Saturday, 21 April 2007

Met Police Hand "Cash for Honours" File Over To CPS

The Met Police have handed the "Cash for Honours" file over to the CPS to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to proceed.

A 216-page file was handed over by detectives from the Metropolitan Police to the CPS on Friday. Prosecutors will decide whether anyone should be charged over claims that honours were given in return for money

Although the police file amounts to an exoneration for Blair, confirming he will not be charged, the conclusions on Levy and Turner bring the affair close to his door. As would be expected, Levy, Turner and Evans all deny any wrongdoing.

It now appears the decision on whether anyone will face trial over the cash for honours scandal will be made before Tony Blair leaves office. Legal sources said they expected a decision in June on whether three key figures, fundraiser Lord Levy, Downing Street director of government relations Ruth Turner, and donor Sir Christopher Evans, should be formally charged.

A spokesman for Evans said last night: 'In the 2004-2005 discussions about giving a loan to the Labour Party, Sir Christopher is adamant that at no stage were there any talks about a peerage in relation to money.' Evans has repeatedly insisted he was never promised anything by Levy in return for giving money, but admitted earlier this year that the peer had often suggested over the years that he deserved an honour. Of course the two weren't connected. They just happened to be discussed during in same conversation at the same time but one clearly did not influence the other. Not very believable Mr. Evans.

As far as Ruth Turner goes its quite obvious she helped "cover up" the selling of honours at Levy's encouragement however the real culprit here is Lord "Cashpoint" Levy himself. Levy orchestrated and arranged the entire "loan scheme" (which I might add Blair went along with), then promptly pushed Blair to recommend the donors or "lenders" for honours. When challenged Levy conspired to cover the entire fiasco up.

Although it appears Blair is in the clear a decision to charge Ms Turner or Lord Levy would be "disastrous" for the prime minister, particularly if it was announced before he leaves office as expected later this year.

Labour sleaze strikes again. Surprising? No. What will be surprising is if Levy actually gets what he deserves and the case moves forward to trial.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Labour Wins NO Vote on Pension Bill Amendment.. Yet Another Reason NOT to Vote Labour at the Next Election

During PMs Question time today David Cameron asked about the 125,000 people whose occupational pension schemes had collapsed. He said he was asking in a "genuinely cross-party way" for the prime minister to look at amendments to the Pension Bill that would give victims more compensation.

Mr Blair's response was that the chancellor had upped the scheme to £8bn, but said he did not know if they could afford to make a further commitment, but it would be looked into in a review. He said it was not responsible to make the commitment at this stage. Not responsible? As Mr Cameron pointed the budget changes did not help people who had already reached retirement age, some were dying and would not get their money. He said: "Only about 1,000 people have been helped. The financial assistance scheme isn't working." He said the government had to act now. Mr. Blair, voting no to the amendment to the pension bill is what is truly irresponsible.
What about your responsibility to the people who made you Prime Minister and are now suffering?

If we needed one more reason to NOT vote for Labour at the next general election, here it is. Is it surprising that Labour is not offering additional assistance to people who lost their pensions? No. But it is heartbreaking. These people who Labour so easily dismissing by are the people who voted for the party at the last election. After being let down by Labour will they vote for the party again? I hope not. Blair's government made many promises but has actually followed through on very few.The government has defeated the amendment to the Pension Bill to give more help to people whose occupational pension schemes have collapsed. This amendment, supported by Tories, Liberal Democrats and 15 Labour MPs including 5 ex Ministers was defeated by 22 votes.

Among the fifteen Labour MPs who backed the amendment were party leadership candidates Michael Meacher and John McDonnell.

During the debate, pensions minister James Purnell said: "The government should not write a blank cheque but organise a remedy."

Ministers have previously pledged an expansion of the current Financial Assistance Scheme to help about 125,000 victims.

Last month, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced its funding would be increased from £2bn to £8bn and it would cover everyone who lost all or part of their pensions between January 1997 and April 2005. It will offer a financial "safety net" to members of about 660 company pension schemes that were closed while insolvent before 2005, when new protection came in.

The criticism is that the Financial Assistance Scheme is operating too slowly and that thousands of people who have applied for payments may have to wait years. In the Commons, Mr Purnell announced a concession to critics on the Labour backbenches which, he said, should help a further 8,000 people whose schemes began winding up between January 1 1997 and April 5 2005. This would happen "where a compromise agreement is in place and where enforcing the debt against the employer would have forced the employer into insolvency".
He added: "We estimate this will benefit an extra 8,000 people, members of some 15 schemes".

Shadow work and pensions secretary Philip Hammond said: "If we are going to have a solution to these problems we have got to recognise that we are all in this together. "There has to be a sharing of their pain."

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman David Laws said: "Those who have lost their pensions will not forgive MPs who do not back a fair compensation package." Nor should they. Why would the British Public support a MP who has "hung them out to dry."

Monday, 16 April 2007

Will Des Browne Be Forced To Resign ?

Tory leader David Cameron said yesterday that Des Browne must resign from the Cabinet unless he can convince MPs that he still commands the support of the Armed Forces after the Iran captives fiasco. Today, Defence Secretary Browne will make a statement to MPs regarding the seizure in the Gulf last month, their 13 days of captivity at the hands of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and the decision after their release to allow them to sell their stories to the press.

Mr Cameron, who has not as of yet called for Mr Browne's resignation, strengthened his stance during a television interview by saying the Defence Secretary has to pass two tests today if he is to fend off calls from the Opposition for his resignation. He has to convince MPs that the MoD and No 10 took the right decisions throughout the Iran crisis and, second, he must show he retains the confidence of the Armed Forces, despite the anger and bad feeling or recent days.

During his appearance on BBC1's Sunday am Cameron said "If he can pass those two tests then he keeps his job, if he fails, then I think he has to go.'' Browne's chances of passing the second test do not look promising after a former chief of the defence staff, Lord Guthrie joined several other former chiefs in criticising the MoD.

Mr Browne has accepted "full responsibility" for allowing two of the sailors, Faye Turney and Arthur Batchelor, to sell accounts of their ordeal to tabloid newspapers. But he claimed that it was primarily a Navy decision that he was merely asked to "note".

The MoD has sought to give the impression that it was a passive bystander in events controlled by the Navy. However the fact that the MoD press office in London actively encouraged the Navy to consider allowing the sailors to sell their stories, arguing that they would not be able to stop the sailors' families and friends from cashing in directly conflicts with that impression .
Mr Browne's role has been further called into question by the release of Navy rules on dealing with the media that make clear that before any services personnel can co-operate with the press on "sensitive" issues, the Secretary of State has to give his or her express approval.

The entire situation regarding the hostages capture and release has been disastrous. The way it was handled has not only been an embarrassment to our country and government it has made us targets for terrorists both at home and abroad. Iran did not suffer any consequences as a result of their actions therefore other terrorist organization and countries that support them have nothing to fear either. Do I think Browne should resign, absolutely, as should everyone else directly involved with the handling of this fiasco.

Blair's Plans Regarding Final Weeks in Office and Progress Made During His Leadership

In an interview with BBC1's The Politics Show yesterday, Mr Blair refused to be drawn into discussions on speculation regarding the succession. The Prime Minister said he was confident his legacy would be secure as a reformer of public services.

In comments that risked irritating Mr Brown he said that in his final weeks in office he would cementing New Labour's long-term reforms. "We will over the next few weeks be putting in place the main building blocks or the final building blocks for reform," he said.

Mr Blair denied he was "binding the hands" of Mr Brown. He said it was not about binding the Chancellor to a future agenda but doing what was right for the country.

Tony Blair also said, " British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting terrorism on the front line. The forces of extremism needed to be tackled to offer security to the whole world, he told the BBC. Blair's words are correct howver his actions do not seem to follow. If Blair truly believed what he was saying he would not have walked on egshells when Iran took our sailors and marines hostage.

The PM also spoke about the progress the Government has made since 1997 in health, education and anti-social behaviour. He said the changes in these areas "would stand the test of time". As far as the changes he has made, the NHS is overcrowded and understaffed. School children are not making the progress they should be according to the latest tests. Antisocial behavior is not signifiacntly better yet the Government's intrusion into our lives is dramatically worse. We now have over 4.2 million CCTV cameras across Britain with the "Talking" CCTV cameras now being installed across 20 areas in Britian. Also, we must not forget that Blair has said if Labour wins the next election we will be required to own a Biometric ID card.

Blair has made progress, progress in creating a Big Brother and surviellence society. However, this is not the progress we voted for at the last election.

Blair is attempting to continue to shape the government and its policies long after he leaves. The only problem is the majority of the public do not agree with his handling of Britain at the moment and are looking forward to the day he resigns. The last thing we need is for the country to be in Blair's clutches even after he is gone.