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'Pure revenge plus'

Nick Robinson | 10:37 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

"Pure revenge plus". That is how one friend of the former ministers suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) described the news last night.

Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewit and Geoff HoonThe claim is that they are being punished not for what they said to a "lobbyist" on a hidden camera, but for what they did inside the PLP.

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt, you will recall, launched January's botched coup attempt against Gordon Brown. Stephen Byers has backed every effort to unseat his leader after the two clashed repeatedly in government.

The "plus" refers to an alleged attempt to cleanse the Labour Party of Blairites before a possible leadership contest if Labour loses the election.

The anger of the three - and their supporters - is increased by the fact that none has yet been informed of the suspension, let alone the reasons for it.

It is a claim that is furiously dismissed by the many Labour MPs who were outraged by the sight of former ministers appearing to want to trade on their connections and those who simply can't believe their stupidity at getting caught so close to an election.

It is, though, a warning of the fight that may lie ahead. Given that so many Blairites are retreating from the battlefield, and given the self-destructive behaviour of some, it is a fight they have almost certainly already lost.


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  • Comment number 1.

    It speaks volumes when the Labour party spends its time briefing reporters before it even bothers to tell those expelled.

    Not only have those expelled been found guilty without being told what they are accused of but they have been punished without being told about it as well. Is this the sort of party that should be running a country.

    I have no idea about the guilt/innocence of these MPs. No idea about the regulations they must have broken to be found guilty and punished. But whatever these might be I would expect such accusations to be investigated, for the accused to have an opportunity to defend themselves against the accusations and then to be notified of the outcome and any punishment. I would not expect accusation to punishment to be carried out without them knowing about it and to discover the process have even started let alone concluded when reading their morning paper.

    What sort of rule is that and should we expect more from a government - fairer treatment of people ?

  • Comment number 2.

    It is indeed strange that Hoon and Hewitt tried to depose Brown a few weeks ago and then are entrapped. You just couldn't make it up.
    Are we to believe there are only four MPs that are guilty of lobbying.
    Anyway Nick it's nice to see that you are not blaming Lord Ashcoft for this issue - yet!

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well, revenge plus? Not sure about that idiot plus perhaps. What we need to know is how much truth is there in what was said. Or must we accept that Mendacious Mandy is telling the truth. What about all the others on the take with holidays in exotic locations?

    Are they all that thick that it is impossible for them to learn? The furore over expenses, that little thing as you said Nick, should have taught them.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's quite a climb for (twice-resigned) Lord Mandleson to reach the high ground and criticise other MPs for their "grubby" behaviour.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    wheres the mention of Ashcroft in the title, bound to be all his fault along with thatcher of course.

    1000's of words on ashcroft BUT yet you cannot manage more than 100

  • Comment number 8.

    was this approved by the cabinit office like Ashcrofts status was ?

    No comments on the wrong doing , whats the difference please ?

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Very Joe Stalin! Bring back the Gulag!

  • Comment number 11.

    Some truth in what you say here, Nick. But it still seems odd that Brown was "satisfied no impropriety had occurred", then the MPs are suspended from the Party. What are voters to believe?

    Dispatches dished the dirt on a dirty lobbying secret and once more the stench of sleaze has filled the House of Shame.

    But does it all really come as any surprise to wise punters with eyes wide open to a greasy, greed-driven Westminster world?

  • Comment number 12.

    But Nick, where is the Ashcroft angle in this story?

  • Comment number 13.

    WOW, a blog not about Loard A! Are you feeling well?

  • Comment number 14.

    and with respect to tomorrow:

    "The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
    public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom
    should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."

    Cicero 55 BC

    Sounds like nothing has changed in 2065 years...

    So after thirteen years of non stop spending, bribery, interest goups, agendas, opinion polls and in fighting we end up with our own version of the Borgias running the country; history taught them nothing.

    Newlabour; newBorgia.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Every parliamentary scandal of late has been followed by a statement that rules will be tightened, however it has been demonstrated time and time again the present MPs cannot even follow the existing rules.

    Last Friday, four Liberal Democrat MPs were criticised for charging rent debits to their expenses, while remaining quiet about the rent credits they’d received – a breach of existing rules.

    At the weekend, Hoon, Hewitt and Byers appear to have been breaking the existing rules relating to lobbying and consultancy.

    Last night, it was revealed that more than 20 MPs have breached the existing rules relating to foreign trips and lobbying. (Lib Dem Norman Baker broke existing rules 37 times. Labour's Andrew Dismore broke existing rules 90 times.)

    More apologies will follow, together with a pledge they will tighten-up the rules. The problem is not the rules; it’s the absence of penalties. The latest batch of MPs to break the rules for foreign trips should be banned from taking further hospitality foreign trips for a year and confined to constituency duties.

    Would Nick Robinson like to suggest to the next Parliamentary apologist that it is penalties that are needed?

  • Comment number 17.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. Tip of the iceberg though, I expect, so who's next?

