Breaking: Burnham Reported to Standards Commissioner

Details are sketchy and Guido is on the way to the pub, but he understands that Burnham, the loans and the ongoing mystery around the contracting of Lee Communications by the Labour Party has been reported by a Member to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyons tonight. These are the questions that Labour spinners have refused to answer all day:

1. Where was the job of Andy Burnham’s Political Adviser advertised and what are the exact specifications of the role?

2. How many people were interviewed for it?

3. Why was the job given to Mr Lee?

4. Was the somewhat awkward situation of the loans to the Burnham campaign discussed before he was employed?

5. What assurances were sought regarding Mr Lee’s private interests in the NHS? Is there anything in writing about him not lobbying while on the job?

6. How much is Mr Lee paid and is the job paid out of Short Money?

7. Why is Mr Lee’s company, Lee Communications Ltd, contracted by the Labour Party rather than Mr Lee being employed directly by the Party as is the norm with the other PAds?

The longer they don’t answer, the longer it looks like they cannot. C’mon Bob don’t make us angry…

MacShane’s Foresight

If only we had listened to Denis MacShane just two years ago, we wouldn’t be in the horrendous mess we are now:

“For more than a decade we have been told that the euro was a terrible idea, while the good old pound sterling would protect the British economy from the wily ways of the Europeans. Now more and more people are asking why the pound is letting us down – and whether treating it as a shibboleth that cannot be questioned makes sense any more. All the old arguments against the euro have fallen away. There is no European super-state emerging with its adoption. There is no dictation of economic policy from Brussels.

If the euro were used here as it is without fuss in countries we are close to, including Ireland and the Netherlands, then the next Governor of the European Central Bank could easily be a Brit. But if British voters are no longer going to feel like poor relations whenever they holiday in other European countries, then before long someone is going to have to begin making the case that like shillings and pence, the pound may now have had its day.”

As we know he is an expert with funny money…

Health Lobbyist Seconded To Spin For Burnham
Political Adviser and Close Friend Not Paid Directly by the Party

While Bell Pottinger lick their wounds, there’s more to Guido’s scoop yesterday about the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, the health lobbyist and a mysterious £21,000 “loan” to his leadership election. Burnham has made the lobbyist his political adviser in murky circumstances. Guido had a wee chat this morning with Burnham’s people, who claim the loan from Kevin Lee to Andy Burnham was paid back in full in February. Nobody told the Electoral Commission this, but Guido is willing to take them at their word. For now…

You have to wonder what a former Labour Party staffer, who, as North West Coordinator, would not have been on more than £35-40,000, was doing lending Andy Burnham £20,000, when he had been until very recently a Minister of the Crown earning well over £120,000. Odd…

Labour told the Sun on the record: “Kevin Lee is not a health lobbyist”. Which is odd given that his website has quotes like:

“Kevin worked with NHS Southwark to design and deliver our biggest ever consultation. Developing a strategy for primary and community care for the next 10 years, we wanted to make sure we understood the priorities and concerns of a real cross section of the community. Kevin’s knowledge and understanding of both research and the NHS was invaluable and contributed significantly to very successful exercise.” – Jonathan McShane, Head of Communications, NHS Southwark”

Sounds like a health lobbyist to Guido…

Lee Communications apparently doesn’t have any health clients at the moment. But, again, we are asked to take Burnham’s staffer’s word on that. Who would dare suggest that a lobbyist would big themselves up to make them sound more important than they really are. Has anyone else seen any other examples of this sort of behaviour today? 

When Guido pointed out that unlike other Labour Senior Political Advisers, Kevin Lee has not declared in the Register of Members’ Staff Interests that he is employed by the Labour Party, the answer came that he is not. Instead of having him on the staff, his company, Lee Communications, are contracted by the Party to provide services for Burnham. This again seems unnecessarily muddy, especially given these advisers are paid for by taxpayer funded “Short Money”.

So to recap we now know that the Labour “NHS Not For Sale” Party have contracted a lobbying firm, with previous and possibly current financial interests in health to work for their Shadow Health team.  Burnham’s people are still looking into how Lee was appointed, where the job was advertised, what the due-process was and how many others were interviewed for the post. Guido’s given them pretty much all morning to answer…

Would something by the end of lunch be too much to ask?

Bell Pottinger Power Point Presentation

Bell Pottinger sources are emphasising that a pre-condition of the deal negotiations with the fictional “Azimov Group” set up by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism was evidence of a reform agenda in Uzbekistan. To be fair to the left-wing BIJ they do mention it tucked away in their report. But here is the introductory Power Point they gave in the now infamous meeting:

So they were telling the “Uzbeks” to reform…

UPDATE: This is what Bell Pottinger were offering to spin:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Dark Arts

A good hit for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which they have handed to the Indy on a plate. While pretending to be representatives of the Uzbek government, they have stung lobbyists Bell Pottinger something rotten. The video is fairly cringe-worthy, not least because when the words weren’t put in their mouths, the promises seemed either implausible, or hardly worth the fees. They were clearly in full BS-mode, especially former Tory MP Tim Collins, who boasts that he was once Ed Llewellyn and Steve Hilton’s boss. Guido isn’t sure he’ll be getting calls from his one time minions any time soon though…

The BIJ got them:

“* Claiming they have used their access to Downing Street to get David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their business clients within 24 hours of asking him to do so;

* Boasting about Bell Pottinger’s access to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, to Mr Cameron’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn and to Mr Cameron’s old friend and closest No 10 adviser Steve Hilton;

* Suggesting that the company could manipulate Google results to “drown” out negative coverage of human rights violations and child labour;

* Revealing that Bell Pottinger has a team which “sorts” negative Wikipedia coverage of clients;”

“Sorting” Wikipedia? Guido hadn’t realised they had hired Johann Hari…

Conor Burns MP on the EU treaty change

‘This is the opportunity finally to get the British dog out of the federalist manger.’



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