Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Rowengate: Banana slip-ups and splits?

Paul Rowen's parliamentary claim for a 40p banana is making Rochdale's current MP famous.
Like a polished turd in a swimming pool, the banana won't go away. The bent yellow floater is causing no end of stink and embarressment.

Daily Mirror readers all over Britain can read about Paul Rowen's bananas libel threat in Kevin Maguire's Points of Disorder.

Word on the street is that the strange fruit is one of the reasons for dissent and backstabbing apparently going on behind the scenes within Rochdale Lib Dems.

Poor Cllr Alan Taylor faces a revolt. He could soon be out in the cold following a vicious little coup d'etat in his Banana Republic of Rochdale.

"Ambitious" 80's throwback, "Millionaire hairdresser" Cllr Greg Couzens is on a charm offensive with a cunning little plan to become Leader of the Council then perhaps to unseat Paul Rowen as MP.

A 23-year old Greg Couzens at the opening of his hair salon in 1983.

"Project Affleck" has begun.

Cllr Couzens is Going Back to the Future by wanting to copy the 1980's alternative Madchester hippy type stalls once housed in a dingy old building off Tibb Street called Affleck's Palace.
Fair play. It is "thinking outside the box" But is all this just self-promoting horseshit?

Rochdale is full of empty bombed out dingy boarded-up shops. Thank millions of pounds and over a decade of mismanangement by the Rochdale Development (sic) Agency for that.

But Cllr Couzens has "a dream" for an "emporium of eclecticism". With him prepared, as a "successful entrepreneur" to take a "leading role" as a dragon choosing the den. Perhaps hubris allowed a wee Freudian slip: While writing about Project Affleck, again and again, in the Rochdale Observer letters page new boy Cllr Greg suggests that the successful seats "won't be first come first served". Instead it could be judged by "local entrepreneurs" . Such as who? Rochdale Lib Dem "benefactors" and supporters Terry Mason and Chris Greaves?

Cynics say they can see right through his rhetoric and suggest it is all hot air to get his name publicly associated with Obama style "change", "positive approaches" yet "commercial prudence and competance".

Greg is a politician after all.

But allowing the publication, in Lib Dem leaflets, of a photoshopped image, as a smart Freemason type, holding the Chancellor of the Exchequer's briefcase does make him look a bit of a tit.

But political ambition can be shameless.

All the back stabbing must be bad for Lib Dem morale. Whispers about the failure of past administrations (Paul Rowen, Alan Taylor and Cyril Smith mentioned by name). The knife in the back of the Hothouses and the patronising dismissal of the "wimmin and the ethnic contingency" appear to sideline the work of Cllrs Irene Davidson, Mohammad Sharif and Deputy Mayor Zulf Ali.

No wonder journalists from that there London see Paul Rowen and his 'bunch' as a laughing stock.

With all the monkey business going on, the 'split' will soon be apparent.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Will Paul Rowen MP sue Tesco over TV banana taunt?

At the height of the Parliamentary expenses scandal, Paul Rowen described the ongoing public row as the hardest week of his political life.
Paul Rowen's expenses included a claim for a 40p banana. This from a politician whose combined Parliamentary salary, expenses and allowances since 2005 are probably over £1,000,000.

And that doesn't include "double bouble" additional claims such as the overlap when Paul Rowen remained a Rochdale councillor for 2 years. Or his Parliamentary Light Rail Group trips or Council of Europe visits abroad. Or his second wage working for a Ugandan property company with close links to Rochdale and tenancies via or with Rochdale Council.

Yet still there was a claim for a 40p banana. And 15p knob of butter and 5p carrier bag.
Some scurrillous grafitti wananbees have had the bareface cheek to express their painted opinions in the form of a rat holding a banana under the tag "Spanksy"

Rochdale's current MP "Million Pound Paul" has come out fighting with bully boy legal tactics. Libel action is threatened against mention of bananas.

Political commentators such as Hugh Muir have dismissed such nonsense with mirthful scorn. The Guardian even went to the trouble of publishing an unflattering cartoon caricature of Paul Rowen grasping a banana...

Paul Rowen

According to Hugh Muir's column, Paul Rowen's lawyers suggest that reference to bananas equates to their client being 'insane', 'unbelievable' or 'ridiculous'.

In what could be seen as an insensitive taunt against Rochdale's current MP, Tescos have just begun a nationwide advertising campaign. Double Clubcard points. Then, as if to rub salt into the wounds of the troubled Rochdale MP, Britain's biggest retailer illustrates the "double bubble" Clubcard bonanza with... bananas!

Is the writ already winging its way to Cheshunt, Herts?

After publicly complaining the indignity of eating baked beans on a camp stove, and the neverending references to the 40p banana claimed on parliamentary expenses, Paul Rowen's "worst week" could be turning into an 'Annus Horibilus'.

But at least the next purchases of bananas and knobs of butter can attract double Clubcard points from Tesco.

Every little helps!

(Even if it is the hardpressed taxpayer that ultimately foots the bill).

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Camp Leader Paul Rowen - "has beens" and "toast"?

The comedy crew at Rochdale Lib Dems Drake Street HQ have made the news again with another ridiculous press release of Paul Rowen "demanding action".

Struck by a power cut, Team Rowen were forced to "Carry On...Camping".

