My Dear Fuhrer: A Quick History of Daily Mail Fascism.

October 1, 2013

blackshirtsI can imagine there are very few people on all sides of the political spectrum in the UK that do not support Ed Miliband in his fight against The Daily Mail’s vicious smear campaign. Miliband took the rather unprecedented step for a politician when he decided to take on the Daily Mail directly. The hate rag, that apparently has no issue hounding vulnerable people to suicide aimed their most recent attack at the Labour leader’s late father; the revered Marxist academic Ralph Miliband. The Mail wrote:

“The man who hated Britain: Red Ed’s pledge to bring back socialism is a homage to his Marxist father. So what did Miliband Snr really believe in? The answer should disturb everyone who loves this country.”

– The entire piece surrounds a quote from Miliband Snr’s diary from the age of 17, in which he refers to Brits as ‘rabid Nationalists’. The entire piece asserting that the Labour leader’s father ‘hated Britain’ rests on that one quote. It is the mark of a paper that has no reasonable argument to make, and so just attacks, just hounds, and just aims to hurt lives. This is how the Daily Mail operates. It exists not to inform, but to injure. Not to progress debate, but to mislead and misrepresent. They do however present one aspect of the story, that they predictably quickly gloss over, but it is worth expanding on. The quote from the piece in question is:

“Ralph Miliband then served three years in the Royal Navy…”

– This is a particularly important quote, because whilst the father of Ed Miliband was fighting the Nazis by manning a destroyer during the heroic Normandy landings, the great-grandfather of the owner of the British-loving Daily Mail was back in the safety of Britain, supporting Hitler.

In fact as early as 1926, the Mail was known throughout Europe as a Fascist publication. In that year, Benito Mussolini wrote to the new Chief Correspondent at the Mail, G. Ward Price:

“My dear Price, I am glad you have become a director of the Daily Mail, and I am sure that your very popular and widely circulated newspaper will continue to be a sincere friend of fascist Italy. With best wishes and greetings, Mussolini.

A few years after a delighted Mussolini congratulated the Mail’s new Chief Correspondent on his position on the Fascist supporting paper, the proprietor of The Daily Mail, Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere in 1933 took that support one step further:

“I urge all British young men and women to study closely the progress of the Nazi regime in Germany. They must not be misled by the misrepresentations of its opponents. The most spiteful detractors of the Nazis are to be found in precisely the same sections of the British public and press as are most vehement in their praises of the Soviet regime in Russia. They have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call “Nazi atrocities” which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence such as are inevitable among a nation half as big again as ours, but which have been generalized, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny.”

– This was in the same year the Nazis implemented the Jewish boycott, leading to state managed harassment, beatings, and forced removals of Jews by Nazis. Less than a year later, the Nazis would engage in what is commonly referred to as the “night of the long knives”, in which political critics of the regime were brutally murdered. Lord Rothermere believed at this point that the Nazis bloodthirsty tyranny was being misrepresented.

In 1934, The Daily Mail began openly supporting the blackshirts; The British Union of Fascists, through its leader Oswald Mosley (himself heavily influenced by Mussolini, whom he met earlier in the decade). In 1934, the Mail wrote that the British Union of Fascists were:

“…a well organised party of the right ready to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Hitler and Mussolini have displayed”.

– This makes the “rapid nationalists” quote of Ralph Miliband seem completely uncontroversial. The Daily Mail openly supporting the methods and purpose of Hitler and Mussolini, for the sake of Fascism in Britain.

In the 1934, Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, and owner of The Daily Mail flew to Germany, and met with Adolf Hitler. Here are the happy couple:

Rothrmere.Hitler
– This is at a time when Daily Mail editorials were used as propaganda, by the Nazis.

In 1938, the Nazi owner of the Fascist-supporting, anti-British Daily Mail sent a telegram to Hitler to announce his support for the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland. In it, Rothermere wrote:

“My dear Fuhrer everyone in England is profoundly moved by the bloodless solution to the Czechoslovakian problem. People not so much concerned with territorial readjustment as with dread of another war with its accompanying bloodbath. Frederick the Great was a great popular figure. I salute your excellency’s star which rises higher and higher.”

