This entry was posted on
Monday, February 7th, 2011 at
2:47 pm and is filed
under Tories! Tories! Tories!.
[NOTE – Because I’m not a plagiarising prick like Paul Staines or Ian Hislop and I don’t take credit for other people’s work, I must begin with a BIG ‘thank you’ to Iain Marley for his excellent Excel work on the current expenses, and to Unity for digging out the Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd data from archived expenses. Both of them are proper gents.]
You’ve got to hand it to Chris Gill, editor of Bedfordshire on Sunday; he made a pretty good show of holding Nadine Dorries to account with this little article, but it’s an underarm throw at best, and easily batted away.
This article also declares that Dorries was “cleared of any wrongdoing” but does not mention that this was after a Parliamentary investigation in which Dorries could only explain herself by saying that she had lied to her constituents about where she lived most of the time. The article also manages to completely avoid any mention of the subsequent police investigation or the fact that this matter has since been passed on to the CPS.
Do you know what this reminds me of? This reminds me of the Downing Street memos that revealed Murdoch’s flunkies and Blair’s flunkies had been coordinating objections from The Sun and the government response and the subsequent tabloid response ahead of time, so as to better maintain the illusion that this tabloid was acting in the interests of their readers, and not operating as The Downing Street Echo.
Yes, it is absurd to compare Dorries to the Prime Minister. So I’m going to do what Chris Gill didn’t do, and look a little closer at the data, then compare Dorries to every MP, just to show him how it’s done. (Assuming, of course, he wants this job done right at all.)
First of all, if you take the expenses for all MPs and apply a total to each MP, you are mere moments away from a league table of the most expensive MPs:
MPs with greatest total expenses claims (May 2010 – October 2010):
Simon Hart (Con.) – £35,256.26
Nadhim Zahawi (Con.) – £31,902
Nadine Dorries (Con.) – £31,673.17
Keith Simpson (Con.) – £29,916.44
Jane Ellison (Con.) – £28,752.82
(Source: Parliament’s searchable archive of MPs’ expenses from 2010 onwards.)
[Psst! Please do note that the five most expensive MPs are all Conservatives. It is the Conservatives who are only in power because of a coalition agreement, but pretend to have a popular mandate as they impose their ideology on us under the guise of austerity measures. This is yet another indication – as if you need one – that the whole thing is a Tory con.]
Nadine Dorries isn’t just more expensive than the Prime Minister or a couple of local MPs, she’s more expensive than almost every MP in the House. Gosh, I wonder how Chris Gill and his staff at Bedfordshire on Sunday missed that one. I assume simple addition isn’t beyond them, but just in case numbers do cause confusion in his office, here is a graph comparing the recently-published expenses claims of all MPs, with Dorries highlighted:
Moving on to another matter that received no mention in Bedfordshire on Sunday; let’s look again at the very strong indications that Nadine Dorries has continued paying her close friend and neighbour Lynn Elson out of the public purse.
The following is a collation of all known payments since 2008* from Nadine Dorries to ‘Marketing Management’ (full name; Marketing Management Midlands Ltd), a company owned and operated by Nadine’s good friend, close neighbour and drinking buddy, Lynn Elson. Under that data, you will see the claims that I recently contended were very likely to have been made to Marketing Management Midlands Ltd (the amounts in bold):
Nadine Dorries – Confirmed Payments to Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd
Pty Yr —- Date ———— Allowance Type ———- Expenditure Type —– Amount
08/09 ___ 30/09/08 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,290.00
08/09 ___ 30/09/08 _____ Comms Expenditure _ ____ General Costs _______ £6,554.75
08/09 ___ 01/11/08 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,525.00
08/09 ___ 01/12/08 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
08/09 ___ 06/02/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
08/09 ___ 04/03/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
09/10 ___ 06/11/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
09/10 ___ 11/06/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
09/10 ___ 21/07/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
09/10 ___ 06/10/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £4,025.00
09/10 ___ 06/10/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
09/10 ___ 16/12/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
09/10 ___ 21/12/09 _____ Staffing non-payroll ______ Agencies etc. _______ £3,450.00
Nadine Dorries – Suspected Payments to Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd
Pty Yr —- Date ——- Expense Category —– Expense Type —– Amount
10/11 ___ 11/05/10 ___ Staffing __________ Professional Services (Staff) ___ £3,525.00
10/11 ___ 11/06/10 ___ Staffing __________ Professional Services (Staff) ___ £3,525.00
10/11 ___ 31/08/10 ___ Staffing __________ Professional Services (Staff) ___ £3,525.00
10/11 ___ 15/09/10 ___ Staffing __________ Professional Services (Staff) ___ £3,525.00
10/11 ___ 14/10/10 ___ Staffing __________ Professional Services (Staff) ___ £3,525.00
(Source: Parliament’s searchable archive of MPs’ expenses from 2008-2010.)
