LDV Members’ Survey – MPs’ expenses (4): Lib Dem MPs' claims

by Stephen Tall on May 23, 2009

On Tuesday evening, LDV emailed those Lib Dem party members signed-up to our private discussion forum inviting them to take part in a survey focusing on MPs’ expenses. Many thanks to the 240+ of you who have so far completed it; we’ve been publishing the results on LDV over the last few days. You can catch up on the results of all our past exclusive LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.

1.

LDV asked: The following MPs have been named by the Telegraph in connection with the MPs’ expenses row. Please indicate those you believe – on the basis of what you have read, seen or heard – have questions still to answer (you may choose more than one):

Here’s what you said (in descending order):

=1. Ming Campbell – 31%
=1. Lembit Opik – 31%

=3. None of them – 26%
=3. Richard Younger-Ross – 26%
5. Julia Goldsworthy – 21%
6. Don’t know / Other – 20%
7. Andrew George – 18%
8. Chris Huhne – 13%
9. Nick Clegg – 9%
10. Nick Harvey – 5%
11. Norman Baker – 5%
12. Alan Reid – 3%
13. Steve Webb – 3%
14. Vince Cable – 2%

So, less than one-third of you think any one Lib Dem MP has questions to answer – Ming and Lembit both attracting 31% – while one-quarter of you believe none of them have any questions left to answer. On the face of it, our MPs might find some comfort in that finding.

2.

LDV then asked: In the case of those Liberal Democrat MPs who have admitted making mistaken claims, apologised, and repaid the money to the taxpayer, do you believe that this should normally be…

Here’s what you said:

>> 27% – The end of the matter
>> 49% – It will have to do
>> 16% – It’s not nearly enough
>> 8% – Don’t know / Other

Some 76% of you are prepared, it seems, to draw a line under the affair, either willingly or grudgingly, so long as those Lib Dem MPs who’ve made mistakes have apologised and repaid the money. Just 16% view such a response as inadequate.

3.

Finally, for today, LDV asked: Do you agree with the following statement: “All Lib Dem MPs currently facing questions over their expenses should appear before meetings of their local constituency party and be either re-adopted or de-selected.”

Here’s what you said:

>> 63% – Yes, I agree
>> 25% – No, I don’t agree
>> 12% – Don’t know / Other

As much as anything, compulsory re-selection is seen by those who responded as a way of symbolically bringing closure to the issue – though most commenters reckoned such a response should be left to local parties, and few expected it to lead to significant deselections.

(The comments submitted by those who completed the survey are in the process of being uploaded to LDV’s private members-only discussion forum).

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Suggested Action Plan to Clean Up the corruption in the Liberal Democrats

1/ Suspend Lord Rennard from the Lib Dem Whip in the Lords until the independent investigation into his second home claims are completed.
If found to have lied about where his main home was or has otherwise claimed excessive taxpayer funds to be expelled from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords and banned from holding office in the party.

2/ The party to negotiate with the victims of the £2.4 million “donation” to the party, stolen from them by Michael Brown, about a repayment schedule and see if 15 yaer loan possible to be negotiated with the banks for its repayment.

3/ All those responible for the negotiation of the donation of the stolen millions to be barred from holding office in the party.

3/ All those refusing to abide by the party’s rules banning Peers from selling political services as professional lobbyists to be expelled from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords.

4/ Open an investigation into all current holders of Lib Dem Peerages to determine those who bought their peerages and expel them from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords.

5/ All the Lib Dem peers who accepted the peerages stolen from those who were duly elected by the party, by Charles Kennedy to be expelled from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords.

6/ MPs and Peers to be banned from holding any bank accounts in off-shore tax havens.

7/ All MPs and Peers to be banned from owning/working for or being a director of companies based in off-shore tax havens.

8/ All meetings between Lib Dem Parliamentarians and professional political lobbyists to be registered online on the party’s website.

9/ The Lib Dem parliamentary party supported the firing of Elizabeth Filkin, the effective Commissioner on Parliamentary Standards. An act which probably ensured the current debacle is as bad as it is.

