Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tory MP Hits Back at News of the World Stitch Up

I might expect it from the Sunday Mirror, but I am afraid the News of the World's attempt to stitch up Tory MP Julian Lewis over his second home allowance today is both ridiculous and contemptible. His crime, according to the NOTW, is to spend four days a week in Parliament. Er, that would be because it is his job. Lewis has written a detailed account of his stitch up HERE on ConHome. LibDem rent-a-quote Norman Baker is only too keen to stick the boot into Lewis too, saying...
Last night Lib Dem MP Norman Baker fumed: “This is all further evidence that the second homes allowance has to be tightened up so the public can have confidence MPs only claim what they need.”

Julian Lewis responds...
To add insult to injury, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker is quoted apparently condemning me by implication on the say-so of that pillar of respectability and reliability, the News of the World. However, it appears that Norman’s claims on his second home are almost identical to mine so far as the second-home allowance is concerned; and he also apparently claims significant extra sums on this home – in respect of its role as his constituency office – from a separate Parliamentary allowance. No doubt this is all within the rules too; but I used to respect Norman rather more, 24 hours ago, than I do now after reading his quoted remarks in relation to me.

I don't blame him. But Lewis's ire is really reserved for NOTW Deputy Political Editor Jamie Lyons. Lyons has had some good scoops lately, but I think even he must be aware this is not one of them. I'm glad Julian Lewis has come out fighting and held the NOTW to account. Isn't it great that through a blog like ConHome he now has the opportunity to do so? That would not have been the case a few years ago.

PS I wasn't going to mention this, but the above story gives me the excuse. Jamie Lyons has another story, on page 28 of today's paper under the headline WHAT A EU TURN. It's about the former CCO being bought by the European Parliament and renamed Europa House. If, when you read Lyons' story you had s light feeling of deja vu, you'd be right. I wrote the story two weeks ago, on February 16th HERE.


Oldrightie said...

I remember The EU House story. I also expect far worse to come from every direction against The Party, the more Labour sink below the waves of their economic incompetence.
I thought even Mandleson was looking somewhat harrassed these past couple of days. Struggling to swallow a few home truths as to the power of his paymasters.

Raedwald said...

What you fail to mention Iain is that Lewis is tabling an amendment tomorrow to keep MPs' addresses secret - which puts him firmly in the ranks of Maclean and fellow sleaze-hiders.

With MPs' addresses kept secret, the FOI won't help us monitor their second homes fiddling - and if you can demonstrate (i.e. prove) that this isn't Lewis' motivation in moving his amendment I'll eat my hat.

His actions are elitist and anti-democratic, as though the political class were an elite apart from we mortals. In the circumstances, he deserves everything the NOTW throws at him.

Anonymous said...

Anyone noticed the Labour MP at centre of scandal about forged letter defending his £170,000 in consultancies and non-executive directorships.

Unknown said...

" His crime, according to the NOTW, is to spend four days a week in Parliament. Er, that would be because it is his job"

Isn't that Jacqui Smith's crime too? The media assault seemed to be based on the implausability of her claim that she spent more time in Peckham than in Redditch. I would have thought if an MP is in London more than 50% of the week, a Minister is bound to be.

subrosa said...

Oh Iain, you do disappoint me. Nothing said about the fact that MP's accommodation rulings should be radically changed. Are you protecting your own?

The MSP's have a slightly more accountable rule for accommodation claims. I say slightly because I firmly believe Westminster should nationalise a nearby 4 star hotel and make that the base for MPs who require to stay overnight in London. If any doesn't like it then let them pay their own accommodation. A voter winner Iain.

Iain Dale said...

Subrosa, the point of my post was to point out the stitching up by the NOTW. I have discussed the Second Home Allowance many times before. Of course it needs complete reform. It seems to me perfectly clear that a second home allowance should be used on the second home - and that home is in London. because if the MP hadn't been elected, they wouldn't have it.

Anonymous said...

jdc - how can a room at her sisters house be classed as her home?

That being the case all she should claim is the cost of her rent in London (not that she needed that as she had the option of a government flat for free.

But the point is she comes down on Monday AM and goes back to her constituency (her real home) on Thurs PM

Conand said...

I especially like the part in Julian's account where he explains how he managed to pay off his mortgage so quickly: He's previously won £63,000 in damages from Newspapers writing similarly crass & untrue stories. Laugh out loud funny. What an excellent man he is.
The News of The Screws has really messed up.

Unknown said...

"jdc - how can a room at her sisters house be classed as her home?"

Because it's where she lives more nights than not? Lots of people in London live that way.

"But the point is she comes down on Monday AM and goes back to her constituency (her real home) on Thurs PM"

As a Minister, she probably doesn't.

Tony said...

Christopher Booker made the first mention of the former CCO property in Smith Square being named Europe House when the European Commission takes it over - and his article was dated 1st June 2008. So superscoop Lyons is only 8 months behind the news.

Alex said...

Some points in the article that Dr Lewis omitted to repeat:

1. The "primary" home is the less "expensive/valuable" of the two properties.

2. The "secondary" residence was previously listed as the primary residence.

3. Dr Lewis' partner would appear to vist the primary residence very raraely.

4. Dr Lewis has paid off the mortgage on his "primary" residence leaving the tax payer to pick up the cost of the interest on his second residence.

None of these are exactly earth shattering, but he does have a case to answer insofar as similar facts aopppear to apply to Jacqui Smith.

Jimmy said...

I'm sure there'll be a similar defence of Ms. Smith any moment now.

Simon Gardner said...

Thanks for reminding me. I’d forgotten. Julian Lewis is the fourth (or possibly third) most odious sitting MP.

What abundant choice we do have.