Cash Converters payday loan

The Respublica think tank — founded by ‘Red Tory’ Phillip Blond — is to launch a report hailing the potential “social good” of the parasitic payday loan industry. That this bonkers notion is seeing the light of day may have something to do with the report being “kindly supported by” the Consumer Finance Association — the, errr, trade body for payday lenders.

The report will be launched at an event in parliament on Monday where speakers will include the CFA chief executive. This follows on from similarly-themed conference season events, also sponsored by the CFA.

You couldn’t make this stuff up:

“It will examine ways in which the short-term finance sector can become a source of social good, helping consumers ‘climb the credit ladder’ through integration of the sector with the consumer credit market more widely, and show how these firms can also be part of effectively supporting those who fall into unsustainable debt.

And with Wonga offering business loans through it’s (now re-branded) Everline arm, perhaps Respublica themselves could do with some short-term credit.

The think tank’s latest accounts show the Red Tory’s operation in the red to the tune of some £100,000.

Wrapping street politics and a savvy social media presence in a registered party vehicle, far-right knuckle draggers Britain First are rapidly filling the vacuum left by the now rudderless EDL and BNP.

With the parties standing in the Rochester and Strood by-election entitled to a free mail shot delivered to each property in the constituency, Royal Mail are refusing to deliver Britain’s First (thoroughly racist) leaflet on the grounds that it “does not comply with the law”.

That the leaflet focuses on proposals for a mosque and community centre will not be a surprise to anyone who has seen the disgusting video of candidate (and Britain First deputy leader) Jayda Fransen haranguing worshippers exiting an existing facility in Gillingham.

A Royal Mail spokesman told Scrapbook:

“Royal Mail has a legal obligation under the Representation of the People Act 1983 to deliver Parliamentary election mail. Royal Mail may refuse to carry election mail if we consider its contents to be illegal, for example if it is threatening, abusive or insulting or is intended to cause distress or anxiety.

“We have procedures in place to evaluate whether election mail complies with the law. In this instance, we consider that the election mail in question does not comply with the law and have therefore refused to carry it.”

The BNP, meanwhile, are yet to field a candidate in the contest. If they don’t get an application in by 4pm on Tuesday it’ll be their fourth by-election no-show in a row.

Brass-necked Mike Hancock is now well and truly back in Westminster, getting his second speech under his belt since he apologised for sickening behaviour towards a vulnerable member of the public.

After testing the waters in an Israel/Palestine debate two weeks ago today, he was then spotted on the Lib Dem benches during exchanges on the Recall Bill — right next to the party’s deputy leader Sir Malcolm Bruce, who failed to move him on.

Hancock back in parliament

He’s just been spied on his feet for Caroline Lucas’ drugs policy debate — again, taking advantage of near-empty opposition benches to avoid being heckled.

Mike Hancock in drugs debate

Hancock, whose legal costs over the sexual harassment allegations must run into at least the tens of thousands, is in line for a ‘resettlement payment’ of six months’ salary — but only if he stands and loses against the new Lib Dem candidate in Portsmouth South.

Poignantly enough, his drugs speech even referenced a visit to a vulnerable constituent’s home.

A bit like those unannounced visits he made to a registered vulnerable adult, whom he then “degraded”.

Nick Clegg: so not sorry

Having announced he is quitting the Commons, Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne has taken to Twitter to complain about the lack of a suitable message from Nick Clegg:

Could this perhaps be because Clegg isn’t sorry?

After being was sacked by DPM for effectively going native with the Tories — the Racist Van happened when he was supposed to be ‘on point’ in the Home Office —  Browne decided to describe the coalition as a ‘wonky shopping trolley‘ and Clegg’s leadership as “timid” and lacking “definition”.

♫ He’s not sorry. He’s not sorry. He’s soooo not sorry

Alan Mellins

A Tory who caused outrage by suggesting that gypsy travellers should be “executed” has quit as a councillor. Alan Mellins — who made the comment to shocked colleagues and staff in the middle of a planning scrutiny meeting — issued the following statement:

“It was never my intention to cause offence. The remark was irresponsible and ill conceived, and I would like to confirm that the comment categorically does not reflect my personal views in any way.

“In the circumstances I have tendered my resignation as a local councillor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead with immediate effect.”

Mellins remains suspended from the Conservative Party pending disciplinary proceedings.

The row has cost him at least £7,255 pa in council allowances.

Jack Clarkson

Something tells Scrapbook that UKIP’s candidate for South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner might not understand what the role involves. Despite standing for this political position, the first election pledge listed by Jack Clarkson’s campaign is to:

“Endeavour to remove political interference from South Yorkshire Police”

Presumably he intends to resign if elected, or dissolve the post?

Jake Berry and Grant Shapps

A Commons aide to Tory chairman Grant Shapps appears to have channelled thousands of pounds in campaign donations via his researcher’s flat — using a legal vehicle associated with a controversial loophole in electoral law.

Lancashire MP Jake Berry is one of just eight Tories in ‘target holds’ that have received a majority of their declarable donations from unincorporated associations, which can be used to hide the identities of rich donors.

Rossendale and Darwen Portcullis Club, which has given £12,000 to Berry’s local campaign in two donations either side of New Year 2014, is registered to a flat in an inconspicuous estate in South East London (below).

Title deeds reveal that the property is owned by a woman who just happens to be Berry’s only registered parliamentary passholder – and who hung up on Scrapbook this afternoon when we asked about the arrangement.

Rossendale Portcullis Club estate

The most notorious unincorporated association is perhaps the United and Cecil Club, which shovels cash to dozens of Tories and is registered to a riding school in Berkshire owned by a former Big Tobacco executive.

Unlike United and Cecil, however, Rossendale and Darwen Portcullis Club looks to be controlled not by rich third-parties but by Jake Berry’s own office – which raises the question: why contrive such an arrangement? Why not simply run the money through the local Conservative Association?

Perhaps the following has something to do with it:

With a threshold of £25,000 before reporting requirements kick in, the secretive club could channel another £20,000 to Berry’s campaign in 2014 without having to explain where a penny of it has come from. Transparent, huh?

UPDATE: With Jake’s office having hung up on us earlier, CCHQ have now been in touch …

“All donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with Electoral Commission rules.

“Any suggestion of impropriety by the party is malicious and defamatory and will be treated as such.

What about the MP then?

Jonathan Simons Guardian comment

As the schools watchdog Ofsted launches a consultation on its own inspections, the Guardian has been canvassing views from across the education sector.

Jonathan Simons, head of education at Tory think tank Policy Exchange, reckons it is headteachers — and, by extension, their bosses, the governing body — who should determine the criteria on which their own school should be judged:

“Ofsted should be a hygiene inspector, not a food critic. By that I mean it should be headteachers who are the dominant actors: they should be the ones saying this is what we’re doing, these are the outcomes, here’s the data to prove it.

Could this be the Jonathan Simons who founded the Greenwich Free School, which, errr, received a ‘requires improvement’ rating — the second lowest of four — in an inspection report released in April this year?

And could this be the Jonathan Simons who chairs a governing body that a subsequent monitoring inspection visit found was “not taking effective action to tackle the areas relating to teaching that were identified at the [previous] inspection”?

The very same!