The party should therefore call for the Commissioner on Parliamentary Standards to be in future to be appointed by a panel of the new Supreme Court judges.

10/ All future Deputy Federal Treasurers to be elected at Federal Executive AGM.

11/ To move away from rich donors, the party will require all future Lib Dem candidates for paid public office to commit 7.5% of their salary to central party funds.

12/ There will be a new committee set up under the chair of the Federal Treasurer to assist with new grassroots funding initiatives.

13/ Introduce a ban on all professional political lobbyists from holding any Federal Committee or Federal officer posts.

13/ (alternative) Ban on professional political lobbyists from holding party membership.

14/ All meetings between paid political lobbyists and Federal Officers/Committees to be recorded on party website.

15/ Ming Campbell to be expelled from the Parliamentary Party if found to have used tax payers funds to pay nearly £2,000 to a daughter of a friend to “design” his flat at taxpayers expense.

16/ Those who were involved in raiding the party’s pension fund in the past for general election expenses to be barred from holding office in the party.

17/ Those who lied about the legal advice to the FE on the legality of the european lists to be barred from holding office again at Federal level in the party.

18/ Professional Political lobbyists who are party members to be barred from speaking/voting at conference debates / fringe meetings on the issues that they are paid to lobby on.

19/ Those who funded Charles Kennedy’s leadership campaign whilst knowing about his tragic drink problem to be expelled from the party.

20/ The party to draw up a whistle-blowers charter, so that those who seek to challenge corrupt practices will not ever be legally bullied again by the party’s leadership or officers.

by D McCarthy on May 24, 2009 at 12:39 am. Reply #

I am appalled to read this extensive list of damaging allegations. The deafening silence in response to them speaks volumes.

As a provincial Lib Dem organiser, I don’t have D McCarthy’s level of insight into corruption at the centre. What I do see is a party which is morally and intellectually a pale shadow of the organisation I joined nearly 30 years ago.

First, our internal argument between social-liberal reformers and economic-liberal state-shrinkers has descended into chaos. Once, we had strong leaders like Roy Jenkins, with the ability to balance reforming zeal with financial practicality. Now we have an isolated leader with an ill-defined hidden agenda, still quite unbelievably prating on about tax cuts, when all the economic commentators are united in declaring that taxes must rise.

Secondly, when even Labour is showing some belated signs of being able to challenge its internal corruption, our party is acting like a closed cartel. We cannot possibly lead a movement for national political reform, when we cannot even put our own house in order.

Ours is a sadly diminished party. It remains necessary to rebuild it. We cannot let the 21st century belong to Lord Ashcroft. We cannot let it belong to burnt-out ex-socialists.

So to those who are still pounding the streets, writing Focuses, and trying to notch up gains one-by-one at local council level, my appeal is – Down tools! Take up the party reform issue instead. Recognise that our ambition to move up from third to second place in Little Wotting West can wait. Getting the national party back on track can not wait.

by David Allen on May 25, 2009 at 1:12 am. Reply #

I am a founding member of the Liberal Democrat Party and I remember signing up 200 new L/D Members in the halcyon period of Paddy Ashdown`s inspirational leadership.

I see nothing to daunt my spirits in 2009, even given that this is the `Rotten Parliament’ and there must be deep and trenchant `Constitutional Reform’ so that it at last becomes fully accountable : with transparency to the Country.

I agree with our talented and gifted leader Nick Clegg, that this is this is the momentous time for real Constitutional Reform, so that we can devolve real local powers to our Local Councils and reduce the size of `Big Government’.

Part of the problem of the `M.P`s Expenses’ scandal has been the egregiously targeted Labour and Tories majorities in Parliament and stems from their overwhelming sense of hubris and arrogance, since 1979 that these Parties have inflicted on the Country.

Their nemesis and comeuppance is not one that has been handed to the Liberal Democrats.

Lord Chris Rennard has done the most remarkable job for the Liberal Democrats than any other organiser.He is a living legend and deserves the highest accolades for his long service as Number One election winner.