  • Comment number 18.

    Revenge? No, they have been caught out! Simple as that.

    Even Yachtgate Mandy says Byers was not telling the truth and his 'ghastly' cash-for-lobbying attempts are 'rather grubby'.

    Unfortunately for Byers, he does has previous form over the things he says.

    Nick, is there any update on Labour receiving millions in donations from the union after funnelling £18M to them from the so-called Union Modernisation Fund and Union Learning Fund as reported The Telegraph, 18 March?

    In that Telegraph report, Francis Maude, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister is quoted as saying: “This really looks like money laundering - taxpayers' money is being funnelled into Unite then put straight back into Labour's coffers."

    That sounds even 'grubbier' than the stomach-churning antics of a few dishonourable MPs. Labour sleaze is out of control.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    "Anyway Nick it's nice to see that you are not blaming Lord Ashcoft for this issue - yet!"

    Yes, funny isn't it. How many blogs was it on the Ashcroft story and how quickly were they churned out? Yet here we have another sleazy example of the Labour party at work and what's the angle after waiting a whole day to put fingers to the keyboard? "Nothing to worry about, just a bit of Labour in fighting".

  • Comment number 21.

    Ironic really... Does this make Brown stronger or weaker? It would surely be weaker but given they're clearly opposed to his leadership...

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    I watched the Dispatches programme last night and to be honest it looked very bad for all of those concerned.

    I do agree with Nick's sentiment that as far as Gordon Brown is concerned revenge is indeed a dish best served cold and this may well taste particularly good this morning.

    Considering that the three are Blairites I wonder how this aligns with Tony Blair's comments in 1997 about actions by the Conservatives and how New Labour was going to be different?

    It appears to be "New Labour New Sleaze".

  • Comment number 24.

    Why is the BBC reporting on Labour anger? What about the anger which we the taxpayers feel?

    Typical BBC, I'm surprised you couldn't get Ashcroft name into the article, although I did notice you, Nick, managed to mention his name in Camerons press conference!

  • Comment number 25.


    Nice angle, moving the narrative away from corrupt Labour ex-ministers to merely that of an internal party squabble.

    And I see the BBC are running a spoiler programme tonight on MPs expenses - a problem of MPs from all parties - to distract attention from Labour's cash for influence.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Not much critisism of Labour ethics in this article Nick. You just seem to be foll;wing the Labour Party Whip.

  • Comment number 28.

    #1 yeah and that how the family courts work because that how NU_liebour behaves , it is normal and acceptable to act like that , QED

  • Comment number 29.

    If there is a purge of Blairites, then this is a sign of the restoration of old politics.

    By this I mean the Labour is retreating to its old, unelectable, roots.

  • Comment number 30.

    Surely it must be Ashcroft's fault, or Thatcher?

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is all the Tories fault, in particular Thatcher and Ashcroft. Why has N.R. not spoken about this before, surely the Tories should have warned Labour - we can not have this happening to Labour, can we.

    Surely N.R. can find SOMETHING to say about Ashcroft - I miss the daily, almost hourly, diatribes against him by N.R. This can not be allowed to sway voters from the whiter than white, cleaner than clean, party, led by the man with the moral compass, and son of the manse. Oh, and do not mention UNITE and all other striking Unions,trying to help?????? Clown and Co - this country, financially and morally IS broken, and the so called standard of certain media types are likewise.

  • Comment number 33.

    Looking at the number of outside jobs and all the foreign funded trips abroad - when do they ever work for us?

    Cut the number of MPs by half, make it full time, no outside jobs and no lobbying.

  • Comment number 34.

    If the Dispatches programme had been produced by the BBC then I could well believe that this was a honey trap type plot to disgrace these anti Brownites.

  • Comment number 35.

    Be worth following up the Tesco allegations. Given the players named it is quite feasible. Any journalists out there?

  • Comment number 36.

    Remember Elizabeth Filkin, the lady of genuine honesty who revealed corruption and deception and who was threatened because she was revealing Mandelsons mortgage application. Elizabeth Filkin would have started to clean up parliament but was destroyed by Mandelson, Labour MPs and the Labour Government, I bet they now wish they had listened to her and let her do the job she was hired to do

  • Comment number 37.

    As soon as i heard Lord Peters comment " i have no recollection of any such conversation " i had a fair idea they were being hung out to dry, and rightly so but it would be interesting to find out who it was who started the ball rolling on this one.....i personally hope it now gets very messy, and that many many more MP's are outed for their pocket filling antics.

    Its obvious that these aren't the only ones who benefit from the non existant oversight that MP's enjoy, lets winkle them all out,i would first start with all the record number that are leaving parliament, they cant all have poor health,and family reasons for standing down , from what is a very lucrative job.

    The corruption during the last conservative government pails into insignificance when we are faced with the wide spread abuses that have become prevalent, it has to stop, rules have to be enforced, and people have to be tried where necessary.