Today's Manchester Evening News carries the full sorry tale.

swiftly followed, across the office floor, by the Rochdale Observer

and national infamy for their half baked bean exploits in The Independent.

So what is Paul Rowen publicly "demanding action" about?

Apparently, The Sultans of Spin "our office is open from 9am-5pm" were about to sneak off early at 2.30pm but the power cut meant the shutters couldn't go down on both 144 and 142a Drake Street (Landlords, and recipient of taxpayers' cash, to "both" office(s) is the Rochdale Reform Buildings Ltd).

Messers Swarbrick, Power, Hennigan and Rowen didn't appear happy campers. They had to wait 6 hours. No amount of Parliamentary expenses and allowances could make things better. The cupboard was bare of 40p taxpayers' bananas. They had to rough it round a camp stove, forced to eat a slap up meal... of beans on toast.

If those in the know at Drake Street spill the beans about certain scandals... there would be a huge stink. And that is not hot air!

Recent coverage of Paul Rowen has an increasing air of comedy about it.

Paul Rowen

The apt photo used by MEN is from a recent banana protest. Camp leader Paul Rowen's woggle looks a bit skewiff.

MP Paul Rowen was had to cook his beans on toast on a camping stove

What else could possibly go wrong for the Drake Street Dream Team?

Monday, 10 August 2009

How to get a job with Paul Rowen MP. 'banana' intern and "Casework Ass"?

In the old TV series The Dukes of Hazard a fat politician called Boss Hogg ran a town with the help of his moronic family and friends.

Obviously the TV show was fiction. The very idea of overweight, bullying politicians throwing their weight around with the help of "local" born and inbred "good 'ol boys" who treat "coloured folk" and outsiders in a certain way would be an insult to democracy.

In the ficticious, moonshine drinking, Hazard County it was "who you knew" that helped get a job in politics.

Are there any similarities to TV's Hazard County in Paul Rowen MP's Rochdale?

Reading between the lines of his latest "Letter from Parliament" is most illuminating.

Firstly, there is no mention that Paul's letter isn't from Parliament.

Paul is in Keen-ya. Apparently sunning himself whilst doing charidee work at children's homes.

Does anyone picture portly Paul Rowen in a pith helmet whilst on a colonial verandah, G&T in hand? The Happy Valley of Kenya has a reputation for "fun and games". Were table tennis paddles packed in Paul's trunk? Or will Rochdale's current MP be too busy having slap up meals at various african Rotary clubs?

Will he be planning a trip to the bush? Is he popping over to Uganda to conduct some business in his second paid job working for a property company called Corinya?

At least if in east africa,
Paul Rowen isn't currently sipping his G&T
on a Rochdale Gravy Train.

But the biggest gaffe in Paul latest "Letter from Parliament" is the astonishing revelation of his admission policy for his Westminster interns. Just like Hazard County or Royston Vasey, it appears to be a very "local" matter:


Paul is a bit tender on the intern issue after the revelation that his Parliamentary expenses included 40p for a banana. An 'unpaid intern' was immediately blamed for the fruity claim that was "within the rules".

So how do young Rochdale people become Parliamentary interns for Paul Rowen. Unlike Hazard County, surely this is not a "job for the boys"?

Paul explains:

"I've been very lucky over the last few months to have had a number of young people from Rochdale working as interns in both my London office and in Rochdale. These have included Natassa Malik whose father is a good friend of Sir Cyril Smith, Adam Barber who is the son of my GP and Tom Barlow who is studying A Levels at Oldham Six Form College".

So, it seems to help if daddy is a "good friend" of Cyril Smith or daddy holds Paul Rowen's confidential medical records?


But what about a paid job with Paul Rowen? A job that uses public money? A job that is even advertised for with public money?

Paul Rowen's Parliamentary Incidental Expenses Provision claims for 2008 show an invoice to MEN Media Ltd for £196.81. These were for taxpayer funded adverts in the Rochdale Observer (Saturday and Wednesday), Heywood Advertiser, Rochdale Express and Jobs North West.

(pages 1-3 0f 234 in the 2007/8 IEP pdf file)

The ad's catchline states"Paul Rowen MP Requires a Part Time Secretary/Casework Ass"

We presume the "Ass" is short for assistant rather than Rochdale's current MP being cheeky with public money to advertise for a part time american arse.

We will give that one the benefit of the doubt.

So there we have it. All above board and within the expense rules. Paul Rowen claims money to advertise for a "Casework Ass". MEN Media get the cash, interviews ensue and the best man wins?

So just who got the job as a Paul Rowen MP "Casework Ass" ?

Surely it wasn't John Swarbrick- the "scruffy old man" seen with "agent" Adam Power photographing grafitti recently ?

John Swarbrick had been working for "mystery sheik" right-hand-man Cllr Elwyn Watkins.
Dubbed the 'Scartlet Pimple' because his Healey Ward residents seek him here, there and everywhere but Elwyn is often missing "in Saudi". It is rumoured that John Swarbrick fell out with Elwyn so he stopped working for the busy fella who is also Lib Dem PPC for Oldham.

Then John Swarbrick pops up in the Drake Street Rochdale Lib Dem HQ/Paul Rowen's constituency office, and as "Home Truths" on the Rochdale Online forum.

Is John Swarbrick a Paul Rowen part time "Caseworker Ass" ?

Were the £196.81 for MEN job adverts a waste of time?

Is this an example of "jobs for the boys" in Hazard County?