In London L/D M.P.s including Tom Brake Paul Barstow,Lynne Featherstone,Sarah Teather and Vince Cable have not made any second homes claims at all : compared to the majority of Labour and Tory London based M.P.s whom have been held to account.

The Liberal Democrats offer our local people the best way out of the present morass of `M.P. Expenses’.

Nick Clegg has deemed that this `Medieval M.P.s Expenses’ must be reformed.

Our residents deserve our best support as campaigners,Councillors,supporters and Focus Deliverers and up tools.

I urge all to stand firm and challenge for L/D Seats in Europe and Local Councils on June 4th and travel onward and upward.

by Cllr Patrick Smith on May 25, 2009 at 7:45 am. Reply #

The most depressing thing about all this is that people still seem to think they can get some party advantage out of it.

Yesterday the Sunday Express reported that it had conducted a survey of 500 voters in Hazel Blears’s constituency, Salford, which showed the BNP with a lead of nearly 20 points over Labour. Anthony Wells on UK Polling Report comments that this was probably a straw poll rather than a properly conducted survey. But however unscientific the poll, that is a truly frightening result – as is the thought of BNP candidates being elected to the European Parliament next month, with all the financial implications that would have.

I think the main parties really need to put their heads together and come up with a striking austerity regime for MPs’ allowances, coupled with the expulsion of those who have gone against either the letter or the spirit of the rules. I don’t think it’s going to happen, though.

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 10:39 am. Reply #

Mark

Surely as David said he joined “nearly 30 years ago” it’s clear enough that he wasn’t talking about the period when Jeremy Thorpe was leader. Thorpe resigned 33 years ago.

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 11:24 am. Reply #

Mark

But pretty much everything you mentioned in your original message related directly to Thorpe – and, in fact, to events that took place when Thorpe was leader.

And you talk about Thorpe still being a candidate in 1979, but even that was only 30 years ago, before the time David is talking about.

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm. Reply #

D McCarthy is ill-informed. The nemo dat rule does not apply to money.

To sustain a common law action, Brown’s victims would have to (1) prove that there was no amalgam, (2) vitiate the party’s defense of bona fide change of position (see Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale), and (3) bring the action within 6 years. To sustain an in personam action in equity, Brown’s victims would need to prove some degree of fault (and the Electoral Commission has confirmed that there was none). There are several reasons why an proprietary equitable action would not succeed, not least of which is the absence of any traceable proceeds.

D McCarthy seems to be asking for the law to be rewritten to penalise the Liberal Democrats.

Anonymous1 is nit-picking. In 1970, a certain Roger Pincham, a leading figure in a rather nasty religious cult, joined the Liberal Party, and quickly rose to the upper echelons, even serving as Party President at one point. Why? Because he promised manpower and money. Does anyone in their right mind really think a man like Pincham would worm his way round Nick Clegg?

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 12:36 pm. Reply #

Anonymous1:

A local byelection was held on Salford MBC last Thursday, 21st May. The results were as follows:-

Lab 606 (37.6; -13.3)
LD Steven Ian Middleton 293 (18.2; -1.1)
BNP 276 (17.1; +3.8)
Con 189 (11.7; -4.7)
Green 125 (7.8; +7.8)
UKIP 123 (7.6; +7.6)
Majority 313
Turnout 17.5%
Lab hold

Do these figures show the BNP to be 20 points ahead of Labour?

Er… no, they don’t.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 12:53 pm. Reply #

Sesenco

No, of course they don’t. And if you read my post you’ll see that I mentioned Anthony Wells’s concerns over the accuracy of that poll.

But what I’m saying is that we should be very concerned about the increase in support for the BNP. The result you have quoted shows them advancing since last year from fourth place to within 17 votes of second place, with the support of more than one in six of those who voted.

Do you not find that worrying?

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm. Reply #

Anonymous1:

Do you not consider it irresponsible to bandy around exaggerated claims of support for a neo-Nazi party when the clear evidence (which you do not cite) indicates otherwise?

