Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Heffer's Election Campaign Stalls at First Hurdle

The Telegraph website proclaims tonight that Simon Heffer will stand against Sir Alan Haselhurst at the next election unless he repays the money he claimed (within the rules) for gardening. Er, just one problem with that. Here's the text of a press release Sir Alan sent to his local papers this morning at 9.35am...
The MP for Saffron Walden, the Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, has issued the following statement:-

“The expense claims I made over recent years have been strictly in accordance with parliamentary rules. The designation of my constituency home as my second home instead of my rented flat in London was obligatory on my becoming Deputy Speaker. In terms of total expense claims I currently rank 582nd out of 646 MPs. However, my claim for gardening help has caused concern. Out of respect to my constituents I am this week repaying the sum of £12,000.

“I deeply regret the public anger which the expenses revelations have understandably generated. The rules governing them are no longer acceptable. The process of reform has already begun. In the meantime the claims of all Conservative MPs are being urgently reviewed by a Scrutiny Commission set up by David Cameron. The claims made by all MPs will be further examined by an independent audit body announced by the Speaker last week.

“I will naturally abide by whatever recommendations are made”.

Is that the shortest campaign in living memory? Perhaps Simon might like to turn his attention to Geoff Hoon or Alistair Darling? He might not look such a prize fool, then.


Anonymous said...

Sea Shanty Irish here:

Believe you may be overestimating the extent to which Sir Alan's most recent statement immunizes him against attack.

For this reason: Sir Alan is not just any old MP, one of 646. Instead, he's part of the House of Commons establishment.

In other words, he's one of the gamekeepers . . . and there's been poaching galore during his watch.

My guess is that he'll be reelected as MP. BUT his ambition to be the next Speaker may not come to fruition.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Don't be too hard on Eric, Iain. For long periods during the last 12 years, he has been a lone opposition voice to the hell of Blair/Brown. His strident comments about DC's suitability as Tory Leader have been shared by many of the Tory faithful. It is only in the last couple of weeks that the velvet glove has been removed. I shared Eric's concerns. After the last few weeks, Dave will do for me.

Anonymous said...

On reading the headline this evening it occurred to me (of course Mr libel lawyer, only in jocular fashion) that the Telegraphs prime concern with its campaign was to give its associate editor a chance to preen his odious pomposity on a larger stage.

It seems he is incapable of keeping abreast of what his victims are doing. Hardly a good example for a prospective MP. Seems to me he is thicker than the people he wants to replace.

It seems ridiculous to me that MPs should be 'forced' to flip their homes. The rules have clearly taken on a life of their own a fact which the Telegraph is determined to ignore.

Anonymous said...

This comes as absolutely no surprise.

Heffer is an odious and pompous man interested only in self-promotion. He has made an error here though.

I think a boycott of the Telegraph on the days that Heffer contributes is in order.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Sir Alan standing down at the next election anyway?

Anonymous said...

Not that much of a prize fool, he just got us 12k back, thanks Simon.

Bardirect said...

I don't have much time for Haslehurst - he abandoned Prestwich and Middleton in 1974 - he was my MP - but Heffer's a Tossor.

Without the balls to take on a Hoon or Blears or Brown and finally found out sucking up to a NuLab agenda.

Has he ever had a proper job?

Wight Tory said...

Heffer by name, Useless F'er by nature...

Andrew said...

It seems that Mr Heffer is trying to split the Conservative vote at the next election because of his antipathy to David 'Dave' Cameron. As much as I like reading what Mr Heffer has to say, electing a bunch of superannuated C-list celebrities will do nothing to restore Parliament's moral authority.

Liz said...

Better Heffer than David Van Day. But a hearty 'hur hur' nonetheless - I hope Heffer climbs down now, and God, I'm glad Jim Paice, who is my MP, hasn't been caught up in all of this. I dread waking up next May to find that we're all being governed by Simon Cowell.

Anonymous said...

Clearly it was the Heffer threat that caused Sir Alan to pay up!

Armchair Sceptic said...

No, the shortest campaign ever was Kelvin MacKenzie's against David Davis.

Well, I urge Mr Heffer still to stand against Sir Alan.

After all, one of your comments is quite telling: "...unless he repays the money he claimed (within the rules) for gardening".

This "within the rules" jibe is exactly what MPs have been shoving in the faces of hard-working electors - it doesn't matter whether it's in the rules, because it was still immoral for the MPs in question to claim for such items, which is why they are paying these dubious claims back.

Go on Mr Heffer: take out Haselhurst.

Oborne said...

Heffer's a Hooooon.

James said...

We've got David Van Day (I'm A Celeb Get Me Out Of Here/ Dollar)threatening to challenge Nadine.