– Rothermere was fully supporting an apparent Nazi (not German) right to empire in Europe. The annexation of Sudetenland lead to its Jewish inhabitants rounded up and thrown into concentration camps, alongside any left leaning opposition in the territories. A month after Rothermere sent his telegram of support for the “bloodless solution”, Sudetenland and the rest of the Nazi empire experienced the truly horrific night of broken glass, in which 91 Jews were murdered, Jewish homes and businesses destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men, women and children rounded up like animals and thrown into concentration camps.

A letter from Rothermere in 1939 (six years into Nazi control of Germany, and thousands of political murders later) congratulated Hitler on his success in Prague, and urged him to move on to Romania. Rothermere had befriended and was paying a Nazi spy in Britain – Stephanie von Hohenlohe – to further his contacts in Nazi Germany, and pass correspondence between himself and the regime. The brutality of the regime at this late point was obvious. Rothermere and the Mail turned a blind eye to it.

So, when you hear the Daily Mail insist that it is relevant to point to brief notes from the mid-20th Century childhood of the father of a political leader in the 21st Century as proof of his “hate” for Britain, and as an attack on his son today… we must keep in mind that during the same period of time, their paper and its owner (the great-grandfather of its current owner) were hoping British troops would fail (including the bravery of Ralph Miliband), and openly praying for a Nazi victory, and dictatorial Fascism across Europe and Britain.


E.ONs misleading response to Miliband.

September 25, 2013

In August 2013, E.ON Energy saw profits jump 14.7%, with their profit margin rising to 6.25% from 5.97% after price hikes of 8.7% for duel fuel customers. In the winter – the time when people struggle the most to pay their fuel bills, and in the middle of economic downturn – E.ON decided to put their prices up. They then claimed the profit increase was due to the cold weather….. in winter….. after they put their prices up. Seriously. Remember that when you read E.ON insisting that government programmes are to blame for customers paying more.

When reading E.ONs response, keep in mind that the Big Six netted the following profits collectively since 2009:
2009: £2.15bn
2010: £2.22bn
2011: £3.87bn
2012: £3.74bn
Over £1.5bn more in 2012, than 2009. They managed this during a period of economic stagnation, unemployment, and households struggling to put food on their tables, the big six were happily swimming in pools of profit. Remember that, when you read E.ON insisting that government programmes are to blame for customers paying more.

We can say for certain that Ed Miliband has finally struck the right chord, when energy companies who have seemingly experienced complete impunity with their mistreatment of the entire country for far too long, start to throw their toys out of the pram. Today was E.ON’s turn to act the spoilt brat. We must remember that, like the banks insistence that all the best people would leave the UK if the financial sector was in any way regulated for bringing down the entire system…. energy companies will start insisting that the UK will suffer intense blackouts, if we dare to put the breaks on their exploitation. Threats are worthless, and should not factor into discussion.

Labour’s plan isn’t just a price freeze until the end of 2017, but also the breakup of the big six to ensure a more competitive environment not dominated by what is becoming increasingly clear as a monopoly; and a new regulatory body to ensure necessary investment in greener technology. A completely new energy market. This is absolutely necessary. Centrica’s boss predictably reacted by suggesting that more competition, would lead to economic ruin. The spirit of Capitali….oh wait.

In response to Milibands speech, and the full Labour plan, E.ON UK released this press release, predictably not happy that their gravy train may now be coming to a end. Only an energy company could endeavour to write one long, deluded and manipulative piece that can be summed up with simply: we love our customers that much that despite their struggles in this tough time, we want to keep raising the price of their bills without consequence.

First thing to note is that E.ON are rather adept at misleading responses to customer’s worries. When asked about January 2013 price hikes, E.ON said this:

“Some 16 months after our last price increase, and almost a year since we actually cut our electricity prices, we have had to make the difficult decision to increase our prices in January.”

