Tag Archives: sleaze

A family at war: after Johnson accused Cummings, former advisor blazes back

Spotted on the internet: and who knows how many more nasty little secrets Dominic Cummings will be able to release, just when they will do Boris Johnson the most harm?

I’m waiting for Theresa May to turn up and say, “Now, boys, play nicely!” Not that she’d have any effect at all.

It seems that Boris Johnson thought details of his text conversation promising tax breaks to James Dyson had been leaked by Dominic Cummings.

Denying this, Cummings has nevertheless come out with a different claim – that Johnson had planned a “possibly illegal” way to get Tory donors to pay for renovations to the Downing Street flat that the prime minister uses.

We knew that, didn’t we?

Cummings wrote in his blog: “The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended. I refused to help him organise these payments.”

For good measure, Cummings has also denied leaking details of the UK’s second Covid-19 lockdown last summer – but he put an extra sting into this one.

He said Johnson had considered stopping an inquiry into that leak (that eventually exonerated Cummings) because (he reckoned) the evidence pointed to Henry Newman, a close personal friend of the prime minister’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds.

Cummings claimed Johnson was concerned that he would have to sack Newman, and this would cause friction with Symonds.

The official line from Downing Street is that Johnson has never interfered with any inquiries – but that’s not what Cummings claimed.

The claim was that Johnson had considered interfering – and this is entirely plausible after Johnson admitted promising to interfere with the tax system for Dyson, at Prime Minister’s Question on Wednesday. (Or did he? Will we have yet another clarification from “a Downing Street source” that he meant something completely – and implausibly – different?)

The result of the inquiry has never been published.

Cummings wrote: “I told him that this was ‘mad’ and totally unethical, that he had ordered the inquiry himself and authorised the Cabinet Secretary to use more invasive methods than are usually applied to leak inquiries because of the seriousness of the leak. I told him that he could not possibly cancel an inquiry about a leak that affected millions of people, just because it might implicate his girlfriend’s friends.”

He added: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”

Asked to comment on the matter, Johnson himself came out with what may be his only accurate words on any of the corruption allegations that are currently pelting his government. He said:

“I think people aren’t so much interested in who is leaking what to whom as the substance of the issue at hand.”

Yes indeed.

We want to see accurate, verified evidence showing whether Johnson intervened with HMRC to change tax rules of Dyson.

We want to see evidence showing whether Johnson was implicated in the Greensill lobbying scandal.

We want evidence on how Johnson funded his flat renovations.

We want to know why the inquiry into the lockdown leak wasn’t published.

And we want to see evidence on the accuracy of all the other corruption claims that have come out of the woodwork – and that are likely to emerge in the future.

And no – “a Downing Street spokesperson denied the allegations” will not be acceptable.

Source: Dominic Cummings launches attack on Boris Johnson’s integrity – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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This man is profiting hugely from the Tory sex scandals

Gavin Williamson: If anybody has benefited from the Tory sex scandal, it isn’t women – it’s him [Image: David Mirzoeff/PA].

Isn’t it ironic that former Conservative Chief Whip Gavin Williamson has been appointed as the new Defence Secretary after Sir Michael Fallon’s resignation?

You see, Mr Williamson is the man who, we’re told, compiled the weekly “Ins and Outs” reports on Tory MPs’ sexual offences. Sir Michael’s name was on the Tory sleaze spreadsheet apparently compiled by the whips’ office and it is now being alleged that further claims were made about his behaviour to minority prime minister Theresa May yesterday afternoon (November 1), right before the former Defence Secretary resigned.

It also looks very much like a case of life imitating House of Cards – not the US knock-off starring the now-disgraced (due to a sex scandal) Kevin Spacey, but the superior BBC version of the 1990s, in which fictional chief whip Francis Urquhart uses the sexual indiscretions of fellow MPs to climb the Parliamentary heirarchy, eventually becoming prime minister. And it is said that Mr Williamson has prime ministerial ambitions himself.

Already, Twitter is abuzz with information about him:

As I write this, some Tory is on the BBC News spewing tripe that Theresa May has been strong, having zero tolerance for the kind of behaviour that has triggered this minor reshuffle. It is ridiculous. Michael Fallon is just one of dozens of Tory MPs who stand accused, and she has done nothing about it at all. The allegations themselves merit suspension. Just look at the contrast with Labour:

The new Chief Whip is the former Deputy Chief Whip, Julian Smith (who?).

And the new Deputy Chief Whip is none other than Esther McVey.

That’s right – Fester McVile is in the whips’ office. This woman was ejected from the Wirral West constituency in the 2015 elections, in response to her abominable treatment of jobseekers, the sick and disabled as an employment minister. She spent a couple of years shoehorned into a cushy job as chair of the British Transport Police Authority before being parachuted into the Tatton constituency after George Osborne quit to become a newspaper editor (among multiple other jobs).