  • Comment number 38.

    Where will this end? i am totally disgusted with all politicians and have lost all faith in politics. I hear this new buzz phrase "broken britain" created by politicians, i'm sure they are referring to depressed, deprived parts of britain. As far as i'm concerned "broken britain" refers to the back scratching, self serving pigs in parliment, rotten to the core and devoid of any kind of integrity or honesty. Dont insult the hard working classes by even trying to label them as "broken" when it is the people who we have entrusted to run this country that are completely "broken". I will not vote this election as I cant see past the recent issues, i will never forget the expenses scandal. To say that they followed the rules, that they created, doesnt make it better, it makes it worse, but then I would fully expect the scum in westminster to follow the status quo until they got CAUGHT. Lets not forget this would never have changed unless LEAKED, it wasnt a descion they made. I would like to add, i am not a fanatic, just a normal 30 something bloke disgusted with Parliament. YOU ARE A DISGRACE....

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    Please explain where my comment has gone has it been censored by Grdon Brown and if so why?

  • Comment number 41.

    They do say what goes around comes around.....

    Labour used the sleaze campaign very well against the Tory government and was said to have been instrumental in the 97 victory. Now it has come back to bite them. Although It has been a long time in coming, being started by Mandelson's indiscretions through to what surely must be the last nail in the coffin. What I find particularly sad about it is that no one appears to be that bothered.

    Has the UK fallen so far, that no one appears surprised or bothered when more revelations appear about our not so honorable friends in the House.

    There does appear to be a vain of badness running through our society. Is all Britain bad? No, but like all rotting vegetation if you do not cut out the bad bits the whole thing will go the same way.

    Action needs to be taken from the top down. How can any of our politicans stand up in the House and lecture us the public when they are acting in such a manor, No Morals, No Scruples.

    We should also be calling a spade a spade. A thief is a thief no matter where he sits. A fraudster is a fraudster and as such should be accountable under the law of the land and not under their own club rules. Self regulation is never a good thing - turkeys voting for Christmas......

    We all need to now stand up and be counted sending a message to our elected representatives that we will not stand for their behaviour.

    It is a pity that we can't have a box on the ballet paper for "non of the above". It would probably be a landslide.

  • Comment number 42.

    May I suggest that for the next election - rather than use "Things can only get better", as was used by Labour in the 97 election, when they attcked the Tories on sleaze, and Blair promised to be whiter than white, Labour should use "No body does it better".

    The perfect oxymoron - the honourable MP

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    So - when Ashcroft's non-dom tax status comes into question, the BBC carry on the story for as long as possible. When three Labour ex-ministers are caught trying to make money from their parliamentary influence Nick, you frame the story as 'revenge' by the Brown leadership on those ministers, and fail to question the damage on the reputation of the Labour Party approaching an election.

    An institutional, unconscious liberal bias? Surely not.

  • Comment number 45.

    Have you spoken to lord Mandy about Tesco?
    Presumably not, the same boring topic like holidays on Mr.Deripaska's yacht.
    People in Britain are more interested in lord Ashcroft affairs, aren't they?

  • Comment number 46.

    This whole episode has destroyed the view that the Left in British politics is axiomatically less sleazy or corrupt than the right. Although MPs from every Party were involved, it has turned out that Labour MPs took the largest amount of the public's money through so-called "home-flipping". They played the expenses system to set up property windfalls. David Cameron is perfectly correct, Brown should set up an immediate enquiry into the 'taxi rank' politicians queuing at the exit before Parliament is prorogued.

  • Comment number 47.

    I watched newsnight last night and thought it very amusing that Mandelson was able to keep a straight face while condemning others. Even Paxman had a very large smirk across his face. What a hypocrite.....

    It will be very interesting to see if anything comes out Re contact between the ministers and the accused. Phone records Etc.

  • Comment number 48.

    This is appalling and really needs investigating, if companies have been able to buy laws and favours then something is rotten at the heart of government. This is the sort of thing we see in the most corrupt banana republics.

  • Comment number 49.


    Hear hear.

    Well said.

  • Comment number 50.

    Completely fatuous to bleat about 'pure revenge' when if they had not opened their fool mouths there would have been no reason for them to be disciplined at all.

    If that's what you call it. Everywhere I've worked, such a blatent abuse of trust would have resulted in summary dismissal with loss of all benefits. Escorted off the premises, possessions in a cardboard box.

  • Comment number 51.

    This really is fascinating. It looks like positioning after the election - whatever the result. The "Old Labour takes over New Labour" slogan is hardly new. But it looks as though the pieces are beginning to come together.

  • Comment number 52.