The actual result in Salford shows an advance of 3.8% by the BNP on a 17.5% turnout. Some might think that a poor show, given the current climate.

If you believe a poll to be unscientific, don’t put it in the public domain. It’s that simple.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 1:37 pm. Reply #

Sesenco

“Anonymous1 is nit-picking. In 1970, a certain Roger Pincham, a leading figure in a rather nasty religious cult, joined the Liberal Party, and quickly rose to the upper echelons, even serving as Party President at one point.”

You’re ten years out. David was talking about the time he joined, nearly 30 years ago. 1970 is nearly 40 years ago!

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 1:38 pm. Reply #

Anonymous1:

Remind me when Roger Pincham became President of the Liberal Party.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 1:56 pm. Reply #

Sesenco

If you’re suggesting Roger Pincham was president within the last 30 years, just say so. Maybe he was; I don’t remember anyone of that name being president, though, and I started taking an interest in the party about the same time as David.

But more to the point, what exactly are you alleging about him? If you’re suggesting he was corrupt or otherwise unfit for office, I hope you can give us some evidence.

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 2:33 pm. Reply #

Sesenco

“If you believe a poll to be unscientific, don’t put it in the public domain.”

What on earth are you talking about? The thing was published in the Sunday Express, for heaven’s sake! Funny sort of lawyer you must be, if you don’t consider that being “in the public domain” …

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 2:35 pm. Reply #

Anonymous1:

Oh right. So it’s OK to bandy around exaggerated claims of support for neo-Nazi parties if those claims are published by Richard Desmond – the ultimate guarantor of truth.

Derek Beacon, the first BNP councillor, was elected because Labour hyped up his chances of winning.

Now, Anonymous1, your interest in the Liberal Party could not have been all that serious if you never came across the name of Roger Pincham.

Oh, and Anonymous1, don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say that Pincham was corrupt, I said he was a leading member of a religious cult (whose name is the “School of Economic Science”). Unfit for office he certainly was, and he withdrew from the limelight once his mask was lifted by the “Evening Standard”.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm. Reply #

“Oh, and Anonymous1, don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say that Pincham was corrupt, I said he was a leading member of a religious cult …”

Actually, I was thinking of the bit where you said he had risen in the party and had been made party president, because he had promised manpower and money.

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 4:18 pm. Reply #

If anything, that implies that the Liberal Party leadership was corrupt, not Pincham, who didn’t benefit personally from his political activity, though the School of Economic Science did. In reality, the manpower and money only went in support of SES candidates, like Pincham.

It is a fact that big donors often do gain prominence within the parties they support.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 4:34 pm. Reply #

A correction:-

Roger Pincham was never President of the Liberal Party, he was Chairman of the National Executive of the Liberal Party from 1978 to 1982, and was forced to resign when his involvement in the School of Economic Science was made public by the “Evening Standard”.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm. Reply #

“If anything, that implies that the Liberal Party leadership was corrupt, not Pincham, who didn’t benefit personally from his political activity, though the School of Economic Science did.”

And there was I thinking that people who offered money to electors to influence their votes were guilty of corrupt practices …

But thanks for clarifying that it was the party leadership you were accusing of corruption.

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm. Reply #

Mark,

OK, all parties have always had some bad apples. Thorpe and Pincham had nothing to do with the SDP, which I joined in 1981. But yes, that organisation also threw up one or two bad apples. And yes, there never was such a thing as a golden age.

We did, however, see major national figures put their entire political careers at risk for the sake of their principles. We did, if briefly, dominate both the polls and the political debate.

We did so because the Tory and Labour parties were, temporarily and unusually, both adopting disastrously unpopular policies. A narrow window of opportunity for real change opened up. The Alliance made a creditable attempt to take the opportunity, and were foiled mainly by the Falklands War.

That kind of opportunity doesn’t recur often. It has recurred now. And we are in no shape to take advantage of it.