What a revolting development.

Meanwhile, the lashing of Sir Michael Fallon continues. People in his Sevenoaks constituency – and the usual commentators – are angry that he seems to think his behaviour fell short of the standards expected of a defence minister – but was fine for a constituency MP. They want to know why he hasn’t resigned from politics altogether:

https://twitter.com/JoyOfTheSNP/status/925831307334074368

But there’s no need to have any fears for the future of this particular Tory gold-digger. He’ll land on his feet, according to some:


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Why are people turning the Tory sexual harassment allegations into a joke?

Damian Green isn’t laughing – he’s tooling up with lawyers to fight allegations of inappropriate behaviour after he was named on the Tory sex spreadsheet [Image: Peter Nicholls/Reuters].

“Yes, that’s right,” said Mrs Mike. “Everybody’s making a big joke about it – and that is what allows it to continue.”

I had just pointed out the cover of the latest issue of Private Eye to her. Here it is:

Is it funny?

If you think so, ask yourself: Would you feel the same if you were a victim of the (alleged) monsters who have inflicted themselves on unwilling victims and forced them to stay silent? That is what has happened in some of the cases on the Tory sex spreadsheet – and never forget that there may be other cases yet to come to light.

Come to that, how about asking whether any other victims of sexual attack – of any kind – thinks it’s funny?

So, did Ian Hislop (the Eye‘s editor) shoot himself in the foot with that cover? It’s a good question. Perhaps it would be a good idea to use that cover as a yardstick for prevailing attitudes. Does a significant proportion of the public feel outraged? Or are they laughing along?

Michael Gove is probably hoping they’re laughing, after his rape “joke” attracted a storm of criticism – and absolutely nothing by way of reprimand from his boss – last weekend.

Labour’s Dawn Butler has drawn attention to it in a letter to Theresa May that asks what the minority prime minister is doing about the scandal – especially as all the activities that have been identified were known to Mrs May, some of them for a considerable period of time, and she did nothing at all to stop them or bring the perpetrators to justice. Doesn’t this make her an accessory to every crime?

Is this the behaviour of anybody you would want to have as prime minister?

Ms Butler writes:

After your spokesperson expressed your “serious concern” at reports of sexual harassment in Westminster on Friday, it was disappointing to hear the comments of a member of your cabinet, Michael Gove, on Radio 4 the next day, which made light of sexual abuse and rape. Abuse is the never the woman’s fault, and insinuating that those who experience it and come forward have lost any of their “dignity” is inherently wrong and harmful. What action has been taken so that Mr Gove and others understand that “jokes” like his make it harder for those who experience harassment to feel like they will be taken seriously if they speak out?

It’s a good letter, calling for robust action to ensure that members of all political parties (not just the Tories) know exactly what to do if they are sexually harassed.

And it attacks the culture that allows these abuses and then makes jokes about it like the Private Eye cover above.

But it doesn’t go far enough. Perhaps Ms Butler is being diplomatic.

Personally, This Writer thinks it is time the police were dispatched to the Whips’ Office and to 10 Downing Street and searched both buildings for any and all evidence about MPs’ and ministers’ sex crimes.

I do not believe Theresa May will tell the truth about her involvement in these activities. I do believe she and her cronies will try to hide – or destroy – any evidence before the authorities have a chance to find them.

Look at what she has done since this scandal broke: Nothing. She has passed the buck to the Speaker’s office. She has asked for an investigation into whether a minister broke the ministerial code (which doesn’t appear to cover such matters) at a time when he wasn’t a minister. She has not suspended the whip from any of the politicians who have been named.

The problem of abuse and harassment of women isn’t restricted to those who make unwanted advances on women; it extends to a culture that has tolerated or made light of abuse for far too long. All political parties have a responsibility to act thoroughly and properly where instances of unacceptable behaviour come to light, and to take appropriate action.

Therefore, I was extremely concerned by reports in Sunday newspapers that your chief of staff and chief whip made you aware of allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Ministers and Conservative MPs. Can you confirm if you were made aware of allegations about members of your party or Government, and what action you took, if any?

Can you explain why the investigation into Mark Garnier appears to be confined to whether he broke the Ministerial Code at a time when he wasn’t a Minister? Further, can you confirm that both he, and Stephen Crabb, will be investigated by the Conservative Party and have the whip suspended while investigations into their conduct take place?

Sunday newspaper reports claim that you are concerned that taking action against ministers could risk the Government collapsing. All party political considerations should be put to one side to ensure we take serious action. I am hopeful that if we do, this could prove to be a turning point that sees us make progress in tackling the sexism and misogyny that pervades our society.

Source: Put aside party political interest to tackle sex pest claims – Dawn Butler letter to PM | LabourList


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Gove is desperate to avoid fallout over free schools

Underqualified: This Labour Party campaign meme highlights the drawbacks of Michael Gove's foolish and expensive 'free school' experiment.

Underqualified: This Labour Party campaign meme highlights the drawbacks of Michael Gove’s foolish and expensive ‘free school’ experiment.

The country has been concentrating on government sleaze for the past week or so – and this is a mistake. We should also monitor government incompetence and thankfully Michael Gove is around to provide plenty of it.

He wants organisations that are part of his struggling ‘free schools’ pet project to receive special fast-track attention – to avoid the political embarrassment that would be caused by their failure.

Last year the project was rocked by the failure of the Al-Madinah Free School in Derby, and the resignations of unqualified head teachers at Pimlico Free School in London and Discovery School in Crawley. Vox Political discussed all three at the time.

The Discovery School was one of four that were declared inadequate by Ofsted and closed down at the end of March.

Last week, The Observer revealed that Gove wants to hush up any further damaging revelations by ensuring that problems are tackled before Ofsted can publicise them.

The article stated: “It suggests that party political considerations are now driving education policy a year ahead of the general election.”

Quite. It is also a sharp reminder of how far the Coalition government has deviated from its original claim, to be uniting “in the public interest”.

The plan adds extra pressure to the Education department, where morale has already plummetted due to Gove’s determination to employ his own advisors, to overrule the expert advice provided by civil servants in favour of ideologically-motivated dogma.

It also shows that Gove is giving preferential treatment to his pet project. State schools go into special measures after receiving a ruling from Ofsted that they are inadequate – and can remain there for more than a year.

More damaging still is the fact that many of the problems with free schools have nothing to do with education, but are organisational in origin. According to the article, these include: “Operating in temporary sites without a clear permanent home; new, inexperienced and often isolated trusts needing to upskill themselves to run a school for the first time; instability in principal appointments and senior leadership teams.”

So when you hear that your child’s school has been under-performing because it has been deprived of resources and support from the Department for Education, just remember that this has happened because we have an Education Secretary who is more concerned with hiding his own inadequacies – problems that could have been avoided if he had concentrated a little more on the details.

On the basis of this term work, Mr Gove, we’ll have to give you an ‘F’ – for ‘Fail’.

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Tories and scandal (go together like a horse and carriage)

Scene of the - er - indiscretions: The Light ApartHotel in Manchester. [Image: Sunday Mirror.]

Scene of the – er – indiscretions: The Light ApartHotel in Manchester. [Image: Sunday Mirror.]

The Party of Sleaze shoots itself in the foot yet again.

It seems the Conservative Party has been keeping documentary evidence of Tory MPs’ indiscretions, crimes and bad behaviour in a “black book” (actually a blue folder), but this has now been destroyed for fear that the Party might be forced to reveal its contents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information in the “book”, which was destroyed a little more than four years ago as the Tories prepared for the 2010 general election, was used by party whips – its official title was “Whips’ Notes” – if they needed to persuade a colleague to support legislation they opposed, or a minister under fire.

Sources within the Conservative Party say this persuasion did not go as far as blackmail – although you are perfectly entitled to form your own opinion about this, dear reader.

The book’s existence was revealed by the Sunday Mirror, which also carried details of several more ‘sleaze’ scandals, including allegations that:

  • Taxpayers indirectly funded a £2,500 suite in the Light ApartHotel, used for a gay sex party during the Conservative Party’s 2011 conference in Manchester.
  • Senior Conservatives regularly tried to seduce male parliamentary workers after getting drunk at the House of Commons.
  • MPs and peers used ‘date rape’ drugs on junior activists, and paid for abortions after getting their staff pregnant.

The claims are eerily reminiscent of sleaze scandals from the Conservative Parliaments of 1979-1997, in which Cecil Parkinson was forced to resign after impregnating his secretary; David Mellor’s extra-curricular sporting activities with Antonia de Sancha; and sex scandals involving Tim Yeo and the Earl of Caithness.

The headline of this article is based on a song and is intended to evoke comparisons between ‘love and marriage’ and ‘Tories and scandal’.

To close, let’s remember another well-known saying and conclude that if a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can a Tory resist sleaze.

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Welfare? Rebels are right to fight these well-UNfair changes

It looks as though (as I write this, early on January 23) the UK Coalition government is about to lose yet another vote on changes to welfare benefits, in the House of Lords. Quelle surprise.

The changes (I refuse to call them reforms), dreamed up by Iain Duncan Smith, have been pilloried by the public as attacks on the poor, and it’s easy to see why. The Guardian, for example, compares two families.

“One is an Islington couple who have never worked. The other is an Oldham family with four children, where the working parent has just lost his or her job,” writes Tim Leunig. “The Islington couple currently receive £250 a week in housing benefit, while the Oldham family gets only £150.

