The corrupt Leftist crooks who run Britain
Despite the caution expressed below, almost all the crooks have been from the Labour party. Even the Prime Minister has been implicated. Only one Conservative member has been implicated as far as I have seen
The systematic misappropriation by MPs of the allowance paid to defray the expense of keeping a second home is one of the great scandals of modern public life. It is a story that our readers, indeed the whole country, need to be told. Now, for the first time, it can be. As The Daily Telegraph discloses today, it goes far beyond the now familiar tales of barbecue equipment, bath plugs or adult movies bought at the taxpayer's expense. Many honourable members (of all parties, because this is, explicitly, not a party political matter) have been complicit in what amounts to an officially sanctioned and sustained abuse of public funds perpetrated against their own constituents over many years.
The extent of their rapacity is astonishing; and its scale can only be fully appreciated with the disclosure of the information being published by this newspaper. It will make uncomfortable reading for the MPs, for their families and for their voters. But it is right that the public should know what has been going on. Indeed, had the House of Commons accepted a ruling by the Freedom of Information Tribunal, a body established under legislation passed by Parliament, it would already have been published....
Many have claimed tens of thousands of pounds to furnish and renovate what any reasonable person would consider to be their principal residence – the home where their families reside. A large proportion of MPs have refurbished, decorated and sold second homes at taxpayers' expense, using the allowance to pay the mortgage interest and then pocketing the profit or buying another property. Many seem to have come to regard the allowance as a basic human right to be used for the most prosaic purchase.
MPs maintain they are all acting within the rules, but that is only because they set the rules and enforce them. It is arguable that some have acted beyond the rules. Those responsible for the most egregious abuses must have known that what they were doing was far removed from the purpose of the additional costs allowance. Yet because everyone was at it, they all joined in, with few exceptions. It is clear many MPs regarded the money as theirs to be claimed whether it was proper to do so or not.
They have done so to bolster what many in the Commons consider to be an insufficient salary, currently £63,291. That may be so; and it is a matter to be considered by Sir Christopher Kelly and the independent committee on standards in public life in the inquiry now under way. This tawdry state of affairs is having a serious impact on the country's opinion of our elected representatives. A recent YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph showed that 60 per cent of voters thought worse of MPs because of what they have discovered about the allowances system. Yet the evidence seen by this newspaper demonstrates that we did not know the full story – and nor were we going to be told it even when the receipts are officially published in a few weeks' time.
Efforts are under way to clean up this mess. Some reforms were agreed last week after a somewhat ham-fisted attempt by Gordon Brown to obtain political advantage from a scandal that afflicts every party. However, the central issue of the second-home allowance was deferred to Sir Christopher's inquiry. It is essential his committee expedites its work and comes up with its recommendations before the end of the year. In view of what we know now, there can be no doubt that the current system is rotten and cannot survive.
Any system based on an allowance that MPs are encouraged to claim in order to increase their income must be abandoned. There needs to be an independent audit of expenses that will obviate the need for future publication of receipts. If a system has public trust, it is not necessary for everyone to see what MPs claim. But in order for the Augean stables to be cleansed, it is first necessary to show how filthy they have become. Today, The Daily Telegraph does just that.
After 400 years, health and safety bans stepladders from historic Oxford library... but nobody can reach the books
Britain's ladder phobia again
Stepladders have been banned from part of Oxford University's historic Bodleian library - because of health and safety fears. The ruling by officials means that students cannot use items on the higher shelves of the Duke Humfrey reading room. However, the university is standing its ground and refusing to move the books from their 'original historic location' on the room's balcony.
As a result of the stalemate, students have to travel to libraries as far away as London to view other copies. Art History student Kelsey Williams, 21, had to travel 80 miles to London to view a copy of Arthur Johnston's 1637 work Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum after librarians refused to get it down for her. She said: 'Access to these books is necessary for my research and I wasted a day travelling to London and looking at the one in the British Library. 'It's madness because I can practically see the Bodleian's copy every time I walk into Duke Humfrey's.'
Stepladders have been used by scholars to reach books since the library was built more than 400 years ago. But the University's Health and Safety officer put his foot down last year and they were removed two weeks ago. A notice given to students requesting the books reads: 'Unable to fetch, book kept on top shelf in gallery. Due to new health and safety measures, stepladders can no longer be used.'
Laurence Benson, the library's director of administration and finance, said: 'The balcony has a low rail and we have been instructed by the health and safety office that this increases the risk. 'As part of the process the restriction on the use of ladders on the balcony have been introduced.