Cameron knows what to do. Take swift, decisive, minimal action to lance the boil. “Cut MPs by 10%” is a brilliant idea. It looks like a reform. It is a figleaf. It will enable Cameron to claim to be a reformer, but will have no effect whatsoever on the balance of political power. Then he can carry on cruising to a crushing majority, and the rest of us can go away and dream of what might have been.

by David Allen on May 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm. Reply #

More lies from Anonymous1. I didn’t accuse the Party leaders of corruption. Pincham was given prominence, despite his authoritarian conservative opinions, because it was felt that the resources the SES had contributed to campaigns where SES candidates had been standing might benefit the Party generally. Hardly corruption. More extreme political misjudgment.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm. Reply #

The funny thing about all these replies, is not one actually challenges the allegations.

Sesenco challenges the Brown funding allegation on it’s legality, doubly amusing given most of the current hoo har is about perfectly legal expense claims. This is not about law, it’s about having moral backbone and demonstrating it to the electorate.

It is frustrating and is pushing me towards ceasing any work I do for the party. Mark, Cllr Smith if people like you who are connected with the center of the Lib Dem party can’t see the problem with your position on sleeze both from a moral and a campaigning perspective…

Well I’m not sure I can see any hope for you winning serious power and more sadly I’m not entirely sure thats a bad thing.

by James S on May 25, 2009 at 6:50 pm. Reply #

Dear Sesenco

you are of course right about the law and I am not asking for its change.
Rather I am suggesting that the moral position for a major political party to do when it realised that it is in receipt of £2.4 million of stolen money and it know who it was stolen from, would be for it to return it.

It parallels very neatly with the morality of whether even if it is within the rules to claim that ones holiday home is ones main home for expenses purposes. For me a lie is a lie but then maybe the Liberal Democrat establishment believe a lie is only a lie when other parties tell it?

The real nub though is that I have proposed 23 suggestions for cleaning up the corruption as I see it in the party.

I note not a single person has addressed the specifics sadly.

From my own experience as a whistleblower being trashed by the establishment and their point blank refusal to implement motion after motion democratically mandated from conference, is that political parties are incapable of regulating themselves and that we potentially need an independent regulator of political parties, appointed again by the Supreme Court and who who guarantee transparency and due democratic practice within all our registered political parties.

by D McCarthy on May 25, 2009 at 7:09 pm. Reply #

On the contrary, James S. It is surely a highly moral proposition that a person who has accepted money in good faith and has changed his/her position in the reasonable and honest belief that the transferor was entitled to divest himself of that money, should not be required to disgorge it. It is sometimes known as the principle of security in wealth. Where possible actions in equity are concerned, the law is clear. A person can only be liable if his/her conscience is affected. That is a rule of law derived from morality.

Hey, should “Torygraph” staff be forced to compensate Conrad Black’s victims? After all, he paid them in part with stolen money. According to D McCarthy et al, giving value and lacking knowledge should not be a defense.

Are we to scrap 1,000 years of legal principle just to do down the Lib Dems?

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 7:12 pm. Reply #

BTW forgot to say that Mark Pack’s description of recent corruption cases being small beer, demonstrates the depth of the problem. £40,000 for a holiday home and £2.4 million in stolen donations is not small beer to me…
As to the allusion that Nick Clegg would not associate with nefarious scoundrels, well his Federal Party Treasurer associated with a convicted fraudster, AND is still in post !!!!

As Clegg continues to be willing to have as Federal Treasurer someone who is breaking the party’s rules on professional political lobbying in the Lords and who took £2.4 million in stolen dosh, then he is not the answer to the current crisis. This is sad as we desperately needed a clean liberal party to pick up the pieces.

What is he going to do if the Electoral Commission rules against us on the donation?

Would it not be far better to do the decent thing before you are embarrassed to do the decent thing?

by D McCarthy on May 25, 2009 at 7:15 pm. Reply #

D McCarthy:

Sorry, our posts crossed.

My understanding, and do correct me if I am wrong, is that the £2.4 million had already been spent before anyone was put on enquiry.

