Myners Infraction or Cover-Up?

Back in February this year Guido was pressing for explanations as to the Smith Institute’s use of No. 11 Downing Street. The fact that the charity seemed to have only one beneficiary – Gordon Brown – meant that it was not only breaking the rules against political activity by a charity, it was actually functioning as a factional powerbase for Brownites. The staff and trustees were all allies of the Chancellor.
Political opponents in parliament had tabled parliamentary question after parliamentary question, all were met with stonewalling by the Treasury. Freedom of Information requests were ignored and went unanswered. Then came a breakthrough, the revelation that at a private meeting of the Smith Institute, attended by long list of Brownite allies in the media and the Labour party, the U.S. pollster Bob Shrum had advised on a strategy to defeat David Cameron’s Conservatives based on his experience fighting the Republican party. The speech transcript was proof that the allegations were well founded.

Guido made a formal complaint under Section 8 of the Charities Act. The Charity Commission indicated that it would consider taking action. It leaked out before the official announcement was made that they would commence a formal inquiry. This led to a flurry of activity at the Smith Institute and HM Treasury. Their response was transparently choreographed in the knowledge that a statutory inquiry under the Charities Act would bring previously suppressed documents and information into the public domain.

After months of pressure it was suddenly revealed that nearly two hundred meetings had been held by the Smith Institute (free of charge) at No. 11 Downing Street with the permission of the Chancellor. Guido had been alleging that the use of the building effectively amounted to a subsidy of the Smith Institute’s activities by HM Treasury. It was literally an abuse of office in all senses of the word.

In those circumstances if it were to be revealed that the Treasury had made direct payments to the Smith Institute, Gordon Brown’s political front group, it would have been extremely damaging. The charge against Brown that he was corruptly financing his political ambitions would be hard to defend.

Amazingly a letter dated February 1, 2007, and written by Paul Myners was produced to explain away just such a payment. Myners is a Smith Institute trustee, a Treasury appointed veteran of various Gordon created quangos, who is considered a safe pair of hands by Brownites. He is also a wealthy donor to Gordon’s leadership campaign.

It explained that two years previously the Treasury had paid the Smith Institute £11,750 to hold two seminars on behalf of the Myners Review into the financial sector for Gordon. It went on to claim (without explanation) that the Treasury had paid the money by mistake. That it was always Myners’ intention to pay the cost himself. That he had now, over two years later, paid the sum personally.

If the Charity Commission investigation was not going to bring knowledge of this payment into the public domain, there is no doubt that the Treasury payment to the Smith Institute would have been kept well hidden with no danger of it being discovered or repaid.

The Myners letter is here. The explanations given by Myners are frankly incredible. He is expecting us to believe that the Smith Institute accidentally invoiced HM Treasury and that HM Treasury accidentally paid the invoice. We are asked to believe that suddenly two years later he decided to pay the bill having told his “team that I would be happy to personally contribute some or all of the costs of the seminars”. But he didn’t actually do it at the time, did he?

Why the Two Year Interval?

Could it be that the imminent and inevitable exposure of the payment by HM Treasury to the Smith Institute during the course of the Charity Commission’s investigation was the real and only reason the payment was now refunded by Myners to the Treasury? It was a plain and simple cover up – long after the event – by Myners to help his friend Gordon Brown out of a politically difficult situation.

Informed Sources?

Isn’t today the day that the Sun’s George Pascoe-Watson revealed on the front-page that Blair would leave office? ITS MAY 31ran the headline.

Not quite…

Shadow Minister Grieve Backs Grammar Schools

The London Evening Standard is reporting that Dominic Grieve, the shadow Attorney General, has gone over the top into no-mans-land over grammar schools. The key phrase in an otherwise on message interview with his local paper is
“We must also ensure that if further grammar or secondary schools are needed they can be supplied within the county.”

Cameroonie policy is no new grammar schools. This could be sticky for Grieve. The grassroots are not wearing this policy change, although bizarrely ConservativeHome.Com “the unofficial home of the grassroots” says it is officially burying the subject today. Suspect they will be digging it up again tomorrow…

UPDATE : Sticky for Team Cameron it turns out. The Etonians appear to be for turning.