“Times are tough, and the government wants to save money. Which family should have its housing benefit cut? George Osborne has chosen the Oldham family. He is cutting its housing benefit to £96 a week, while allowing the Islington couple to continue to claim £250 a week for as long as they like.

“That is the reality of the £26,000 benefit cap. It takes no account of your employment history or family size. So a central London couple who have never worked are unaffected, because they currently receive less than £26,000 in benefits. But a large family – even in a cheap house – will be hit. That is not sensible.”

But that is the problem with the Tories – no eye for detail. They like to simplify (I believe that’s their euphemism) the benefits system – the classic example being the new Universal Credit, with which they intend to replace a whole bundle of dedicated payments. The problem is that this creates far more problems than it solves and will end up costing far more money. Count on it.

There is grim humour in the fact that this failure to understand the nuances, the details, of the system has become the defining characteristic of Tory leader David Cameron, who was described by Peter Snowdon, in his book Back From The Brink – The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection, as having “an eye for detail”!

(Snowdon also states that Cameron has a “flair for words”. Considering the trouble his turn of phrase created for him after he described sitting opposite Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls as being similar to facing a man with Tourette’s syndrome, this also seems an unfortunate description)

David Cameron is a loser. His first attempt to get into Parliament was in 1997, when he contested the Stafford seat. He lost. Nobody should ever forget the fact that, with Labour at its lowest point in 13 years, Cameron totally failed to win a Parliamentary majority that was his for the taking in 2010.

And late last year, he managed to use the UK’s EU veto to sideline this nation from the main action in restructuring the Eurozone, effectively isolating us from decisions that directly affect British trade with its largest partner. This is the man who once declared (about Tony Blair): “The socialist Prime Ministers of Europe… want a federalist pussycat and not a British lion. It is up to us in this party… to make sure that lion roars, because when it does no-one can beat us.” In the event, it turned out that the roar was more of a mewl, and no-one outside the UK really noticed. Who’s the pussycat now, David?

People like Lord Ashdown, the former Lib Dem leader, have already stated they will oppose the welfare changes. They have realised that the Coalition is an alliance of losers and want to distance themselves.

However, both Cameron and his Tories are faring well in the opinion polls at the moment. Why?

It could be because Labour, under Ed Miliband and the aforementioned Mr Balls, has not created a well-defined image of itself as the opposing political force. The Labour leadership recently stated it would not reverse any of the Coalition’s cuts if it came into power – creating a stink among the trade unions and collapsing support from party members. If the Labour Party won’t change anything, why support it?

To me, it seems that the two Eds are trying to engineer a repeat of history. In the mid-1990s, according to George Bridges (the Tories’ former campaigns director), Tony Blair was “picking up Tory principles that he felt were appealing to middle England and playing them for all they were worth”. He also promised not to raise Income Tax and committed Labour to Tory spending targets for two years after being elected.

But the political landscape was very different in 1997. Inflation had been curbed and the economy was fairly secure, and the UK headed – under Labour – into the most sustained period of growth it had ever known (or certainly the most sustained in decades).

Now, that bubble has burst and we are, as a nation, having to pay. The Coalition, headed by the Tories, has dictated that the poorest of us must pay the most, and that is a weakness that Labour should exploit.

Labour should be attacking the belief that the economy is safe with the Tories. It isn’t. They took a national economy that was showing the beginnings of strong recovery and choked it off with their austerity programme; also, a programme that benefits those who are already rich while forcing the poor, the disabled, and the rising numbers of jobless into increasing penury is not good stewardship. How can it be? With more people out of work, whether they are receiving benefits or not, fewer are contributing taxes to the Treasury to help pay off the national deficit. The recovery cannot happen.

Labour should be attacking the culture of greed and arrogance that Mr Cameron tried to shake off whilst in Opposition, but has reared its ugly head again, now that the Tories are in office.

Labour should be attacking the divisions in the Tory Party – Europe is an example of this. Conservatives are held together, not by any strong, unifying ideals, but by the thirst for power and money, and members of the Party have widely varying views on almost any issue you care to put before them. It’s just a matter of finding the right pressure-point and applying enough leverage, and they’ll splinter.

And then there’s Tory sleaze. This is never far away. Who can forget the extramarital affairs enjoyed by multiple Tory ministers in the administrations of 1979-97, or ‘Cash for Questions’, to quote just two famous examples?

All Labour has to say about its own policies, in government, is that the Party will do what works. The Tories have proved themselves to be wedded to ideological programmes – stripping back the welfare state, creating tax havens so the rich can keep their money and not contribute to public services, and so on. These are harming the nation. In contrast, Labour need only state it will level up the playing field, re-balance the nation’s finances, and set us up to get back on our feet, and the votes should come rolling in.

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