'The library would prefer to keep the books in their original historic location - where they have been safely consulted for 400 years prior to the instructions from the Health and Safety office.'
Britain's useless political police again
Mother told police she feared stalker would kill her. They didn't come. That night she was murdered. Stalkers are not as dangerous as ladders apparently
A mother of three was knifed to death by a stalker just hours after she rang police begging for help, it emerged yesterday. Mary Griffiths, a 38-year- old fitness instructor, had told friends that she was concerned for her safety because of the unwanted attentions of a man. At around 6pm on Tuesday she dialled 999 saying she was being harassed and asking for help.
Police assured her they would be with her within an hour, but never showed up. She was discovered dying from stab wounds to the chest at her home in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in the early hours of Wednesday. A 40-year-old man, who sources say had a brief relationship with her, has been detained under the Mental Health Act.
Yesterday the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed the matter had been referred to them. A spokesman said last night: 'The victim, Mary Griffiths, telephoned police at around 6pm on the evening prior to her death to inform them she was being harassed by a man. 'She was found seriously injured at her home early on the morning of Wednesday May 6, 2009. She was taken to West Suffolk Hospital but died there a short time later. 'Investigators will now consider the response of Suffolk police to the contact from Mary Griffiths prior to her death.'
Friends yesterday told how Miss Griffiths feared she was being stalked in the weeks leading up to her death. She had sent worried text messagesto friends, who warned her not to open the door of her £250,000 home to anyone. The three daughters from her marriage to estranged husband Jeremy, 39, were in the house at the time of the attack, but it is believed they were asleep.
A neighbour called emergency services at 2.45am after hearing screams. Armed officers were then sent to the scene.
Miss Griffiths' daughters Jessica, 13, Hannah, eight, and nineyearold Sophie were last night being cared for by their father.
Yesterday devastated family members arrived from Ireland. They were seen weeping and hugging each other outside the house. A message on flowers left by her sister Irene said: 'Don't worry, we will take care of your little princesses. I can't believe I am never going to see you again. Rest in peace sweet beautiful Mary.' Another from her brother Paul said: 'You excelled at everything you did and ended up with a beautiful family, a beautiful house and amazing friends. You'll never be forgotten little sis' by all your family. Just wish I could have been there when you needed me most of all.'
A friend, who asked not be named said: 'She was completely dedicated to her three daughters. She was devoted to them. She was an excellent mum who was there for her children and she was very caring.' Police arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of murder at a house two miles from the scene. He is currently receiving treatment in hospital. Details of his condition have not been released.
One of his neighbours said he believed the man had also been working as a fitness instructor and had only lived at the address for a few weeks. He added: 'I was woken up at about 3.30am by the sound of police arriving at the house. They got out of their cars and had their guns drawn. 'They went to the back fence and looked over to see him unconscious on the grass in the back garden. I heard them shouting out "armed police", but there was no response from him.
'Then paramedics turned up and started treating him for about 15 minutes. They put him on a drip before getting him on a stretcher and taking him to an ambulance.' The neighbour added: 'I have heard rumours that he was having a relationship with her (Miss Griffiths).'
IPCC Commissioner Len Jackson said: 'People will be understandably shocked and concerned by this vicious attack on a woman in her own home. It is important that we look carefully at how the police chose to respond to contact from Mary Griffiths prior to her death. 'We will therefore carry out a full and independent investigation into the police response.'
Gurkhas angry as British test cases snubbed
It is only huge public anger that gets a semblance of decency out of Britain's "compassionate" Leftist government. There is enormous admiration for the Gurkhas in Britain -- but not in the British government
Gurkha campaigners have voiced anger after test cases for retired Nepalese fighters to settle in Britain were rejected -- although the government hastily stepped in to try to reassure them. In a new embarrassment for Prime Minister Gordon Brown over the rights of the veteran soldiers, his immigration minister was forced to take to the airwaves at short notice to defuse the campaigners' fury on Thursday.
The snub to the Gurkhas came a day after Brown vowed to forge new plans within a month after the shock rejection by lawmakers last week of government's proposals to let only a limited number settle. Under the current rules, Britain would give residency rights to only 4,300 ex-Gurkhas, falling short of demands that they be granted to all 36,000 Nepalese ex-soldiers who served with the British army before 1997.
Indian-born British actress Joanna Lumley said after meeting Brown on Wednesday she believed she could trust him, and that the Gurkhas were counting on him to help them. But on Thursday it emerged that five Gurkhas -- including veterans of the Falklands and Gulf wars as well as the widow of another Gurkha soldier -- had had their applications to remain in Britain rejected by the government. "We trusted the prime minister to take charge of the situation. This is an outrage and a disgrace," said a spokesman for the campaign in an initial reaction.
The rejected applications were for Falklands veteran Lance Corporal Gyanendra Rai, as well as two other veterans, Deo Prakash Limbu and Chakra Prasad Limbu, and a Gurkha widow. But minutes before Lumley was due to hold a press conference to voice her ire, immigration minister Phil Woolas appeared on news channels to say the five Gurkha veterans had not been definitively rejected. He claimed the letters sent to the old soldiers said they had been rejected under current guidelines, but reassured them their cases would be reviewed under new rules to be decided by July.
In fast-moving developments, he then held impromptu talks with Lumley, before appearing at a hastily-arranged joint press conference with her at which the tension was palpable. "There are new guidelines coming forward and no action will be taken until those guidelines are in place," Woolas said, while Lumley explained she had been contacted by the prime minister's office, surprised at the rejections. "I am confident, and I can give you reassurance, that these cases will be settled in favour of the Gurkhas," the minister told Sky News television.
The government has argued that the cost of bowing to the Gurkhas' demands "could well run into billions of pounds". But lawmakers, including some from Brown's ruling Labour Party, dealt a shock defeat to the plans in parliament last week, forcing the government to think again.
About 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in the two world wars and more than 45,000 died in British uniform. About 3,500 Gurkhas currently serve in the British army, including in Afghanistan.
‘Why Al Gore is too chicken to debate me’
Christopher Monckton, the Third Viscount of Brenchley and well-known climate change sceptic, tells spiked he was censored by Gore. Challenging Wamism is to challenge the new religion of the powerful and, as in the middle ages, heretics are threatened with punishments akin to burning at the stake
Imagine if a well-known British environmentalist - Zac Goldsmith, say, or the less well-off but just as eco-committed Prince Charles - was on his way to Congress in the US to take part in a debate about climate change, only to be told at the very last minute that he was no longer welcome. That he was being denied this prestigious public-speaking platform for unspecified reasons.
There would be uproar, and understandably so. There would be op-eds and email circulars telling us that probably oil-funded, behind-the-scenes men had intervened to silence the green voice and to allow the other side - the sceptical, denying, twisted side - to have free rein in the debate. Someone would mention the c-word.
Yet reverse the roles, and replace the ‘silenced environmentalist’ with ‘silenced sceptic’, and no one seems to mind. At the end of last month, one of Britain’s most controversial climate change sceptics - Monckton, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, or whom I prefer to call ‘Christopher Monckton’ - was invited by Republicans to testify on climate change at the House Energy & Commerce Committee, one of the oldest standing committees in the US House of Representatives, alongside a ‘celebrity witness’ offered up by the Democrats: none other than Al Gore. But something dramatic happened while Monckton was in the air. Upon landing in the US, he was told that he could not testify after all; that Democrats had vetoed his appearance; that, in the words of one Republican insider, Gore had ‘chickened out’ of debating him.
‘It is believed that never before in the history of Congress has the Minority been refused its choice of witness’, Monckton tells me. He had been invited by Joe Barton, the ranking Minority (Republican) member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, to give testimony alongside a then unnamed ‘celebrity witness’ put forward by the Majority (the Democrats). But as soon as the Democrats told the Republicans that Gore, maker of the movie An Inconvenient Truth, was to be their ‘celebrity witness’, and the Republicans revealed that Monckton was to be theirs, the Democrats reportedly ‘immediately refused’ to allow Monckton to testify. And given that the Minority had ‘failed’ to come up with a respectable, appropriate witness, the Majority took the unusual step of choosing a new witness for them. ‘The one person they did not want testifying alongside Gore was me, for I would have destroyed forever what little credibility he still retains’, says Monckton, cockily.
