The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.


Meet the Professor

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More grist for the mill

Another 3 MPs in as many days signed up to support the Bill.

All very exciting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ben Bradshaw MP - selling sweet nothings


Pin-up MP and solid Brownite, Ben Bradshaw, has yet to respond to our e-mail dated 22nd May.

His vote on Wednesday against a more transparent Iraq inquiry has irritated us further in light of his claims to be a fighter for transparency. Expenses is one thing, transparency and Freedom of Information quite another. If he's your MP, we want to hear from you (also, feel free to cut and paste the text from our e-mail then e-mail him at bradshawb@parliament.uk asking him to explain himself.

Dear Mr Bradshaw

I watched with interest your terrific performance on Question Time last night.

You appeared to claim you have been one of the major proponents of a transparent parliament throughout your career - even urging people to check your voting record on They Work For You.

I did this and was surprised (and somewhat confused)...

You have not in fact voted strongly for a transparent parliament. Out of 10 possible votes (including 2 strong votes) for transparency, you have only voted for three (and not on either of the key votes).

Last night, you gave the strong impression to the electorate that this is a key issue for you. Yet your record is at least 70% weaker than someone like Norman Baker MP - who has in fact consistently voted for a transparent parliament.

Equally, you were keen to stress a momentous move this week by parliament - proclaiming the 'End of Self-Regulation'.

My understanding of the proposed Government reforms is that for a serious breach of conduct an MP will still only be removeable by parliament itself. This is a far cry from "The End of Self Regulation"

In short. I'd humbly suggest the impression you gave on Questiontime was misleading to the electorate.

If I'm mistaken, forgive me.

Perhaps you can further clarify your position by letting me know whether you'd support independent legal redress for the electorate in the form of Adam Price MP's previously proposed Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill (attached for your perusal).

Indeed, we intend to conduct several prosecutions under this proposed Bill at a series of LSE "moots" this summer. I'd welcome the opportunity to see you defend the impression you gave of your voting record and declaration of the "End of Self Regulation".
Any other examples of Mr Bradshaw selling sweet nothings most gratefully received.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lawyers on standby

Support seems to be growing in the blogosphere - many thanks to Burning Our Money and An Englishman's Castle. No doubt at some point we'll get slagged off but for the time-being all nice things. Spread the good word.

We're currently beavering away on ;

  • Iraq inquiry debate
  • Ben "I've always supported transparency" Bradshaw MP
  • Karen "I voted against the war on Iraq" Buck MP
  • the just-published IPSA Bill heralding the end of self-regulation and dishonest politics
Will bare all once lawyers give us the thumbs up (Karen Buck in particular is reserving her right to explore legal options). Laugh ? We nearly posted her e-mail. Sadly she's no longer our MP but if any of you are in her constituency, please get in touch.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guido hits the nail on the head.

Harriet Harman's much heralded "end of self regulation" with the "independent" Parliamentary Standards Authority has seen the light of day.

However you dress it up, the power to refer misconduct to the courts is exactly the same as the power to prevent misconduct getting to the courts.

Guido's response pretty much nails it. We're still waiting to scrutinise the thing and will report back. Initial thoughts centre on the introductory paragraph - limiting scope to financial misconduct, which, as we've discussed at length, is only a symptom of the problem.


The devil will be in the detail - this body can impose criminal penalties, but as Guido points out, in practise it's effectively an establishment filter which then decides how misconduct will be dealt with before courts get anywhere near it. Also noted by Peter Riddell in the Times,

"The final power to decide on non-criminal penalties will still lie with MPs. But self-regulation is being heavily qualified in practice."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Douglas Carswell MP 'hates' judges


The Ministry had a lovely run in with Conservative 'radical' Douglas Carswell at the RSA last week.


When asked why he had declined to support the Bill, Mr Carswell trotted out the tried and tested Harperson answer "I don't think the courts can deal with this" and went on to say, "to be frank it's (the law prohibiting deception by MPs) a stupid idea"

When pushed, he was quick to anger... "I hate judges and lawyers are even worse."

A friendly lawyer was on hand to help the Ministry out... reminding Carswell, "Well then you shouldn't be in parliament. You're a legislator and everything you do, you entrust to the courts".

Carswell, elegantly as a Kant can possibly be, hustled himself through the side exit.