– A cut? That sounds like customers saved money over the previous year! Well, no. It’s a misleading statement to say the very very least. Which.co.uk provided this graph to show E.ON price hikes over the past three years:
eon
– Dropping £30, after a £160 increase, followed by another £100 increase, and (the graph doesn’t give 2013 date) a further increase of £110 for 2013…. does not in anyway represent a “cut”. The average household energy bill will now be 23% higher than in 2011. E.ON will now be the most expensive for average household energy bills, of all the big six, and £18 higher than the Big Six average. In 2012 the energy watchdog noted that the average annual profit margins per customer for the big six energy companies had risen to £125 in October, from just £15 in June.

In the press release today, E.ON boss Tony Cocker says:

“Let me start out by making clear where we absolutely agree. Our customers are the most important people in the world.”

– So much do customers mean to E.ON, that they rose their prices by over 8% for the first half of the year, increasing their profit margins, whilst knowing that customers would be needing to heat their homes during the cold winter months and in the middle of an economic downturn. So much are customers ‘the most important people in the World’, that Cocker goes on to spend the next 800+ words of the press release arguing his case for continued price hikes that his customers are struggling to afford.

Quick stat: Between 2005 and 2010, energy prices increased 57%:
chart1r2
– There is no positive outcome, is this trend continues. Everyone suffers unless those bars start to fall. E.ON cannot manipulate their way out of that responsibility. What we can deduce from E.ONs angry response to the Labour’s price freeze idea, is that E.ON intend to make those bars keep rising, until at least 2017.

In 2009 The Independent reported that whilst wholesale gas prices had halved, bills had fallen by just 4%. It took campaigns by newspapers, and grassroots groups to convince people to shop around, after discovering that the Big 6 were charging almost £200. The Independent noted:

“Quarterly and pre-payment customers who switch to Ovo or First:Utility would save £287.”

The Energy Contract Company, an independent energy forcaster said:

“The fall in spot prices has meant the domestic market is now highly profitable”.

– E.ON knew what it was doing. They knew that people were struggling, and that energy bills were one main reason, and they did nothing. But then, how else would they pay for E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen’s £3.6mn in salary and bonuses for 2011?

“You’ve called for us to be fair and reasonable in our pricing and our profit levels. We already are.”

– This is an opinion. I do not believe it fair to inflate prices during the coldest months, and during economic stagnation, knowing people are struggling, and forcing the most vulnerable into further hardship and debt, whilst profits soar. The Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) Project, in March, published its report into poverty in the UK. The report – ‘The Impoverishment of the UK‘ – found that one in three people couldn’t afford to adequately heat their homes throughout the winter in 2012.
Save The Children reported that families are going without food, to stop getting into debt over energy bills they cannot afford. This must be what E.ON believes is “fair and reasonable”.

“Read the letters from customers telling us of the difference to their lives, not just their homes, that the insulation we put in has made. Meet our customers at our Open House store in the middle of Nottingham who value and appreciate the extra help our people have given.”

– Why are we even discussing this? Everything is great! It’s like being mugged for £10, and then given £1 and the mugger telling you that he’s only trying to help.

Mr Cocker then writes:

“What do I mean by political programmes? Successive governments have collected taxes for different schemes through energy bills and this has added extra pressure and is a factor in why bills have risen over a sustained period of time. All politicians, from all sides, need to acknowledge that fact. At a stroke you could remove a large cost from energy bills simply by moving these costs to general taxation.”

– This is the crux of the entire press release. It is one big “tax us less, and we might consider not leaving pensioners to rot in fuel poverty. Deal?” And whilst we’re at it…. General taxation. Take the ‘burden’ away from massive profit making companies that pay their CEO’s extortionate bonuses, and onto the general public who are already seeing incomes drop? And what should those taxes be used for?…..

“So I’m asking all politicians: Help me to get Smart meters into more homes more quickly. Help me to get British homes up to a modern, energy efficient standard. Help me to get UK businesses on top of their energy use.”

…. of course. Those general taxes should go to E.ON! They want to pay nothing, and reap the benefits of everyone else paying. They don’t want a more competitive environment, they want the government to help their own company get ahead. What Mr Cocker is admitting here, is that despite vast profits, they are still unwilling to do anything to help bring your bills down, without government subsidies. A failing sector. More competition is absolutely vital. Force them to act for the benefit of their customers, through well regulated competition.

