George Galloway has used Facebook to solicit donations for his campaign to become Mayor of London, asking well-wishers to send any amount from £1 to £499. Some people are asking why he needs to ask ordinary punters for money, when he is comfortably off. In the Register of Members’ Interests earlier this year, he declared outside earnings of £293,450 during 2014, on top of his MP’s salary of £67,060. But if Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative candidate for London Mayor he, too, will presumably receive campaign donations, though he is many times richer than Galloway.
A question worth asking is why Galloway is so precise about the upper limit of the donations he is seeking. The answer is that it is contrary to British electoral law for a candidate or party to accept a donation of £500 or more from a foreign source. Galloway is expecting money to come from abroad. Some of the responses to his Facebook appeal are in Arabic script. The £499 ceiling keeps it legal.
May day for the fox
Brian May, former guitarist of Queen, was in the Commons on Monday, cultivating allies ahead of tomorrow’s vote on fox hunting. He was engrossed in conversation with Caroline Lucas, of the Green Party, in Parliament’s main cafe in Portcullis House. She can be counted on to vote against the Government. Indeed, if the Government were to ask MPs to vote on whether to repeal the ban on hunting outright, it would lose, despite the Conservative majority. But tomorrow’s proposal is more of a sop to the pro-hunting lobby. It would allow farmers whose livestock is threatened by foxes to hunt them down using packs of dogs. Under current law in England and Wales, it is illegal to use more than two dogs.
One person who – perhaps unexpectedly – supports the Government is the former Lib Dem MP Roger Williams, who lost Brecon and Radnorshire to the Tories in May. He has told the Countryside Alliance: “If the party is seen to be against fox control and unwilling to support farmers, we will lose our rural heartlands for a generation, and perhaps for ever.” Even so, the bookies are anticipating a government defeat.
Ukip’s sensible side
Meanwhile, at another table in Portcullis House, Ukip’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, was seen chatting with two other prominent Kippers, Suzanne Evans and Patrick O’Flynn – all three of whom had public rows with Nigel Farage in the aftermath of the general election. “Is this a convocation of the sensible wing of Ukip?” I asked O’Flynn. He replied: “All wings of Ukip are sensible. You know that.”
Actually I didn’t.
Mutterings of discontent
You have to watch your language if you want to be a councillor in Nottinghamshire. An independent was talking about libraries when someone on the Labour side muttered “bullshit”. This was met, reportedly, by stunned silence as if no one in the council chamber had ever heard anything so dreadful. An angry Lib Dem demanded an apology.
The offender, John Knight, stood up and explained: “I thought I was talking under my breath but obviously I am getting deaf in my old age.”
That only provoked a cry from the Lib Dem that he had not apologised properly. So he stood up again, pretended to wipe his eyes, and apologised again.
According to the Nottingham Post: “The incident happened just after 11am and the atmosphere remained frosty between the Lib Dems and Labour until the end of the meeting at 5.30pm.” Imagine if he had said something really offensive, like “Nick Clegg”.