May 9, 2021

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Iain Dale: Only one of the two Conservative presidents can have problems with donations. And it’s not Amanda Milling.

Iain Dale presents the night show on LBC Radio and the program ‘For many podcast with Jacqui Smith.

“The network is closing around Boris,” was the Whatsapp message from a Liberal Democrat friend of mine, following the announcement of the Electoral Commission’s (EC) investigation into the reform of the first floor minister.

My first reaction was to think “wishes, mate,” but like Steven Swinford, He Time political editor, he pointed out, EC competition is in fact very broad and can issue a notice of inquiry requiring “anyone” to provide information, including emails, Whatsapp messages, text messages and documents. Eek.

Tom Newton Dunn believes that since the EC investigation will focus on possible undeclared donations to the Conservative party, this could put Amanda Milling and Ben Elliot, the co-chairs, “in the spotlight”. He says if faults are detected, his positions are “unsustainable.”

I would ask for differences. In the past I have been critical of Milling’s performance as party president, but in this case I think his hands are clean. I understand it has very little to do with donors. It all depends on Elliot. And the situation is very clear. If the Conservative party initially paid the £ 58,000 bill and this sum was not declared, Elliot is not only in a deep doo-doo, so is the Prime Minister.

But not only EC research can be problematic, at the very least, for the prime minister; also are Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, and Lord Geidt, the new independent adviser to the Ministerial Code, who will also determine Johnson’s fate. If the EC is against the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister and finds that the rules of declaration have been breached and if it is found that the Ministerial Code has also been breached, it will be in a very big pickle.

Any other minister was expected to resign. But the prime minister has run away from other pickles in his adult life and who would bet he won’t go through that either. The question that Conservative MPs will have to ask is this. Should I do it?

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I am a client, in a very small way, of the company formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen. This week he announced that from now on he would be known as Abrdn. It could not be invented. What is it supposed to mean? Aberdeen? In this case, explain it in full. It could also be pronounced as “A load”.

How did all the different levels of management come to earth to be approved by the company board? If it had reached me, I would have laughed out of court. It makes us wonder if they can be so emaciated and incompetent in changing the name of their company, to what extent they are incompetent to invest my money.

I am not yet about to withdraw my habit from Abrdn, but this week I will withdraw my habit from the bank where I have been for over 40 years. All the communications I have now with Lloyds Bank are a test. I almost feel physically ill before I call them because I know they will move me from the pillar to about seven different places, and that before their impossible safety issues fail.

I’ve had enough. So I opened an account at a smaller bank where I can talk to a real person who does his best to help. Yes, you still have to fill out many forms to get the different accounts up and running, but I am convinced that in the end it will be worth it.

I did it with my energy supplier and it has been a dream to deal with Octopus Energy instead of EDF. And that was much simpler than I feared it would be. We must constantly remember that the customer is always the kings. The queens. We don’t have to endure poor quality service. Power is in our hands.

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Anything means what the DUP believes will succeed in overthrowing Arlene Foster. If she is forced to leave, and it looks like she will, she will inevitably be replaced by a much tougher politician. He may be whoever he is, he has a much tougher stance with Sinn Fein, and he may have Sinn Fein say he can’t work with the new leader. Then the whole house of cards falls again.

I’m not predicting this will happen, but it must be scary. Michelle O’Neill and Foster may not be chest mates or may be able to reproduce the maturity of the so-called Chuckle Brothers, Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley, but over the past year they have formed a business and effective partnership. What a shame to throw all this away.

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