The Ministry sold out ? Cash for legislation ?

Many thanks to the readers who pointed this out ;



PS. Don't tell anyone in Parliament you can sell legislation in Japan

Monday, June 22, 2009

Horsetrading

Maurice Frankel warned us of the dangers of getting legislation passed. He should know.

Maurice is the man ultimately behind the expenses scandal. For twenty years he shepherded the Freedom of Information Act onto the statute books - then had to suffer listening to the executive take the credit, "We're the Government that introduced Freedom of Information". The fourth estate owes him bigtime. He told us of the ear-curling, head-frazzling deals done behind the scenes - we could have had the FOI 20 years ago if Clement Freud MP had been prepared to miss a train and a critical vote. Today, the whips would have him hung-drawn and quartered.

Needless to say, the back-stage cajoling of MPs and parties to buy into The Prohibition of Deception Bill has been a nest of worried wording and veiled threats. Lord Falconer (a man we intitially got all loved up over) freaked the Ministry out by ignoring all questions and repeatedly asking for the names of 11 Labour backbenchers supporting the Bill and details of the open letter they were preparing. We'd asked him if he'd changed his mind and would lend his support in view of current circumstances and growing support - Lib Dems have moved significantly off the fence, telling us late last Friday it was now part of the debate. SNP, political commentators and intellectuals endorsed it and the likes of Sir Alistair Graham (Chairman, Standards in Public Life Committee 2007/04) have signed up.

It blipped on the radars of Dizzy Thinks, Labour Home, Old Holborn and the poll came in showing 91% of 77,000 voters are in favour. This may account for a little of the movement from Tory ranks where some backbenchers have moved from - "great idea, I'love the principles, love to see it debated but ain't signing anything" to an "OK, let's see who else has signed it" position.

Ask your MP if they support the Bill here. You may find their responses amusing. Tell 'em there's only so long you can sit on a fence before getting a post up your jacksie.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kantometer Overload

"We, like Labour politicians, have fought shy of using the "c" word" George Osborne



You'd have thought, somewhere along the line, somebody would have said, "this is our chance to prove we've changed, prove we've learned our lessons". In the past six weeks we've heard promises of little else from Her Majesty's Government and Parliament.

You'd have thought they'd have realised there's a benchmark in place. The public was always going to be able to compare The Telegraph's information on expenses to Parliament's published response. The difference between the two is the measure of Parliamentary intent for transparency and accountability.

You'd be hard-pressed to find circumstances where Parliament was under greater obligation to address their failings or had a better opportunity to show good faith and have fallen so miserably short. Actually, that's not strictly true.

The end of John Major's government imploding in sleaze saw promises of reform with the Nolan report and implementation of numerous commissioners, codes of conduct and no less than 3 offices charged with the task of maintaining standards.

That was over a decade ago.

A month ago, Justice Minister Shahid Malik stepped down whilst Brown instigated an "independent" investigation into his expense claims. Last week Brown announced Malik was cleared but refused to publish the details (subsequently forced to publish in "redacted' form - Ed).

This week Brown announced the latest "independent" Iraq enquiry is to be held in private.

And yesterday, the much heralded "first step towards reform" - transparency for expenses, shows it's face...



What a bunch of Kants.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Standards in Public Life Chairman endorses Anti-Deception law for MPs

The Ministry's cup overflows...

With some notable exceptions (Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor on Mr Blair's watch - more on him later, we've mixed it up with him before) some very surprising heavyweights are signing up to support the Bill, today brings the roll of honour to...

video

Sir Alistair Graham
Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life 2003-2007

Having sat right in the belly of the beast on our particular beef with the standards of right honourables, he's uniquely placed to consider what's needed to reform Parliament. His support for the Bill is high praise indeed.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hands in (on) the till(er)

As you're no doubt aware, much noise about "Change the voting system, procedure in the house, an elected second chamber" etc.

Easy to get sidetracked by the urgent calls for massive Parliamentary reform - and forget the very, very basics...



...When someone gets caught with their hands in the till, you don't blame the system - you call the authorities. The problem is their number - 020 7219 3000 . Try calling. We did.

P.S. For added amusement ask to be put through to Detective Inspector Blears (and post a comment with the response).

