Sunday, March 16, 2008

Too much corruption ...

Baroness Symons, a former Labour minister and a director of British Airways, has been giving the airline access to the House of Lords’ private dining facilities so it can entertain its most profitable customers.

She is one of more than a dozen peers who have been booking the dining rooms to entertain companies for whom they work, leading to complaints that firms are paying peers for access to the Lords’ facilities in the Palace of Westminster. According to documents seen by The Sunday Times, Symons, who was last year paid £39,000 by BA, booked one of the Lords’ private dining rooms seven times in 2007 so the airline could wine and dine its most loyal business customers.

The meals provide BA with the chance to impress customers who hold gold and silver frequent flier cards with a lunch in one of Britain’s most exclusive institutions. This weekend the practice provoked accusations that peers are abusing their position to use the Lords as a corporate dining club. “Parliament should not be used as an exotic restaurant for hire and peers should not be facilitating this,” said Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat MP.

Anything else ? No wonder Gordon Brown announces "green" taxes then approves a third Heathrow runway.

The airport operator BAA has used an elaborate network of lobbying and PR groups, headed by senior Labour figures with access to the government, to promote its controversial plans for a third Heathrow runway. Among the Labour insiders recruited to front pro-aviation lobby groups are Brian Wilson, a former industry and energy minister, and Lord Soley, a former chairman of the parliamentary Labour party.

Jo Irvin, now a member of Brown’s inner circle in Downing Street, not only headed BAA’s public affairs department but also fronted one of the prime lobby groups backing Heathrow expansion. Another Labour apparatchik, Stephen Hardwick, was closely involved in the same lobby group, as well as being employed as director of public affairs for BAA.

Opponents of the third runway claim the links between BAA and the government have given it an undue influence over aviation policy. John McDonnell, a Labour MP, said: “BAA dominates the government’s aviation policy. There have been a number of front organisations over the years that have promoted aviation. They are all funded by the industry and are largely paid lobbyists.”

Bunch of dirty dogs, aren't they ? Haven't a lot of time for Mr McDonnell, but he's right on this one. The suborning of New Labour began when Andersens gave Neil Kinnock a job after 2002 and they've become more and more compromised ever since. I would however be loth to suggest that Mr Cameron's born with a silver spoon up the nose Tories would necessarily be any better.

As their support sinks to 27%, so they're panicking about the core vote. Here's Liam Byrne :

"In the past, people didn't think Labour took immigration seriously. My job is to say, 'the Government has got the message'. Big changes are needed."

A former management consultant ....

He's exactly right. His job is to say things - any things - as long as they can get a few of those votes back.

A fleet of mobile detention vans is being sent out. "They're big trucks with cages in," Mr Byrne explains. "Once upon a time an illegal immigrant who was picked up would be given a map to Croydon and told to turn themselves in. That was nonsense. Now we detain people immediately. Last year we deported 60,000 people, this year we aim for a significant increase."

Big trucks with cages in, eh ? That should claw back a few of those BNP votes. No fierce dogs or guards with whips ? We'll get those if the polls go much lower. And telling people to get to Croydon and turn themselves in is a thing of the past, is it ? Used to be like this ?

Nine suspected illegal migrants arrested at a lorry depot are on the run after police trusted them to make their own way to an immigration office more than 80 miles away. Cambridgeshire police seized the Afghan men as they were hiding in a lorry at a depot in the village of Fordham near Ely. They were believed to have entered on the lorry via a port on the south coast.

Police informed the immigration authorities at St Ives and were said to have waited for immigration officers to arrive, but with all their cells full and without the "capability to look after them", later that day Cambridgeshire police bought the nine men single tickets, gave them verbal travel directions and then escorted them onto a train bound for London. The men were supposed to make their way to the 20-storey Lunar House in Croydon, south London, which houses the headquarters of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA). They were never seen again.

March 11 - 5 days ago.