What is it with Z listers!

Unknown said...

Sky News ticker still has the non story. They, unlike DC, don't read this Blog!

Anonymous said...

Why would Heffer choose Haslehurst - has he said something agin the Israeli first philosophy?

Paul Halsall said...

The Telegraph story tonight about John Greenway, a Tory MP, tonight seems to suggest he spent £500 pounds on his garden, and that *this* (as opposed say to the property bubble) was the reason he made just under £300k profit.

It's a ludicrous story. And it makes Nadine's charges look less nutty.

[PS. Since as is your right, you seem to be not approving all posts today, may I apologise for, in another thread, writing "Charles Clarke" when I mean "Ken Clarke". That was an embarrassing slip.]

Unknown said...

I spoke too soon. Peter Spencer just said at 22.06- "Fast moving times...Already a Tory blogger hassaid that it's been paid back already"

Jabba the Cat said...

So being caught with the hand in the cookie jar and giving the biscuit back negates the original act?

Don't think so, and very much doubt the local electorate will take such a charitable view of the MP's behaviour. Another little piggie trotting out the "it's within the rules" excuse. Pull the other one.

Heffer in the Commons giving the other parties shit will definitely be worth watching.

Jess The Dog said...

Why the right-wing in-fighting? Pathetic!

Anonymous said...

Grumpy says "For long periods during the last 12 years, he has been a lone opposition voice to the hell of Blair/Brown" --- what a load of tosh - absolute cr@p.

The very newspaper he writes for is accused of cosying up to Brown - going soft on the Mcbride scandal.

Just because the BBC is a lefty organisation constantly rubbishing the Tories does not mean there has not been opposition to Blair/Brown.

meantime -

I think 'Andrew' has hit the nail on the rather overblown head.

I imagine Mr Cowell is even now working on a new program - "I'm a forgotten celebrity get me elected into there'.

Maybe Mr Webber is looking for talent as he proposes to turn Parliamentary procedures into an operetta ?

Anonymous said...

Off-message, but Telegraph are carrying the story that HMRC have told MPs they were wrong to claim accountancy fees against tax.
Very brave of HMRC but surely a sign that everyone knows Brown and Co are a busted flush.

wolfie said...

Someone ought to read the Green Book to dear old Sir Alan,

Having your garden done has got what to do with your ability to do your job as a member of parliament.

£12000 for gardening is NOT within the rules.

ps Heffalump is a pompous ginger berk

Martin S said...

He might not look such a prize fool, thenIain, bless you for being so kind to Simon Heffer. Of course he will still look like a fool. Though this is one heifer (sic) that ain't going to be in with a chance for Best of Breed award.

wv unrolly. Simon gets to unrolly his campaign.

Martin S said...

Rorting junket coucils skewered. Are they all at it?

Anonymous said...

I think many people in Saffron Walden will be simply saying; "Simon Who???"

Heffer would be lucky to hang onto his deposit wherever he chooses to stand.

strapworld said...

Obviously Heffer has put the frighteners on the odious Haslehurst. He didn't think it was right to pay back before this threat came along.

I am sorry. The Conservative Party has got to rid itself of the 'old guard' the club, those that will make it that much harder for Cameron to make the changes he promises.

As for Heffer. I agree with the remarks of Grumpy Old Man. Hefer has been one of the few who has carried the fight against Blair and Brown. and, of course, Cameron.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Heffer is an arse, probably worse even than Hitchens.....vote for him....I`d rather vote Labour...

Woolsack said...

What is that scary picture at the top of this post? I do hope it's not one of yours, Iain.

Tom said...

Guido describes this as "Heffer wins quick campaign". Sure, if you define "quick" as "13 hours of reverse time travel"...

Martin S said...

And still it gets worse for Jacqui Smith!
It is getting worse for Jacqui Smith. Damages claim over torture allegations

Someone who has understood the post said...


The point is Sir Alan had ALREADY said he would be paying back the money.

His press release was 9.30 this MORNING - Simon Heffer's pompous ego trip was launched this EVENING.

Even if the reason Sir Alan repaid the money was due to his having gotten wind of what was about to happen (which it wasn't), surely Heffer would realise that to nonetheless announce his intentions would serve only to make himself appear a complete tool

Simon Heffer - Epic fail

Anonymous said...

My turn not to be popular.
MPs are not expected to maintain two homes out of their salary. Fact.

They get expenses for one. If an MP is forced, as described, to treat his former second home as his first, ie pay for it himself, and so still be left with the costs of his original home - then it therefore follows that he should not be expected to lose out by allowing his former fist home to get dilapidated.