    On the other hand, these are "basic schoolboy errors" which I'm surprised 3 politicians with this amount of experience would make. Pure revenge plus might also describe the motivation behind this whole story. Revenge for ousting Blair and seeing off a leadership challenge, they will ensure Labour lose the next election and that Brown will bear the blame and lose the election (thereby elevating Blair from Demagogue to Demi-god status through the rosy lens of nostalgia). The forthcoming election is a poisoned chalice anyway (which is why, I suspect, the LibDems keep muttering about hung parliaments rather than assuming the mantle of the incoming party). Cameron with his "broken toys", Broken Politics, Broken Britain, broken record, Brown will "hide in the study", again. Nothing to chose between any of the parties due to the lack of economic "wriggle room", the choice for PM comes down to who's the best "manager" in a crisis. Unless one of the parties is in a position to offer fundamental changes to our system of elected autocracy to make it fairer, more like a democracy and less open to abuse, we will continue to repeat this inward spiralling cycle towards nonentity.

  • Comment number 53.

    #18 and that no the only Union involved could we have somem info on others like NAPO ?

  • Comment number 54.

    "Nick, is there any update on Labour receiving millions in donations from the union after funnelling £18M to them from the so-called Union Modernisation Fund and Union Learning Fund as reported The Telegraph, 18 March?

    In that Telegraph report, Francis Maude, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister is quoted as saying: “This really looks like money laundering - taxpayers' money is being funnelled into Unite then put straight back into Labour's coffers.""

    With the misappropriation of Unison assets to fund the election of a northern Labour MP, this does not surprise me. I wish it did.

  • Comment number 55.

    11. At 11:04am on 23 Mar 2010, theorangeparty wrote:

    Some truth in what you say here, Nick. But it still seems odd that Brown was "satisfied no impropriety had occurred", then the MPs are suspended from the Party. What are voters to believe?

    Have to agree with the comment above. On one hand they have behaved accordingly for joe public not to be concerned, however they have been removed from the Labour party for the very offence...

    I worry when any party feels their standards and ethics are greater than mine, especially this current lot.

    Would be good to hear more on this one Nick, would have been even nicer to hear it yesterday when it was "breaking news"...

    Can you do some digging into what this actually means for the electorate, do our votes matter? Are ex MP's truly selling themselves to the highest bidder at all costs? Do morals come into it when deciding which causes they champion???

  • Comment number 56.

    When you think about it, an individual Labour MP attempting to 'lobby-for-cash' is only doing on a small scale what the Labour government has apparently been doing for years through accepting huge donations from the Unions.

    What makes it worse is that it turns out under Labour, taxpayers' money has helped to fund the Unions, which they in turn then give back to the Labour party.

    Not only does the Labour government give money to the Unions who then in turn bankroll the party, Labour also uses taxpayers' money also help fund Union salaries.

    That's the real sleaze.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    Anybody remember the Tory cash for questions fiasco?

    Nice to see that nothing’s really changed over the years; it’s just Labour’s turn to face the heat now for following the Tories previous political practices.
    What with Ashcroft’s dealings (couldn’t let him go without a mention) as well – surely it’s time to completely change system of Government in our country.

    Cameron has jumped on his “change” band wagon over this, but from what I heard from him this morning, there will only be a bit of window dressing.
    He’s no fool & knows only too well that these practices are followed by many MP’s including those from his own party.

    Since no major party is looking for wholesale political reform (because they all have their noses in the trough), I’m afraid it’s a case of “Move along people, there’s nothing to see here”.
    Nothing, that is, except the best punch & Judy show in town in the run up to the General Election.

  • Comment number 59.

    I'm also very curious as to how Mandleson comes out of this one - it does seem strange how there's yet another sleazy scandal in government with his fingerprints on it.

  • Comment number 60.

    This Blog is a joke!

    If this furore had been about 3 Conservative or Lib-Dem MPs touting themselves for fees-for-lobbying I am sure the Nick Robinson Blog would have been up-and-running with the Blog entry yesterday at the latest.

    It must be hard for independent political commentators to have to get a comment (or is that permission?) from the Peter Mandelson Spin Machine before they can publish anything that might harm the reputation and good standing of Gordon Brown or the Labour Party. Hahahaha!

  • Comment number 61.


    I quite agree. Further, did anyone notice the first story on BBC 24 hours news on Sunday - the BA strike.

    It seems to me that(regardless of party) a story of this nature, implicating ex-ministers is actually BIG news and deserves top billing.

    I have no idea whether the BBC would treat a similar story about ex Tory ministers, but the way this story has been handled does at least call into question the BBC's news priorities.

    Nick - you are political editor. Why is the BA strike more important than this story?

  • Comment number 62.

    More importantly, where's the Blog storyline on the other-nation-sponsored Member of Parliament holidays to the Maldives and other vitally important luxury travel destinations of the world where MPs can get a bit of sun, sea and all expenses paid to apparently(?) obtain insight and listen to the honeyed words of other national governments who need to lobby the UK Government for this, that and the other through our backbench MPs?

    Nice work for those who can get it!

  • Comment number 63.

    To the people constantly 'wittily' enquiring why Ashcroft hasn't been named by Nick in this blog;

    give it a rest, it is beyond pathetic.

