Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Save the Red Lion

If Tory Bear is drinking post work there is an 85% to 86% chance it will be in The Red Lion next to Parliament. The scene of much debuchary, plotting, pranks, tears, joy and Strongbow, it was great sadness that TB learnt, via the resurreted
, that the pub is to be gutted. "Kash", the editor drinks reguarly with the manager so has the inside knowledge:
"The proposals, which include scaffolding, replacement carpets, a new sign and wall stripping, could mean temporary closure whilst the work takes place. The new-look Red Lion is said to include a HOT FOOD COUNTER in the main bar, a jazzed up cellar bar and a shiny new front design to wow punters in Westminster."
Firstly there is the closure to deal with, The Westminister Arms is full of socialists and for some reason TB's lobby pass still hasn't arrived, so that rules out the cheap beers in the Palace. But secondly, and more importantly, what is wrong with the Red Lion now? It's about the last decent pub centrally that isn't trying to be anything other than a watering hole and frankly its dingyness adds to its charm. It's rammed almost every night and no one one wants to rest their pints on a jacket potato stall. Just leave it alone! If it ain't broke...


Well it was only a matter if time before things kicked off when Nick Cohen was invited to a pub to debate the cream of the British blogosphere. The Westminster Sceptics debate last night was rather dry until a longer than necessary refreshments break. As soon as the panel, which included Isaby, Sunny Hundal, Slugger and Guido, sat back down things got heated. Telling fellow panellists to eff off and members of the audience that "a seven year old retarded child' could make better points anyone would think Cohen was trying as hard as Rod Liddle to secure the editorship of The Independent.

Much fun had by all though and good to put some faces to names.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Parliamentary Delusion

From whatever way you look at it, the three MPs can in no way claim Parliamentary Privilege. Though it was in very different circumstances at the time, just look no further than the book that Michael Martin

at Damian Green:
I should also remind the House, as stated in chapter 7 of “Erskine May,” that parliamentary privilege has never prevented the operation of the criminal law. [Interruption.] Order. The Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in its authoritative report in 1999 said that the precincts of the House are not and should not be

“a haven from the law”.

There is therefore no special restriction on the police searching the parliamentary precincts in the course of a criminal proceeding—nor has there ever been.
If that was the rules in those ridiculous circumstance, then they definitely apply when there is actually evidence of a crime taking place.

Monday Cartoon

Birds of a Teather

Regular readers will remember TB's recent attack on Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather and more specifically her dodgy office expenses. Read up

, or watch
for a recap. Well it seems her lawyers keep strange hours. Late on Sunday night TB was emailed a letter reportedly from Wragge & Co LLP warning him that an Member in the middle of tight, bitter fight to remain in Parliament would be willing to see her entire expenses arrangement dragged through the courts in the middle of a general election campaign. Apparently Ms Teather, who used taxpayers money to directly aid her election campaign, has taken objection to being called a "thief":
"The complaint alleges that Ms Teather claimed expenses incurred in campaigning. As you will also know, that allegation is very strongly denied by Ms Teather. It is disappointing therefore that you have decided the matter yourself, ahead of the outcome of Mr Lyon’s investigation, and have publicly pronounced Ms Teather a thief.

We have advised Ms Teather that your publication is actionable in defamation, and that the defamation is serious. The outcome of a claim against you will be entirely predictable once Mr Lyon has reported.

We therefore invite you to withdraw your assertions, and require you not to repeat them. Failing such withdrawal, or upon any repetition, we are instructed to advise Ms Teather further on the commencement of proceedings against you."
Well TB certainly awaits the Lyon report with bated breath. When will people finally realise that threatening legal action to people online can only make things worse? In the mean time by all means feel free to describe Ms Teather as a thief on your own blogs. She can't sue us all.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Tears for Piers

What does a politician, often seen as cold and aloof, do when they are up against the polls? Well let's ask Brown's old Democrat hero Hillary Clinton:

That's right, an overwhelming show of emotion is one of the last cards a desperate politician has to play. TB has no doubt Brown's raw emotion displayed was genuine. The pain of losing someone is there everyday, but his timing must be drawn into question. Brown is an elusive and intensely private person, who's emotions normally only manifest in throwing Nokias and staff members out of their chairs. His team negotiate interviews intensely, hence how furious he was when Marr redeemed his previous Brown-nosing with

that question
in September.

