Among the surprises last week, as one cabinet minster after another stepped down, was Gordon Brown’s appointment of Sir Alan Sugar as the government’s Enterprise Tsar.Was this a sound decision, several analysts wondered, or was it a possible case of Brown seeming to confuse the worlds of politics and show business, hoping perhaps that what works in the studio would work just as well in the real world?The star of the BBC show “The Apprentice” was to be offered a peerage and would take a role as an adviser on matters affecting small and medium-sized businesses.But the Conservatives are objecting. They say Sugar should not be working for the government and front a TV show at the same time, particularly when the next series of the Apprentice goes out early in 2010 just a few months before a general election. The appointment, they contend, breaches BBC rules on political independence and impartiality.Sugar himself insists there is no conflict of interest. ‘It’s very simple – all I am is an adviser, I’m not a policymaker,’ he says. ”I have been loyal to Gordon Brown and the Labour Party for quite a while, but I also have my loyalties to the BBC.”Do you believe Sugar should have been appointed? Or is Gordon Brown perfectly entitled to have who he likes in his government of all the talents, especially someone with such proven business acumen? ”All I can do is advise those that are in charge of making policy from a business point of view … what’s right and what’s wrong,” he told Sky News.
Since the last time he ripped open the blue cellophane HMRC envelope with a sigh and started hunting around for his P60, Joe Public has seen billions of pounds going to the banks, thousands if not millions being used to bankroll the expensive tastes of MPs — and now he sees the BBC clamming up about how much it spends on stars from that other effective tax, the licence fee.
She’s odds-on favourite to win Saturday’s final of “Britain’s Got Talent,” she’s become an overnight international star and now she’s started out on the trail to tabloid sainthood by acquiring her own headline moniker “SuBo.”
But not everyone thinks Susan Boyle is a dead cert for the title. Singer Lily Allen for one thinks she’s over-rated. “I thought her timing was off, no control, and I don’t think she has an amazing voice,” Allen said of Boyle’s rendition on Sunday of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Memory” from the Cats musical.
Ducks are waddling all over the newspapers today after the revelation that Tory MP Sir Peter Viggers claimed 1,645 pounds for a so-called “Stockholm” pond house to give his ducks shelter from foxes and the cold.
All members of the London Assembly have been invited, and since last year they include the BNP’s Richard Barnbrook. He wants to bring Griffin as his guest.
The chief officer and highest authority of the House has become a lightning rod for the strong current of anger swirling around Westminster as the row over MPs’ expenses rumbles on.
The shockwaves reverberating through Westminster as the MPs’ expenses scandal unfolds have been compared with the “Clean Hands” bribery scandal that effectively demolished Italy’s post-war political establishment in the space of a couple of years in the early 1990s.
If things are going to get that bad, the guilty politicians are going to have an uncomfortable time.
First they were blamed for the swine flu that caused a worldwide stir after it was discovered in Mexico — and now everyone’s likening them to Members of Parliament with their snouts in the trough.
But look at the facts. The genetic make-up of the virus may have been predominantly porcine but the pigs themselves didn’t have it. Even at the supposed epicentre of the outbreak in Mexico they showed no symptoms — things reached such a state that owners of some pig farms in the US were stopping humans coming near them in case they infected their animals. The pigs were innocent OK?
The Milky Bar Kid is one, Persil mum is another and, inevitably, the Hovis bread delivery boy struggling up his cobbled hill while the brass band plays on.
Britain’s anti-sleaze chief Sir Christopher Kelly, Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has said the MPs’ expenses scandal is worse than the infamous cash for questions affair that did so much damage to the John Major adminstration in the 1990s.
In that celebrated scandal, which fatally undermined Tory MP Neil Hamilton’s political career, Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed alleged he had paid two MPs to table parliamentary questions on his behalf.