Archive for the 'MPs expenses probe' Category

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Do you fancy a 20/1 shot in a 4-way marginal??

Thursday, January 21st, 2010


Daily Mail

What will Esther and Chilcott do to Luton South

An interesting little side story of the coming general election is what happens in Luton South – one of the seats listed here earlier in the week as being high on the target list for the Tories and one they really need to take in order to get a majority.

Looking at the 2005 notionals LAB 42.8: CON 28.1: LD 22.5 this should fall easily to the Cameron juggernaut even though the incumbent Labour MP who figures so much inn the expenses affair is not standing.

Yet hugely complicating factors are the candidature of Esther Rantzen – the former “That’s Life” presenter and what happens to the very large Muslim vote at a time when Chilcott is putting the Iraq war on the agenda again.

Esther, who has always been a publicity magnet, has been getting some remarkable coverage and the chances are that this will continue until polling day. See this from the Daily Mail earlier in the week part of which is featured above.

You can see her winning votes from both Labour and the Tories but not, I suggest from the seat’s Muslim communities who are likely to back a leading Labour councillor, Qurban Hussain, who defected to the Lib Dems in 2003 the year, of course, of the invasion of Iraq.

All 63 of the current crop of Lib Dem MPs are white and, no doubt, Clegg would love to change this. Could Luton South be their best prospect and what does that mean in campaigning terms.

If you read this as a four way marginal as I do then the Lib Dem betting prices are quite tasty. William Hill have the LDs there at 18/1, Victor Chandler 20/1 and Bet365 16/1. The last price to be matched on Betfair was 2.5 – or 6/4 in old money.

Mike Smithson

PB – “Political Website of the Year”


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And now the Choccy Horror Show!

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Could the Mirror’s splash damage the Tories?

Thanks to one or two contributors on the overnight thread for picking up this – the main story in the Mirror .

For after a day which saw Gordon Brown at his most confident for months the paper’s exclusive, presumably from publicly available material, is that amongst the receipts in Cameron’s claims were those for four or five chocolate bars. These were under Cameron’s claims for his administrative and office allowance

As the paper points out MPs are allowed to claim for “meals and subsistence for interns, volunteers or permanent employees working away from their main place of employment”. The Caramel bar was bought for 40p on May 19 this year in a Commons café called The Debate while the the 40p Mint Aero was receipted on Cameron’s claim along with “Beef £3.80”.

Another claim was for a 40p packet of Maltesers along with “Veg £1.70, French Fries 50p and Vegetables 45p.”

Is this a taster of what it’s going to be like for the next five months? I would have thought that the paper would have gone for Brown’s Eton jibe – which at least has a hard political edge.

  • Last month it was reported that the Mirror has ” shed 8.7% of its circulation year on year, leaving its total at just under 1.3 million”. In its heyday it was touching 4 million copies a day.
  • Mike Smithson



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    Is Labour coming out worse from this than the Tories?

    Thursday, November 19th, 2009


    Telegraph

    How’s it going to affect the party political battle?

    My first reaction when I saw the front page of this morning’s Telegraph was, I guess, hardly unique – what was the political affiliation of the six who appear to form the next stage of the ongoing expenses saga?

    For until the election is over and the votes are counted we are going to be in a high-octane political atmosphere as the Tories sense victory and Labour tries to hold on to power. Anything that could affect public opinion will be looked at in terms of the electoral impact.

    Well the answer to my question is there in the story. Three are Labour MPs, two are Labour peers and the final one is a Tory peer who is also a county council chairman leader – so mathematically, at least, better for Mr. Cameron than Mr. Brown.

    It is important to state that nothing has happened yet. The report says “Keir Starmer, the country’s top prosecutor, is expected to make a decision on whether to prosecute the politicians as early as January, before a General Election…The Director of Public Prosecutions will decide whether the MPs and peers face court on counts of fraud, which carries a maximum sentence on conviction of 10 years, or false accounting, for which the maximum penalty is up to seven years…Police and criminal lawyers are confident that charges will be brought.”

    Whether this actually happens we don’t know but the paper seems confident enough to splash this over its front page this morning.

    The report carries responses from several and states that the others were not available for comment.

    Whatever the whole affair still has a long to go and will affect the whole of politics right up to polling day. Inevitably it will be a factor in the election and my sense is that Labour is indeed coming out worse than the Tories if only for the fact that it has a lot more incumbent MPs.

  • The November MORI poll has still not appeared even though fieldwork finished at the weekend. I wonder whether it will be published in one of the Sunday papers.

    Mike Smithson



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    Is Cameron’s Lisbon luck continuing?

    Thursday, November 5th, 2009


    BBC news

    What a terrible day for UKIP for this to come out?