Make no mistake, his appearance on the Piers Morgan show would have been negotiated and debated behind the scenes, with the exact line of questioning known to him. He has spoken before and even attacked David Cameron for using his children in the political world so the sudden u-turn can only be for electoral reasons. Of course the pain is real but you can't have it both ways. You can't attack people for using their children and then expect not to be called out when you do it yourself to a far far greater scale. Labour were quick to jump on Cameron's one line mention of the death of his son, just months previously, in his conference speech. Yet deafly silence from the left about this. Funny that.

So now the PM is getting an hour's "normalisation" period on prime time television next weekend to use for his own electoral advantage, when can we look forward to seeing a close friend interview Cameron for an hour on ITV?

Friday, 5 February 2010

Tea Party at the Commons

A date for the diary - Wednesday, 3rd March 2010. It's that time of year again, the YBF Parliamentary Rally. Always a sound occasion. Speakers, including Shadow Cabinet members, will engage directly at this exclusive parliamentary gathering with discussion on issues such as:

- civil liberties, ID cards and the database state
- the European Union and freedom
- foreign policy threats and opportunities
- Gordon Brown’s recession
- the upcoming General Election

It will be a tour de force of current Conservative thinking and plans to change the country. For security reasons, speakers will be announced over the coming weeks on
and at the
YBF site

TB is speaking apparently. Get your ticket

A Little Letter Goes a Long Way

So fantastic news that finally someone is going to be held accountable for their actions. Three Labour MPs, Chaytor, Morely and Jim Devine and Tory peer Lord Hanningfield will be in the dock.

As TB expressed last night he was unsure how the first three were expecting to be cleared. TB is particarly happy to see the Devine files being passed on to the CPS. It was, with his
day job
hat on, he who orginally put the complaint about Devine into the Met:

Congratulations to Paul Hutcheon at the Sunday Herald who has kept the pressure on Devine for years and made sure all the allegations saw the light of day.

This is an important step toward fixing this rotten parliament.

Caption Contest:

Prize for what each of the Tory front bench is thinking.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Is Devine Going To Get Away With It?

Labour's Jim Devine faked up a VAT number on a mocked receipt for some building work that may or may not have been undertaken by his mate from the pub. He then filed the fake reciept. Already he has been sacked by Labour but he is a fraudster who should be sent down.

TB is slightly unnerved by the lovely Cathy Newman's
tonight that only two MPs will be prosecuted. They will surely be phantom mortgage lads Chaytor and Morely. There seems to be little way you could do one with out the other.

But that can't mean Devine is going to get away with it? It's an open shut fraud case?!

In Reply to a Deluded Public Servant

Due to the fact TB's comment's don't seem to have been approved over at Kerry McCarthy's blog, he thought he would publish his reply to her

mud slinging
. The reply in full:
Twisting the words there much Kerry?

As you will read on Left Foot Forward I clearly explained that Eric Pickles announced that Labour would be fighting a dirty election, as you well know, and therefore there was an important role for rebuttal online.

As for the Sunlight Centre. You're not that special to be the only MP to have a call from someone there today. Given the intense public interest in the expenses saga should it be any surprise that an 
anti-corruption group
would query a suspicious sounding use of public money? It would be easier if the company in question clearly explained that they hired out photocopiers.

Thankfully I hear your staff acted in a graceful and professional manner, something you seem to find increasingly difficult.

It was not a media inquiry but part of an on going investigation by an organisation into openness and transparency in the British political system. Something you are your colleagues have held so deeply in disregard for too long.

Sorry if being questioned by a competent female made you feel uncomfortable. Instead of hiding behind cries of sexism you actually had to deal with scrutiny.

Wasn't so hard was it?

UPDATE 19.53: Seems Kerry has engaged. You can follow the ding dong developing

Quote of the Day

"The expenses scandal is like the ex that keeps turning up and you drunkenly mate with out of habit. Transient pleasure, then everyone feels grubby."

