When Tory Party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps learned that the Metropolitan Police would not take any further action over the software flogged by his How To Corp, one might have thought that everything would carry on as before. After all, once a purveyor of dodgy motahs, and all that. But that thought would have been misplaced, as Shapps has taken action to close the enterprise down.
When one showroom closes ...
Yes, the deeply subversive Guardian has brought the news that “The family software marketing firm set up by the Tory party chairman – that marketed software, the sale of which may have been an ‘offence of fraud’ – is to be dissolved”. This has inevitably set Labour critics of Shapps, of which there may be, oh I dunno, around 258 in the House of Commons, smelling a rat.
And the timeline is all too obvious: “In a letter, dated 10 October, addressed to the Labour MP Steve McCabe, who made the original complaint about the firm, the police confirmed that ‘legal advice … concluded that the selling of the software may constitute an offence of fraud’ but that officers had decided not to instigate a criminal investigation”. Two weeks elapsed, and then guess what?
“A request was made to wind up How To Corp. Directors can only ask to dissolve a firm and strike it from the company register if it is ‘not subject to any legal proceedings’, current or proposed”. How To Corp’s website appears to have been pulled. Labour’s response? “It seemed ‘more than coincidental’ the company was to be closed down so soon after a police investigation”.
And they’ve contacted Young Dave asking that Shapps be suspended from the cabinet, amid talk of potentially breaking ministerial codes of conduct. This will probably be totally unsuccessful, but the whiff of sharp practice – as with so much that Shapps gets his fingers on – is overpowering. All the company dissolution will do is persuade many in and around Westminster that he has something to hide.
But at least Shapps can count on one ally: the larger part of the Fourth Estate. While the press was eager to jump on yesterday’s Sun “exclusive” – trawling social media sites to whip up faux outrage and kick two teenage students – none of the press pack wants to pick up the Shapps revelations. So why might “Spiv” get a free pass from those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet?
Simples. Shapps is doing their bidding by kicking the hated BBC, and therefore the press is letting everyone know which side of the fence they have to land on to get favourable treatment, and which side to get a good kicking. And then when the BBC picks up on the Guardian story, the rest of the press can kick them both for allegedly singing from the same hymn sheet, which will be held to be a “left-wing” one.
Meanwhile, “Spiv” will probably get away with it. And that’s not good enough.