News of the Dave

The Guidoisation of politics continues with news of the appointment of Andy Coulson*, formerly editor of the News of the Screws, to become the new propaganda chief for Dave. He’ll bring a more robust tabloid headline sensitive approach that is more likely to connect with people than a Letwin speech. Guido suspects this will signal a much needed change in the tone of Tory propaganda. Trying, as Osborne recently did, to frame Gordon Brown as a leftie won’t work. The approach to Gordon has to chime in with the truth that people instinctively sense. He is an unpleasant, difficult to work with, psychologically flawed, malevolent, grudge-bearing control freak. These aspects of his character are even more of a negative than his tax and spend, big government, micro-managing policies. Going with this grain of truth will resonate popularly.The Cameroonies are set against negatively attacking Gordon’s character and personality. They want to concentrate on policy and present an optimistic “change” agenda. Ordinary people are not interested in the details of policy wonkery, they just think there is something creepy about Gordon.  Tapping into and co-opting that sense of unease is a key component of a comprehensive strategy to defeat Brown. If Coulson can navigate the somewhat dysfunctional CCHQ environment, he might be the man to formulate and project that media strategy. Once Gordon takes over his people will aggressively target Cameron with a negative class-based attack.  To borrow a cricketing metaphor; the Tories will need to bowl bodyline. Coulson is a player, not a gentlemen, he could be their Larwood, they have far too many Jardines already.

UPDATE : Benedict Brogan reckons Andy is on £400,000-a-year.

*Dale got the scoop on the Dead-Tree-Press.

Editorial Advisory : 17:00 GMT Today

The whole Wonks-on-the-Taxpayer scam is much more widespread than this morning’s Times story reveals. Paul Myners is not only a donor to Brown’s coronation campaign, he was central to a less than credible cover-up of Treasury payments to the Smith Institute. Doubt he will be plain “Mr” Myners after Brown gets control of the honours list…

Full story this evening.

Help Hain!

Desperate times call for desperate measures…

From Claire Lawson

URGENT

Dear all,

This is very urgent indeed – please can everyone make sure we
have as many votes as possible for Peter on the Newsnight
website. We’re currently getting squeezed to last.

Please vote now before the poll closes….

I’ll be in touch soon,

Many thanks,
Claire

Tan-Fans better get down the bookies and put a few quid on as well to shorten his long odds. The punters think at 19/1 Hain is going to lose badly.

Downing Street Sore Losers Ignore Scotland

Downing Street Sore Losers Ignore Scotland

Tony Blair has congratulated Rhodri Morgan in Wales. The Queen even went to Scotland to meet and greet the new Scottish First Minister. The Irish PM, Bertie Ahern, has found time out from negotiating his coalition to also congratulate Alex Salmond.

Gordon, ever the sore loser, has not had the grace to congratulate his winning opponent. So his own home constituency is no longer in Labour hands, his own country is no longer in Labour hands for the first time in half-a-century, but is that any reason to be so grumpy and graceless? He will have to work with the SNP when he is PM. Whatever happened to his new politics, humbly listening to the people?


Video report on GuyNews.TV

Poor the Blears

Her campaign HQ phone lines have been down for two days. It is all about organisation…

UPDATE : She appears to also have forgotten to put 50p in the bandwith meter or something. Dizzy has noticed that her videos are

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Brown’s "Engagement" Agenda

Jackie Ashley has a gushing interview with Gordon in the Guardian this morning where we learn that he really loves being called Prime Minister* and that
“Brown believes the days of political parties as ‘small organisations of people who are

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Punting on Paxo v the Number Two Wannabees

Guido has loaded up his Betfair account with cash in the hope that the Newsnight debate could be decisive one way or another in this race. Will try to figure not the merit of the arguments, not even how voters

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Benn Backed by International Capitalism

Guido is still reeling from the news that the grandson of the socialist Viscount Stansgate has a large portfolio of stock market investments. Now he discovers that his campaign is backed by the profiteering of international capital. Hedge fund manager

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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