If successive government programmes were in fact responsible for much of the size of an energy bill… then it stands to reason that E.ONs profits should be at best flatlining, rather than skyrocketing. There would be no 14% profit jump. Government programmes have apparently been that restrictive on an incredibly small number of energy companies, that in 2012, they still managed to net £3.74bn between them, according to the regulator. How terrible!

Mr Cocker writes:

“Of course there are people who need our help and yes, there are a few we’ve let down but we have, and we are, making the changes needed to get things right: Simpler bills, clearer products, changes for businesses. Of course we need to rebuild trust with our customers, and reset our relationship. We acknowledge that, we have made changes, and we are making changes.”

– I’d like him to elaborate on who he thinks he’s let down? Perhaps the 100,000 former customer they overcharged for switching to a different provider, and which took the regulator to investigate and actually force E.ON to act? And when they speak of the changes that they are making…. how many of those were not forced upon them when it became clear that E.ON and other energy companies were ripping customers off at every possible opportunity? Clearer products – forced. Simpler bills – forced. Ed Davey insisted that the energy companies and the government were working to make bills more transparent. The fact that the government had to get involved and energy companies weren’t willing to make bills transparent in the first place, is a problem. You do not ‘rebuild trust’ by claiming to be fixing the problems of your own generous, good will, when in fact, you were forced. And until they’re forced to bring down energy prices, they will continue to manipulate, blame everyone else; usually government, kick and scream, and then eventually give in and accept that ‘we need to rebuild trust’.

Gas and electricity isn’t a commodity like any other. It is a necessity for most. It can be the difference between life and death, and therefore energy companies must put people before shareholders. They sell an extraordinary product that cannot be allowed to reap great profits for companies at the continued expense of the lives and finances of the public. During economic downturns, if the price of energy is causing economic pain across the country, then I would suggest that energy and gas profits should be minimal. This is not like selling jam, or Xbox games, or football shirts. If profits soar, whilst fuel poverty soars, something is deeply flawed, and the market is broken. E.ON call this “reasonable and fair”. Right there, is the problem. They see no problem.

And as I noted previously, we can deduce from E.ONs angry response, that they have every intention of rising prices over the next five years; the same period of time that the Chancellor announced austerity will now last until. The hardship and the economic pain will only continue, prices will rise, there will still be a lack of competition, and that’s what E.ONs press release argues for.

So, they don’t control much of the price, the government are to blame for the majority of the Bill, and they want the public to be taxed more to pay for their lack of investment? Why not just renationalise gas and electricity? I see no use for these big six companies any more. And judging by his statement today, neither does Tony Cocker. He doesn’t seem to see any issue whatsoever. For Cocker, they cannot afford to modernise, without government help, and according to Cocker, all the problems can be fixed by taxing them less, and taxing people more to fund E.ON. So why not just cut out the middle man? They were given a chance, they enriched themselves, and immiserated everyone else, whilst calling it ‘fair and reasonable’. Nationalise them.


The curse of the Tory Donors

July 10, 2013

Labour Leader Ed Miliband took a gamble this week with plans to reform Labour’s historic ties to the unions. From constant attacks surrounding the unions’ influence over the Labour Party in recent years, the Conservative Party play a very risky game given their relationship to very wealthy donors. A main complaint we often hear from the Tories’, is just how undemocratic the election processes within unions are. And this may be true. But again, the Conservatives play a very risky game in highlighting the undemocratic nature of unions, given that 52% of the British public did not vote Tory at the 2010 election; only 36% of a turnout of 65% did vote Tory; they didn’t manage to command a majority; they didn’t put their new coalition agreement to a vote; they didn’t run on the basis of a complete restructure of the National Health Service; and they didn’t explain where cuts would fall prior to election. As undemocratic processes go, the Tories between 2010 and 2013 have led the way on that one.

