Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jacqui Smith Faces a War on Two Fronts

The Sunday papers will not have made happy reading for the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Firstly, the Sunday Times reports that she fears for her job. Colleagues say she is 'out of her depth' (perhaps it was Smith that Luke Akehurst was referring to when he said last week: "Hold an early reshuffle. No names but some of your ministers seem to be keeping their heads down and not coming out fighting for the party in its hour of need. Or indeed doing much at all. At least one is making an embarrassing hash of their portfolio.").

Smith, the MP for Redditch, is especially vulnerable as a 3% swing could overturn her 2,716 majority, the narrowest of any Labour cabinet minister. police and security minister. “She’s not very good,” said the insider. “She doesn’t absorb briefs very well. She’s not regarded as a brilliant minister. Of course she’s very nice and she’s popular.

“The gossip is that, if there is a major reshuffle, then she might end up in the department of left-handed affairs. She’s a lightweight.”

Another senior official who reports to Smith said: “She has certainly been concerned about this. She picks up the same gossip as everyone else.”

But more serious for Smith are the new revelations in the Mail on Sunday about her living arrangements. Neighbours have verified that she only spends a third of her time there, and two have written to the House of Commons authorities making an official complaint. Smith has also refused to say whether she paid capital gains tax on her constituency property which she sold in 2004 to move to a bigger house. Nor would she say if she has received a council tax discount on her constituency home, which she would be entitled to if it was a second home.

Businessman Dominic Taplin and his wife Jessica, a manager for a charity, who live four doors from Ms Smith, have written to Commons officials claiming that she has not told the truth. Mrs Taplin, 33, said: 'When I read that she says she spends most of the week here, I thought, "That is a fabrication." The Taplins, who have lived in Ms Smith's sister's London street for three years, point out that they are not members of the Tory Party. Mrs Taplin said: 'I voted for Ken Livingstone to be London mayor but changed to Boris last year.' Mr Taplin added: 'I have voted Tory in the past but I think Gordon Brown is doing a pretty good job and may vote for him next time.'

The Taplins' version of events was backed up by other neighbours who say they see little of Ms Smith. Another resident who lives a few doors down from Ms Smith's lodgings, on the same side of the road, said: 'I see the policemen outside the house three mornings a week. It varies but I would say no more than three mornings a week. 'You really know when she's there - you can't miss two armed coppers standing on your road.'

One neighbour who has lived on the street since the Sixties said: 'I just can't believe it's her main residence. The policemen disappear for weeks.' 'She is virtually never here on a Sunday as she claimed and you don't see much of her in the summer. I would say she spends no more than a third of the year here.'

Mr Taplin, 46, who works from home, said: 'You can tell when she is here because the police guards arrive first. They turn up mid-morning on Monday and leave mid-morning on Thursday. 'I cannot recall when they have been here any other nights of the week. I find her behaviour extraordinary.'

Tory MP Ben Wallace now promises to put this new evidence to John Lyons, the Standards Commissioner.

'Mr Lyon rejected my request on the grounds there was no evidence to show Ms Smith's claims are unjustified,' he said.

'This new evidence completely undermines her claim that her London lodgings are her main home. I hope that Mr Lyon will re-examine his decision.'

Mr Wallace claims that a ruling by Mr Lyon last year shows that Ms Smith's expenses are against the Commissioner's own definition of an MP's main home.

In it, Mr Lyon said: 'If a Member has his or her family living permanently in their constituency home and has modest accommodation in London big enough only for themselves, and which they use only when Parliament is in session, then it would clearly seem to be a matter of fact that the Member's main home is in the constituency.'


Rush-is-Right said...

Mr Taplin added: 'I have voted Tory in the past but I think Gordon Brown is doing a pretty good job and may vote for him next time.'

So the man (Taplin) is clearly insane and his opinions on any matter can be disregarded.

Silent Hunter said...


At Last!

Someone is prepared to stand up and call Jacqui Smiths bluff, after the reprehensible lack of coverage that this story got when it first broke.

It was shameful watching our media look the other way whilst they swallowed the whole Labour spin of...."Nothing to see here...Move along now.....or we'll arrest you under the Anti Terrorism Laws"

Let's hope we can finally bring this thoroughly despicable Home Secretary to book now.

Hacked Off said...

I have the answer!

The Penguin

Anonymous said...

She's a thief and even the Met could prove it. Pecuniary advantage by deception? Whatever, it's fraud and she should be sacked and prosecuted and then Balls Balls and No balls Balls and then the Wintertons and the rest of the sleazy scumbags of whatever party.

The Grim Reaper said...

This time last week, I said that Jacqui Smith would easily survive this one. She didn't deserve to, but she would. Now I'm not so sure. It's going to be a lot more difficult now for this pathological liar to keep her job.