I do agree, however, that it is far better for political parties to be funded by members than by scheisters.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm. Reply #

Sesenco:
“More lies from Anonymous1. I didn’t accuse the Party leaders of corruption.”

What???

You said:
“If anything, that implies that the Liberal Party leadership was corrupt, not Pincham …”

What the hell do you think you’re doing accusing me of lying, when what you’ve said is there in black and white?

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 7:40 pm. Reply #

Sesenco:
“A correction:-
Roger Pincham was never President of the Liberal Party …”

Yes, well, I thought not. That was why I queried it.

But in the event, David wasn’t even talking about the Liberal Party…

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm. Reply #

Anonymous1:

Clearly, you don’t understand English. I didn’t say anyone was corrupt at all, but if I did, then it was more likely that I was saying the party leadership was corrupt and not Pincham.

It is a fact that Pincham was for many years Chairman of the Board of Governors of one of the SES schools, where students were flogged (mainly by the odious Nicholas Debenham) and generally knocked about. I do not know if Pincham is corrupt, but I certainly know that he is evil.

I bet you knew who Pincham was all along.

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 7:54 pm. Reply #

Mark,

Clegg’s action in going for the Speaker was indeed swift decisive and relevant, and in itself a reasonable move. But what the public really need to see is a party putting its own house in order, not just finding an opponent to take blame.

by David Allen on May 25, 2009 at 8:05 pm. Reply #

Sesenco:
“I didn’t say anyone was corrupt at all, but if I did, then it was more likely that I was saying the party leadership was corrupt and not Pincham.”

Ah, right! You didn’t say it, but if you did say it, it was more likely that you were saying … ?

I’ll tell you what, why don’t you just shut up for a bit?

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 8:21 pm. Reply #

Anonymous1:

I don’t require your permission to speak. I’ll say what I like, when I like. If that upset you, then tough.

Perhaps, if you want people to take your relentless flood of trolling comments seriously, you should remove your mask and use your name. How about it, eh?

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 8:24 pm. Reply #

You’re using a nickname yourself, you featherbrain!

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 8:36 pm. Reply #

You have a very short memory, Anonymous1. You will recall that I explained that I cannot use my real name because I have a politically sensitive job. However, those who know me know who I am, and the picture is real. Maybe you don’t look so photogenic?!

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 8:54 pm. Reply #

Yes, so you said. But sadly for you, it puts you in rather a weak position to play the “Anonymous Coward!” game. So you’ll have to try to address the issues instead.

Or else you could give us a short break from your gibberish. That’s only a suggestion, mind. Don’t start chewing the carpet again …

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm. Reply #

Anonymous1:

Does your wife know what you spend your time doing? Or is she glad to get rid of you for a while?

by Sesenco on May 25, 2009 at 9:10 pm. Reply #

Sesenco

Thank you for your interest in my marital affairs, but that’s something I don’t discuss with strangers on the Internet.

As it seems to be rather a long time since either of us has mentioned politics, I think it’s time for our pleasantries to draw to a close.

Good night to you.

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 9:20 pm. Reply #

Thanks for reply Sesenco

I think you are correct about it being spent before the fact that it was stolen emerged.

My understanding though is that the donater had already convictions for fraud in Florida.

My understanding is that it was known that he was a tax haven exile.

Therefore as those negotiating the deal on behalf of the party were at the time a lobbyist for the notorious tax haven of the Cayman Islands and the other a director of a company based in the Jersey tax haven, one would have hoped they would understand the mechanics of channelling money from offshore into onshore accounts…..

Sorry this is the other aspect of the issue but in relation to the known victims, I just feel it cannot be right that a major political party should hang onto money when it is now known it was stolen. Whilst I understand you point about protection of wealth especially for small companies and individuals, I feel a political party should not hide behind this premise, if it wants to have credibility with the electorate, as cleaner than clean.

Finally, I take it that your last comment may relate to one of my suggestions that there should be a percentage tithe of paid elected members to help pay for the party, to free us as you put it of the “scheisters” ?