But the biggest risk the Conservative Party has taken recently, has been to highlight the links between the unions and the Labour Party. And here is why:

The Solicitor General and MP for the constituency of Harborough, Edward Garnier opposes, and voted strongly against practically all smoking regulations, in Parliament. Edward Garnier was treated to a £1,132 invitation to the Chelsea Flower Show, by the World’s third largest tobacco company, Japan Tobacco International (which owns Silk Cut, Mayfair, and B&H). Along with a couple other Tory MPs (also voters against smoking regulations), JTI spent around £14,000 wining and dining their new friends in government, in 2011. A month later, six of the MPs invited by big tobacco to the Chelsea Flower Show, tried to block a bill in Parliament banning smoking in private vehicles that had children present.

In November 2009, six months before the general election, and Andrew Lansley’s promotion to Health Secretary, John Nash of private health care provider Care UK donated £21,000 to Lansley’s personal office. This was the same year that Care UK received a large number of complaints – from demoralised staff, as well as patients – due its lack of acceptable care, losing contracts along the way. As Cameron – opposition leader at the time – was out insisting that the NHS was safe in his hands, that the Tories were now the party of the NHS, his Shadow Health Secretary was being bankrolled by a private health provider that was involved in a string of controversy, including an incident in which two bodies were left unfound for two days at Lennox House in Finsbury Park. Care UK now has a lovely little tax arrangement with HMRC by which, it takes out loans via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, and so lowers its tax bill (presumably so it can use the saved money, to fund the Tory Party). For a few Care UK horror stories, see here, here and here.
Dr KRH Adams Bolton, a Health consultant for 26 years in Bolton, wrote this of Care UK:

“They do not manage complex cases. They do not have intensive care facilities. They do not have the research and teaching responsibilities that the real NHS has. I would also question if the CARE UK staff have the same training and experience as a real NHS consultant.”

Care UK Hertfordshire received over 2000 complaints in 2009. In Harrow, Care UK received a zero-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, listing 20 failings, not once but on two separate visits. Not only that, but the miserable company has just won a £53m contract to provide healthcare to prisons.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism conducted research that found the Conservative Party between 2005 – 2010, reliant on hedgefunds, bankers, and investment executives for Party funding with just 10 donors from the City donating around £13,000,000 to the Tory Party in just five years. The biggest individual banking donor, was Michael Farmer, founder of hedge fund RK Capital Management. Coincidentally, he is co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Coincidentally, Farmer funded his son’s membership to the elite, violent, Bullingdon Club. Peter Cruddas, founder of CMC Markets gave £215,243. Coincidentally, he is an ex-co-treasurer of the Conservative Party, who once boasted that a large donation to the Tory Party would secure access to the Prime Minister and gain influence at No 10’s Policy Committee. There appear to be a lot of unfortunate coincidences when it comes to Tory Party donors.

Another ex-Tory Party Treasurer is Michael Spencer. Spencer and his business partner David Roland (David Roland is worthy of an article all by himself) donated more than £2m to the Tory Party in 2010. Spencer threatened to move his company’s operations out of London, if a financial transaction tax was introduced. Another wealthy Tory who doesn’t wish to be included in the “we’re all in this together” mantra, whilst threatening the jobs & the livelihoods of the staff he couldn’t care less about, in the process. The putrid Michael Spencer is the personification of Tory Party “values” in 2013.

On to David Roland. Roland, a Tory Donor who was set to become Party Treasurer in 2010 before revelations about his dodgy business deals, forced the Party to cancel his appointment, though not cancel his next £1mn donation on top of his previous £3mn donation the year before.
Rowland bought a lead smelting plant in Idaho which had, before he bought it, caused a massive environmental disaster, leading to acute respiratory health problems for children in the surrounding area, and the deaths of thousands of animals. Rowland bought the company, used the money set aside for the clean up to secure a property deal in New Zealand, and then sold the company. He tried to hide it, by moving the funds to Bermuda, but the US Justice Department blocked it after mass protests and political pressure. Apparently the Right Wing are convinced a single mother claiming a little extra in benefits each month, is monstrous, whilst David Rowland, some sort of hero. Rowland moved to Guernsey to avoid tax in the UK. So arrogant is Tory Donor – David Roland that he unveiled a statue on Guernsey… of himself. Len McCluskey not starting to look so bad afterall.