[NOTE – There was also a payment of £9987.50 (£8500 + VAT) in 2007 which prompted a complaint from a former researcher.]
1. Note the very similar amounts (one an exact match) with very similar classifications.
2. The pre-2010 payments to Marketing Management were labelled for ‘PR, media and research’, ‘public relations, media and research’, ‘media and research retainers fee’, ‘research and secretarial service’ and/or ‘media and research’. Two out of the five payments from 2010 onwards (in bold) were labelled ‘media and research’.
3. The remaining three of these five recent (identical) amounts (in bold) were simply labelled ‘MM‘ under their Short Description, presumably by the submitter of the claim (Dorries or her staff) if not the IPSA team. Dorries is the only MP with entries using this label as a part of any description. I suspect MM is short for ‘Marketing Management’.
4. Dorries has yet to deny these payments were made to Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd, and her past conduct has shown that she or one of her little gang of thugs will issue a shrill if not overly hostile denial if there is even the smallest opportunity to highlight and capitalise on the slightest inaccuracy or discrepancy. However, the only objection raised so far (courtesy of Phil Hendren of ‘Dizzy Thinks’, another close friend and neighbour of Dorries’) has been this; “Why have you put a [Bloggerheads] imprint on an image that is a screenshot from Crown copyright content?”
Excuse me while I gloss over that crime of the century and carry on looking at these expense claims…
There is good reason to suspect that all of these recently-revealed payments were made to Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd., which is owned and operated by Lynn Elson. Has Dorries simply continued paying her close friend out of the taxpayer’s pocket while quietly redefining/relabeling her role?
Lynn Elson has a background in media sales and marketing, NOT in research. Though she may have some undeclared expertise in marketing research, this is not the same as political research, not by a long shot. Political research is a role in which Lynn Elson has no little-to-no documented experience, never mind the kind of expertise that would justify monthly retainers of this scale.
If the money was spent with Lynn Elson and/or her company, what services were provided in exchange for this money? This question is especially pertinent when you consider that Lynn Elson’s proclaimed area of expertise is PR (Public Relations), as Dorries has suffered a series of public relations disasters since the election, and Lynn Elson has been instrumental in dealing with the fallout in ways that cannot be denied.
If we are to give Nadine Dorries the benefit of the doubt and assume that near to all of this money went on research along with whatever definition she applies to ‘media’, it still doesn’t look too clever.
Take a look at the five MPs who claimed the most for media-related expenses (e.g. ads in the local paper, websites, etc.) and research combined:
MPs with highest expenses claims relating to media and/or research (May 2010 – October 2010):
Nadine Dorries (Con.) £20,033.75
Nick de Bois (Con.) £9,332.98
Rory Stewart (Con.) £9,126.97
Keith Simpson (Con.) £8,488.10
Therese Coffey (Con.) £7,764.50
(Source: Parliament’s searchable archive of MPs’ expenses from 2010 onwards.)
[Psst! All Tories at the top of the table. Again.]
