Monday, December 5, 2011

How Ron Paul Rolls

Questions Mount Up for Andy “Bung” Burnham

Oh this just keeps getting better and better. Labour sources get in touch to point out that Kevin Lee has recently, and very quietly, been appointed Andy Burnham’s Political Adviser. That’s right, a man with business interests in health is crafting lines for Labour like “NHS not for sale”. Almost vintage Labour irony… 

As one insider dryly observed: “Burnham gives well paid job without interview to mate who he owes £20,000″. Does that smell odd to anyone else? So Andy…

  • Where was the job advertised?
  • How many people were interviewed for it?
  • Why was the job given to Mr Lee?
  • What assurances were sought regarding Mr Lee’s private interests in the NHS?
  • Why has Mr Lee not declared that he owes you £21,000 in the Register of Members’ Staff Interests?
  • When are you going to pay your adviser back the £21,000 you owe him?

Answers on a inappropriate business card…

Burnham Sponsoring Commons Pass for Health Lobbyist
Shadow Health Secretary “Owes” Lobbyist £20,000

Guido had to chuckle the other day when he saw Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham press releasing “our NHS is not for sale”. Not only did Burnham play a vital role in the ongoing privatisation of the NHS, but closer to home he’s not averse to taking a little private-sector cash. He has been up to his neck in putting amendments down to legislation on behalf of his donors and now this whole attack line is about to look even sillier…

Guido likes to keep an eye on the Register of Members’ Interests, in particular the interests of members’ staff and the passholders they sponsor. Burnham has given a pass to one Mr Kevin Lee, a former Labour Party staffer linked to the Shadow Health Secretary in the past. Lee was the pro-bono Campaign Director for Burnham’s abortive Labour leadership bid in 2010. Coincidentally Lee loaned the campaign £21,000 and spoke publicly on its behalf. They are close friends…

Kevin Lee is also the Managing Director of Lee Communications and Public Affairs Ltd – which he set up in August 2009 – just one month after Andy Burnham became Health Secretary. This is where it starts getting a little murky; Lee Communications have multiple NHS clients such as the Southwark, Trafford and North East Essex Primary Care Trusts as well as the East of England Strategic Health Authority for good measure. Lucky boy…

Rather foolishly Lee is all over the internet boasting about his connections to Burnham. Apparently he’s a master of “liais[ing] with senior politics at all levels of government… arrangement of client meetings with government Ministers”. Apparently he has “contacts” to help “engage politicians” and “influence key decision-makers”. And those contacts are in his pocket – Guido understands Burnham’s leadership loans have not yet been repaid. 

Firstly why has a lobbyist got a parliamentary pass, in direct conflict with rules? Why was it only given to him recently?

Secondly, what on earth is the Shadow Health Secretary doing giving a lobbyist, with health clients, unfettered access to the parliamentary estate?

Is he an adviser or aide, or is this just Burnham’s way of repaying the loans? Even if the money had been repaid, the pass is still a massive breach of protocol.

Dodgy credentials, a close relationship, along with the suspicious lobbying firm with a similar brief to the politician? It all smells a bit… Werritty.

Campbell Briefing Tapes Could Destroy His Leveson Evidence

Some of you more stuffy types might have missed the thinly veiled threat at the end of Trevor Kavanagh’s column in this morning’s Sun:

“ALASTAIR CAMPBELL, who once played the media like a fiddle, has the nerve to accuse the Press of being “putrid”. He is fortunate lobby journalists never reveal their sources. Otherwise a queue of hacks could reveal how Alastair routinely dripped poison into their ears about everyone – then swore them to secrecy. Luckily, some of us kept a diary.”

Campbell’s evidence last week went down like a cold cup of sick with hacks of a certain age. There is widespread irritation at being lectured by the man who is more responsible than most for the cynicism of the modern media in this country. Trevor Kavanagh got a kicking from Bad Al, but something tells Guido he will come to regret doing that. Word of these diaries is spreading like wildfire. There is talk of the dates, times and locations of meetings where Campbell “dripped poison”. Oh and Guido hopes the technologically advanced Lord Leveson has a tape player…

Guy Newsroom Cold Cure

We’re a bit under the weather in the Guy Newsroom, sniffling and headaches not caused by the usual reasons we have sniffling and headaches. So we have gone for the Jura whisky, honey, hot-water and Lemsip cure. Sort of like a medicinal whisky sour. It feels better already. Jura, send more medicine, please…

Huhne Refuses To Say He Will Resign If Charged

Chris Huhne is still trying to kid himself that he wouldn’t lose his seat at the cabinet table if he was charged for his speeding offences:

The latest delay is due to a vital piece of evidence that is currently in the possession of the Sunday Times. PA’s James Tapsfield does not reckon anything will be resolved before Christmas. Guido has already asked Santa for the correct result though, just in case…

Video via Liar Politicians

Tories Recruit Hundreds of Interns for Free
Cabinet Level Exploitation

The blogger Ian Silvera has processed the data of how many interns are employed, for free, by politicians. Bad news for the Tories this morning as it emerges that the practice of exploiting slave labour goes to the very top of government. The worst offender by far is Jeremy Hunt, who has taken on seven unpaid interns in the last year. Mark Harper, Dominic Grieve and Andrew Mitchell have had three recreational bag-carriers a piece, while other members of the Cabinet, including Lansley, Gillan, and Greening have all recruited gratis support. Once CCHQ and the backbenchers are also scrutinised, the number of unpaid interns the Tories have used in the last year is at least 125. And they were the ones that were merely advertised rather than auctioned!

UPDATE:

Which reminds Guido of one of his favourite ever Guy News videos

Socrates R.I.P.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View


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