  • Comment number 64.

    Umm, and not only is the entire media simply taking Gordon's *word* for it, that there is no need to investigate if there's truth in Byers' claims, they're not even suggesting there might be any doubt about it. This just a week after Brown was forced to apologise for lying to Chilcot and the Commons.

    Can we have have some thought on that Nick? *Why* are you all so certain that there can't possibly have been any impropriety? Why is it not even a question? Mayeb Lord Ashcroft was involved!!!!! Get on it nick!

  • Comment number 65.

    It's true whenever you want a scandal, just follow the money! I think that's what Watergate proved! Sometimes you just have to widen ones search to include trips abroad, gratis products, education for children at the most prestigious establisments etc, etc. I certainly hope good ole joe public records appropriatly at the ballot box, trouble is I fear that picking un-tainted options will be in limited supply!

  • Comment number 66.

    It hadn't occurred to me that Ashcroft was behind this latest disgrace - but having read all the posts referring to him (eg #2, 7, 8, 12, 13, 20, 24, 30 and 32 so far!) clearly this must be Ashcroft’s doing!

  • Comment number 67.

    It will be interesting to see Mike, Sagamix et al's take on this.

  • Comment number 68.

    Nick, do you ever read these comments? You have been lambasted recently about both your bias and the BBC's bias, but have never responded.Why is this?

    Why can't you explain your need to constantly criticise any tory event, yet not do articles on Unite/Labour money laundering,Labour non doms, in fact anything criticising Labour.

    As tv licence payers we are entitled to receive 'balanced' reporting, something which has not been happening for quite a while.

    You have not been alone in this, as seen on Andrew Marr shows, The Politics Show (apart from the recent one where the public tore Brown to pieces).

    The false show of anger by Labour MP's and their apparent disgust over the C4 dispatches film is of no interest to the public.

    We want to know about the structure of the parliamentary Standards Committee. I believe it consists of 5 Labour MP's, 1 Labour supporting person and 2 others. Is this how Jaqui Smith has not had to repay £116000 of taxpayers money plus several other cases.

    Why haven't Darling,Osborne,Gordon Brown and David Cameron to mention a few been properly investigated and made to repay ill gotten gains from 2nd home fiddling/flipping?

    We really want these things investigated and reported on by journalists who are not in the employment of any political party and can give us balanced political reports.

  • Comment number 69.

    I think that we're getting a bit paranoid about some of this. In times gone by many ex-ministers have found their way into non-executive directorships, written their memoirs, have become after-dinner speakers etc.etc and made a lot of money in the process. Where does one draw the line?

    As to the Labour Party - if there are fewer Blairites, and most of the others don't really back Gordon Brown - what are they now?

    Maybe - the no-one-ites? What a nice way to end their term in office - a tragic loss of identity.

  • Comment number 70.

    I wrote to my MP when the 'RentaLord' scandal broke asking that the Labour Whip be removed. However that did not happen and all the noble lords concerned are still entitled to sit - along with a convicted arsonist, not to mention Lord Archer who also did time in prison.
    I would really like a respected agency to rate MPs and Peers in terms of integrity. A sort of 'Which' rating would add a lot of value and be a good deterrent to legislators looking for a quick buck.

  • Comment number 71.

    Normally I defend the BBC as generally balanced if innately left leaning due to its very nature.

    On this one however...fat chance. How Nick has not been metaphorically slapped from on high for the recent collection is beyond me. I wonder if you will take note of the volume of mocking comments here Nick?

  • Comment number 72.

    When I left government employment about 30 years ago to pursue a career in business, I was forbidden to take up any position in the UK vehicle industry for a further 2 years because of my previous dealings with them - and in particular my role in negotiating the enormous grant given to Ford to build the plant at Bridgend in Wales. This was a significant restriction on my career development - but I had to live with it.

    Now, the sight of greedy, self-serving politicians with apparently no scruples about making money from dubious expense claims and, latterly, through fixing deals with their pals in government, is an apalling indictment of the level to which politics has sunk in the UK. No wonder the voting public have no trust in the system, its leaders, or its administrators. Power certainly corrupts; and in recent years too much of it, wielded by a self-appointed few, has corrupted and weakened our supposedly democratic form of government to the point of breakdown. Its a real warning!

  • Comment number 73.

    #38 Nick

    A huge part of the electorate are disgusted with politicians and 'our' parliament. It is so obviously not our parliament, just a club for people with no integrity who really are criminals.

    By NOT voting YOU will be giving the chance for one of these criminals to continue their theft of our taxes (taken to provide British people with a better life).

    I believe a much better alternative is to spend a little time seeing if your 'sitting' MP has been stealing our money through expenses/allowances or anything else and vote for the best party to ensure their sacking.

    If this could be achieved in every constituency, at least we would have people in place who do not carry the baggage of the last 13 years (maybe the last 50 years),whichever party wins.

    Surely worth a try?