Even this is being far too generous to Dorries, as most of the MPs who came within shouting distance of her under this comparison did so because of payment of an annual subscription to ‘PRU’ (the grandly-titled Parliamentary Resources Unit) that really should be halved if we’re to provide a fair comparison.
Take a look at that margin, even without this adjustment; Dorries is ahead by a remarkable amount, even when she is treated with great generosity in this selection/interpretation of the figures.
And it’s actually quite likely to be far, far worse than this looks; this comparison was made in this way because Dorries classified part if not all of these expenses as relating to ‘Research and media services’, but I doubt very much if any of this money was spent on research, and if it was, I sincerely doubt the taxpayer got value for money.
I would think the extraordinary level of expenditure alone warrants some added scrutiny by the media if not the authorities, even if the most likely recipient fails to set off alarm bells left, right and centre.
What was this money spent on? What does Dorries have to show for it? Even if it was spent more on research than media/marketing/PR, how does Dorries justify this extraordinary level of expense that is double that of any colleague coming anywhere near this level of expenditure? What was this ‘research’ for? Hopefully not something to do with her ongoing religious mission to reduce access to abortion.
Oh, and why isn’t the editor of Bedfordshire on Sunday asking these questions and/or reporting the matter of her previous expenses claims that has not only been forwarded to the police for investigation, but subsequently passed on to the CPS?
Chris Gill, the editor of Bedfordshire on Sunday, is either soft in the head or soft on Dorries. Bedfordshire is being let down by their MP, and the man who is supposed to
keep her honest hold her to account.
Thank you for your kind attention, and for sitting quietly through all of this data. Here is your reward:
By Hmmn February 7, 2011 - 4:11 pm
Also why is Elson on the Register Of Interests Of Members' Secretaries And Research Assistants ie passholders:
Is she on the payroll along with "office manager" Philippa Dorries?
And why does it say Elson has no other "gainful occupation" given she has her own company?
By therealsim_o February 7, 2011 - 4:51 pm
I don't know why, but I *am* surprised the Tories are coming top in the expenses spending table. /sarcasm/
By MatGB February 7, 2011 - 5:19 pm
Problem with this analysis, and it's a massive "drives a cart horse through it" problem. These are for part of a year. Expenses allowances are for an entire year.
Some MPs will be paying, say, office rental and business rates monthly. Others will simply pay the lot in one go as it's easier. Friend of mine is office manager for an MP, and he paid pretty much everything up front as it was cheaper and less administration.
So saying she's spent more than anyone else proves absolutely nothing at this stage. Now, do it again when we've got the whole years results, and break it down per category (and include "nepotistically hired children" as a seperate line item?) and you've got her.
But right now? Non story, unfortunately.
By Tim_Ireland February 7, 2011 - 5:24 pm
I look forward to the smug look on your face when it turns out that she has ordered a year's worth of Lynn Elson in advance.
By @quinsjim February 8, 2011 - 9:25 am
@MatGB Really? – that explains the large MONTHLY amounts being paid? – I don't think that analysis stacks up very well. And as my friends in the polis would say "she's got form" – to suggest that this is just some sort of administrative procedure is a nonsense – but great to see some defence rising from the grave.
One thing you have got right though, it's a non-story without the context of her being the subject of Police and CPS investigation for expenses fraud…
By Tim_Ireland February 8, 2011 - 10:17 am
If we're going to take past form into account, MatGB is no apologist. He's welcome to inspect the data relating to "some MPs" if he has any doubts about my interpretation of it, but to spell out the meaning behind my earlier comment in reply to MatGB; Dorries is the 3rd-most-expensive MP in terms of expenses claims for the 6 month period from May-Oct 2010, and the majority of that expenditure does not relate to rent or any other form of annual/advance payment, but to payments that appear to have been made to a marketing company run by a close, personal friend of hers.
By The Prof February 13, 2011 - 1:44 pm
This is the latest from Bedfordshire on Sunday
By Hmmn February 14, 2011 - 1:01 pm
So why didn't elson declare in the register that she was still doing other work outside of parliament like this:
Is that why she has quit now?: