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.




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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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