Clearly his reputation precedes him. Monckton, whose grandfather was chief legal adviser to King Edward VIII during the Abdication Crisis and whose father was a much-decorated major-general in the British Army, has had a colourful (some might say coloured) career. He was an adviser to Thatcher in the 1980s. He later invented the famous geometric Eternity Puzzle. He won no votes when he tried to get elected to the House of Lords in 2007 (this being the House of Lords, it wasn’t a normal, democratic election: there were 43 candidates for the seat and 47 voters). As is befitting a former Thatcherite, he has some extremely wayward views: he was involved in the right-wing Committee for a Free Britain in the 1980s, whose members, amongst other things, backed scab miners during the miners’ strike of 1984/85, and in 1987 he wrote an article arguing that the only way to deal with AIDS was to ‘quarantine all carriers of the disease for life’. Today, Monckton is most famous, or infamous, for being a sceptic - or, in the words of one green writer, a spouter of ‘pseudo-scientific gibberish’ (1).
Monckton says environmentalism has become a ‘new religion’ that is intolerant of dissent. He believes Democrats refused to allow him to testify because ‘they know, from earlier testimonies, that I know enough about the science to expose [Al Gore’s] lies in detail’. Certainly the Democrats seem keen to protect Gore, the failed president turned global prophet of man-made doom, from one of his sternest, most relentless critics. In 2007 Monckton wrote a widely distributed essay titled ‘Thirty-Five Inconvenient Truths: The Errors in Al Gore’s Movie’, and he helped with the distribution of Martin Durkin’s climate-sceptic film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, to schools in the UK after it was revealed that the government planned to send Gore’s film to schools. Gore, honoured with the Nobel Prize and fawned over by governments, the media and both moderate and radical greens, is more used to being treated as a secular version of the Dalai Lama - that is, Beyond Criticism - than as a mere mortal whose ideas should be submitted to the messy and potentially embarrassing rigours of public debate. Little wonder House Democrats vetoed Monckton.
Monckton, who goes further than many other climate change sceptics in that he argues there ‘will not be any “global warming” crisis caused by human influence on the climate’, seems to believe that Gore and others are afraid to debate him because, secretly, they are uncertain of their case. This is a common belief in sceptical circles: the idea that greens run from or shun debate because they know that their science, or ‘The Science’ as they call it, is shaky, and they are petrified of being exposed as charlatans before the eyes of the world. ‘The Democrats know that Gore has lied and lied and lied again to exaggerate the non-existent “threat” of “global warming”’, says Monckton, ‘and that I would have exposed those lies in detail’. I’m not convinced. It isn’t because they fear they are wrong that environmentalists are uncomfortable with debate; it is because they are utterly convinced that they are right.
It is their conviction that they are, in Gore’s words, engaged in a ‘generational mission, with the exhilaration of a compelling moral purpose’, where The Science plays the role of The Truth and the CO2 plays the role of Evil, that environmentalists can brook no dissent or ‘heresy’. Theirs is a profoundly moralistic movement, which comes complete with stories of good and evil, and, in Gore’s words, with ‘the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict that so often stifle the restless human need for transcendence’ - and like all religious-style ‘generational missions’ built on simplistic morality and mythical scenarios of future, weather-driven punishment for our sins, it does not lend itself to rational discussion or alternative viewpoints.
Hence its non-adherents are not just labelled ‘wrong’, but morally suspect: they are ‘deniers’, ‘heretics’, even psychologically flawed (2). Real scientific investigation always involves dissent and debate; so do normal political projects. But a ‘shared and unifying cause’ that is stuffed with goodies and baddies and is designed to allow those ‘suffering from a loss of meaning in their lives to find hope’ (yes, Gore again) does not. History tells us that.
Environmentalism is innately, almost casually, hostile to dissenting views. From the Democrats turning away Monckton, to greens who complain that sceptics are given too much media coverage, to the demand that there should be future criminal tribunals to try and punish ‘climate change deniers’, environmentalists do not conspiratorially draw up blacklists of unacceptable individuals who must never be allowed to challenge their ‘lies’ but, even more worryingly, simply assume that open debate is potentially destructive and that dissenters are dangerous.
So the UK climate change minister, Ed Miliband, recently said that opposing windfarms should be as ‘socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seat belt’. And in a recent debate with climate change sceptics at a film festival in Amsterdam, Franny Armstrong, director of the much-lauded (including by Miliband) The Age of Stupid, predicted - without a flicker of shame - that in 50 years’ time, when ‘hundreds of millions of people have died [as a result of runaway climate change]’, there will be an ‘environmental court [and] climate sceptics will be charged with those murders’ (3).