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    A lot of contributors seem to be keen to get 'Lord Sleaze of Belize' back in the news. They are even urging the political editor to increase coverage of the scandel. Try to be patient, I can assure you their is a lot more to come.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    "Prime Minister Gordon Brown has dismissed Conservative calls for an inquiry into the alleged actions of officials and serving ministers.
    Mr Straw said there was "not a shred of evidence, not a single scintilla of evidence" they had done anything wrong."

    If that was the case, then why have they been suspended? Brown can't have it both ways. On one hand he's saying that what they did was so bad that they had to be suspended from the party. On the other hand he's saying that they never did anything wrong so no inquiry is needed. Well, both things can't be true as they obviously contradict each other.

    ie Brown's basically implying "I'll fire these guys from the party because they don't like me and this is a good excuse to get rid of them. But I won't let my friends/supporters be investigated or even launch an inquiry into my enemies because then my friends/supporters will also be found out."

    Has anyone at the BBC pointed out to Brown (or the public) that the 2 lines ("they're fired because they did wrong" and "no inquiry because nobody's done anything wrong") don't seem to match up?

  • Comment number 78.

    The weird "" rebuttals notwithstanding, did Tescos and/or National Express actually see the presumably desired outcomes to their respective predicaments as suggested by Byers last night? If so, a clear audit trail of how this came to pass should be provided by HMG to demonstrate that Byers was fabricating - otherwise forgive me if I fall back on the old "no smoke without fire" platitude...

  • Comment number 79.

    I just opened my email to read the following - I guess it must have been sent in error:

    "OK, everyone - Robinson has now posted about the suspension of former Labour ministers on his blog. Time to get out there and undermine his reporting again. Mock surprise at the absence of references to Michael Ashcroft or Margaret would be a good idea. Also, don't forget to be derogatory about Mandelson - he's far too good, so we need to undermine him as much as we can. Don't forget: NuLIEbour... NOT New Labour. And, above all, DON'T forget to keep pushing that Robinson is a Brown stooge. Keep up the good work everyone, I don't think anyone has noticed yet. Seems like we'll be able to keep this up until May. Unless, that is, they call an election now (LOL)."

  • Comment number 80.

    How come Brown was not aware of what his MPs were doing? Derelection of duty if nothing else, especially as we all know how Brown likes to micro-manage everything. If he did know (and the fact that he's been very quiet so far makes you wonder), then he is as guilty as those who were caught.

    In which case, he must resign (how many more resignable incidents - e.g. lying to the Chilcot enquiry, lying to Parliament over the state of the economy, etc , etc - before he finally does the honourable thing? Or is this man so without honour that he needs to b removed by force? As much as I do not like US politics, their method of removing bad prrsidents - impeavhment - does have its attractions.

  • Comment number 81.

    "Pure revenge plus"?

    Did this group contravene the Westminster Code of Conduct or did they not? Were the kidnapped and forced into this contravention of the Westminster Code?
    A true friend would have cautioned his/her friends to watch their steps carefully with the current mood – not just in Parliament, but among the populance as a whole.
    The claim (being punished not for what they said to a "lobbyist", but for what they did inside the PLP) is childish and ludicrous.
    Where is the sense of responsibility, of owning up? The four allegedly involved were secretly filmed by an undercover reporter for Channel 4's Dispatches Programme; on film, they were discussing the possibility of working for what they thought was a US lobby company.
    Mr Byers in addition to describing himself as 'cab for hire', was apparently seen requesting £5,000-a-day and boasting how he had secured secret deals with ministers over a rail franchise contract and food labelling on behalf of private companies.
    Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt, you remind us, launched January's botched coup attempt against Gordon Brown. I can’t see how this is related to what the group of four did in front of the undercover camera.
    If the Labour Party is to be cleansed of Blairites before a possible leadership contest, it’s not up to these four. Please explain to me what lobbyism has to do with cleansing the party of Blairites? Does this strategy seem morally inappropriate only to me?
    Apparently Byers referred himself to the standards commissioner, John Lyon, and asked him to investigate. He said he was confident that it will be found that he complied with the MPs' Code of Conduct and thta he fully disclosed his outside interests. Meanwhile, Justine Greening, a shadow frontbencher said if Byers had not reported himself, she would have done it for him.
    If the four haven’t been informed of the suspension, let alone the reasons for it, how do they know they’ve been suspended?
    What does it matter if a politician is a Blairite? Isn’t the question one of good character, of political acument, of professional behavior of those whom the people elect to represent them?
    Let’s face it, we have two big problems here:
    - former (and perhaps current) ministers lobbying for corporate clients and
    - This latest fiasco, following the lobbying scandal that rocked the House of Lords last year, demonstrates that too many politicians see nothing wrong with using their privileged position for personal enrichment.
    My answer: boot lobbying, boot it far away from political decision-making.
    Because the people did not vote to be represented by lobbyists.
    As far as I’m concenred these lobbyisnts scew government decision-making. Boot them out in the name of true democracy.