This is one constructive recommendation that would help the party move away from the big donor sleaze that it has been involved in for so long and would help our case against the Ashcroftisation of British politics.

ta

by D McCarthy on May 25, 2009 at 11:01 pm. Reply #

D Mc Carthy,

OK, if nobody else is prepared to address your specific points, I’d better have a go.

It does seem to me that you are being over-harsh in places, and, that is a pity, because it could rebound to your discredit.

For example, Ming Campbell. The Telegraph says his interior designer cost £1490, and he is repaying the money. So he blooming well should. However, to my mind, the fact that the designer was a family friend is not actually a hanging offence, provided the fee was charged at the provider’s normal commercial rate.

We do need to put our house in order. That does also mean getting things in perspective. A lot of MPs will need to be exonerated, or else enabled to settle their “accounts” by repayment. Expulsion should be reserved for blatant fiddling.

by David Allen on May 25, 2009 at 11:23 pm. Reply #

“We do need to put our house in order. That does also mean getting things in perspective. A lot of MPs will need to be exonerated, or else enabled to settle their “accounts” by repayment. Expulsion should be reserved for blatant fiddling.”

What about the following as a rule of thumb?

Greed -> sackcloth, ashes and repayment

Dishonesty -> all of the above + expulsion from the party

by Anonymous1 on May 25, 2009 at 11:46 pm. Reply #

“The real nub though is that I have proposed 23 suggestions for cleaning up the corruption as I see it in the party.

I note not a single person has addressed the specifics sadly.”

The specifics seem to break down as “expel all the people Donnachadh doesn’t like”.

And herein lies (one of) the reason for Donnachadh’s failure to deliver on his agenda. And one of the reasons why he turned off so many of his supporters over the years.

The dogmatic approach of “back what I say is right or else your a dangerous deviationist in league with the devil”.

Essentially a fascist approach to organsing. Certainly not a liberal one.

by Hywel on May 26, 2009 at 12:45 am. Reply #

To address David Allen’s point, “The deafening silence in response to them speaks volumes.”

I think when a list is proposed which seriously suggests banning people doing a job which is totally within the law from party membership people then people are maybe assuming that it wasn’t a serious suggestion.

by Hywel on May 26, 2009 at 12:55 am. Reply #

Thanks David – no problem in you deleting that one, as I said the list was just an attempt to suggest practical actions based on my experiences at the top of the party for discussion.

That leaves the other 22 suggestions – which ones do you think have legs?

As regards Hywels point of expelling those whom I do not like. That is not true. For example I know and like a number of political lobbyists from my time in the Lib Dems.

I just happen to believe passionately that the integration of political lobbying and political parties has been responsible for corrupting our entire political system.

There needs to be a clear constitutional boundary between politics and lobbying – otherwise no matter who we vote for, we nearly always get the same government.

Call me a fascist if you like Hywel, but name calling does not address our corruption.

Also I am not sure why calling for the expulsion of those who continually and deliberately break the party regulations on selling their political services to tax havens and arms corporations should be termed fascism…..?

All they have to do to avoid threat of expulsion is to obey the rules – why is that called fascism? 8((

Sad …. but demonstrates clearly the point why the party has been unable to clean itself up i.e. those proposing a clean up are attacked and trashed.

We clearly now need an external political party regulator to tackle the corruption that Hywel keeps trying to divert us from addressing in this debate by resorting to personal attack rather than the substance of the debate but it was ever so in my experience.

by D McCarthy on May 26, 2009 at 9:38 am. Reply #

Donnachadh,

Well, your suggestions / allegations 1, 3, 6, 7, 13, 16, for example, do worry me. However, like most of us outside the London loop, I have very little idea as to how much is really true.

It doesn’t help that you assume the answer is always expulsion. For example, you talk about “raiding the pension fund” to fight elections. Well now, what actually happened? Did money get borrowed against the pension fund assets with the intention of repayment? If so, is that legal? Where do we draw the line between rashness and dishonesty? And who decides what is a sacking offfence?

