Coverage of election expenses scandal on Channel 4 News is NOT the full story

David Cameron (left) with Chris Davies (centre). When this photo was taken in 2014, he was just a Tory candidate; now he's a Tory MP - unless Dyfed Powys Police decide he has fiddled his expenses and prosecutes him. If that happens, he may end up a jailbird.

David Cameron (left) with Chris Davies (centre). When this photo was taken in 2014, Mr Davies was just a Tory candidate; now he’s a Tory MP – unless Dyfed Powys Police decide he has fiddled his expenses and prosecutes him. If that happens, he may end up a jailbird.

But you really should check in and read it anyway.

Channel 4 News has covered the story very well, but can only discuss the investigations its newsgatherers know are taking place.

This means somebody needs to have contacted them to say an investigation is ongoing, and they need to have received confirmation from the police.

So I should really send in an email to point out that Dyfed Powys Police – a force not mentioned in the report – is apparently investigating Montgomershire MP Glyn Davies, and definitely investigating Brecon and Radnorshire MP Chris Davies.

I know, because I reported him.

I had confirmation that the Financial Crime Team is looking into the matter earlier today.

I bet I’m not the only one to have done this in constituencies not mentioned by Channel 4 News or the Daily Mirror, either.

Who knows how many MPs and candidates will end up in disgrace as a result of the Conservatives’ disgraceful 2015 campaign?

Election laws exist to protect our democracy and ensure a level playing field. Candidates and parties must declare all their campaign spending, and stick within spending limits, to stop richer parties gaining an unfair advantage.Yet a Channel 4 investigation has uncovered compelling evidence suggesting large-scale and systematic abuse of election rules by the Conservative Party in last year’s General Election and three key by-elections in 2014.

The alleged abuse strikes at the very heart of fairness in Britain and the integrity of our democracy. Now the Electoral Commission has launched an investigation, along with ten police forces across the country.

Source: Election Expenses exposed – Channel 4 News

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North Yorkshire council tells Ryedale: Get fracked

160523 frack fightback

We knew this was coming when the Conservatives were returned to office after the general election last year, didn’t we?

There had been votes to delay fracking in England during the Coalition Government – and moratoria remain in place in Wales and Scotland – but the Tories see fracking as a quick way to make lots of money so they were bound to get back onto it as soon as they could.

This Writer is only surprised this decision took as long as it has.

North Yorkshire Council has decided to grant fracking company Third Energy planning permission to frack a well on a site at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.

These plans could pave the way for thousands of fracking wells to spread across Yorkshire and many other parts of the country if not stopped. Impacts, including pipelines, air pollution and waste disposal will spread far beyond the areas being drilled.

Today’s decision is part of a wider battle, between communities across the country and a fracking industry backed by central government, and as with Cuadrilla’s applications in Lancashire Third Energy’s plans in Ryedale are the thin end of a very large wedge.

This is a fight we can only win together. Live in the North Yorkshire region? Join the campaign today: http://frackfreeryedale.org/

Source: Fracking company Third Energy granted permission to frack @ North Yorkshire site | Frack Off

The Independent reported that the North Yorkshire planning committee had received 4,375 letters of objection and only 36 of support.

This indicates the usefulness of any consultation process.

One has to wonder whether any of the objectors voted ‘Conservative’ last year.

The Tories are, of course, over the moon and have assured the UK that they have “tough” regulations in place to ensure that fracking is safe.

Sadly, we’ll have to let Ryedale be the judge of that.

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If Tories ‘misdeclared’ election spending then they committed a criminal offence – and David Cameron knows this

David Cameron backed the battle bus campaign and said "I'm responsible for everything" [Image: Getty].

David Cameron backed the battle bus campaign and said “I’m responsible for everything” [Image: Getty].


Let’s put this into perspective.

Election fraud – by “misdeclarations” of expenses after breaking spending limits – is a criminal offence punishable by up to one year in prison.

Each candidate is responsible for his or her own expenses and David Cameron cannot take overall responsibility (although his admission may lead to a very welcome prosecution against him, further down the line).

His attempted justification – that other parties used so-called “battle buses” – won’t stand up because, as far as we know, the other parties used them for legal purposes. We know that the Tory “battle bus” campaign was an attempt to use national expenditure to support local candidates, which isn’t allowed.

