Congratulations to my friend and colleague Mike Smithson for this high praise from today’s Daily Telegraph:
“For real political anoraks, the website of choice is politicalbetting.com.”
There’s not a great deal of fun to be had with the Budd Report, except for three priceless paragraphs in the middle:
3.48. In her evidence to me Mrs Quinn referred to further conversations about the case. She said that there was a further conversation with Ms Casalme about a week after to one mentioned earlier in which Ms Casalme had told her again that the passport had not arrived and said that she “had friends who did not have friends” who got their passports more quickly than she did. According to Mrs Quinn she had mentioned this to Mr Blunkett, who said “She really should pipe down, we’ve made the calls. I’ll make them again.”3.49. I discussed this conversation with Mr Blunkett and he agreed that he had probably made the comment about piping down as that is the sort of expression he used; but he denied the second part of the quote. Any comment he made would have meant that he had taken up the general issue of the delays being made to reduce the back logs.
3.50. Mrs Quinn also referred to a conversation after ILR [=Indefinite Leave to Remain] had been granted. According to her evidence, Mr Blunkett said “I’m glad I could help.” Mr Blunkett agreed that he probably did say that; but he again had been referring to his general role in reducing backlogs. He had not meant that he had intervened in this case.
You can download the report as a pdf here, though, as I say, it’s not really worth it.
Is it so clear that Mr Blunkett did fiddle his expenses to the tune of Â£179 of taxpayers’ money over those bloody train tickets? Because according to the Commssioner on Parliamentary Standards’ report, there’s no documentary evidence at all for the fiddle, beyond Blunkett’s own ‘fessing up:
12. The Direction of Operations in the Department of Finance and Administration, Mr Terry Bird, informed me on 13 December of the outcome of the Department’s check of their records. He confirmed that they had received a cheque for Â£179 from Mr Blunkett on 6 December in reimbursement for the value of a journey which the Department understood from Mr Blunkett’s office to have been taken from Doncaster to London on or around 19 August 2002. Mr Bird sent me a list of warrants recorded by the Department as having been used by Mr Blunkett over the period 1 January 2002 to 31 March 2004. This list is reproduced at WE6, It does not record any journey involving travel between Doncaster and London King’s Cross on or around 19 August 2002.13. Mr Bird told me that in view of this, the Department had checked their records of every Parliamentary travel warrant used from 10 August to 14 October 2002. They had also failed through this exercise to match Mr Blunkett’s repayment with a recorded journey using a warrant signed by him.
So Blunkett “remembers” the fiddle, and has repaid the money — but then again, we know that his once-legendary memory’s been paying funny tricks on him of late. Is there anything else worth remembering about this story?
I don’t know who first said this, but it’s one of the shrewdest things ever said about the subject (politics, not ugly people; possibly second only to Enoch Powell’s dictum that all political careers end in failure), and it’s something I’m reminded of most days during the unfolding Kimberly Quinn saga.
(Whatever happened to Pamella Bordes, anyway?)
“Calls for fresh Blunkett inquiry” from the Tories and the Lib Dems over at the BBC. Silly people.
Marshall-Andrews for Home Secretary!
Spammers: Is Hanging Too Good For Them?
Most entertaining story of 2004 involving the Royal Family?
What will be the outcome of the 2005 Ashes series?