Born to be an MP

It’s uncanny.

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A newly elected MP who was spotted using her mobile phone while behind the wheel of her car was today banned from driving for six months.

Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South-East, was also found to have no car insurance when stopped by police, Bolton magistrates heard.

The former barrister and human-rights lawyer had been elected as the constituency’s new MP on 6 May but four days later was caught by police while driving through the town talking on her mobile.

The Labour MP, who was not in court, apologised to magistrates through her solicitor, who said she would now have the "inconvenience" of having to use taxis and public transport.

Poor lamb. And for a single offence to.. oh.. wait…

the MP already had nine points on her licence when she was stopped shortly before 3pm on 10 May by police…

She had committed a previous offence of using her mobile phone while driving, in 2008, and two speeding offences, one in 2007 and the other last year.

Hmmm.. female Labour MP, former human rights lawyer, charged with using a phone while driving, already had points for speeding…

Remind you of anyone?

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The minister was fined £350 and ordered to pay £75 costs and a £15 victim surcharge after her lawyer entered a guilty plea at City of Westminster magistrates court. Her driving licence was also endorsed with three points.

The court heard that Harman already has six penalty points on her licence after being caught speeding in a 30mph zone twice. The first incident happened in April 2007 and the second in April last year.

Might I suggest the strongest commonality is the conviction that the laws they make for the little people don’t apply to them.

I’ll be watching Ms Qureshi – further entertainment is almost inevitable.

AJ

And the wind cries Muahahahaaaaaaaary

I last wrote about Tom Harris and his moaning about the MPs expenses system on May 21st.

His stream of incredulity about IPSA has continued unabated, ever since. He seems completely incapable of understanding that his pain is merely a reflection of the culture of petty and vindictive bureaucracy that New Labour spent 13 years inflicting on the other 60 million of us.

A bureaucracy that is obviously and deeply flawed, and yet is so imbued with a sense of its own infallibility, that it can shift the burden of proof away from the bureaucracy, onto you, the punter.

A bureaucracy that can drive you to distraction with its defiance of simple common sense, then cry abuse and pull down the shutters the moment they detect your pulse go above 72.

And no feasible avenue for appeal or restitution. Sound at all familiar to anyone?

So I shall leave Obo to put him back in his box this time, which he does with inimitable aplomb.

That’s exactly what 13 years of Labour government have made every occasion of dealing with the civil service like for the rest of us. It is exactly how life is for the rest of us, and it’s like that for exactly the same reason: Labour, with an unassailable majority, introduced an endless sea of badly-drafted, badly-thought-through, knee-jerk law to cope with things because that’s all they knew.

At the time, I said that I didn’t think IPSA was going to be a good idea, because, like every other fucking thing you cunts did in power, it was a knee-jerk solution cobbled up by a couple of fuckwits who lived their lives in the political bubble. I was quite happy for you guys to claim legitimate expenses through the old system. You guys took the fucking piss and in a frantic fit of being seen to be doing something, this half-baked, fatuous cock-up was created.

This is exactly how every fucking law you cunts drafted turned out for us: driven by the need to have a soundbite, you rammed legislation through without debate and without thought while remaining entirely immune from the consequences.

Read the rest.

AJ

Greeting fae Glesga

The penny hasn’t dropped for wee Tommy Harris yet.

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AS PLANNED, the new body overseeing MPs’ expenses is going the extra mile to make it as difficult as possible for us to do our job.

Good. Do you know why it’s good? Because it reminds you what we all go through when claiming business expenses, or undertaking any other routine admin activity.

Every organisation that has a thousand customer facing staff has 400 other people responsible for making it impossible for the customer facing staff to do their jobs. Making them unable to deliver on their obligations to the customer in a satisfactory manner. Just ask Obo.

Those ‘trolls’ or ‘business prevention officers’ are all on the company payroll to administer rules and regulations that emanate, directly or not, from government.

Someone, after all, has to be responsible for the 10,000 or so fuel receipts my company expenses team now receives every month, subsequent to a C&E/HMRC rule change around 2007.

Someone has to check that the sandwich I bought for lunch was bought far enough away from my branch office to be eligible for reimbursement. I once bought a sandwich 40 miles into a 200 mile journey to a customer site. My claim was denied. Had I bought my lunch at the next motorway services, I would have been reimbursed.

Tom continues:

I understand that the rule is based on a misunderstanding, or perhaps a deliberate misinterpretation, of a Customs and Revenue rule that people who work from an office based in their private homes can offset only a maximum of 85 per cent of their home phone calls for tax purposes.

I know all about that too. Misunderstanding, or perhaps a deliberate misinterpretation, of a Customs and Revenue rule is a battle I frequently have to do.

Last year, I flew to Glasgow, picked up a hire car, went to the customer site, did my work, returned the car to the airport and flew home.

I was taxed on this hire car as a benefit in kind, because the expenses monkey had either misunderstood the rule, or erred on the side of caution lest he be punished for a lax interpretation himself.

I know he was wrong, because I asked a tax accountant. If the hire car had been at my home address, in lieu of the car I already had an allowance for, it would have been a BiK. It wasn’t and it wasn’t.

I lost the battle, but won the war. I was never reimbursed, having been taxed at 40% on a hire car that was a logical and reasonable business expense, but it never happened again.

At a briefing held by Ipsa last week, a very senior, very highly-paid official (not being familiar with the scheme he’s paid to oversee, the only question from MPs he was able to answer was that he was in the “£80,000-£90,000″ pay band) was unable to justify this petty little rule.

I expect it frustrated you Tom, that his attitude was “and nor do I have to, sonny”.

Welcome to the real world.

As I said yesterday, as soon as you are abiding by the same rules as the rest of us, I’ll support any plea for a relaxation of the rules 100%.

AJ

Do any of these names sound familiar to you?

… because I’m getting déjà vu all over again.

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Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt, Geoff Hoon and Margaret Moran

…were among those targeted by an undercover operation by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which used a fake lobbying firm to offer MPs cash to use their position to help various businesses.

Conservative MPs were also featured on the programme including Julie Kirkbride, who declined to take the bogus firm up on its offer.

But Mr Byers, a leading former Blairite minister, was filmed telling actors posing as potential employers that he would be a valuable addition to their company because of his position.

The fake lobbying company offered some of the MPs £35,000 a year for just a few days’ work if they agreed to exploit their links with government, or in the case of the Tories, an incoming administration if Mr Cameron wins.

Plus ça fucking change.

AJ

MPs need to travel first class because. . .

Well – it’s obvious why, isn’t it?

After Nicholas Winterton got off to a faltering start in defending MPs right to travel seperately from the hoi polloi – a totally different sort of people – it was essential that some more balanced and reasonable arguments prevailed.

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Tom Levitt, the Labour backbencher for High Peak, said: “I invariably work on the train, something I can only do in a first class carriage for three reasons: that I have a table, space and privacy to work there; that I have a seat (as the standard class carriages between Manchester and London are often standing room only); and that (as I am over six feet tall) I have the leg room for comfort.”

After all, only MPs are more than 6ft tall, or ever need a table to get some work done while trudging up and down the country on our creaking, shambolic, dogshit snandwich of a transport infrastructure.

Sandra Gidley, Lib Dem MP for Romsey, said: “I find I can usually do some useful work which is not always possible in standard class.

“Also, as a woman travelling alone late at night I feel safer in first, particularly on the later trains when there are often a number of people who have been drinking.”

Uh huh? Wouldn’t we all – especially if our HMRC expenses rules made such allowances possible.

Angela Smith, Labour MP for Sheffield Hillsborough, remarked that IPSA members travel first class and MPs should be treated no differently.

Sir, sir! He get’s first class – it’s not faaaaaairr!! :sulk:

Happily though, one MP can justify her use of first class travel at our expense.

Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, accused him of being guided by media “spite” rather than value to the taxpayer

You know, it’s possible. And I just can’t think why, Anne.

She said: “If I travel first class, I can plug in my computer, not a facility that is universally available in second class. I can therefore work throughout the journey.

Which is perfectly reasonable. After all.. blah blah blah.. cut to the chase, Widdie, you tedious old battleaxe.

[She] pointed out she had written two books while travelling first class.

And naturally, the proceeds of those books reimbursed the cost of your 1st class tickets that we’d paid for. Right ?

Fuck off, you bunch of total and utter thieves.

AJ

Bits & bobs

Just a few things I’ve happened upon today, that I can’t be bothered to construct full posts about.

Someone called Matt Flaherty has written a letter to the CPS expressing concern about the Paul Chambers #twitterarrest case. It  very nicely articulates the concerned raised by the choice of path the CPS has taken in this instance. Sadly, since Mr Chambers has already pleaded guilty, it’s too little too late. As an expression of all that’s wrong with this case, though, it’s a fine piece of writing & I commend it to you.