Spartan said...

Anybody want to take bets on it? ... it's the only way l'll ever get anything from this freaking government!

jon dee said...

What excuse will Commissioner Lyons use this time to avoid doing his job properly?

The Nation will watch with interrest.

Colin said...

Get over it, the establishment, including the Tory party has closed rank around her.

brown may sack her for incompetence, but she's not going down for fiddling her expenses.

Anyone else notice that apparently nobody phoned, texted or emailed the bbc Any Answers program on Saturday to discuss this? I for one don't believe that nobody called to have their say. The whole show, nearly 25 minutes was given over to listeners raging at the criminality of bankers.

i wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Home Secretary - the third 'great' office of state - responsibility for domestic security and the police among other key areas - and the incumbent's competence and probity are in serious doubt.

But no sign of resignation and she enjoys the support of the prime minister.

Come the revolution .... and soon please.

ahs benton said...

When a woman abuses an entire country.

Twig said...

It's a no brainer; she clearly lied about her "main home" to enrich herself (tax free too).

But there seems to be a conspicuous lack of comment from Dave on this subject, so I presume they're all at it. Let's have an independent commission against corruption instead of a Parliamentary Commissioner who ticks boxes.

Anonymous said...

The poem "Not Waving but Drowning comes to mind.

Bernard said...

I think Colin's right.
"the establishment, including the Tory party has closed rank around her."
There is a very "fishy" smell (CP?) about all of this and it's not Haddock (or kippers)!

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Police duty rosters will tell all.

Anonymous said...

wanna bet,they will be "lost"

Mr Mr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

There's no political mileage in the Tories commenting - yet. Let her twist slowly in the wind for a bit.

someday said...

What about a complaint to HM Revenue & Customs Tax Evasion Hotline?

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Mr Dale,

I wonder if Gordon Brown has been able to pluck up the courage to read today’s papers?

Jackboot Schmidt’s neighbours grass her up and reveal she only lodged with Sis for four months a year. Jack “torture” Straw, peace be upon him, has been up to the same tricks, shacking up with a mate whilst claiming 20 grand a year. The HBOS whistleblower has the goods on Gordo, can prove he was the author of all our misfortunes, and demands his resignation. Lord Burns, Brown's first permanent secretary to the Treasury in 1997, confirms, if such revelation of the blindingly bleedin obvious were needed, that it was indeed all Gordo’s fault. Harperson and the Jock excuse for a Speaker feather the future nests of all those honourable and right honourable bastards so unforgivably excused further selfless service by the idiot voters. On a merger completed less than a month ago, the Lloyds/HBOS cock-up, another woe-begotten brainchild of Brown, the taxpayer has lost over 50% of the £17 billion original investment, surely some sort of world and Olympic record in financial imbecility.

In any other decade of my experience, this would have been a very Bloody Sunday indeed for the incumbent government. There would have been demands for Ministerial resignations, and they would have been listened to, and duly acted upon.

There would have been a national outcry of rage and incredulity that tens or even hundreds of billions of pounds of taxpayers money, including the yet to be earned income of our grandchildren, have been swilled, to vanish without apparent trace, down the gaping, greedy maw of the dead-but-won’t-lie-down Banks. These zombie institutions are inescapably insolvent, but hush, child, do not let it be generally known, or admitted, for that might damage what is laughingly known as the “reputation” of our Holder of the Moral Compass, our Saviour of the World, Gordon the Ruiner, the patron saint of bank bonuses and financial Armageddon.

In any other time this maladroit, manifest lunatic would already have been visited by the men in grey suits, or white coats, or possibly both. Public outcry would not have been needed: the Cabinet would have been spurred into action by their own sense of responsibility for the national interest; they could have been relied upon to act on the basis of honour and integrity, and even public decency, to remove this blot on our national landscape, this accident looking for a place to happen.

These days, even to mention such words as honour in the same breath as the Cabinet is to invite ridicule. To suggest that this cowardly collection of misfits and the uniformly mediocre, if that, could possibly even consider acting out of integrity, or a sense of the national interest, is to invite incarceration in the same padded cell as the Great Leader.

Yet today, despite all evidence of these, and many other, heinous offences, despite the wrecking ball this government has taken to the very fabric of our society, despite the widespread metastasis of the rotten, stinking, gangrenous, puss-ridden cancer of corruption, incompetence and deceit that now so pervades every aspect of our body politic, what is the overwhelming reaction of the meeja and the People? A sort of shrug of the shoulders and “these politicians, what are they like, eh?” The mute, braindead acceptance of the couldn’t-care-less, happy to be led by the couldn’t-give-a-f***ing-toss.

