With ministers under fire for stuffing both departments and arms-length bodies with Tories, Scrapbook has previously quotedConservative strategist Matthew Elliot, who singled out the appointment of William Shawcross to the Charity Commission as “very good” for right-wingers.
The public appointments commissioner obligates ministers — in this case Francis Maude — to publish details of political activity undertaken by new quango bosses.So, errrr, why did the Cabinet Office try to imply that William Shawcross is some form of dormant Labour supporter?
“William Shawcross has declared that he is not a member of any political party, although he had in the past been a Labour Party supporter and has canvassed on behalf of various political parties.”
“When I was young I was, as my father was, a member of the Labour Party for a very short period … When I was a very young person in the 1960s.”
Shawcross has spent the last 40 years making amends for youthful socialist indiscretions. With a daughter who advises George Osborne and a Conservative peer for a son-in-law, before the general election hsaccused the Labour Party of “authoritarianism” and claimed that:
“Only a vote for the Conservatives offers any hope of drawing back from the abyss”
At his appointment hearing, Shawcross vehemently denied the suggestion that he was “someone who is going to do the political hatchet job that Maude is doing elsewhere”.
But that is precisely what happened last summer — when he backed the Tories in their co-ordinated attack on the charity sector as the Lobbying Bill was launched.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has landed the role of recruiting PR and advertising consultants for the coalition government – just months after his helpful advice led to a woman suffering 40% burns.
Addressing a PR conference in London yesterday, Maude announced:
‘Suppliers should know that this Government is on the hunt for the best talent and the most innovative ideas, albeit keenly priced. I challenged my civil servants to come up with innovations that will make it easier for industry to do business with us; now we’ll be looking to industry to come forward with innovative ideas for us.’
Let’s hope he starts listening to some of their advice before he goes on air next time…
In what is a contender for the most cringeworthy video ever produced by Whitehall, the Department for Transport has released a video in which cabinet ministers implore Londoners to get up earlier in the morning and avoid using the tube and buses during the Olympics. This unwelcome advice is euphemistically referred to as “remoding”.
Scrapbook wonders whether transport secretary Justine Greening could sound less convincing:
“I’m remoding at the moment and having a good old walk up to Cabinet. It does me a lot of good.”
Meanwhile, Francis Maude is preserving his hoard of petrol by cycling to work. The clearly out of breath cabinet secretary said:
“Actually it’s great, you feel great afterwards — a bit puffed, but it gets the circulation going!”
The Conservatives are planning to restrict Freedom of Information requests. Despite an existing framework for charging costlier requests, a report by Newsnight reveals the Conservatives are considering introducing a “range of tarrifs” for access to documents by journalists, campaigners and members of the public.
After Michael Gove was caught using a secret email account with the pseudonym “Mrs Blurt” to discuss Whitehall business, civil servants have proposed that no personal email accounts should to be used for official matters — unless an official is copied in. Ministers are now looking to respond by charging.
In keeping with David Cameron’s previous claims that “We want to be the most open and transparent government in the world.”, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, whose brief encompasses FOI, gushed about data rights in October 2010:
“Tony Blair bizarrely revealed that his biggest regret in office was introducing the Freedom of Information Act. If I ever sit down to write my own memoirs, freeing up government information will not number amongst my regrets. In fact, I very much hope that it will be one of my very proudest achievements.”
With personal email accounts off limits, perhaps ministers could stockpile correspondence in their garages.
With the a spoof “Francis Maude advice” Twitter account (@FrancisMaudeAdv) satirising the Cabinet Office minister’s dangerous suggestions on petrol storage, perhaps we can also take some influence from the real Francis Maude: getting the taxpayer to pick up the tab for late payment of bills.
The millionaire minister was threatened with legal action after failing to pay thousands of pounds worth of bills on time at his London home.
Landlords were owed a whopping £2,600 and Maude was threatened with termination notices due to late payments on his bills. The landlords’ letter to Maude warned that the longer he waited, the more he would have to pay:
“We request that you settle the amount outstanding within 14 days of the date of this reminder in order to avoid incurring additional costs or further legal action.”
Documents unearthed by David Hencke show that Maude’s £188 gas bill was also over a month late, and British Gas sent letters asking if Maude was struggling to make ends meet.
The termination notices came after Maude failed to pay a £36 telephone bill and his electricity supplier encouraged him to sign up for Direct Debit to prevent him forgetting to pay.
And the worst part? Maude didn’t have to pay a penny himself — it could all be claimed back on parliamentary expenses.
Sky News are currently reporting that a woman has been badly burnt attempting to stockpile petrol. The woman, in York, was apparently transfering fuel between containers in her kitchen. This comes after Francis Maude recommended people stock up on fuel in jerry cans.
Francis Maude could not survive if there was a fire as a result of his advice yesterday.
In what has been correctly described as a transparent attempt to foment oil strike rhetoric, to then blame the resultant panic on Labour donor unions and Ed Miliband, minister Francis Maude told reporters that:
“A bit of extra fuel in a jerry can in the garage is a sensible precaution to take”
Cue people arriving at forecourts with plastic containers: