Portsmouth’s Liberal Democrat councillors made a defiant challenge to Nick Clegg’s authority tonight, by voting to let Mike Hancock keep his seat on the city’s cabinet, despite having been suspended by the party for alleged sexual misconduct
The astonishing decision, made during a three hour private meeting, comes just hours after a High Court judge overruled the council’s attempt to prevent Hancock’s alleged victim seeing the full report into the scandal.
Hancock was suspended from the national party earlier this week, after a redacted copy of the Pascoe Report into his behaviour was leaked to Scrapbook and Guido. He remains a member of Portsmouth Council – as well as an MP – but currently sits as an independent.
The council’s Lib Dem group broke the news in a brazenly defiant statement, taking Hancock’s side against the national party leadership:
‘Cllr Mike Hancock no longer remains a member of the Portsmouth City Council Liberal Democrat Group because, having had his membership suspended by the party at national level, it is not possible for him to remain a member of the city council group until the suspension is lifted.
The group acknowledges that the suspension has been imposed before the issue to which suspension relates has been properly and fairly determined through due process in the courts.’
It means Hancock – who denies allegations he forced his tongue down the throat of a vulnerable constituent, repeatedly turned up at her house and masturbated on her sofa – will keep his job as cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development.
Scrapbookexposed the questionable professional credentials of the Tories calamitous by-election hopeful Maria Hutchings last week. The gaffe-prone candidate described herself as a “business woman”, name-dropping blue chip companies like Texaco as “clients” — but had apparently never been a director of a company or held shares in an enterprise for which she worked.
Claiming that he “can help bring new jobs and investment to our area”, his “business” credentials sounds impressive. But his council register of member’s interestsshows that Thornton works as a mortgage advisor to Southampton-based Simply Finance. Doubtless a worthy trade – but not a business leadership role.
“Independant [sic] Mortgage Advisor with contract to Simply Finance Group, Drivers Wharf, Southampton”
Political candidates who have worked in the private sector should stop over-egging their “business experience” to suggest they are entrepreneurs or have held leadership roles in SMEs.
Nick Clegg’s version of events on the harassment allegations against Lord Rennard is unravelling at an alarming rate. The deputy prime minister had previously claimed that his office were informed of “general concerns” regarding the party’s chief executive in 2008.
But with a former Lib Dem MP revealing she told the deputy prime minister about Rennard’s behaviour when he became party leader in 2007, Clegg was forced to defend himself on a radio phone in this morning.
His poor attempt to account for this gap is already being likened to Richard Nixon:
“I can only tell you the truth as I can recollect it now”
And it got worse, with caller “Cathy from Dulwich” turned out to be, errr, Cathy Newman from Channel 4 News, who seized on his admission that Rennard didn’t simply resign as chief executive for “health and family reasons” as claimed at the time. LBC producers didn’t seem to be impressed, however, and cut her off before she could follow up.
If it looks like a cover up and smells like a cover up …
Top Liberal Democrats linked to the cover-up of alleged sexual harassment by former party chief exec Lord Rennard are to address a party rally on, erm, International Women’s Day. In an ironic turn of events, the gathering on “meaningful gender equality” will be addressed by Nick Clegg, who despite previous denials was forced to admit he had known about Rennard’s behaviour for five years, and women’s minister Jo Swinson, who has been accused of “not acting” over allegations.
The Liberal Democrats and our predecessors have long championed this agenda. Whether it be in the campaign for women’s suffrage, legislating to recognise economic and legal rights, demanding equal pay, fighting for the right to choose, and challenging continuing discrimination and barriers to equality.
One barrier to equality being an alleged of a “sex-for-favours” culture in which female candidates and staff were pressured into sex.
Publicity hungry philanderer Lembit Opik is to participate in a wrestling match outside Parliament. The spindly-limbed former MP will take on a champion heavyweight wrestler in a bid to highlight the case of a controversial “kill or be killed” self-defence guru who has been banned from the UK by the Home Office.
Opik has already organised a series of Skype conferences for MPs with Tim Larkin, who trains his clients in ”the lethal application of force”. While Larkin attempted to charm MPs with his “peaceful way of the warrior” philosophy, Scrapbook can only assume someone in the Home Office is wise to his scaremongering sales techniques and guidance on how to gouge out someone’s eye:
“You’re not going to touch his eyes with your fingertips — you’re going to put your hand through his skull, driven home with your entire mass. You’re going to get your hand wet to the second knuckles in his eye sockets.”
The stunt will be the third time Opik has entered the ring since he was dragged into one still wearing his suit (video below) after deciding to pick a fight with an 18-stone gentlemen going by the name“Kade Kallous”. Opik was stretchered away with cracked ribs after facing Kallous in a ”rematch” in June of last year.
A pantomime for credulous children, a “professional wrestling” ring seems a most suitable venue for Opik’s particular brand of attention seeking.
The Tories’ candidate in the Eastleigh by-election described David Cameron’s coalition deal with Nick Clegg as a “pact with the devil”, according to The Sun. In an bitter online tirade after she lost to Chris Huhne in 2010, Maria Hutchings wrote:
“The Lib Dems have a reduction in seats and yet they might help govern Britain — INSANE”
Labour sources told the paper that Hutchings was “lurching from gaffe to gaffe”.
No wonder Tory spinners are so desperate to keep her away from the media.