Diary: Wanted... MPs with no political background


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The Independent Online

The Labour Party was founded more than a century ago with one purpose in mind: to get manual workers elected to Parliament. Tonight, Ed Miliband, pictured, will launch an appeal for capitalists to come forward and be Labour MPs. He will tell business people at Chartered Accountants' Hall in the City that the party badly needs more MPs with business backgrounds. Anyone showing an interest can apply to join a scheme and have a Labour MP as a mentor. They do not even have to be party members.

Mr Miliband's father, Ralph, warned that one of the mechanisms through which the capitalist class held power over the workers was by placing businessmen in Parliament to defend their class interests. Politics is now dominated by the likes of Miliband, Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Balls, all of whom went into politics straight from university. The struggle is to get anyone with any kind of industrial experience, be they labourer, capitalist or something in between, to take an interest.

Did the sheikh also fake number of scalps?

Mazher Mahmood is one of the best-known investigative journalists of our time – the News of the World's so-called "fake sheikh" – whose elaborate stings led to the exposure and conviction of dozens of shady characters. How many dozens, though, is in dispute. Giving evidence before the Leveson Inquiry last December, Mahmood claimed to have set in motion 261 successful criminal prosecutions, with two more cases pending.

Not everyone believed him. Paddy French spent months going through every edition of the NOTW, looking for any report that a target of one of his exposés had been in court. He traced 70 successful prosecutions.

French has written to Lord Leveson suggesting Mahmood, now working at The Sunday Times, be recalled and asked to supply a full list of the 261 scalps he claims.

Shapps outed as Twitter fraud?

A lot of Twitter fun was had at the expense of the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, after the website Political Scrapbook implied he was using computer software to increase his follower count. Programs can trawl through Twitter finding appropriate accounts, which a user then automatically follows.

When the scheme works, the person being followed follows the user in return. But Twitter rules prevent major users from following many more people than follow them. This means that anyone attempting to artificially boost their follower count must regularly unfollow people, to clear up space for new targets.

One Twitter user was claiming yesterday to have followed and unfollowed four times by Mr Shapps. "We're considering forming a victim support group for those unfollowed by him," said Laurence Durnan, the editor of Political Scrapbook.