And that’s not touching the offences which may have been committed by individual candidates. For example, here in Brecon and Radnorshire a local newspaper carried a four-page “wraparound” advert for the Tories, a week before the general election last year.

This advert, bearing the local newspaper’s masthead, called on readers to vote ‘Conservative’ in the general election. The candidate later became MP but the cost of the advert, running into thousands of pounds, does not appear in his expenses claim.

It is not a national expense because it appears in the local paper and calls on people in a specific constituency to vote Tory.

The expense on this advert alone put This Writer’s (current) MP several thousand pounds over his spending limit – never mind David Cameron’s visit to two sites within the constituency, with his “battle bus” and all the party hangers-on it brought with it.

I also like some of the responses on Twitter.

For example: “So Cameron “misdeclared” expenses? He also misprivatised the NHS; Misdestroyed state education; Miskilled sick & disabled people.”

And: “‘I am not a crook’ – Richard Milhouse Nixon, November 17, 1973
‘I have not done anything wrong’ – David Cameron, May 22, 2016.”

We’ll let the law be the judge of that, David.

David Cameron has admitted it’s possible his party broke spending rules in the 2015 general election.

The PM acknowledged any “misdeclarations or things left out” would have to be resolved and said: “In the end I’m responsible for everything”.

He added: “If there were misdeclarations or things left out we have to put those in place, but I’m confident we can answer all the questions that are being put to us.”

But the Tory leader insisted his officials had not broken the law or done anything wrong after at least 10 police forces started probing the party.

Source: David Cameron admits Tories may have ‘misdeclared’ election spending – but denies they broke the law – Mirror Online

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Is Jeremy Corbyn ready to call for Tony Blair to be investigated for war crimes?

Prime Minister Tony Blair addressing troops in Basra, Iraq [Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA].

Prime Minister Tony Blair addressing troops in Basra, Iraq [Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA].


If the Chilcot report shows that there is a case to answer, then Jeremy Corbyn should undoubtedly call for Tony Blair to be prosecuted.

You see, this is one of the main differences between Labour and the Conservatives.

Labour should stand for justice. If a Labour representative commits a crime, then that person should be prosecuted and punished, no matter how high their position.

Conservatives, on the other hand, are all in it together. They protect their own.

Look at Zac Goldsmith’s Islamophobic campaign to be mayor of London – and the complete lack of any punishment for it.

Jeremy Corbyn is preparing to call for Tony Blair to be investigated for war crimes in the wake of a damning Chilcot report into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, the Telegraph understands.

The former Labour Prime Minister’s reputation is expected to be seriously “damaged” by the upcoming Inquiry, according to a senior source who has discussed the report with its authors.

It is understood that Mr Corbyn will not row back from calls he made last year for Mr Blair to stand trial for war crimes if he is found to have broken the law over the 2003 conflict.

Asked last year, as a contender for the Labour leadership, if Mr Blair should be charged for war crimes, Mr Corbyn said: “If he’s committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who’s committed a war crime should be.

“I think it was an illegal war, I’m confident about that, indeed [former UN secretary general] Kofi Annan confirmed it was an illegal war, and therefore he has to explain to that.

“Is he going to be tried for it, I don’t know. Could he be tried for it? Possibly.”

Source: Jeremy Corbyn preparing to call for Tony Blair to be investigated for war crimes

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Tata sale at risk because company pension is a liability. Isn’t it time to nationalise such schemes?

[Image: Getty.]

[Image: Getty.]


Company pension schemes were always a con because they have always been prey to the greed of company bosses.

The fatcats bleed any profits into their own salaries and then, when the firm falls into financial difficulties, they see this large, untapped source of cash just sitting around untouched, and dig into it.

Or, when they try to sell the company, they find that nobody wants to touch it because the pension scheme is now a liability.

Either way, it is a noose around a firm’s corporate throat.

The only workable pension scheme This Writer has seen in the UK is that which is run by the UK government – and even then, only when the government isn’t being run by Conservatives.

Isn’t it time we all admitted it?

A sale of Tata’s loss-making steel operations could be derailed by a government split over how to deal with its giant £15bn pension scheme.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid is due to hold talks with Tata’s board this week to discuss bids received for the business by today’s deadline.

