Not too far. Not too fast.

Tameside MEP Chris Davies writes in his blog today about the plan to reduce Britain’s deficit:

“Most people know that the country is in a very bad situation. But I don’t think many of them realise just how bad things are, or how much worse they could get if the Government gets the strategy wrong.

To understand you have to go back to 1997.”

Read the full story here on Chris’ website.

Former Tameside MEP Den Dover could face jail

Den Dover, the former Tameside Conservative MEP, has been ordered to pay back £345,289 to the European Parliament and could now face prosecution for fraud.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg today dismissed attempts by Dover to avoid repayment of the money that the European Parliament stated was wrongly claimed between 1999 and 2008.

Dover made the following illegitimate payments from the allowance paid to MEPs to meet the costs of paying for staff:

  • £101,068 for three cars
  • £15,404 for office supplies and equipment, £89,235 for postage and stationery, £100,735 for the costs of rent and renovation of Den Dover’s ‘office’, which just happened to be in his private home, and £20,767 for telephone costs (MEPs get a separate allowance for all these office expenses, and none of them are supposed to be paid from the staff budget)
  • £17,880 for ‘entertainment expenses’
  • £200 in donations to the Conservative Party

The Parliament also sought the repayment of £167,903 it claimed represented the costs of VAT that had not been paid. But the Court concluded that this was a matter for dispute between the British authorities and the former MEP.

Dover was ordered to pay his own costs.

Tameside’s Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, a longstanding campaigner for tighter rules on the use of public money, is calling on the police to investigate former Tory MEP Den Dover and believes he could go to jail.

Chris, who in 2008 made public the contents of a secret auditors’ report into financial malpractices by European MPs, commented: “Most MEPs know the difference between right and wrong when spending public money, but Dover treated the European Parliament like a private piggy bank and let greed overtake honour.

“The Parliament has been shamefully weak in the past and has too often turned a blind eye to abuses, but it is now demonstrating that such behaviour will no longer be tolerated.

“I am calling on the police here to investigate whether Dover’s actions were fraudulent and warrant criminal prosecution. I expect the parliamentary authorities in Brussels to provide them with full cooperation. In my view Dover tried to cheat the public purse and should go to jail.”

Oldham East & Saddleworth: Results

The Oldham East and Saddleborough byelection result:

Labour 14,718 42%
Elwyn Watkins (Liberal Democrat) 11,160 31.9%
Conservatives 4,481 12.8%
Other 7 candidates 4,571

The Liberal Democrat share of the vote increased, in contrast to the vote collapse that Labour and some commentators had predicted. Lib Dem candidate Elwyn Watkins has paid tribute to his campaign team and thanked his many supporters across the constituency.

Speaking to supporters after the count, Elwyn said, “I want to thank you all for a superb campaign. Although it is always disappointing not to win, I am proud that our share of the vote actually increased. Those who sought to write us off have been proved wrong. I am also delighted that the BNP lost their deposit. The town has shown we have no taste for their hateful and divisive approach.”

Commenting on the by-election result , Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, said: “This was a very hard-fought contest but we were not able to gain this Labour seat on this occasion. I’d like to pay tribute to our superb candidate, Elwyn Watkins, and his team up in Oldham who have run an exceptional campaign.

“I am proud of each and every one of the hundreds of activists and volunteers who have brought the fight to Labour’s front door in a way that will have confounded our critics.

“It was always going to be a big ask to take this seat from Labour, given the circumstances. We are undertaking some enormously difficult decisions because Labour left Britain’s economy in a mess and we are now forced to clean up after them.

“By 2015, I hope that the people of Oldham and Saddleworth will see, like everyone else in the country, that the difficult choices we made were the right ones and that Britain is in better shape than when we entered Government.”

Tory party has been bought like a banana republic

Commenting on Lord Ashcroft’s admission that he is non-domiciled for tax purposes, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said, “The Conservatives’ biggest donor is a tax-dodger from Belize who has not paid a penny of British tax on the vast bulk of his estimated £1.1bn fortune held offshore.

“This raises extraordinary questions about the judgement of successive Tory leaders – William Hague, Michael Howard and David Cameron – whose view seems to be that only little people should pay tax.

“The Tory party has been bought like a banana republic.”