Tag Archives: SPAD

DUP spad wanted to ‘fill our boots’ with GB money. Nice to know who Theresa May’s friends are

Andrew Crawford: “Fill our boots”.

A long-standing special advisor of DUP leader Arlene Foster said he thought “we could fill our boots” with money from Westminster, via the scandalous Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI), it has been claimed.

Ms Foster set up the RHI when she was Northern Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. She failed to introduce proper cost controls.

As the scheme worked by paying applicants to use renewable energy, and the rate paid was more than the cost of the fuel, applicants were making profits simply by heating their properties and costs went out of control.

On the final day of a public inquiry into what became known as the Cash For Ash scandal, senior civil servant Dr Andrew McCormick related a conversation he had with Andrew Crawford, Ms Foster’s special advisor.

Mr Crawford has always denied that he tried to delay efforts to rein in the schemes costs in mid-2015, when it became clear that they were out of control.

But Dr McCormick told the inquiry he said in late October 2016, around a month before RHI became a huge political scandal, “I thought this was AME [Treasury funding, rather than from Stormont’s budget] and we could fill our boots.”

The inquiry has already uncovered an email which shows that Dr Crawford felt it could be good to overspend on RHI because it was GB money.

The resulting scandal led to the dissolution of the Northern Irish government and the failure of efforts to form a new power-sharing deal means that part of the UK still has no government today.

The RHI scheme, overseen by the DUP, has potentially cost the public purse almost £500 million.

And these are the people Theresa May offered a further £1 billion to prop up her minority Conservative government in Westminster.

There’s an old saying – “If you want to know someone, just look at their friends.”

Perhaps we should remember this when Philip Hammond announces his latest budget.

It seems these Conservatives are allied with people who deliberately sprayed our money up the wall – for no other reason than that they could.

Source: DUP Spad told me “we could fill our boots” with RHI cash, says top civil servant – Belfast Newsletter

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Sack the spads, finish the focus groups and stick to your guns, Jeremy!

One focus group member said Mr Corbyn’s appearance would make the UK a laughing-stock abroad. Does he look bad to you?

He is a man who has just won an election – overwhelmingly – with no tie and with his vest showing. Putting on a suit is the last thing Jeremy Corbyn needs to do.

But already, only two weeks into his leadership of the Labour Party, people are trying to change him. They voiced concern about his unwillingness to sing the National Anthem or bend the knee to the Queen, for example.

He’s a Republican and an Atheist, so these things are against his principles. We all knew this before he was elected, and he was elected anyway. It’s a little late to complain about them now!

His attitude to terrorist organisations has also been called into question, even though it is the same attitude that brought peace to Northern Ireland when Tony Blair tried it out.

And then there’s the question of his dress sense. The Graun had a go in an article today: “‘I find him exciting in some ways but then I have other thoughts on the national anthem and not dressing appropriately. There is a time and a place to fight those fights,’ said a woman, not the only one to link notions of being ‘scruffy’ with credibility (‘We’d be a laughing stock abroad,’ said another).”

Is Yanis Varoufakis a laughing stock around here? Of course not. But his dress sense is far from conventional.

Yanis Varoufakis (left) with George Osborne. The trustworthy one isn't wearing a tie.

Yanis Varoufakis (left) with George Osborne. The trustworthy one isn’t wearing a tie.

What we’re seeing is the typical hypocrisy of the Middle Class, which can be summed up as: “He can do the job but we don’t want him if he won’t keep up appearances.” These are the people who want Hyacinth Bucket (remember her?) running the country.

But what people in these focus groups say isn’t nearly as influential as what is said by those who organise them and interpret their comments – usually in line with the wishes of whoever is paying.

So Deborah Mattinson of Britain Thinks, the organiser of the focus groups quoted in the Graun, tells us: “They already know quite a bit about him and they are worried about what they regard as ‘extreme’ policies.

“They’re worried, for example, that he does not speak to their concerns about the economy and immigration, that he won’t unite the Labour party and that under his leadership it will become divided and weak.”

That is not what the people themselves said. You can feel the influence of the paymasters bleeding through – or so it seems to This Writer.

Mrs Mike feels the same way. A few days ago, she asked me to write an article supporting Mr Corbyn’s position on clothing, the economy (anti-austerity), foreign affairs (negotiation rather than aggression), and – very strongly – his own personal beliefs.

Her belief – and I agree with it – is that it is these unique qualities that lifted Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party.

The voters who put him there will be angry if he lets the spads and focus groups mould him into something they don’t support – and rightly so.

The message could not be clearer: Sack the spads, Jeremy. Put away the focus groups. They’re not focusing on anything you need to worry about.

Don’t you go changing.

Source: Focus groups give Jeremy Corbyn catch-22: stick to his guns but change his values | Politics | The Guardian

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Who will Labour choose to follow Gordon Brown?

Gordon Brown: Even in retirement he'll be a better prime minister than David Cameron.

Gordon Brown: Even in retirement he’ll be a better prime minister than David Cameron.

It seems Gordon Brown is to retire from his career as a member of Parliament at the 2015 general election.

This presents a challenging dilemma for the current Labour leadership, which has announced that it wants to take over the selection process for replacement Parliamentary candidates if MPs stand down late.