Are you still with me you ... OK I will try to be polite ... you people.

I do not know about individual claims but the principle is clear - maintenance on a second home should be allowable. It may indeed be daft to make someone turn his first home into a 'second' home. But the financial consequences of this are clear.

If Sir Alan had a small house and garden (or no garden) the cost to us would be small, but if he has a large house and garden the cost is going to be greater. Maybe gardening is wrong somehow, but dilapidation is dilapidation.

I repeat I know nothing of the exact claims (maybe its prettyfication not maintenance - where does one end and one begin) - but, again, in forcing a switch its clear the authorities and then us, the taxpayer, have to bear a cost.

But in any event no matter which one is which we need to and will continue to need to fund the peripatetic existence of our MPs.

Thomas Rossetti said...

I'm rather inclined to agree with "strapworld" on this one. Heffer is no doubt an odious man (and he has the look of someone who smells*) but his articles attacking Cameron are pretty good.

Every time I get excited at the thought of the Tories ousting Brown, I read Heffer and remember that Cameron opposes grammar schools, supports the NHS in its current state and a has a whole load of "non-Conservative" views. Any who thinks he's the heir to Thatcher is in for a rude awakening.

Yes, Heffer has been shown up on this issue, but it doesn't negate all his previous work.

* For all I know, he is the most beautifully perfumed journalist on Fleet Street: he just seems sweaty, somehow.

Doctor Mick said...

Better that Heffer went on a hunger strike until the money is repaid.

Disco Biscuit said...

Not sure how the posh ginger camp guy will go down in deepest Essix...

Charlie Easton said...

A close look over Sir Alan's statement confirms to the electorate once again that politicians simply cannot accept responsibility for the opinion of the taxpayer that their actions were wrong.

The statement begins with several excuses that could be described as Nuremburg excuses - "nowt to do with me mate, I was just doing what everyone else was". It's a good job for Sir Alan that the British public are fed and watered with a defence as infuriating as that, otherwise they might want more than just their money back.

“I deeply regret the public anger which the expenses revelations have understandably generated." So you don't even regret your actions, Sir Alan? You simply feel the need to state your support of the blinding obvious that the generation of public anger is regrettable.

"The rules governing them are no longer acceptable." At precisely what point were the current rules acceptable? Given the implications of the last sentence, we might be forgiven for implying from this that they only became unacceptable once the public cottoned on, Ambivalence like this might be construed as Sir Alan the finger at us for taking an interest!

Anonymous said...

oh dear it seems Phase 2 is to try and re-run the Sark election campaign approach.

Appealing of Ealing said...

I dearly hope Heffer stands against Sir Alan....and loses.

Dimoto said...

Just what is going on at the Telegraph, it resembles a sack full of cats. Cameroonians, the Neocon rump, deluded Brownites, disappointed Blairites ... all life is there. Everytime they out a Labour expense cheat, the following day has 5 Conservative cheats. Is this the proprietor's idea of "giving Brown a fair go" ?
The paper is a mess.
If clowns like Rantzen, Bell and Heffer stand, they will be crucified. They all have loads of baggage, how long will they put up with the ritual abuse of the current truth game ?

Thomas Rossetti said...

Just out of interest, Iain, and this is only loosely related to the theme of accuracy and the web, did you ever apologise to John Prescott for suggesting that he had told someone to "f*** off"?

It's not that I like John Prescott. (In fact, it's because I dislike him that I object to him crowing about how the media has got it in for him on his blog.) I just feel he was a bit unfairly maligned by the story. Although neither remark is very becoming of a parliamentarian, there's a big difference between "sod off" and "f*** off".

There's more than enough to go on if one wishes to humiliate the former Deputy Prime Minister without making things up.

(I admit it. This post is off-topic. It was all Tom Bradbry's fault anyway. I understand if you don't approve it.)

strapworld said...

Thomas Rossetti, You must have written Stephen Glover's article in the Daily Mail today.

He says that Cameron reminds him of that other 'straight kinda guy' Blair.

That is something I have been saying for a long time.

Mr Rossetti points out what Cameron is about, but not saying much. His refusal to say what he will do in the event of the Lisbon Treaty being ratified is typical.

As Mr Glover asks, WHY has Cameron attempted to take the argument away from expenses to that of the Constitution?

The constitution cannot, and should not, be cobbled together quickly and especially by this lot of discredited parliamentarians. That is why I prefer a Royal Commission, taking it out of the vested interests of politicians.

That said, we all must be on our guard with Cameron. None of us know the beast. BUT I much prefer having him than the present moribund, Incapability Brown!

George said...