(with many thanks to Peter Oborne for reminding us at the IQ2 debate last night)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Questiontime. What happened ?

Apologies for omitting to be wholly transparent in good time on The Professor's much anticipated Questiontime appearance. Sadly, there was a last minute cabinet re-shuffle and complete change of panel.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Blears guilty as a dog

The BBC has an interesting link on the same page as this Hazel "within the rules" Blears article... Can dogs really look guilty ? The article says apparently not - it's all in the owner's mind.

No doubt she'll find out in due course if her constituency Labour Party agree.





Friday, June 12, 2009

Privileges and Standards Committee - Good Work



A solid supporter of Parliament policing itself, the Chairman of the Committee for Standards and Privileges, Sir George Young said to us not long ago :
"I think we've got the balance right and no-one has a greater interest in policing the code, setting high standards for MP's than Members of Parliament - we have a vested interest."
Nice to see he's beavering away behind the scenes to ensure the vested interest. On Monday he addressed the House of Lords to assure them the Committee was well on top of investigating and discovering those responsible for leaks from select committees to the press and is proposing sanctions.

Good to know where the energies are being channeled in one of the three bodies responsible for standards in Parliament. You'll be pleased to know Sir George has also thrown his hat in the ring to replace Michael Martin (soon to be ex-speaker of the House).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Competition - Political Whoppers

Win the Ministry's Higher Diploma Course pack



To celebrate the release of The Professor's "home tuition course" on DVD, we're holding a competition to find the biggest political whoppers ever. Want to share your favourite political lie ? Post it in the comments below. Competition ends on Friday 19th June.

The Professor describes the course as follows ;

"Making it illegal for MPs to deceive us is easier than you think and surprisingly good fun. I'll show you how. Take my diploma and discover the secrets behind the Science of Lies. The Kantometer, Alternative Reality Clarification and much, much more will be yours. Think of it as the class you wish you'd always had... part education, part kamikaze"

The Higher Diploma pack includes: “The Ministry of Truth”, “Taking Liberties” (DVD) and Peter Oborne’s book “The Rise of Political Lying"

Good luck.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Transparency Brown

This week Gordon Brown shares just one of his recipes for restoring public trust

  1. Take one expenses scandal implicating Ministers, MP's etc.
  2. Stir well, simmer and heat whilst adding several measures of panicking career politicians
  3. Add one dose of "I'm appalled and will do all I can to restore public trust etc.".
  4. Add a sprig of "Reform and transparency are essential"
  5. Make sure all traces of previous statements re. the above are seen as evidence of continuing commitment as opposed to lack of.
  6. Promise all incidents of alleged expense fraud etc. will be investigated.
  7. Re-appoint Shahid Malik, one of the afore-mentioned Ministers accused of expense fraud.
  8. Refuse to publish the basis for finding him innocent on grounds of the report containing too many personal details
  9. Refuse to publish a report with the afore-mentioned personal details removed.

Next week, we'll be looking at Nick Griffin's BNP recipe for omelettes
and Lord Mandelson's custard delight special.


Lord knows, Attlee a Kant ?



Grandson of Clement Attlee the current Lord Attlee is currently a member of the Lords Opposition Whips' Office. He was kind enough to respond to our request for support of the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Act with this e-mail
Fortunately I have a large waste paper basket very near me.
In addition my computer has a very useful delete button.
Best regards Lord Attlee
Generally indicative of the split across Parliament - some get it and want it debated pronto, others.... well. You may want to evaluate his Lordship with the on-line Kantometer and send him the results at ATTLEEJ@parliament.uk

Enjoy

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Professor on Questiontime !



More excitement at Ministry Towers... as the Bill gains momentum (more MPs signing up daily - faster than you can say, "another Minister's resigned") it seems the Professor has finally found the recognition he so richly deserves for his much-ridiculed intellect.

Word just came in.... this coming Thursday night (BBC1 either 9 or 10pm) our very own in-house meta-physician will be on Questiontime.... we kid you not. As we speak he's preparing an extensive bathing routine to celebrate the occasion. This promises to be unmissable.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

An "apparent" breakdown in public trust



We've started looking at the Government proposals for reform published this morning. Extraordinary how they manage to telegraph their sincerity in the first sentence.