It is understood that Mr Javid, having said that the Government is willing to take an equity stake of up to 25pc alongside a new owner and offer “hundreds of millions” in financial support, is desperate to see a deal secured but potential buyers are refusing to take on Tata’s massive UK pension scheme.

To get over the hurdle, sources close to the sale say the Department for Business (BIS) is supporting a radical proposal backed by the fund’s trustees which would see the fund “spun off” as a separate entity and effectively become a new scheme.

Under this plan, members would be given a choice of entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) or joining the new, spun off scheme, with less generous benefits. In a bid to get this idea of the ground, Tata could contribute a lump sum and the Government would help to underwrite it for several years.

However, it is understood that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is resisting the idea amid serious questions about the plausibility of a move seen as high risk and flouting the current pensions framework.

Source: Tata sale at risk as government row over pension deal threatens process

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Is it not clear yet that the Tories are starving the health service of cash so they can introduce charges?

The last attempt to make long-term plans for the NHS had ‘floundered after just one year’, said Cipfa’s chief [Image: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian].

The last attempt to make long-term plans for the NHS had ‘floundered after just one year’, said Cipfa’s chief [Image: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian].

The solution put forward here by Cipfa is to link NHS spending to GDP, although this creates problems of its own if the economy goes into recession.

But the real problem is not addressed. It is the unwillingness of the Conservative Government to pay for a high-quality public service that takes paying patients away from the private health companies in which so many MPs have a financial interest.

Looking at it that way, it is clear that these people should not be making decisions on the NHS at all. Apparently the Parliamentary standards watchdog has a blind eye when it comes to such matters.

Meanwhile, as someone pointed out on Twitter, George Osborne is still prattling on about his “long-term economic plan” doing great things.

No it isn’t, George.

If it was, the NHS would be stronger than it was in 2010 when the Tories took over, and it isn’t.

Perhaps we should use it as a yardstick to judge Tory success from now on.

Let’s demand a huge improvement in the NHS by 2020, as a minimum standard for the Tories to reach.

That would really stick a scalpel in their nervous system.

The long-term financial plan for the NHS is already outdated and the health service is facing a £10bn black hole by 2020, according to a report.

Analysis by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) suggests the NHS will exceed its budget by £10bn a year in four years’ time as it struggles to make £22bn in planned efficiency savings.

The quality of care could suffer and costs will be higher if the funding gap is not filled, said the professional body’s chief executive, Rob Whiteman.

New charges or rationing of care would have to be introduced or else the government would have to raise taxes to make up for the shortfall, Cipfa said.

Source: NHS faces £10bn-a-year deficit by 2020, says report | Politics | The Guardian

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How Scotland became the world leader on lesbian, gay and bisexual representation

Ruth Davidson makes her way to a polling station in Edinburgh with partner Jen Wilson [Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire].

Ruth Davidson makes her way to a polling station in Edinburgh with partner Jen Wilson [Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire].

It is entirely correct that a person should receive more criticism – although not necessarily abuse – for their political beliefs than their sexual orientation.

The interesting aspect of this is that it seems the Conservative Party is leading the way in a progressive direction.

What a refreshing change.

“I get more abuse for being a Tory in Scotland than I do for being a gay woman,” says Annie Wells, one of a batch of new MSPs voted in at the election this month that has made the country’s parliament the most proportionally gay-friendly in the world.

Her step up to a seat in Holyrood has brought the total number of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual politicians to ten, seven per cent of all MSPs. In Westminster, 35 of the 650 MPs – just over five per cent.

Source: How Scotland Became The World Leader On Lesbian, Gay And Bisexual Representation

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Selling off assets such as the Land Registry will cost more in the long term – as we know from previous sales

The Land Registry maintains records on the ownership of property in England and Wales [Image: Alamy].

The Land Registry maintains records on the ownership of property in England and Wales [Image: Alamy].

This is an article to file under the words “bloody obvious”, although no doubt Conservatives won’t see it that way.

We only have to look at other privatised UK assets to see the truth of it, though.

How much profit are the energy utilities making, for example?

Selling off UK public assets such as the Land Registry will leave the government’s finances worse off in the long term as cash from the sale is outstripped by future profits, a new report warns.