Jeremy Isaacs donated £190,000 in the past five years to the Tories. He was head of the Asian and Europe part of the Lehmann Brothers company; a company that helped plunge the World into financial meltdown.

Every employee in the country might not be too pleased to know that the man who wrote the government report on the need to strip workers of their rights when it comes to unfair dismissal, Adrian Beecroft, donated over £500,000 to the Tory Party, whilst personally investing in payday loan company wonga.com. Beecroft insisted in his report that the government should make it easier for companies to fire employees (thus, further helping companies like wonga.com), claiming it would promote economic growth. He provided no evidence for that claim. I’m not sure it’s right that very wealthy Tory donors, with links to predatory companies that benefit hugely from austerity, like wonga.com should be allowed to create government policy. As well as the Tories not having a mandate to do any of what they have so far done, the public certainly didn’t vote for an awful man like Beecroft to oversee certain policy making endeavours.

Those that stand to gain from the destruction of the public sector, are guilty of the exact same crime that the London rioters are guilty of; attacking the community that they live, for their own selfish benefit. Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5,000,000 to the Tory Party in 2001, is quoted as saying of party donations by individuals:

“absolutely natural and unobjectionable” for big donors to gain influence over policy”.

Lord Blyth. He used to be chairman of Boots, and then Chairman of Diageo – the company who make Guinness. Under his leadership, Diageo restructured its model, to avoid paying any tax in the UK.

In 2012, searchthemoney.com found that the Conservative Party was using a loophole in the donor system, to channel millions of pounds of donations into its coffers, with donors able to remain annonymous if they donated through a private club. If a donor gives more than £1500, they cannot remain anonymous. If they funnel the funds through a club, they can give up to £7500 without being named. Through this, the Carlton Club has donated over £500,000 to the Tories, without having to name individual donors. The local Party of Education Secretary Michael Gove has received over £100,000 from clubs, that don’t have to name their donors.

When Tory backbenchers wave their papers in Parliament in a show of euphoria at the Chancellor’s child impoverishing cuts, we know that they are cheering the further enriching and empowering of their very very wealthy, tax avoiding donors.

I am positive that I would rather a Party represented by Unions, and its members; those who fought for better working conditions, better pay, equal rights in the workplace, the end of child labour, the working week, minimum wage; than hedgefund managers, extremely wealthy, shadowy figures, and dangerous private healthcare and tobacco companies who keep their funds offshore, threaten to leave the country if they have to endure any sort of austerity, and sell access to the Prime Minister for large donations. The hypocrisy of a Tory leadership waging a ‘moral’ campaign against union activity with the Labour Party, is astounding. These are people that should not be allowed anywhere near political power. The Party of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.


Phone Hacking, The BBC, Left Wing Conspiracies and Boris!

July 20, 2011

There are a lot of blogs and articles surrounding the staggering resignations, deaths, arrests and revelations surrounding the Met and its Press Office run almost entirely by ex-News Corp journalists and their incompetent handling of two investigations; the utterly absurd judgement and ignorance of the Prime Minister; the shameful opportunism of Ed Milliband; with regard to the News Corp hacking issue. There are hundreds of articles and new revelations popping up every day. So I wanted to a somewhat different angle to this, and run down a tangent.

Though first, it seems that the Prime Minister is on the very brink of being dragged underwater and his Premiership drowned (I say that, with a lasting smirk on my face) as it emerged that not only was Coulson brought into Tory Party HQ, but also Ex-News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, who is one of the people who have been arrested so far, was an adviser to Coulson after Coulson began work for the Tories. This is particularly toxic for Number 10, because Wallis has already brought down Met Chief Sir Paul Steve Stephenson and Deputy Met Chief John Yates after it was revealed that the Met had employed Wallis as a PR consultant. This will be worth following, because even Tory blogger Iain Dale makes the extraordinary suggestion that Cameron could be brought down by this scandal. This is echoed with Tory blogger Mark Thompson offering up Theresa May as a replacement for Cameron, after betting agencies were taking 6-1 bets on Cameron being brought down, down from 100-1 two weeks ago.

Anyway. Onto the main point.

