Archive | February, 2015

Sweet charity

5 Feb

The Evening Standard’s otherwise excellent account of the Standards Committee verdict on the mayor includes this slightly odd line:

Sir Robin, who has been leader or Mayor of Newham since 1995, is entitled to an allowance of £81,027 a year, although he donates some of it to charity.

I asked the journalist, Jonathan Prynn, if Newham council’s PR people had asked him to add this and he denied it, saying “the charitable donations have been widely reported.”

I’d say ‘widely’ was pushing it a bit and it’s only ever been reported because the mayor’s people offered it as some kind of justification for his inflation-busting pay rises. It is utterly irrelevant in the context of this story. I wonder what brought it to Mr Prynn’s mind?

Many Newham people who earn far less than Sir Robin give money to charity and it represents a far bigger chunk of their income. They don’t expect to see it reported in the papers and would be deeply embarrassed if it was.

Perhaps the mayor should think back to the lessons he learned back in his Sunday School days:

Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do … that they may get glory from men. (Matthew 6:1-2)



3 Feb

 Angry Robin

Sir Robin being restrained by councillor Obaid Khan

I was going to blog about the Standards Committee’s verdict on Sir Robin’s conduct at the Newham Show back in July, but I can’t improve on this excellent account in the Evening Standard, other than to point out that Sir Robin was not restrained by a member of the council’s staff but by a Labour councillor, Obaid Khan. 

Nor could I give more insight into what happened than Kevin Blowe, who made the formal complaint.

Not titling his post Sir Robin Wales, My Part in His Downfall was definitely a missed opportunity.


3 Feb

In a piece in today’s Guardian on the failure of the 2012 Olympics to deliver a legacy of greater participation in sport David Conn observes

The real Olympic legacy winners, of course, are West Ham United, owned by David Sullivan and David Gold, who made their first fortunes in pornography. Next year the Premier League club will take charge of the Olympic stadium, built with £429m of public money, and for which the public is paying a further £160m to convert for West Ham. The club will pay rent, and stands to make a fortune from the 54,000-seat capacity – far more than than its current Upton Park home – and enhanced corporate feasting. Karren Brady, who has worked loyally for Sullivan all her career, negotiated this stadium deal of the century with London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and has since been made a Conservative peer – Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge.

And a quarter of that £160m conversion cost is being met by the council taxpayers of Newham – local people who are struggling with falling wages and rising prices. Meanwhile, David Cameron promises to drive even more of them into poverty by cutting the benefits cap if his party wins in May.

But of course there’s no cap on handouts to the wealthy. Multimillionaire pornographers and their Tory chief executive can have their business subsidised by the taxpayer: it’s enough to turn your stomach.