David Pugh?

A Tory engaged in bitter public feuding with his own MP has been caught loudly plotting his political manoeuvrings in public. The former leader of Isle of Wight Council, David Pugh, is behind claims splashed across national newspapers that the island’s MP Andrew Turner had fiddled his expenses.

Scrapbook reported on Wednesday evening that someone bearing an astonishing resemblance to Pugh was spied making an extremely indiscreet phone call on a train to Hampshire. Having confirmed that the individual is indeed Pugh, we can now reveal the details:

  • Pugh and his interlocutor planned to demand a “clear answer” from someone by Christmas
  • Part of their plan involved a “chairman” sending a letter
  • If the response was not forthcoming, then a consequence would be certain information appearing in newspapers on January 2nd
  • Pugh promised to prepare some correspondence for the person on the line
  • He was then seen typing on his laptop with some considerable energy

Could it be that the person with whom Pugh was talking was Isle of Wight Conservative Association chairman Alan Wells — and that the person against whom they were plotting was Andrew Turner MP? Wells has already written once to 61 year-old Turner, asking him to “state his intention” vis-a-vis standing in 2015.

A letter from a former Tory association officer leaked to top local blog On The Wight slammed Wells over his public statements that “there had been no discussion about removing [Andrew Turner MP]”:

“I am appalled that you have used your position to publicly refute something that you know is true. In fact, you have been part of, and are still in close contact with a group within the Conservative party on the Island that is actively seeking to de-select Andrew Turner.”

Like rats in a sack.

Boris Johnson with David Hodge

With leaders of some of the Conservatives’ biggest councils starting to break ranks over the massive cuts heading their way, the Tory leader of Buckinghamshire County Council David Hodge (with Bozza above) told World At One earlier:

“I think we’ve reached the tipping point.We can’t just eat away at our back office services any more … people are really going to start noticing now.

This is coming from a man who decided to award himself a 60 PERCENT hike in his taxpayer-funded allowances (not including expenses) earlier this year. Addressing a full council meeting in May, greedy Cllr Hodge objected to the pay recommendations of an independent panel, not because their proposed 30% rise was inappropriate at a time of austerity, but because he wanted even morenamely a raise from £27,000 to £43,000.

With the councillors voting themselves a package of raises worth nearly £300,000 per year, even the local Tories were appalled — with a local MP calling for a “rethink” and other senior Conservative figures claiming the move was “blatant and spectacular greed”. Hodge then moved to block a debate on the issue after calls from local residents.

Did we mention he is refusing to guarantee children in the county a funded school place?

Mark Reckless with Nigel Farage

The Tories’ attempt to sue UKIP for the money wasted on ‘vote Mark Reckless’ election materials printed before he defected looks to have backfired, with ‘Kipper HQ using the action against as a pretext to raise money. His email to supporters:

“You may have noticed that sadly, the [Christmas] spirit of goodwill has not permeated the Conservative Party, which says it is now suing me and my election agent for around £3,000 …

“They lost, and they’re sour about it. And now they’re using nasty party tactics to try to drag me to court and hurt us in the pocket.

And this is by no means the only Tory recourse to expensive lawyers that has recently gone horribly wrong. Today’s Independent featured details of Tory chairman Grant Shapps’ legal threats to this very blog:

Independent on Political Scrapbook vs Shapps

You can read the Indy’s coverage here
… and then donate to our muckraking fund here!

Putin question from 'stroke survivor' journo

With the Rouble on its knees, things are going from bad to worse at the Russian president’s annual press conference

The journalist from Kirov Oblast had asked why French-owned supermarket chain Auchan refused to stock kvas, his region’s fermented bread drink.

Talk about taking your complaints to the top.

David Pugh?

This party hack was overheard loudly discussing internal party matters with a colleague in front of a carriage full of train passengers to Hampshire yesterday evening.

The individual concerned bears an absolutely uncanny resemblance to the controversial former leader of Isle of Wight Council David Pugh — who has been linked to attempts to unseat the island’s beleaguered Tory MP Andrew Turner.

David Pugh comparison

More tomorrow — in the meantime check out the video of Pugh’s F-word outburst at the local MP’s former partner, in what is known locally as the PughTube incident.

Mike Weatherley with David Cameron

Number 10 may come under pressure to account for their arrangements with an adviser to David Cameron — who reportedly persuaded counterparts in Washington DC to adopt an events scheme run by his lobbyist girlfriend.

Former entertainment industry executive Mike Weatherley entered the Commons in 2010 pledging to be “a parliamentary champion of film and music”. He won’t have disappointed his former bosses, setting up two schemes promoting the interests of the copyright lobby to his fellow MPs.

The success of ‘Rock The House’, a music competition which saw groups performing on the parliamentary estate — led to his appointment as the PM’s intellectual property adviser in September 2013.

But here’s where it gets interesting.

Earlier that year, Weatherley had formed a company, The House Associates Ltd (THA), with his live-in girlfriend, professional lobbyist Nikki Haywood. While he divested himself of interests (including THA) on appointment to his role with Cameron, it was later announced that Rock The House would be “transferred to the administration of” THA, which was then wholly owned by his girlfriend and was advertising lobbying services on its website:

“Representing a wide range of expertise from Public Affairs and Public Relations to music management, The House Associates oversees initiatives and campaigns around the creative industries

In April this year, entertainment industry media reported on a trip to the US by Weatherley, during which he was describing himself as ‘IP adviser to the British prime minister’:

“The UK’s intellectual property advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron … is on a tour to drum up support for a US version of Rock The House, the annual music contest he founded

“Mike Weatherley, a top advisor to British Prime Minister David Cameron, spent the last week pitching his American counterparts on Rock the House”

Having approached Rep. Judy Chu of the Creative Rights Caucus, her office is now backing a Capitol Hill version of the competition, with assistance from, errrr, Nikki Haywood and The House Associates Ltd. Scrapbook understands that THA have retained a member of staff to work specifically on Rock The House.

Having already announced he was stepping down from parliament, Weatherley then quit his role with David Cameron in October.

While the Weatherley household may not boast a parliamentarian by summer 2015, it will still have apparent control of a potentially lucrative international ‘lobbying franchise’ — with similar schemes up and running in Brussels and Australia.

In multiple statements issued via his lawyers, Weatherley has strenuously denied exploiting his position as the PM’s adviser or breaching any parliamentary obligations:

  • While on trips to the US, he insists that he made it clear that his role was advisory and not a government position — and that he was not acting in his capacity as the PM’s adviser when he was promoting Rock The House
  • He states that a compliance statement provided to the Cabinet Office disclosed that Rock The House was being administered by a company owned by his partner, and that he planned to expand the competition to foreign legislatures while in post
  • He further claims that the initial approaches for the EU and Australian competitions were made to him (not the other way around) by third parties

So perhaps Number 10 can explain why on earth their arrangement with Weatherley permitted him to promote a privately-controlled IP lobbying scheme run by his live-in girlfriend — all while in post as the PM’s IP adviser?