Why don’t you leave aside the debatable items for the moment, drop the demands as to what punishments there should be, and give us some full chapter and verse about one issue where you think you can make a clear, watertight case that the party has to answer?

by David Allen on May 26, 2009 at 1:32 pm. Reply #

Hywel,

Overly dogmatic, yes, I can see that. But you can’t dismiss Donnachadh’s serious allegations out of hand, just because you don’t like the cut of his jib.

by David Allen on May 26, 2009 at 1:35 pm. Reply #

Thanks David – in light of your construtive comments – here is revised 16 point list below, based on my experience at the top of the party.

In addition taking on board the essence of Hywels comment (if not the tone 8) that a number of the suggestions really refer to unnacceptable specific acts from the past that were not honourably dealt with but which are not strictly relevant to a new code of conduct, I have deleted them. It does not mean I am withdrawing tehm but accepting that they are not relevant to this suggested list

The suggestions on political lobbying reflect much that the Obama campaign was addressing in the corruption of the American ssytem but which very little focus is placed on here.

Many thanks

Suggested Action Plan to Clean Up the Corruption in the Liberal Democrats

1/ Suspend Lord Rennard from the Lib Dem Whip in the Lords until the independent investigation into his second home claims are completed.
If found to have lied about where his main home was or has otherwise claimed excessive taxpayer funds to be expelled from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords and banned from holding office in the party.

(Still think this is essential – am just suggesting suspension pending result of investigation and then actions if found guilty of lying over address of main residence).

2/ The party to negotiate with the victims of the £2.4 million “donation” to the party, stolen from them by Michael Brown, about a repayment schedule and see if 15 year loan possible to be negotiated with the banks for its repayment.

An independent investigation to be carried out into all the circumstances surrounding this disastous donation.

3/ Remaining Peers who are continuing to refuse to abide by the party’s rules banning Peers from selling political services as professional lobbyists to be asked one final time to abide by the rules or be expelled from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords.

(If there is no penalty for breaking the rules – why have them?)

4/ Open an investigation into all current holders of Lib Dem Peerages to determine those who bought their peerages and expel them from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords.

5/ All the Lib Dem peers who accepted the peerages stolen from those who were duly elected by the party, by Charles Kennedy to be expelled from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords.

6/ MPs and Peers to be banned from holding any bank accounts in off-shore tax havens.

7/ All MPs and Peers to be banned from owning/working for or being a director of companies based in off-shore tax havens.

8/ All meetings between Lib Dem Parliamentarians and professional political lobbyists to be registered online on the party’s website.

9/ The Lib Dem parliamentary party supported the firing of Elizabeth Filkin, the effective Commissioner on Parliamentary Standards. An act which probably ensured the current debacle is as bad as it is.

The party should therefore call for the Commissioner on Parliamentary Standards to be in future to be appointed by a panel of the new Supreme Court judges.

10/ All future Deputy Federal Treasurers to be elected at Federal Executive AGM.

11/ To move away from rich donors, the party will require all future Lib Dem candidates for paid public office to commit 7.5% of their salary to central party funds.

12/ There will be a new committee set up under the chair of the Federal Treasurer to assist with new grassroots funding initiatives.

13/ Introduce a ban on all professional political lobbyists from holding any Federal Committee or Federal officer posts.

13/ (alternative) Ban on professional political lobbyists from holding party membership.

14/ All meetings between paid political lobbyists and Federal Officers/Committees to be recorded on party website.

15/ Professional Political lobbyists who are party members to be barred from speaking/voting at conference debates / fringe meetings on the issues that they are paid to lobby on.

16/ The party to draw up a whistle-blowers charter, so that those who seek to challenge corrupt practices will not ever be legally bullied again by the party’s leadership or officers.

by D McCarthy on May 26, 2009 at 5:07 pm. Reply #

The continuing absence of any sensible response from Party spokespersons to Donnachadh McCarthy’s points is shaming.

If no proper answers are forthcoming, I think the reader will be entitled to conclude that the Party has no valid rebuttal that it can put forward.

by David Allen on May 26, 2009 at 11:04 pm. Reply #

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