Before a consultation closing later this week on the Land Registry’s planned privatisation, a leading economic thinktank said the benefits to the exchequer from a one-off sale of the agency would pale in comparison to the income sacrificed in future years.

The New Economic Foundation report for the campaign group We Own It found that selling the Land Registry would mean the British public would start to lose money in 25 years’ time. The authors estimate that the impact of selling off other public assets would be felt even sooner. If the public stake in National Air Traffic Services (NATS) were sold, for example, resultant losses would start being felt within seven years.

Source: Selling off assets such as Land Registry ‘will leave government worse off’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Tories are best-ignored regarding the EU referendum. Shame the mainstream media won’t talk about anything else

The EU referendum has split the Conservatives. Here's how cartoonist Martin Rowson describes it.

The EU referendum has split the Conservatives. Here’s how cartoonist Martin Rowson describes it.

Presumably editors think it’ll sell papers and get ratings.

That’s why their EU referendum coverage is all focusing on splits in the Conservative Party, rather than – you know – covering the arguments that people need to hear.

Meanwhile Labour – the party that is actually trying to discuss those arguments – can hardly get any coverage at all.

What a ridiculous situation.

David Cameron and Boris Johnson – and the other Tories – are like little boys and girls having a playground argument. The media concentration on them assumes that the rest of us have no intelligence of our own and must be led by what we hear from them – from the ‘bigger boys’, if you like.

That is grossly insulting.

Lies, false promises, regular distortions and repeated fear… why should anybody be surprised that the Tory-dominated EU referendum campaign is a replay of last year’s dirty Tory election fight?Dave and George yell from one side of the bed at shrieking Boris and Mich­ael on the other. Yet this ménage à quatre is united by cynical gutter politics.

Both Tory parties in this lovers’ tiff repeat the dishonest tactics used to defame Ed Miliband. It’ll be near impossible for Cameron and Osborne, Johnson and Gove, to wake up on June 24 and let bygones be bygones. But what an utterly depressing, hope-sapping debate it’s proving to be.

We can barely believe a word uttered by the main Conservative protagonists – while Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell struggle to be heard with more reasonable, rational arguments for staying in.

Source: Party in-fighting means the Tories are best ignored when it comes to the EU referendum – Kevin Maguire – Mirror Online

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Here’s how much lawyers were paid to represent senior police officers at Hillsborough inquests

Former Assistant Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Walter Jackson (left), with barrister Andrew Nuttall [Image: Liverpool Echo].

Former Assistant Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Walter Jackson (left), with barrister Andrew Nuttall [Image: Liverpool Echo].


With so much being spent on the top officers of the time, and comparatively so little on rank-and-file police, one wonders – just wonders… who is more likely to take the rap?

Almost £25m has been spent on legal fees for serving and retired senior police officers at the Hillsborough inquests.

Figures show the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings spent a total of £24.7m on legal costs for the inquests up until March 2016.

That total included a barrister for the current chief constable of the force, as well as barristers for retired former officers who served at the time of the tragedy.

From October 2013 up until January this year, Lewis Hymanson Small solicitors – the firm representing match commanders David Duckenfield, Roger Marshall and Roger Greenwood as well as retired chief superintendents Terry Wain and Donald Denton – was paid more than £14m.

Of that, £10.4m was spent on counsel fees – paying the six barristers who represented the officers.

The three match commanders were represented by a team of four barristers, which included lead counsel John Beggs QC.

The police and crime commissioner’s figures showed that £5.8m was paid to law firm Burton Copeland,representing former deputy chief constable Peter Hayes and former assistant chief constables Walter Jackson and Stuart Anderson.

Of that, £4.3m was spent on counsel fees.

The PCC had a legal obligation to support both the chief constable and former officers who were granted ‘interested person’ status at the inquests into the 96 deaths.

Special Grant funding of £20.4 million was secured from the Home Office, leaving a net cost to the PCC of £4.3 million.

Rank and file officers have been represented by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).

In a document available online, the federation says it has spent in the region of £5m on the inquests, with legal costs continuing to come in.

The federation is supporting 324 members – including current and former officers – in relation to Hillsborough, some of whom were witnesses at the inquests.

Source: How much were lawyers paid to represent senior police officers at Hillsborough inquests? – Liverpool Echo

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