More trouble for the Fib(bing) Dems.

Having already had Teather-gate, it seems those North London Lib Dems have got another round of explaining to do – this time relating to the mayor of Camden Council, who has been arrested on suspicion of benefit fraud.

Council leader Keith Moffitt said that Omar Faruque Ansari would be suspended from the Liberal Democrat group in Camden Council whilst investigations are being carried out.

Looks like this one could be ongoing, so I’m keeping an eye out for developments.

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Not a good week for the Lib Dems.

Preaching about how the expenses scandal is all down to corruption in politics and how it would all be solved under the Lib Dems is all well and good – until your own CLP comes under fire for irregularities. Sarah Teather, MP for Brent East has famously jumped on her high horse over the expenses scandal, preaching from the pulpit. “What planet were MPs living on?” she asks.

Thanks to some stellar work by Political Scrapbook, Brent Lib Dems may have a lot of explaining to do (note here: do read Political Scrapbook’s investigations into this, makes for essential reading).

But, to summarise:

  • Teather has been accused of sub-letting her constituancy premises to the political campaigning wing of Brent Lib Dems, although Parliamentary rules prevent sub-letting and expense claims that relate to political activity. Harrow Observer were later told that the office is not a sub-let but a shared tenancy. Political Scrapbook points out that Brent Lib Dems haven’t paid rent for the last five years. So, as PS asks, “perhaps this is some kind of special tenancy where the taxpayer picks up the tab for Liberal Democrat political campaigning?”
  • It also turns out that Brent Lib Dems don’t only share an office, they also share a telephone system.
  • And like the office rent, Brent Lib Dems didn’t pay out for phone bills. PS also notes that in the last four years, the itemised bills have been claimed back in Teather’s expenses.

This isn’t looking good at all – especially when one considers that the total cost of phonecalls went up substantially around local election time.

(credit once again to PS)

I’ve personally had enough of the expenses issue, to the point where seeing another story about this-MP-claiming-that drove me to “end it now” despair. But this isn’t just a dodgy claim – it’s hypocrisy too, and that I can’t stand. If you’re going to self-profess yourself as a saint, make sure you are one. If not, berating other MPs when your record isn’t clean is the kind of hypocrisy I don’t like to see in politics.

Of course, the Lib Dems woes don’t exactly get any better. One of their candidates (well, now ex-candidate) has quit amid an email race row.

Additionally, Plymouth Lib Dems have been suspended by Lib Dem HQ due to infighting and disputes. After losing two chairmen in the past five months, the party’s London HQ suspended the branch. Additionally, the Western Morning News notes that financial irregularities are currently under investigation.

Another one?!

Trouble on the centre left? If this week is anything to go by, I’m inclined to agree that something’s not right with those Dems.

Explanations are very much required!

Bitter Blairites crash Labour’s positive start to the New Year.

How typical, I break from my energy politics portfolio to make some lunch, come back and my Twitter feed is going crazy. So, the news is that Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon have circulated a letter calling for a secret leadership ballot. Well, how refreshing it is to see a coup mounted by bitter Blairites (!)

We’ve just entered the General Election year. The Tories marriage tax proposals were crashing around them and the nasty KerryOut Twitter campaign was backfiring. There’s been monumental anger at Boris Johnson’s public transport fare rises in London. All major Tory failures – and then, along come two bitter Blairites to derail progress. Talk about timing.

Hewitt and Hoon are acting like petulant children. Their careers are over, so they turn on the Prime Minister. It was rather interesting to hear Hewitt defending herself on BBC Radio 5 claiming that she wasn’t trying to oust Brown. Well, what the hell is she doing? And Hoon, of course, is spinning this to be an attempt to solve the dispute. What, by creating one and breaking up party unity? Sure it is. Their parliamentary careers may be finished, but why wreck Gordon’s and any other Labour MP’s?

This whole saga is complete madness. Thanks for giving ammunition to the opposition, idiots.

The small comfort I have is the statement from Tony Lloyd, chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party (via LabourList)

“Gordon Brown will be the leader next week and at the general election. There won’t be a secret ballot because there is not the demand. It’s pinprick stuff, but it deflects from us talking about our own policies.”

And let’s keep it that way, despite the attempts by a few Blairite derailers to do the complete opposite.