At Prime Minister’s questions last week, Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart asked the Prime Minister if the police would also be investigating what he refers to as a “criminal conspiracy” at the heart of the previous Labour Government and the Murdoch Empire, into the desire to undermine Tory Peer Lord Ashcroft in the run up to the General Election.

I think it necessary to evaluate the character of Graham Stuart MP directly, as to discern whether his little outburst is worthy of our attention.

When Graham Stuart was at Cambridge, he was the Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. His term also coincided with a scandal, in which voting for his election was seen as suspicious and irregularities in the outcome meant that eight of his colleagues in the CUCA resigned in protest. Eight!

As well as having a face you just want to slap, and being a little bit untrustworthy at election time, he also managed to acquire the services of the repair men to resurface his private road leading up to his luxury mansion, at a usual cost of £2,500….. for free. There are potholes on the public roads around the town that he lives, but instead the resurfacing was used for his private estate.

But even if he had to pay for the road (which he didn’t), he would be able to, with the money he saves on his fortune, through his expense claims, which he thinks are perfectly legitimate. According to his forms, that I have spent the past couple hours of my apparently boring life reading through, he claimed half the electricity bill, half the rent on the flat which comes to £1400 a month, half the council tax, food, internet, phone, mobile phone, digital camera, tripod, an Egyptian cotton satin sheet worth £40, £240 on bed linen from John Lewis which he says represented “good value for money“, four £86 pillow cases, £8,500 on food between 2005-2009, he claimed £85 from a company called “Freestye Design” whom design company logos. I wondered why he’d be using a company like that. When his expenses were released, he said:

“if anyone has any questions or queries about individual claims they are more than welcome to email me or contact my office and I will do my best to answer them.”

So that’s exactly what I did.
He didn’t reply.

So, given that this man has a bit of a dodgy typical Tory character, one has to examine his question. The point he was trying to raise, was that Tom Baldwin, Head of communications for Ed Miliband, had obtained information about the Tory Lord’s tax affairs illegally. It’s an odd charge to make, given that no one is likely to feel all that sympathetic toward a Lord, worth over £1bn at the heart of a Government (who, indeed, is the largest donor to the Tory government) whose mantra is “save save save!!” Money must be saved everywhere, disabled people must lose out, children must lose out, everyone who isn’t rich must lose out…….. except for Lord Ashcroft, who isn’t contributing to the save save save mantra, because the “illegally obtained information” showed that he is classified as a non-dom, which means he doesn’t pay any UK tax on his fortune made abroad. Yet, he is part of a legislature, that insists the UK is on the “brink of bankruptcy“. He is hardly likely to foster the sympathy of a public, in the same way that the hacking of Millie Dowler’s phone gained. The Tories are actively trying to divert attention away from themselves, because not only did David Cameron appoint Andy Coulson (they clearly want, and desperately need an Alistair Campbell), but Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London referred to the hacking scandal last year, as a Left Wing conspiracy. Whenever a Right Winger uses the term “left wing conspiracy” to refer to something they do not like (it happens alot in America, who, any time a gay guy says he wishes to get married to the love of his life, some lunatic Republican insists it’s all part of the “gay agenda“), I often want to bang my face against a wall and weep for the sanity of that particular section of humanity. Take Janet Daley writing in the Telegraph yesterday:

…..that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre.

Firstly, she does what most right wingers do, and suggests the BBC has a horrid left wing bias. She will no doubt point to some illogical evidence to back up her point, whilst ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The BBC, to me, has no real bias. It is almost impossible for a media organisation to be objective when objectivity itself is impossible with regard to politics. For example, whilst Daley will claim that Euroscepticism doesn’t get treated as a legitimate political view on the BBC, it is equally as important to point out (which she doesn’t) that the BBC personality who presents all their Westminster shows, is Andrew Neil, a man who was in the Conservative Club at the University of Glasgow, was a Conservative Party Research Assistant, and stood side by side with his former boss; Rupert Murdoch at the launch of Sky in the 1980s, before becoming a writer for the Daily Mail. It is almost impossible to become more right winged, before morphing into Margaret Thatcher. And he presents all of the BBCs Westminster coverage. The Daily Politics, sees Andrew Neil flanked by Labour MP for Hackney, Diane Abbott (never been a minister, or taken particularly seriously in politics) and Michael Portillo, a former Tory Defence Secretary, Shadow Chancellor, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Employment, and potential leadership candidate. The balance is tipped very much in the direction of the Right on this one.
The political editor at the BBC is Nick Robinson. One quick google search shows that Robinson, during his time at Oxford, was not just a member, but President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He was National Chairman of the Young Conservatives. Before the 2010 election he compared Cameron to Disraeli. After the election when the coalition agreements were being debated and drawn up, he referred to a Lib/Lab coalition as a “Coalition of losers“. And contrary to the views of the those of us on the Left, on his blog Robinson says of Cameron:

David Cameron prides himself on being bold when big moments occur – challenging for the Tory leadership in 2005, calling on Gordon Brown to have a snap election in 2007 and that “big, bold and generous” offer to form the Coalition in 2010.

What Robinson has done there, has metaphorically kissed and caressed a photo of David Cameron.

Daley is so blissfully ignorant to the fact that the past two years has seen the political discourse dominated by the desire to see deep public sector cuts rather than tax hikes for the wealthy; it has seen the emergence of the desire to revert back to the Capitalism that indeed failed and brought the World crashing down with it from both Labour and the Tories, and it has seen the discourse in the media and from the mouths of politicians everywhere throw spear after vicious spear at the hearts of anyone on benefits or in a Union. The NHS has been attacked, the Welfare state has been attacked, Universities have been attacked, the public purse has been attacked, and yet the very people who caused the mess in the first place have been given vast pensions and allowed to go free. A Guardian poll yesterday showed the Tories ahead of Labour, which all suggests that the public discourse and its limits are very firmly in the court of the Right Wing. A left wing discourse would, above all, launch a sustained attack on the very need for public sector cuts in the first place, it would be calling for a complete reinvention of the economic system as opposed to ignoring the inherent flaws which WILL lead to another crash, it would be unequivocally supportive of the Unions and public sector workers rather than painting them as out of touch, greedy, and overpaid, it would be constantly presenting the information surrounding Corporate tax avoidance and the obscenely high cost to the taxpayer rather than attacking the single mum who claims a few quid more than she perhaps should. As a left winger, it is an insult to hear the discourse of the political landscape in this country referred to as left wing. But that is the superb nature of right winged discourse, unless we’re throwing anyone with an Asian complexion out of the country, privatising the NHS, and shooting the families of Union leaders in the face, they will insist the Country is too left wing. Boris Johnson did that when he claimed the coverage of Phone hacking was all part of a left wing conspiracy. The same Boris Johnson who will now, in his short term as Mayor of London, see the arrival of the third Met Commissioner on his watch. Not a great record. So that’s Boris, Cameron, The Met, Lord Ashcroft (who we are now supposed to feel sympathetic toward) and Graham Stuart MP, who have not had the greatest of records pertaining to the phone hacking scandal.

Back to Ashcroft. In 2005, he commissioned two polls by YouGov and Populus. The polls were huge, and were set up to help the Tories target marginal seats, therefore it is most certainly in the public interest. He commissioned them and paid for them through his company which is based in Belize, which means he didn’t pay any VAT on them. The Guardian estimated that he owed £40,000 in unpaid VAT. Ironically, Vince Cable, now part of the Tory government funded by Ashcroft, said at the time:

“This is quite serious. We are now not talking just about Ashcroft’s non-dom status, but about systematic tax avoidance in funding Conservative party activities such as polling.”

– So why on Earth should I care that a man who sort to keep his tax details private whilst funding a Party who would almost certainly allow his abuses to continue as they gutted the public purse, had his details extracted illegally? There are levels of poor conduct within the journalist arena, and those conducted by Brooks and Coulson and the Met (the Chief of the Met had a meeting with the Guardian to urge them to drop the phone hacking investigation last year) and in-directly, David Cameron, is far far worse than those by Tom Baldwin.

Graham Stuart MP should quit his ramblings and just go back to his mansion, and lay on his Egyptian Satin tax payer funded sheets.

The saga continues…