Nick Clegg gives a speech on giving young people the skills they need … like being able to spell properly:
The press release itself says:
“English and maths skills are vital for success in today’s labour market.”
Apart from the Civil Service, apparently.
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.
And the £10,300 pay packet that goes with it.
Mike Hancock MP was finally suspended from the Lib Dems yesterday after an explosive official report into claims of sexual harassment was leaked. With an attempted cover-up (DETAILS) by local Liberal Democrats having failed, lawyers for Hancock’s alleged victim — a vulnerable woman with a history of mental health problems — have written to party chief executive demanding that party rules are applied to Hancock as they were to Lord Rennard.
The letter, which was copied to the party’s head of compliance David Allworthy and is published in full by Scrapbook below, piles pressure on Nick Clegg, ex-deputy leader Simon Hughes and chief whip Alistair Carmichael — who failed to suspend Hancock when they met with him in June:
“A meeting was then arranged on 3 June 2013 between Mike Hancock, Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes and Alistair Carmichael following which, Mr Hancock offered his temporary resignation from the parliamentary party”
Despite resigning the whip in Westminster, he was allowed to carry on as a Lib Dem councillor and candidate in Portsmouth — where his colleagues fought tooth and nail to stop the council-commissioned report into the allegations being released. Lawyers for the council are due in the High Court tomorrow afternoon, where they will argue that Hancock’s alleged victim should not be given an unredacted copy of the document. Hancock denies the claims and calls the report “one-sided”.
This letter is at least the fifth time that the victim or her lawyers have written to the Lib Dems. As Scrapbook observed last week, the parallels with the Rennard case are chilling. Ironically enough Lib Dem HQ were paid a visit yesterday by the author of an internal report into, errr, the failure to properly investigate allegations of sexual harassment:
More: Read the letter in full »
With Nick Clegg’s failure to take action against Lord Rennard plastered across the papers today, the link with another ‘sex case’ featuring even more sickening allegations against a national Lib Dem politician has gone unremarked in the mainstream media.
Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock — who is also a councillor in the city — is currently subject to a private prosecution brought by a registered vulnerable adult who claims he sexually assaulted her. While the party at least published a summary of their internal report into Rennard yesterday, Liberal Democrat-run Portsmouth City Council are currently sitting on their QC-authored investigation into Mike Hancock — and have gone to the High Court to prevent it being used in the civil case.
With his office accused of ignoring letters from the complainant’s solicitors sent in early 2011, in March 2013 Nick Clegg told LBC that he had dispatched a senior MP to investigate, before “temporarily withdrawing” the whip from Hancock three months later:
“My chief whip has gone down to Portsmouth, has spoken to Mike Hancock’s solicitors, has written to the complainant’s solicitors offering to meet them, I hope they will do that. So I hope you won’t imply in any way that we’re not acting very, very thoroughly and quickly in response to what of course are serious allegations which are also very vigorously denied by Mike Hancock.”
The stage is set for two key confrontations next week: Portsmouth Council will debate the case on Tuesday and the High Court will rule on the report on Friday.
After Rennard, any further evidence of inaction in such a case will be utterly toxic for Nick Clegg.
With the Liberal Democrats taking no action against Lord Rennard over ‘sex pest’ claims from multiple activists, Nick Clegg has attempted to appease incensed female party figures by stating that the disgraced peer will have no role in the election campaign. No role other than, errr, writing the manifesto.
As a member of the party’s Federal Policy Committee, Rennard sits alongside Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and others to write policy papers for Lib Dem conference — in addition to the manifesto itself:
“The Federal Policy Committee is also responsible for writing the General Election Manifesto, in consultation with the Parliamentary Party, based on the agreed policies of the party but updating them where necessary.”
Clegg’s response is redolent of his initial botched attempt to put a lid on the scandal – which saw the deputy prime minister’s version of events unravel live on radio.
Let’s see how long he manages to stay on the Committee.
The BBC’s Welsh affairs editor reports that the Welsh Lib Dem’s top spinner Myrddin Edwards is to become yet another Nick Clegg special adviser:
The official SpAd list put Clegg’s tally at 19 at the end of October. The arrival of Emma Gilpin-Jacobs a few days later brought this figure to 20.
If Edwards isn’t replacing someone then this is Clegg’s 21st — after the Coalition Agreement said the government would “put a limit on the number of Special Advisers”.
With a question mark over whether Nick Clegg is using his MPs’ expenses to cream off money for his local party, the deputy prime minister has continued to insist that he pays “market rates” to rent office space from Sheffield Hallam Liberal Democrats. But documents obtained by Scrapbook show that his office apparently withheld crucial information from the surveyors tasked with establishing what the “market rate” was.
Four of six offices (some 70% of the total square footage) rented out from a suburban plumbing company are occupied by Clegg in his capacity as local MP. Despite taking the lion’s share of space in the “somewhat nonedescript [sic]“ building, however, it is Sheffield Hallam Liberal Democrats who are renting from the private landlord — effectively acting as a middle man between the (subletting) deputy prime minister and the market.
Where an MP is renting from their political party they are required to file a valuation report, produced by a chartered surveyor, with IPSA to ensure that the rent is fair. In Clegg’s case, the surveyor complains that a lack of relevant comparisons means that establishing a fair rent is not straightforward:
“Direct comparable evidence is scarce, and this lack of transactional evidence has meant that this valuation has had to employ a greater degree of judgement than might otherwise have been the case.”
Clegg has an ‘all inclusive’ lease with his local party, and his office were perfectly happy to furnish the surveyor with full details of the total council tax, water, insurance, electricity and gas charges involved in the operation of the whole building. But despite the difficulties expressed by the surveyor, there is one piece of vital “transactional evidence” which was withheld: the amount that the local Lib Dems are paying in rent.
This would surely be the most accurate way of assessing whether Clegg’s expenses are legit. So — for the umpteenth time — how much is that?
More: Our previous coverage of Clegg expenses »
Having dropped the tedious “Mrs Bone” shtick, Tory MP Peter Bone is looking to redeem himself with this preamble to a question at PMQs, where Nick Clegg is deputising:
“Mr Speaker, hasn’t the acting prime minister been outstanding today? I think if you were listening at the dispatch box you would have thought it was the honourable member for Witney [David Cameron] at the despatch box.”
“I think he is turning into a Tory.”
Shouldn’t that be “turning back into a Tory”? He was a member at university.