    On the day after the Tory change of heart on the Lisbon referendum the anti-EU party that did so well last June, UKIP, must have been hoping for better headlines than this.

    This was the opportunity, surely, for them to be presenting themselves as an alternative to Cameron’s Tories. And what happens? We get the news from Southwark Crown court and UKIP has to deal with terrible publicity over someone who was elected as one of its MEPs.

    The plea of guilty by Tom Wise to an expenses scam with the suggestion that he could face jail could not have been timed better for Cameron and worse for Farage.

    On top of this there’s the news that long-standing Tory front-bencher, Alan Duncan, has now been cleared after an investigation into his mortgage claims.

    PaddyPower has a market on how many votes UKIP will get at the election.

    Mike Smithson



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    Does this mean pay-day for the McNulty backers?

    Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


    BBC News

    Making money on McNulty’s money-making

    It’s been an up and down eight months for the McNulty troughing backers – those of us who piled into the William Hill market at the end of March taking as much as we could of the 5/1 bet that the former minister would have to pay back some of his housing claims for the mortgage on a house he owns in his Harrow constituency where his parent live.

    At the end of May, after the Telegraph MP expenses explosion, it was reported that he had voluntarily paid some cash back – an act that was ruled outside of the bet which talked about compulsion.

    Then, earlier in October, all seemed lost when it was reported that the Sir Thomas Legg report was not demanding that money be repaid.

    But now tonight it’s starting to look good again – it’s reported that he’s being rebuked and will have to pay back £13,000.

    Oh the ups and downs of political betting.

    Mike Smithson



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    Is it bad news for McNulty punters?

    Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

    Legg rules that he doesn’t have to pay anything back?

    At the end of March several PBers, including me, risked their cash on the William Hill market that the former minister, Tony McNulty, would be forced to pay money back following reports that he’d claimed £60,000 of taxpayers’ money for the mortgage on a house he owns in his Harrow constituency where his parent live.

    As was reported this was close to his constituency office and just 11 miles from Westminster. McNulty himself lives in his wife’s house in Hammersmith, three miles from the commons. Although McNulty handed some money back voluntarily Hills ruled that it did not meet the terms of the bet that he be ordered to cough up.

    Now there’s news from Paul Waugh at the Standard that McNulty has been told by Legg that he won’t have to repay any of his second home allowance.

    But there was a sting in the tail – “Sir Thomas added that his findings did not deal with any payments under separate investigation by the Standards Commissioner.”

    Let’s hope it’s resolved quickly – if nothing happens before the end of the year the bet expires. I’ve got £100 at 5/1 riding on it though I guess that the former minister has a lot more!

    Mike Smithson



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    Don’t miss “MPs’ Expenses Scandal2 – The Sequel”

    Monday, October 12th, 2009

    Showing today on a TV screen near you

    So it’s the first day of the new term and every MP is due to receive a letter reviving the whole MPs expenses scandal.

    There’s been a build-up over the weekend and clearly some prominent names, including it seems Mr. G. Brown, are going to be told to hand money back.

    Now, as several papers are reporting, there are suggestions of a revolt with talk of Sir Thomas Legg’s report being rejected. Just how crazy would that be?

    One of the issues, of course, is that a largish contingent of Labour MPs are either stepping down at the election or else expect to be beaten. What’s the point of them not rocking the boat? This is not a group who feel bound by the normal pressures of party discipline.

    On the Tory side there’s been anger at what some see as the high-handed approach by the leadership to the whole affair. Will party unity break down there?

    There’s talk, also, of MPs hiring lawyers to contest any demands to repay with them saying that they were operating in line with advice at the time from the fees office. How’s that going to go down with voters?

    So MPs’ Expenses Scandal 2 could run and run right up to election day.

    Mike Smithson



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    Was this the story the twittering was all about?

    Friday, September 25th, 2009


    Telegraph

    Have the Telegraph editors lost their sense of proportion?

    If you had been following the PB thread last night and had monitored other political blogs then you’d have thought that the political world as we know it was about to come to an end. I was being texted and called with the news that something “very big was going to break”.

    The story came out at 10pm and looking at how the paper has treated it you would have thought that they had the scoop of the year. Well they did – but that was nearly six months ago.

    Having read the piece I guess that my response was the same as many – so what? Who cares any more?

    The expenses story was big during the run-up to the June 4th local and Euro elections but after that it simply lost its potency. Quite a few MPs have had their careers shortened, we had the Norwich North by election and Speaker Martin took an early bath. But then..?

    To be told that this was leaked by someone annoyed by armed services cuts doesn’t really add anything and will have almost no political impact.

    Mike Smithson