  • Comment number 82.

    No41 Chris,
    It may or may not be of interest to you but there are at least 700 members of the House of Lords including government ministers, all unaccountable and unelected. Do you think it is only the Business Secretary that should be removed? or should all the 'pampered parasites' be on their bikes.

  • Comment number 83.

    I am pleased to say I agree wholeheartedly with David Cameron on this. Byers, Hoon and Hewitt are a disgrace. Hewitt has always had "form" on consultancy fees. Labour should expel them from the party not just suspend them from the PLP.

  • Comment number 84.


    Byres said he had influenced two minister to change how companies were treated.

    The BBC output on last nights news focus all of the attention on one Adonis.

    The second Mandy didn't get a mention.

    Funny that.

  • Comment number 85.

    I am interested in finding out more about the channeling of taxpayer funds to Unite & then back to Labour. Can't find it on the BBC. Strange that. If the Tories did this it would be headline news on the BBC.

    Biased Biased Corporation.

  • Comment number 86.

    They're Labour MP's, I've little doubt that justification can be found for suspending them. Corruption, lying, sleaze and fraudulent expense claims seem to apply to most of them after all.

  • Comment number 87.

    You got part of it right Nick. From my Mandelson post, in case you missed it:

    "Ok lets analyse this.

    A whole host of Politicians from Lab to Tory get caught up in this. 3 troublesome Labour politicians (for Brown) ejected from the party. Mr Brown takes swift action. Seems to work very well for Labour in the press and for Mr Brown.

    Tories call for an inquiry. What happens in this enquiry? More Labour politicians work for various companies and guess what Tory politicians OWN these companies. Tories shoot themselves in foot.

    Following Day revelations of travel expenses. Mostly Tories. Over to you Mr Cameron. You going to expel these guys?

    Check mate, Master of the Dark Arts wins, you lose Mr Cameron."

  • Comment number 88.


    You wrote eight (or more?) blog posts on Lord Ashcroft; in the last one you said-

    "People have to ask what all the fuss was about."

    Yes, they do. But you were disingenuous - it was you and the BBC who were creating the fuss, keeping the (non)story running for two weeks. At the end of which...what? Lord Ashcroft had done nothing wrong.

    To balance your obsession with Ashcroft I look forward to reading your comments on Gordon Brown lying to the Chilcott enquiry, the conflict of interest caused by Unite bankrolling the Labour party, or an in-depth look at Lord Paul.

  • Comment number 89.

    I know the public is very angry about this lobbyist issue but have any rules been broken. The investigation should be on the claims Stephen Byers made rather than anything else, surely. Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt from what I have read, did not break the rules as such, therefore is it the rules which are wrong. That they were foolish to have fallen for this undercover investigation so soon after many other scandals goes without saying. Why any organisation would want these three to lobby for them anyway is another question. I would say most people have no time for all three of them, but did they actually do anything wrong.

    Mandelson and Andonis have said that what Byers boasted of in the Dispatches programme was untrue, but surely there should be an inquiry to find out what exactly happened anyway.

    Then the question arises as to why the Government has taken the action they have without establishing if any rules have been broken. Maybe Nick Robinsons is right on the one hand taking this action of suspension against these three gives the public the impression of acting tough on these issues, on the other hand it gets rid of three enemies of Brown. Byers is a devoted Blairite and a constant thorn in Browns side. Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt tried unsuccessfully to unseat Brown.

    It is perhaps true to say that one of the reasons that Labour spin is so successful is that often the wood cannot be seen for the trees. Maybe this is true on this occasion also.

    Of course probably the end result is that lasting damage will not be to the Labour Party but more to Parliament itself once again.

  • Comment number 90.

    @ Freeman

    "With the misappropriation of Unison assets to fund the election of a northern Labour MP, this does not surprise me. I wish it did."

    Sorry this has to be the daftest comment I have ever read. No one forces a person to join a Union. No one forces a Union to give money to Labour. It is the members that decide where the money goes.

    If Union memebers want to keep the Tories out, then that is up to them. I can't say I blame them.

  • Comment number 91.

    Despite the fact that the three main culprits were leading government front benchers, it seems that the twice discredited and unelected Mandelson is trying to blame Cameron for this debacle.
    A bit surprised that Nick hasn't yet blamed Ashcroft.

  • Comment number 92.

    Is it any wonder that it is predicted the turnout for the upcoming election is expected to be lower than the last.

    The truth is that we the average voters don't know what the truth is.. It's what politicians and the media decide to tell us. Was the Dispatches programme a fair reflection of our elected members or just a rather foolish threesome looking to feather their nests.

    Based on what I saw I wouldn't give any of them a job they all need to be grateful we elected them in the first place.

    Perhaps Gordon could give them all jobs laying the cables in the rural community for his new broadband service.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 93.

    Once again bias in favour of Labour. Masses of stuff about Ashcroft and so little about this latest scandal. Not a mention about Brown lying to Parliament and Chilcot. Shameful BBC reporting.

  • Comment number 94.

    I suppose it gives Brown some satisfaction removing the whip particularly from Hoon and Hewitt as they had orchestrated a coup against him - which failed unfortunately.

  • Comment number 95.

    Just amazing to listen to Mandleson the UKs number one hypocrite. He has no right to question anyone. Why have the media not taken an in depth look at his dealings. How many people are and have been in Mandy's inner circle.
    How did he afford to buy that London villa. I wonder if it has a big lobby with an aluminium staircase.

  • Comment number 96.

    God, they sound like little brats, the kind that claim the teacher is picking on them when they are punished for being naughty.

    Only they aren't little brats and they haven't been naughty. They are adults and they have taken the Michael out of their employers, us, for way too long.

    They do not work for business. They do not work for charities. No MP should be anywhere near a lobbyist let alone seeing lobbyists as a means of making vast amounts of money. We vote, charities and businesses do not. The only thing that should matter to a politician in a democracy is the voter, the electorate. No one, and nothing else should be of any significance to them. Certainly not a rich charity or business using money to circumvent the views of the voting public. Rich or poor, one vote is as valuable as another. End of story. Their contacts list, built up while they serve us, the public is public property and just like their offices, their computers and everything else that goes with the job must be returned once that job is terminated. Just who do these people think they are?

    Women starved themselves for the vote, threw themselves in front of race horses, and were imprisoned as they demanded the vote. And these clowns think they can just hand up influence to the highest bidder! How dare they ever even consider it let alone attend a meeting. How dare they!

    If they don't have a trade to return to once they've been booted out of office, if they can't go back to the very job they left to enter Parliament, then they should be off down to the Job Centre, told to cut their salary expectations, sent on a job-search training scheme, handed £64 a week and informed that they, just like all of us should face the reality of re-training and an average salary of just over 22K (if that salary is good enough for the people who employ them, the very peop;e they represent then there is no reason for it to be a problem for them).

    If that £64 a week is good enough for the millions in this country who have lost their jobs or will face redundancy, then it is obviously good enough for this shower.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. All of them, of all parties should be out on their ears; one group is as bad as the other and we all know it.

    No time bars should be allowed before they can enter the lobbying system. They should be imprisoned for circumventing, or attempting to circumvent our democracy.

    How dare they and they're ilk bring our democracy into such disrepute.
    How dare they!

    This is not America and this is not the United Great Business Britain, a conglomerate of business interests.

    Enough is enough.

  • Comment number 97.

    58. At 12:08pm on 23 Mar 2010, forgottenukcitizen wrote:
    Anybody remember the Tory cash for questions fiasco?

    Did'nt someone go to jail for that??

    It will be interesting to observe hoovers and carpet sweepers at the ready to sweep this lot under the carpet - but you can always trust the " impartial " BBBC.

  • Comment number 98.


    We have now got Cash for influence

    We've had Cash for Peerages

    We've had cash for amendments in the Lords

    And of course the expenses scandal

    The major issues in all of these have been with Labour.

    There is another scandal that should be reported on

    Can you find out how much Tax payers money has been given to the Unions via the Union Modernisation Fund?

    This is from the official website

    "The UMF is a Government grant scheme which provides financial assistance to independent trade unions and their federations. It is designed to support innovative modernisation projects which contribute to a transformational change in the organisational effectiveness of a trade union. By funding such projects, the UMF seeks to enhance the ability of trade unions to meet the needs of their members; and to make an "effective contribution to constructive employment relations" and the economy as a whole."

    "effective contribution to constructive employment relations"

    Its been an abject failure.

    What I want to know is

    How much Tax Payer money has been given to the Unions via the UMF?

    How much Union money has been give to Labour via the LMF (Labour Modernisation Fund)?

    Where did the Tax Payers money go?

    If the Unions can afford to hand out £10’s Millions to Labour why do they need Government hand outs of Tax payer’s money?

    I am concerned that Tax payer’s money is being provided to only one of the parties in the coming election.

    Can you mention this in your 6 O’clock news output?

  • Comment number 99.

    Can someone explain WHY we, the taxpayers, yes there are a few of us left, should have some of our taxes directed to support a Union, which in turn tries to IMPOSE their will on us without asking us. Am I missing something???? as I thought the Unions were funded by their members - when were we asked to fund them|?????

    As for those not wishing any more pathetic reminders re Lord Ashcroft - it was not pathetic when it suited N.R. - Labour, and the Bias Corp, to run, and run, and run, and run, and run, with that story - I bet u a new blog appears by N.R. very soon focusing on something, anything, to do with the Tories.

  • Comment number 100.

    Not voting is not the answer - a candidate will be elected to Parliament regardless. The only way to make sure that this government is removed is to vote for someone else, bearing in mind that splitting the anti-Labour vote lets them back in.


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