Jeepers - what did we do to deserve the self-importance and odious sanctimosity of Esther Rantzen, Lynne Faulds Wood, David Van Day (!) and Simon Heffer? Thanks for the offer, chaps. Much appreciated. Suggest you just remember to take the pills and talk to the nice lady in the white coat.

Anonymous said...


The parliamentary ruling mob
Have all enjoyed a cushy job
The taxes paid by you and me
Helped these scoundrels live for free

They tried to stop us finding out
What their expenses were about
Somehow they think that we are fools
By claiming, “It’s within the rules”

Such claims alas just will not wash,
They’ve lived like royals on our dosh
It’s not the dosh that we want back,
We want them ALL to get the sack

That’s not all, for we want more,
We want them in a court of law
Some of them it seems are frauds,
Both in the Commons and the Lords

Flipping homes to dodge the tax
Has got up the electorates backs
Porno films and cleaning moats
Is really sticking in our throats

Don’t think because they haven’t claimed
They’re innocent and can’t be blamed
Not speaking out what some were getting
Is simply aiding and abetting

Their secrets out they’ve lost control
We want them jailed or on the dole
Parliament’s no sacred cow.

Mark said...

Heffer is just a blubbery figurehead for the old right whose day has passed, he would be best advised to retire from public life himself along with his fellow plodders. Rage rage rage against the dying of the light. Actually, stop raging and fall asleep I'm a comfy chair.

strapworld said...

Could not believe it. George Walden, former Conservative MP for Buckinghamshire. His daughter who sometimes does the morning newspaper routine on Sky News, writes in her column yesterday that her boyfriend is the odious creep Piers Morgan!! Can you credit that!

Dinner conversations must be jolly interesting with Daddy and Boyfriend!

Matthew Dear said...

What a knob.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Lord...........that pompous ass Terry Waite has now written in the Times that he may possibly stand for Parliament as one of these independents.

Anonymous said...

Surely Heffer's biggest problem with standing would be, that as he himself acknowledges in his latest Telegraph outpourings, he is himself far from squeaky clean, having previously been found guilty of gross electoral malpractice and expelled from the Cambridge University Conservative Association during his formative years ?

"I thought I was unsuited to politics when, 30 years ago, I and some chums were booted out of the Cambridge University Conservative Association for electoral malpractice. (Sadly, no money was involved: we had canvassed in an election, which was forbidden. I asked for it. Undergraduate high jinks, etc etc.)"


Can anyone now recall the full details of this scandal ? The public of Essex surely have a right to know the details of the past of one who now seeks to represent them as an untainted white knight

Alex said...

No doubt Haselhurst saw Heffer coming.

Shortest campaign ever.

Heffer 1 (golden goal 0 min) Haselhurst 0.

ukipwebmaster said...

Seems as if it was a success?


essex75 said...

the reason Heffer has chosen to stand against Haslehurst is because Heffer lives in the Great Leighs area, which with boundary chenges is now in Sir Alans constituency.

David Davis said...

I think Heffer ought to be Prime Minister, in default of Boris Johnson or James May. I'd accept Ian Hislop as a stand-in.

Heffer is not at all sound on drugs in a libertarian sense, and will have to go first therefore to a "Libertarian re-Education Facility" somewhere "in the country", for a little time. he may even be a bot rocky about other stuff we value. But his heart's in the right place, he's a Cambridge Man, and he can't be worse than the rest of all those shysters, some of whom Iain-D is trying to sort of defend.

In default of a Libertarian Party (of the UK) candidate, the Libertarian Alliance would look kindly upon Simon Heffer.

Thomas Rossetti said...

strapworld, thank you very much for your comments. It's not that you were particularly complimentary about what I said (although I think we both agree about Cameron and his faults), it's that this is the first time someone has acknowledged me in a blog. I haven't been doing this blogging caper that long and this is the first confirmation I've had that someone has actually read what I've written.

I feel like a child who has scored his first goal!

Thomas Rossetti said...

The headline in "The Telegraph" today reads

"Tory MP repays £12,000 after Simon Heffer pressure"

So what's the truth in all this? It seems odd that, if Haselhurst had decided to go of his own accord, The Telegraph would print this. If they thought Heffer had been embarrassed, surely they'd just let it die down.

Jerry Hayes said...

I'm afraid this is poor old Hefferlump's last hurrah. It's good that the corpse twitches from time to time. He's been sniping at the likes of Alan for years, mainly because he is One Nation Tory and not a Lederhosen nutter. As a Saffron Walden voter I hope he does stand and subject his antiquated views to full public scrutiny. But when he loses his deposit, will he claim it from the Telegraph or Spectator expense account?

Dame Sybil Crumb said...

always thought Heffer looked like Edward Heath...so no vote there then....