-Gift of the Fab

Legg Lobs the Grenade

TB is busy trawling the Legg report. Live updates

Again just weeks before the general election, expenses are back dominating the news agenda. Looks like today's bell tower is going to be the Viggers flag pole. TB would rather we paid for all of our public servants to display the Union flag outside their publicly funded home than they were given food and TVs.

This is not the end of the expenses crisis, however hard the MPs want it to be. This comes to an end when the country gets to make their judgement on their representatives.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

When is a briefing not a briefing?

When it's a drinks party. TB sadly had to curtail his attendance early at the CCHQ bloggers meet and greet drinks party last night. He was there long enough to hear a vintage Pickles and drink his fair share of the copious amounts of free booze. He hears it went on till three am with some epic karaoke.

He was most amused then this morning to have a phone call from Will Straw who was on the trail of a hot lead. He put some questions to TB about whether Eric Pickles had told bloggers they would now be receiving 7am briefing notes on the lines to blog and tweet about. Utter tosh of course.

"Evidence based" blog Left Foot Forward

have run
an anonymous email from someone who clearly wasn't at the event last night. Needless to say they have been pummelled in the comments section. Where is the evidence there? And TB was sure Left Foot Forward "don't do attack"? Of course as soon as emails were forwarded to the likes of the over excitable, near hysterical Sunny Hundal, the left were is
spasms of joy
. Finally the Tory bloggers were seemingly just like them, willing to puppet lines. Well sorry to disappoint chaps, the whole story is bullshit:
  • No memo.
  • No briefing.
  • No evidence.
  • No substance.
No wonder these blogs are gaining popularity on the left - they embody essence of Labour.

Ironically Pickles attacked Labour's central control online and mentioned rebbuting Labour's lies and spin and misinformation that they are so willing to peddle. Frankly the fact that almost everyone who was in the room last night was willing to defend what was said and dispuite such blatent lies from Left Foot Forward and Liberal Conspiracy is not evidence of a coordinated attack but evidence of how far wide of the mark these made up allegations are.

It is no surprise that this sort of thing has happened again. After a Christmas lunch for some online folk organised by the party, James Macintyre of the New Statesman made up similar ridiculous spin about the event. TB is surprised he has not waded into today's fun and games. Has this merchent of lies finally decided to turn over a new leaf after getting so badly burnt last time?

A poor day for the lefty bloggers, jealousy does such terrible things to people's judgement. They have exposed how in sync they are on attack lines and higlighted just how little evidence or infomation they need to spin out a nonsense attack. Will should stick to reprinting data sent to him from above in graph form and Sunny should stick to what he is best at.. ummm. Well not this clearly.

PMQs Review - Dave is Back

From the very first question on Brown's secret slush fund, the Prime Minister was on the back foot. He cocked up the joke he stole from Andrew Neil about changing policy through the day and he was clearly not expecting Dave to be back on classic form. And on form he was.

The Chilcot quotes, the Paddy Ashdown diaries quote and the nod to the fact Gordon throws his female staff around the bunker made for brilliant watching. Gordon was livid, Labour MPs were stone faced and even Darling laughed. He tried to fight back but was fuming. A fantastic return to form for Dave. About time too.

Dave 9, Gordon 2

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Quote of the Day

"I think that's why we are down for best adapted screenplay - it's adapted from The Iraq Inquiry."

-Armando Iannucci talking to Sky News about In The Loop's Oscar nomination.


Sadly for the comrades, their leader is not on one of them.

Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear

Via the ever growing

Big Brother Watch
this image certainly livened up that post lunch slump. Body scanning became compulsory at Heathrow today. Something tells me Cabinet members won't be randomly selected for it though. But...
TB better duck for cover.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Verdict on Adeela Attack - Labour Guilty

Whatever your views on the
Kerry Out campaign
, be they supportive or dubious, no one can argue that Labour aren't rattled by it. As part of a coordinated campaign day for Kerry McCarthy, some seriously dubious allegations have been plastered across the pages of the Mirror and the internet.
Firstly the Mirror was tipped off by Labour HQ's opposition research bods, Labour can't afford much but they sure as hell are bringing in the dark artists. Labour bloggers and twitter users have confirmed to TB that they were tipped off by Victoria Street and asked to heavily promote the story.
. The whole day will then end in a phonebanking session for Kerry run directly out of Labour's Victoria Street HQ.

