and ratify Lisbon, given that the Germans in particular are putting gigantic amounts of pressure on them to do so, including vicious personal attacks on their head of state.

I buy the theory now that once that weasel Mandelson has got what he wants and locked us into Lisbon, with the future President Blair waiting in the wings, Brown will be dropped like a radioactive turd.

If you think not even the New Labour hierarchy could be cynical enough to try to pull this coup d’état off, think again. Mandelson, Campbell, Blair: the most infamous, treacherous and crooked three men ever to wield power in the history of British politics. Even Brown, the awkward, perfidious incompetent, pails before them.

Remember their names!

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That Patricia Scotland woman – you know, our Attorney General: where is she? While her political career goes into a tailspin (no one elected her anyway so no sympathy from yours truly will be forthcoming), she’s gone into hiding.

Ollie Cromwell has once again snuffed-out any hopes she might have had of skulking back to work tomorrow morning as if nothing had happened. His new surgical dismemberment of any possible defence she might have tried to launch, this time over her expenses fiddling, has put paid to that idea. (See Guido for highlights.)

Meanwhile, the Downing Street smear operation has gone into overdrive, making sure the UK Border police raid on the poor Tongan woman caught up in the middle of all this was splashed all over our gutter press, complete with rumours of homosexuality, infidelity and “open relationships”. Shock horror. Anna Raccoon has said it all in her excellent post on this new Labour low. She comments:

My sympathies lie completely with Ms Tapui. She is a foreigner living in a foreign country. She is legally married to a solicitor, she has the legal right to live in the UK, she worked for the ultimate legal guardian of our laws; whilst ignorance of the law is no defence, she had more reason than anyone to assume that she was doing nothing wrong in applying for a job as a cleaner. The fault, under a statutory liability that she devised herself, lays entirely with Baroness Scotland who failed to scrutinise and retain copies of, the correct papers – for if there had been copies of correct papers, there would be no problem – and thus failed to give her the friendly advice she might have expected from such a quarter, that she was not entitled to work and should not continue to seek employment.

Baroness Scotland has ‘received the full support’ of 10 Downing Street. Ms Tapui’s privacy and physical integrity has been invaded in a most humiliating fashion.

The Sunday papers today contain a multitude of photographs of her smashed front door courtesy of the UK Border Agency, who proceeded to pick their way through the detritus of her personal life and papers.

‘Chief Reporters’ have been dispatched to pick through those indelible details of personal life left on the Internet by those who frequent salacious and explicit sexual chat rooms and forums.

Good, that. Really good.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? A pattern seems to be emerging; the bunker’s smear tactics have never gone away. You can just imagine it, can’t you? The sotto voce conversation, strictly off the record.

Brownite goon 1: “Have we got anything on the cleaner?”
Conspiring civil servant: “We’ll know after the raid.”
Brownite goon 2: “Get me Maguire. Get me Dacre!”

Nice. Although it seems the smearists might have got a little ahead of themselves with this very fishy release of Scotland’s fiddled expense claims. That smacks of chaos.

Meanwhile, Scotland has disappeared. A lot of people will be very pleased to hear that.

The upshot of all this is that she’s gone. Law broken. Incompetent. Trougher. Found out. Career over. End of.

–Update (sort of)–
Just spotted this little paragraph in the Mail’s ‘orrible coverage of this story:

Yesterday, Lady Scotland’s detached house on a leafy Chiswick street remained empty. All the curtains were drawn, although a dog could be heard barking when the doorbell was rung. Neighbours said she had not been seen in days.

Someone should break down her door to see if she’s alright. Check on the dog at the very least. Don’t wait for the smell…

–Update (sort of) 2–
Still no sign of her. The picture on Guido’s site is funny. The last time he did that the result was carnage for Brown’s inner circle. I wonder what the result will be this time.

One thing, though: it’s very hard to take aim and fire if the target has disappeared. I’m telling you, someone had better check that house of hers. Curtains drawn, dogs barking – doesn’t look good. Somebody, please, break down her bloody door!

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This Gerald Scarfe cartoon from the Sunday Times is typically brutal – and honest.

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