In short, the words of sceptics are murderous. These sceptics - Monckton, David Bellamy, Nigel Lawson, Bjorn Lomborg - will be as guilty of murder in Bangladesh and other parts of the world reportedly threatened by climate change as if they had strangled those poor people with their own hands. The erosion of the distinction between words and actions, and the explicit attempt to make it socially taboo to raise awkward questions about the politics and science of environmentalism, speaks to a rather terrifyingly censorious streak in the green outlook, and reveals the extent to which non-debate is being normalised across society. This is something worse than a behind-closed-doors conspiracy to protect Al Gore’s ‘lies’ from irritating challengers, as Monckton seems to see it. It is the slow but sure, instinctive and all-encompassing creation of what John Stuart Mill called ‘custom’: a new general way of seeing things, a new kind of conformism, of the sort which, as Mill said, ‘stands as a hindrance to human advancement’. Custom is the enemy of freedom and progress, said Mill: ‘The progressive principle, in either shape, whether as the love of liberty or of improvement, is antagonistic to the sway of Custom.’ (4)
Monckton sees environmentalism as a monstrous creation of the left. ‘Logic and the left are strangers to one another’, he says. Yet while the vast majority of the left has embraced environmentalism in recent years, there is little ‘left wing’ about the green outlook. Indeed, the rise and rise of environmentalism, which springs more from the traditionalist, aristocratic desire for conservationism than it does from old left-wing projects for progress and development, can be seen as representing the death knell of once-progressive left-wing politics.
Where people on the left once argued that the problems facing humanity were social ones, requiring social solutions, today they see everything from unemployment to Third World poverty as a ‘natural problem’ that requires restrictions on individual behaviour in order to prevent further planetary destruction. Where once the left argued that we needed more production and consumption in order to liberate humanity from need, today they say we must have less in order to liberate the planet from man’s ‘carbon footprint’. Environmentalism is not ‘the left’ in action; it is the ideology that has replaced the end of politics and in particular the demise of the left’s once principled insistence on social visions of the future and on the creation of more resources for the benefit of humanity.
This, too, explains the lack of debate today. When the problems we face were recognised as social, the onus was on political contestation and debate, as different groups with different social visions clashed about how things should be fixed and improved in the future. When the problems we face are re-labelled as issues of ‘natural limits’ - with only one possible fixed solution: reshaping people’s behaviour in order to prevent them from recklessly transgressing those ‘natural limits’ - then it is intolerable for people to dissent or to demand more or to question the consensus. To do so is not only wrong or risqué or daring, it is potentially destructive and harmful to future generations. It is the equivalent of murder, or at least of driving a car without wearing a seat belt. Environmentalism simply cannot countenance true, meaningful debate.
IT'S A BARGAIN! BRITISH CLIMATE BILL MAY ONLY COST £20,000 PER FAMILY
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband admits the cost of laws aimed at tackling global warming has soared to £404 billion. Laws aimed at tackling global warming could cost every family in Britain a staggering £20,000 - double the original forecast. Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband admitted the bill for introducing legislation to cut greenhouse gases had soared from £205billion to £404billion between now and 2050.
But in figures quietly released to Parliament, the Cabinet minister claimed the benefits to the UK would be more than £1trillion - a tenfold increase on the £110billion predicted last year. Last night Mr Miliband was accused of entering 'Alice in Wonderland territory' with the figures in an attempt to stifle concern about the price of bringing in the Climate Change Act. Senior Tory MP Peter Lilley said Mr Miliband 'heavily massaged' the statistics to 'remove embarrassment' that the laws represented poor value for money.
But ministers insist the costs of not acting on climate change would be higher than the price of acting now. Under the Climate Change Act, the Government is committed to cut carbon emissions, blamed for global warming, by 80 per cent before 2050. Originally the Government wanted to cut emissions by 60 per cent, with maximum costs of £205billion and benefits of £110billion. But the figure rose to 80 per cent after a threatened backbench revolt last year.
The extra cost was only revealed after the Bill became law in November. Four months later Mr Miliband slipped out revised figures in the House of Commons Library to avoid scrutiny, say critics. They show the cost, which the Government says represents the predicted difference between the economy with and without carbon-constraining measures, had soared to a worst-case scenario of £404billion - in the region of £20,000.
Mr Lilley, a former Trade Secretary, said he accepted a reduction in global warming would cost a lot. But in a letter to Mr Miliband he said: 'When it comes to your revised estimates of the benefits we enter Alice in Wonderland territory.'
Mr Miliband said the benefits had risen because a global deal on tackling carbon emissions was more likely because Britain had passed the Climate Change Act. He denied the figures were framed to produce a convenient answer.