The Mirror piece is an extremely lazy piece of journalism. It makes a series of swathing allegations backed up by absolutely no evidence. Blogger MPTP goes into some legal detail
You would think that any journalist, let alone one from a left-wing, Labour-partisan newspaper, would want to include in information about the circumstances in which these CCJs were incurred. It also seems strange not to approach the claimants for comment – and there is no indication in the story that the Mirror did. Why wouldn’t you ask the claimant why the debt is “outstanding”?

I suspect I know why.

The central register of country court judgements for England and Wales is maintained by the Registry Trust, a not for profit company set up in the early 1980s. Anyone can search the register, for a small fee, and the credit industry buys the data in bulk.

One of the interesting things about the register is what it doesn’t contain: to whom a CCJ debt is owed, or the circumstances in which it was incurred. A register entry for a CCJ consists of the amount, the court which made the judgement, the case number, and the date of the judgement.

So…the Mirror’s story contains no more information than could be found in a Registry Trust search against Adeela Shafi, and lacks the information which is not present in the CCJ register? The conclusion I draw is that the only basis for the Mirror story is a search of the CCJ register.

If that is correct, then the terms in which the story is written may yet prove problematic for the Mirror. It is specifically said that

…£324,272 is outstanding – despite her being ordered to repay it nearly three years ago in July 2007 – five months before she became a prospective Tory MP.

This goes well beyond the contents of a Registry Trust search result. The Register does hold a status for each CCJ, either “satisfied” or “unsatisfied”, but unsatisfied is not the same as unpaid.

Unsatisfied indicates that Registry Trust has never been notified of payment, whereas satisfied means that the debt was paid more than a month after the judgement. If a debt is paid within one month of judgement (or the judgement is set aside), the CCJ is removed from the register altogether, and there would be no trace of it in any subsequent search.

So here’s the problem – at this point there’s no evidence that Adeela Shafi owes a penny, but there’s a very clear implication from the Mirror that she owes £324,272. I’ve set out above why I think all the Mirror has is a CCJ register search – which can’t support that implication. You can defame by implication, of course, and an implication that someone has failed to pay a substantial amount despite a judgement is plainly defamatory.

Has the Mirror exposed itself to a defamation suit here? It will turn on whether there is some truth in the implication, and so far there has been no comment from either Shafi or the Conservative Party. 
On a related note, why didn’t the Mirror bother to access the court records? From these they could have obtained the names of the claimants in these cases, and details of the circumstances. That would have nicely padded out the story – frankly, have turned it into something worth printing.
A damning indictment on a shoddy piece of attack from Labour. If it was a real story it would have appeared somewhere else, anywhere else even.

Now the KerryOut campaign has been an interesting experiment in techniques of online fund-raising and raising awareness nationally of interesting local fights. It will liven up again as soon as the election is called and the streets will be pounded. The fact that Labour have resorted to trying such a blatant hatchet job on Kerry's opponent shows just how low they are willing to stoop.

P.S. It's really obvious when you try to coordinate attacks quite so unsubtly. Why not just come out and say it? Why is an MP hiding behind kids online half her age to do her dirty work? Labour HQ, on behalf of Kerry McCarthy and her team are directly behind these unsourced and unproven slurs on her opponents character. And she doesn't even have the guts to put her name to it. Another reason for the #KerryOut list eh?

Another One Bites the Dust

Shagging Nigel Griffiths was certain to lose his seat, hopefully to the excellent Neil Hudson, but the Liberal Democrats are fighting Edinburgh South hard. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Griffiths has been at Gordon's side since he rose the dodgy internal ranks of the Scottish Labour Party and has always be willing to do the dirty work at Gordon's asking.

A somewhat surprising candidate to be caught up in the sex scandal he did, but Griffiths was bonking call girls on Remembrance Day on his Commons desk. Add the expense fiddling and general two faced slimness and you can see why even Labour activists
are happy
retiring to spend more time with his publicly funded wide-screen telly.

Westminster will be a better place without him.