It is in the destruction of any level of expectation in the honesty, integrity, competence or wisdom of our politicians that this government have committed their most unforgivable offence, for it is by this that they deny us even hope of improvement, let alone salvation.

Unless we, the People, expect and demand the highest standards of those who serve us in high office, we will continue with the insanely inadequate standard of governance we currently receive.

Twig said...

A good post here from Devil's Kitchen:
... and now Darling's at it too

I would post an extract, but it contains "outdoor" language.

Spartan said...

Maybe we can expect something from DC? After all we did get a comment about 'teenage dads'.

Unknown said...

The problem with the neighbours evidence that, in my view, totally discredits her testimony and renders her a wholly unreliable witness is that she said that she thinks Gordon Brown is doing a fair job and that she might vote for him at the next General Election.

The woman is either a liar or a fool

Anonymous said...

I think 'Rush is Right' IS right. Mr Tapins opinions are such that no sane jury could convict on his evidence.

Sad really

Twig and co - you really cannot be al;lowed to get away with your idiotic remarks
here is what he said to the BBC
"I do think it is a little bit hard to believe, but she has now got to defend it in the court of public opinion."
This is as close as a politician can get to calling someone a liar.

This is a problem the opposition have and it perversely it seems to me makes it easier for the govt to lie.
There is a convention that says that hon members tell the truth - and its a big big big step for opponents to start laying about them with accusations of lies.

Knowing this the govt -this one in particular have been pushing the boundaries of veracity to breaking point.

Curly said...

Couldn't happen to a nicer woman, but seriously I wouldn't like her to lose her job until AFTER the next election!

Unknown said...

We have had some bad, well bloody awfully actually, Home Secretaries under Labour but she has to be the worst.

Brown won't want to loose her though - she is a useful buffer to his own mediocrity.

If she goes for fiddling, the chain reaction could be that he goes for bankrupting the country.

Jimmy said...

I'll suspend judgment until next week when they tell us what they found in her bins.

Chucklenuts said...

"Jimmy said...

I'll suspend judgment until next week when they tell us what they found in her bins.

February 15, 2009 8:34 PM"

A hundred weight of old kebab wrappers by the look of her.

Unknown said...

5 bellies spliff is hopeless, but then again is McBean or Darling any better? Hoon? McNulty? God I could go on.

Get rid of the lot.

Twig said...

"trevorsden said...

Twig and co - you really cannot be al;lowed to get away with your idiotic remarks
here is what he said to the BBC"
"I do think it is a little bit hard to believe, but she has now got to defend it in the court of public opinion."

I'll take your word that he said it, cos' I seem to have missed it.
I watched The Daily Politics /PMQ on Weds. and heard nothing except an explanation from Nick Robinson that she had not broken any rules.
I tried to follow your URL but got a "404".
Which BBC channel/ program was it?

In any case, I feel that if he felt he was on firmer ground he would have been more forthright with his remarks.

Chucklenuts said...

"Jimmy said...

I'll suspend judgment until next week when they tell us what they found in her bins.

February 15, 2009 8:34 PM"

Considering that she's helping herself to the contents of my wallet, a quick rifle through her bins seems scant recompense.

Alex said...

There are 3 key pieces of evidence which need to be investifated:

1. Has Smith claimed a primary residence exemption on her previous home in Redditch?

2. Has Smith claimed a council tax discount on her claimed second home?

3. How many days per year were police on duty outside her London home?

None of those can be difficult to answer, or to ask.

DiscoveredJoys said...

Interestingly the story was covered in rather more detail by the Observer than the original story. Stories about Brown's fingerprints all over the banking crisis too.

Since Observer = Sunday Guardian one wonders if the main stream lefty media is gradually (oh so gradually) swinging away from supporting Nu Labour.

If anyone needs a handy chant for a protest, might I suggest:

"Jacqui! Jacqui! Jacqui! Oink! Oink! Oink!"

So Seventies, it brings a tear to the eye.

Mirtha Tidville said...

If this vicious hounding of BFJ (big fat jackie) doesnt stop soon, the resulting pressure and stress may send her back to the wacky there...

Cynic said...

It will be very easy to determine the truth. I assume that every night Ms Smith stays at her home in London she is guarded. So the Met Police will have a comprehensive record of how many nights were spent at each address. Has anyone asked yet?

Twig said...

Cynic said...
It will be very easy to determine the truth. I assume that every night Ms Smith stays at her home in London she is guarded. So the Met Police will have a comprehensive record of how many nights were spent at each address. Has anyone asked yet?

Maybe this would be tantamount to questioning her integrity, which according to trevorsden (above) isn't the done thing. This would explain the almost complete silence on the matter from the opposition. Alternatively, it could be that a number of Tories are also on the same fiddle.