You see, Mr Brown is MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath – in Scotland.

Labour is extremely unpopular in Scotland at the moment, where the SNP has whipped up a belief (rightly or wrongly) that the party betrayed the people by siding with the Conservatives – even though, as a supporter of the union, Labour could not do anything else. Mr Brown, who raised concerns over the future of state pensions in an independent Scotland, has been singled out for special criticism.

In these circumstances, will Labour’s London-based leadership really be so insensitive as to ‘parachute’ an ally of the leader’s office into the constituency? This would be someone who is unlikely to bear any resemblance to a traditional Labour candidate, and is more likely to be a privately-educated Oxbridge graduate who has spent their entire career at a thinktank or working as a SPAD (special adviser) for a sitting MP.

Such an appointment would be entirely inappropriate and would signal that Labour is not interested in retaining the seat; the mood in Scotland means voters would take it as an incentive to support another party, most probably the SNP.

It is possible that Labour would leave the selection open to the constituency party, as its declared intent was to take over selections from the middle of next month; again, the course of action that is chosen will determine the response from the local electorate.

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath would be far better-off with a Labour candidate chosen from local residents, with a deep knowledge and understanding of the area and what it needs, having lived and worked there for his or her entire life.

This strategy succeeded with Liz Mckinnes, the newly-elected MP for Heywood and Middleton and should offer the best chance of success elsewhere.

Postscript: Readers are reminded that Gordon Brown is the other recent prime minister who has had a disabled child.

We all know how David Cameron rose to the challenge of his late son Ivan’s cerebral palsy and epilepsy – he used it in a series of photo opportunities and then, after Ivan’s death at a tragically young age, went on to use his memory as a shield whenever his ill-treatment of the National Health Service or disability benefits were raised in Parliamentary debate.

In contrast, Mr Brown chose to suffer in comparative silence. His daughter, Jennifer Jane, died after suffering a brain haemorrhage, on January 7, 2002, just 10 days after her birth. His son James Fraser (born in 2006) was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, but Mr Brown would have kept this information private if The Sun had not published an intrusive report. Years later, he said the publication had left him “in tears“.

Whose behaviour would you describe as more dignified; more prime ministerial; more statesmanlike?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Where are the working people in the PARTY of the workers?

Ed Miliband desperately needs to change Labour image away from being a bunch of middle-class lawyers, barely different from the Conservatives, and back to being the party of the workers[Image: Reuters].

Ed Miliband desperately needs to change Labour image away from being a bunch of middle-class lawyers, barely different from the Conservatives, and back to being the party of the workers[Image: Reuters].

Ed Miliband is talking the talk, but can he walk the walk?

According to the BBC, he’s saying Labour is still the party of working people – but that’s a claim that many may find hard to believe after Emily Thornberry’s incriminatingly insensitive tweet and the revelation that his leadership is likely to ‘parachute’ its preferred candidates into the constituencies of MPs who decide to retire from Parliament in the run-up to the next election.

It seems there may even be a rumour that a senior member of Labour’s health team is about to defect to UKIP.

Here’s Miliband’s problem:

Emily Thornberry, also known as Lady Nugee, now-former shadow attorney general, born in north Surrey to a Visiting Professor of War Studies at King’s College London and a teacher. Barrister. Has spoken on the need for more affordable housing – but her husband, Sir Christopher Nugee QC, had bought ex-social housing stock for over half a million pounds and receives rental income from the property. She’s clearly the wife of a millionaire and her only contact with the working class is professional. What does she know about how working people live?

Let’s look at Labour’s health team:

Liz Kendall, shadow minister for care and older people, attended Watford Grammar School for Girls and Queens’ College, Cambridge. Has worked for two charities and a thinktank before becoming a SPAD (special advisor) to two cabinet ministers. What does she know about working people?

Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health, educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, a private school in Elstree, Hertfordshire, the University of Birmingham, ICADE in Madrid and Birkbeck, University of London. Worked for management consultancy Accenture advising FTSE 100 companies including Barclays and BP, as well as the London Stock Exchange, Accenture’s Government Strategy Unit supporting government departments including the Treasury, and became Government and Parliamentary Manager for the National Health Service Confederation. Director of Labour Friends of Israel from 2007-2010. Labour was accused of ‘parachuting’ her in as a candidate for Liverpool Waverley in the 2010 elections. What does she know about working people?

And Labour is likely to ‘parachute’ even more “preferred” candidates into seats that become vacant between now and the election, it seems.

Will any of these “preferred” candidates have had a real job? Are there any ex-factory workers among them? Manual workers of any kind?

Dennis Skinner used to be a miner. His recent ousting from Labour’s National Executive Committee was met with outcry across the party.

Aneurin Bevan also used to be a miner. He went on to become the architect of the National Health Service that the Coalition government is busily breaking up and handing over to Conservative Party donor companies.

If Labour was really the party of working people, it would offer voters the chance to choose working people as their MPs. Instead we see an unending flow of lawyers, advisers and thinktank staffers who’ve never done an honest day’s work in their lives – while working people are sidelined.

That’s the dilemma facing Ed Miliband.

Where are the working people in the party of the workers?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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