"The Prime Minister and Government have outlined a framework for constitutional renewal that aims to reverse the apparent breakdown in trust in the political process."
It's all there in just one word ;

"apparent"

Can there be any single organisation / individual in the UK today who would say anything other than,"the breakdown in trust"

'Nuff said.

BREAKING NEWS - 'Labour Leadership candidate' supports Ministry Bill

John McDonnell MP, a staunch supporter of our Bill has been touted by the Independent as Gordon Brown's stalking horse, the man behind the campaign to oust him.



John told us not 5 minutes ago in no uncertain terms - he does "not want to be an stalking horse candidate but a serious candidate"... but if there is a leadership contest he "will promote our proposals as part of his platform", meaning the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill would be a key of his plans to make MPs accountable and restore public trust.

All this and No. 10 confirmed this morning that as we speak, they are 'looking at our Bill'. Shame they didn't get around to it a month ago. No surprise - they'd posted their own self-regulatory 'reforms' just before we spoke to them.

You may remember John as the man suspended from the House of Commons - they thought he was gonna deck Geoff Hoon in the chamber.

Needless to say, we like the cut of his jib. If Gordon had decked Blears we might like the cut of his.

No 10 looking at Prohibition of Deception Bill

Well, well...



Just received confirmation from Downing Street that Sue Nye and Gavin Kelly (part of the Strategy unit) are assessing the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill.

Very good news.

Perhaps. At least we'll be able to tell if these guys are now serious about cleaning up their act.

We'll be chasing them for a response and keep you posted.

Meantime, we're trying to figure out who the hell to vote for today.

Xx

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Baroness Helena Kennedy signs up

Much excitement at Ministry Towers



Amongst a growing list of MPs, Baroness Kennedy has signed up to the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill.

Some 18 months ago, when we filmed her for our first adventure, she had significant doubts over the merits of making MPs directly accountable via the courts.

Much has changed. We woke the Professor from a deep and dark slumber with the good news.
This may have been a mistake ;


"They called me crazy, insane. Did you see the Harman clip ? Now who's laughing ? I should have hung her out the window by the cankles. Bring her to me now. They laughed at my science, my accent. Bring her to me !"

Monday, June 01, 2009

MPs Code of Conduct

But for a few cracks, Brown gave a convincing performance on Sunday's Andrew Marr show.


The problem with the few cracks is they pretty much leave significant doubt over everything.

Crack 1) All that's gone before.

Up until this point in time, it's not easy to find a single example of good intentions delivering the goods - especially in the Parliamentary ethics arena (where it's safe to say that all previous initiatives can be dismissed with a simple look at the last three weeks of media) but also in other areas as a result of a singular incompetence to legislate for the real world. For example ;
  1. Suffering the indignity of some twerp nosing round your house for 5 minutes to charge you £400 for a HIPs pack to sell your home. The real world incentive amounts to, "the cheaper the inspector + the more homes he can inspect in a day = more money for estate agents organising the inpsection". A spectacular mis-alignment from the intention of making homes more energy efficient. Doubly insulting if you've been forced to sell your home.
  2. The Government's coal miners compensation scheme. There's rarely been a better example of legislation fleecing the tax-payer. A spectacular example of the government mis-aligning intention with incentive resulting in lawyers with car collections approaching the Sultan of Brunei's.
No doubt the two examples above were down to sheer incompetence as opposed to bad intentions. Cracks 2 and 3 deal with that.

Crack 2) The Freedom of Information Act

Brown's not the first to mention this government's pride in the FOIA. To say they're responsible for its introduction is barely permissable on a factual basis. Yes, they were in power when it came onto the statute books but they've consistently fought it in the courts and tried to ammend it in their favour with more holes than Swiss cheese. We'll be making an FOI request into how much of our money they've actually spent trying to fight our requests for transparency.

Crack 3) A matter for Parliament, not government

Brown can hide behind a eunoch Parliament's inability to hold this government to account as much as he likes but it's hard to deny the government's responsibility for the castration. Blair, Straw and Brown have all talked the talk (see post below) but money pays the rent.

There's little more than his word to make us believe they've the intention or ability to reform. If we're to trust the MPs Code of Conduct delivers more accountability than the existing Ministerial Code of Conduct it won't be on the basis of past performance.