The Sun page 3 free

After their what-the-hell-are-we-doing management of dropping Page 3 — featuring a senior staff member apologising for sending a picture of boobs to the deputy leader of the oppositionThe Sun looks to have gone a whole week without ladies’ nipples.

Excluding Tuesday’s Sunifesto edition, every day had some attempt at ‘totty’ but the bare breasts were gone. The public relations industry will still be salivating, however, with two of the pages based on visual copy from lingerie firm Victoria’s Secret and an innuendo-laden ad for a burger chain.

Chaos ensued last week despite the boss’ attempts to lay groundwork for the move over some months — including hinting at what the replacement might involve:

So at least we now have a clearer idea what creepy Uncle Rupe meant by “glamorous fashionistas” in “fashionable clothes”: errrr, bondage gear. Here’s Thursday’s page 5 (pushed back by a double-page ad spread):

The Sun crap Page 3

Although they did rotate the numeral 3 to look like breasts:

Quite witty and ‘very Sun’ … but a week too late.

Karl McCartney

The Department for Transport has failed to turn up at a ‘transport seminar’ organised by a Tory PM after Scrapbook highlighted his attempts to charge his own constituents £15 for entry to the event — at which the main attraction was public officials. Greedy Karl McCartney even wanted £5 merely to email a copy of a summary.

Failing even to get a Tory minister to show up, red faced Karl was forced to delete references to a “representative from the Department of Transport [sic]”. The final straw looks to have been complaint from a neighbouring Labour candidate:

And in developments mirroring the behaviour of his own party leader, the gaffe-prone MP is running scared of debating with opponents in his marginal Lincoln seat — publishing a bizarre public list of demands as a condition of his appearance:

“all, including independent and minor party, candidates will also be invited to attend … that the chairman of the debates will be impartial, and that the venue is suitable”.

He goes on:

“I have also declined a number of requests due to diary clashes and in some cases the view that the requesting organisations, or other factors beyond my control, do not present a level playing field to all the parliamentary candidates in Lincoln.

One format that McCartney apparently finds objectionable — refusing to confirm despite being invited before Christmas — is a debate chaired by BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Melvyn Prior with video simulcast by the Lincolnite and Lincolnshire Echo.

Perhaps he is holding out for a £15 pay-per-view deal?

Mike Thornton and Nick Clegg

The unpopular Communications Allowance, which saw MPs spending up to £21,000 on constituency newsletters and surveys etc, was abolished at the height of the expenses scandal — but the news doesn’t seem to have filtered through to Mike Thornton MP (Chris Huhne’s replacement in Eastleigh).

Thornton is sending out identical letters about problems of booking appointments with GPs, which begin:

“Further to our previous correspondence …”

One big problem: there was no previous correspondence — not about GPs, at least.

Mike Thornton letter 1

The lucky recipients of the letter tell strangely similar stories: being in touch with Thornton regarding one or more completely separate issues — in some cases more than 12 months prior — and then being contacted out of the blue.

While Thornton’s office have not responded to any of Scrapbook’s questions, it looks like he may be using any previous contact with constituents as a pretext to send them political junk mail en masse — all funded by the taxpayer through the £7,000 stationary allowance.

And if the point of such an exercise 100 days before a general election wasn’t obvious enough, it even includes a reference to the Coalition’s “increased spending on the NHS every year over the last 5 years”.

Mike Thornton letter 2

It could soon be Thornton receiving letters referencing ‘previous correspondence’ — but they’ll be from the Standards Commissioner.

Alan Milburn

Former health secretary Alan Milburn yesterday:

“You’ve got a pale imitation actually of the 1992 general election campaign. Maybe it will have the same outcome, I don’t know. But it would be a fatal mistake for Labour to go into this election looking as though it is the party that would better resource the NHS but not necessarily put its foot to the floor when it comes to reforming it.”

What kind of reform could Milburn possibly have in mind? In answering that question, perhaps we might find his current roles instructive:

  • Chair of the European Advisory Board for Bridgepoint Capital, owners of Care UK
  • Chair of PwC’s UK Health Industry Oversight Board
  • Adviser and a Member of the Healthcare Advisory Panel at Lloyds Pharmacy Ltd
  • Member of Strategic Advisory Board at WellDoc, Inc
  • Chairman of iWantGreatCare

The proceeds from these sinecures are believed to be channelled through AM Strategy Ltd, a firm set up while he was still an MP and is co-owned with his partner, an NHS doctor. The firm was described on his final register of members’ interests entry as “established … to undertake media/consultancy work” and the last accounts show £1.76m in cash (up 35%) as part of total assets of £2.42m (up 50%).

So was his election intervention yeseterday as a former Labour MP and health secretary or on behalf of his current employers: vested interests in the health industry?

Karl McCartney

A Tory MP is attempting to charge his own constituents a £15 fee to attend a seminar with representatives from councils, the Department for Transport and Network Rail — which are all public bodies.

What’s more, Lincoln’s Karl McCartney even wants to extract payment from residents simply to email them a summary of proceedings at the event on Friday:

Karl McCartney charging £5 for minutes of meeting

Several transport users groups were not sent an invitation to the event, despite direct contact with McCartney and his office over transport issues:

And rather than hold the meeting at a cheap council-owned facility, McCartney has opted for a swanky 18th Century wedding venue and demands that attendees avail themselves of catering, whether they can afford it or not. The session encompasses all modes of transport, including buses and cycling.

As one commenter remarked on local website The Lincolnite:

“Why should anyone have to pay a penny for this? He’s charging his own constituents to gain access to information that they should be able to access freely!

Those wanting to attend can make their cheque out to ‘Karl McCartney Lincoln Business Briefings’ and send it to his home address.


Nigel Farage is standing by his party’s organiser in Hampshire after he was exposed for a string of criminal convictions — including prison sentences for wounding with intent and actual bodily harm.

A group of UKIP members in Portsmouth quit in disgust after details of Paul Lovegrove’s history emerged — including slashing a man’s face with a bread knife and absconding to Spain to avoid ABH charges.

But UKIP leader told Portsmouth News that having thugs in your party is “a bonus”:

“Mr Lovegrove who may have fallen off the rails earlier in his life but he is now totally reformed and we are standing by him 100 per cent. We knew about his past.

Errrr. So what about that declaration you are making candidates sign then? The one that references ‘violent criminal activity’ and ‘offences punishable by a custodial sentence’?

UKIP candidates form

Lovegrove stood as a candidate himself last May, well after this form was introduced by the party.

So did he not fill in the declaration or lie — or do UKIP simply not give a monkey’s?

i front page on Tory poll lead

A hat trick of poll leads for the Tories:

  • YouGov (Con 34, Lab 33, UKIP 15, LD 6)
  • ComRes phone poll (Con 31, Lab 30, UKIP 17, LD 8) has the Tories ahead for the first time since September 2011
  • Survation online poll (Con 31, Lab 30, UKIP 23, LD 7) has the Tories ahead for first time in this parliament

Meanwhile Labour have a 1-point lead with Populus and hold the Tories neck-and-neck with Lord Ashcroft.

Wakey wakey!

George Freeman Patients4Data

A Tory health minister is behind a so-called ‘grassroots’ body run by bioscience executives — which is currently lobbying the NHS while claiming to be a patients’ group.

With the government’s controversial programme — comprising massive sharing of medical information with third partiesreportedly “in the last chance saloon”, NHS England have set up an advisory group to steward the beleaguered initiative through a privacy and ethics minefield.

The bodies represented on the advisory group include Patients4Data, which describes itself as “a grassroots campaign organised by an independent, patient-led group”, but looks rather more like a bunch of vested interests and professional lobbyists backed by venture capital firms, biotech and pharma companies.

Astonishingly, the co-founders and current published “leadership” of the operation includes a former bioscience industry executive who is now the, errrr, Tory life sciences minister at BIS and the Department of Health:

  • George Freeman MP (Parliamentary Founder) — formerly a Director at Merlin Biosciences, CEO of Amedis Pharmaceuticals and founder and chairman of 4D Biomedical Ltd
  • Nigel Gaymond (Industry Founder) — transatlantic life sciences veteran and former chief executive of the UK BioIndustry Association
  • Cynthia Clark (Director of Communications) — 20-year veteran in life sciences lobbying and marketing
  • Graham Silk (Patient Founder) — sometime leukaemia sufferer turned charity boss and ostensibly the only credible “patient” of the group’s leadership

The Patients4Data domain name is registered to George Freeman, with the website’s privacy policy making repeated references to his parliamentary office, which is also the registered address for the domain.

Gaymond and Clark are listed as the only staff of the Personalised Healthcare Alliance, “Life science leaders allied in a new action tank to … mobilise the UK to excel in personalised healthcare innovation”.

Perhaps the ‘Minister for Monsanto’ can start by explaining how Patients4Data is funded.