Many years ago, I used to frequent a web forum, where a chap once boasted how he’d secretly videoed himself shagging various women, by using a hidden camera. A free-for-all ensued and debate was split along the lines of “get in there, good lad – hope you caught the money shots” and “err – that’s certainly immoral and probably illegal – you’re a fucking sleezebag, mate”. This, would have been somewhere between 2002-2004, I guess (I couldn’t find the thread in 2 hours of searching last night), but I was reminded of it when I read this item, about a bloke who has just been jailed, having been rumbled for precisely this activity.

Mad Mel nails The Tories’ hopey-changey-wishy-washy bullshitfest with aplomb.

In spite of Tory optimism that their marginal seats strategy is mitigating the nationwide narrowing of the polls, YouGov have a poll of 60 key marginals, showing that the gap in the marginals is 2% too.

The Jon Venables thing continues to rumble. The beying of the general pubelick continues to grow in pitch and amplitude. #bbcqt last night was awash with it (Will Self here). It is, though, annoying to think that, if the papers are right, Venables has been habitually flouting various of the conditions of his licensed release. Robert Thompson is still at liberty. Do you have a dysfunctional Scouse loner with a sketchy background in your workplace? Renting a flat from you? In your bed? Have you checked under your bed for monsters and trolls? Meanwhile, Venable is getting another new identity after his ID was rumbled at the prison he’s in.

Bit of a contradiction here:

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Which one is it? I think we all know. I’ve suffered these bi-weekly collections for a couple of years now and they are a fucking joke in half a dozen different ways.

Incidentally, they’re installing RFID chips in bins again. Look for a circular black plastic thing, recently inserted in the underside of the front lip of your wheelie bin. Remove. Microwave for 2 minutes. Reinsert.

Brown’s in front of the Chilcot inquiry today. Outcome likely to be, “meh – he got away with it again.”

I’ve added the Big Brother Watch site to my blogroll, because, if I’ve nothing to say on any particular day, it’s usually because they’ve already said it with aplomb.

The Met office are to stop issuing seasonal forecasts, because they’re shit at it. Presumably, this will give them more time to spend cooking their global warming datasets.

This took a while to float back to the surface.

[Airline Bomb Plotter] Ali’s wife has also been charged under anti-terror laws for allegedly failing to inform authorities of the plot. However, she strongly asserts her innocence.

She’s just been cleared after a 3 week trial. Good.

More crap anon.

AJ

Bonfire of the insanities

Rubs hands together with glee.

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Predictably, they are looking at libraries, nurseries, arts and leisure services, as well as roads, refuse collection and everything else. The question I await the answer to is who is less important than a 5-a-day coordinator or a lesbian albino budgerigar outreach worker?

AJ

And so the bleating begins

I’ve already said my piece about these trivial and distracting cuts the BBC is to make. (The Times leader also has it nailed).

The riders of the gravy-train are non-plussed.

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The BBC’s plans to shut two radio stations and close half its website were in chaos yesterday as musicians vowed to stop the closure of 6 Music and unions threatened to strike over job cuts.

I can sense the righteous likes of Radioshed and Blurb all over this shit.

Appropriately enough, this story is in the Entertainment section of the Times website. LOL.

Broadcasting unions leaked the contents of meetings with senior BBC staff yesterday that confirmed the Times report. They have threatened industrial action over 600 potential job losses.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for 6Music listeners, though, and a valuable indicator of BBC bloat:

There was interest, however, from the BBC’s commercial rivals. Clive Dickens, the head of Absolute Radio, said that the station would bid to buy 6 Music from the BBC. Absolute has double the listeners of 6 Music, but less than half the budget. *

Quite.

Mr Dickens said: “We would buy 6 Music from the BBC, both the brand and the network, and we’d run it more efficiently than they’ve been doing.”

Can you imagine the cosseted BBC numpties’ panic at the idea of having to worry about stuff like budgets, sponsors, competition etc? One can but smirk.

We need to accept that this is precisely what should happen to the entire BBC.

Sadly, though, not all in the future garden is rosy. I’ve listened to Absolute. The sheer volume of government information adverts on there makes it even more of a Labour mouthpiece than even the fucking BBC. And don’t think the Tories wouldn’t use the same methods to ‘nudge’ their target demographics.

The BBC will admit that the average age of its listeners, 35, is valuable to advertisers on commercial stations.

Yeah – 6Music listeners – that’s 700,000 savvy, middle-class pissheads, smokers, drivers of big cars. How could they resist?

AJ

UPDATE:

* I suppose it’s worth making the distinction that 6Music is a digital only station (DAB, Interweb, cable & satellite) whereas you can actually listen to Absolute on, you know, a radio. I reckon if 6 Music got an FM broadcast, the listenership would double or treble, just on in-car listeners.

This is indicative of the total fucking shambles that is DAB radio in the UK, in which the dead hand of the BBC is central. And there are already noises about supplementing (and probably replacing) DAB with DRM. So that’s four DAB equipped devices I have that’ll become deprecated or completely useless soon after 2012. Nice work, fuckers.

UPDATE 2: JuliaM displays her usual aplomb in slicing up the special pleadings for BBC Asian Network that are emerging.

A paragon of Labour virtue

Sounds like a nice chap…

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Frank McGrath, 59, was convicted of nine counts of concealing criminal funds for Silvano Turchet, 55, who is currently serving 15 years for the importation of Class A drugs.

The ex-Labour councillor, of Belton Hill, Fulwood, laundered more than £300,000 for Turchet, Manchester Crown Court heard.

AJ

Splendid

I do hope Guido has this right:

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Guido understands that Andy Burnham is about to be in some deep trouble. Yesterday he said he “did not believe that a lengthy, adversarial inquiry would be in the best interests of health care in Staffordshire.” Today it has emerged that in 2007, as a Junior Health Minister, he signed off on one of four stages of the Mid-Stafford Hospital’s elevation to Labour’s coveted Foundation Trust status. This was despite four formal alerts about the hospital’s dangerous practises. The rest they say is history.

No wonder Dave was asking about this at PMQs yesterday. Guido just got off the phone with Julie Bailey of Cure the NHS, a local group campaigning for a full inquiry into the case, who said she had to go because “we’re just about to start filming” as Andrew Lansley was on the way.

After Burnham’s “tired and emotional” outburst at Lansley last week for the death tax posters, Guido senses he may be dodging Nokias by the end of the tea time news…

… because Andy Burnham is a puritanical authoritarian scouse tosser.

AJ

A question I’ve not seen asked about #bullygate

How do the anti-bullying hotline know that the calls came from people working in Brown’s office?

Do they (and if so, should they) ask callers who they work for and where?

And if you are a caller and victim, would you tell some anonymong on the end of the phone that you worked in the office of the Prime Minister? Would you tell them where you work in any case?

A smell of fish is emanating from this in all directions.

AJ

Coconut shy councillor in court tomorrow

Do you remember this cretinous episode?

This is the one in Bristol where the (Lib Dem) black councillor called the (Tory) Asian councillor a coconut.

Councillor Shirley Brown will tomorrow be in court charged with racially aggravated harassment.  For calling someone coconut in the council chamber.

One would hope that this will be thrown straight out but who can honestly say?  Only one thing need stand out, though:

After a couple of days Brown made a lavish apology, albeit after apparently complaining to reporters: “How can I be racist? I’m black.”

How indeed.

[Cllr] Jethwa’s family arrived in the UK after being thrown out of Uganda — on the grounds that they were Asian — by a black African dictator, Idi Amin.

Long may these Muppets continue to tie each other in knots, as it were.

AJ

Die, story, die.

Why won’t this bullshit just die?

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:sigh:

I dealt with this shit last year, on 29th March, 28th August and 15th September.

Let’s consider from an economic and commercial point of view. Specifically, as the last G20 country to come out of what was the longest recession ever. With Q4 growth of a pathetic 0.1%, built on QE, the VAT cut, the stamp duty holiday, the scrappage scheme and Christmas shite.

The whole package would cost an extra £5.26 billion a year on top of the £2.07 billion at the moment.

And that’s pretty much just for the…

Fathers [who] would be eligible during that three-month paternity leave to statutory government pay of £123 a week.

So what about the cost to business?

Last night, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) pointed out that the new measure would be one of eight extra costs to businesses already planned for next year. In total, business leaders estimate that red tape and planned increases in national insurance will cost £25.6 billion over the next four years.

“I know, Gordon”, said Puppet-Gordon, “we love tax revenues, so let’s fucking kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”

Fuck off Labour. Fuck off welfare state. Fuck off paternity leave.

If you support any of these, you are a rancid, yeasty helmet.

AJ

12 months later

Then

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Harriet Harman, the women’s minister, said: “There is a major fear about women being targeted by their employers during the downturn. This is unlawful.” Another senior minister said women could be set back for “a generation”.

And now

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Outside Hackney Jobcentre the drizzle lands on the pavement. Inside, two dozen men stab at computer screens, looking for the day’s offers.

There is nothing extraordinary here, in the depths of a recession – except the lack of women. “There’s nothing there to find,” said Muhammed Maih, 26, who has been in and out of catering and retail work since the start of the recession. “More women get admin work. I want something too. When it gets worse and worse, I’ll take whatever’s there.”

Mr Maih is only one of more than 1.5 million men out of work. The latest figures reveal that men are losing jobs at twice the rate of women, producing a crisis of a magnitude seen only once since the end of the Second World War. In the US it has already been given a name: now, the “mancession” is spreading to Britain.

Are you happy now, Harriet, you hatchet faced harridan?

AJ

UPDATE: Perhaps this helps to explain why..

A ComRes poll at the weekend for the Independent on Sunday – highlighted here by Labour List  – shows that the Tories are 20 points ahead among men but only six points among women.

From our Venusian Correspondents

There are a few posts from the last few days that never made it out of my drafts folder.

Happily, some lovely lady bloggists have these things covered off.

As Ambush Predator notes, some fucking stupid bitch crashed her car while texting. When the airbags went off, her daughter was killed by fatal head injury.

Obviously something must be done

Miss Bunney called for greater awareness of the potential danger of airbags, adding: ‘[Chloe’s] death has just devastated us.’

Oh just fuck off – don’t make US live with YOUR mistakes, you cunt. Or as AP would have it:

Why, other than a perfectly normal and natural attempt to shift some of the blame away from yourself, are you focussing on the airbag issue?

And why are the MSM allowing you the airspace to do that, knowing that this will encourage some rentamouth to immediately call for ‘more research’ and an ‘awareness campaign’?

Next, I see the righteous are up in arms about Nick Griffin’s comment on Haitian ‘ingrates’ and the British taxpayer funds being sent, as people freeze to death here in the UK. As Mummylonglegs points out.

I hate to point this out but those people that will die here this winter paid a fucking fortune for the right to do so. I’m sure that as they lay on a floor, or a road, or a pavement, freezing to death they were very glad to know that they were giving their lives and their pensions and their council tax and their savings to those poor souls in Haiti

As far as I’m concerned, any likelihood of donating any money whatsoever to Haiti went straight out of the window when Gordon Brown got involved, such is the power of the man.

And Muffled vociferation shares my view on Brown’s more general approach to foreign aid:

What completely fucks me off is the audacity of Brown to a) legally bind any Government to such an untaking when he knows full well that Labour are going to lose the next election and b) how easily he pledges money that does not fucking belong to him!

Listen Brown you fucking halfwitted lunatic baffooon… this is NOT YOUR MONEY YOU ARE GIVING AWAY, IT’S THE BRITISH TAXPAYERS… and charity begins at home!

Far too much goes abroad and achieves absolutely nothing. Most of it fills the pockets of terrorists, dictators and aid agencies.

At the moment, we need much of it to stay in the UK.

Quite so.

AJ

"Miss Harman strongly refutes the allegations and will deny the charges.”

Or so her spokeshermaphrodite said earlier.

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Breaking news from Old Holborn and Guido is that she’s pleaded guilty.

Loving the cartoon over at OH:

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My punt on the punishment? 6 points, £200 fine, £120 costs.

AJ

UPDATE: ooh look – it’s even fucking less than I was expecting (points-wise at least):

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has been fined £350 after pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention.

Ms Harman, who is also Commons leader, did not attend the hearing. She was also told to pay £75 costs and had three points added to her licence.

Ms Harman, the 59-year-old MP for Camberwell and Peckham, was also told to pay a £15 "victim surcharge".

What a fucking bitch. What happened to the mobile phone charge? And what happened to the fact that

Careless driving can be punished with a fine of up to £5,000, up to nine points on a driving licence or a driving ban.

Oh and what about failing to stop or report?

Jesus.

AJ

UPDATE2: I see that she already had 6 points, so she narrowly escaped a ban. Which you or I probably wouldn’t have done.