Hain’s Ryder Cup Cash Link

Peter Hain is getting a lot of cheering from Labour MPs during an unusually well attended session of Welsh questions this morning. Labour backbenchers have clearly decided, perhaps with encouragement from the whips, to prop up the Welsh Secretary. They are cheering him, as Guido writes, for “bringing the Ryder Cup to Wales”.

No opposition MP had the wit to question the conflict of interest and propriety of Hain receiving a £1,500 donation to his campaign from PGA Ryder Cup PR firm TM Communications. More here

Why Don’t Politicians Have a Specific Donations Account?

Dizzy makes a splendidly straightforward suggestion, why don’t politicians have one bank account for donations? They then record each transaction’s source on a register. Guido would also suggest that benefits-in-kind went on the same register. Both the account and register records would be made publicly available online.

If a politician failed to report an item within 30 days they would get a fixed fine of £100. If they failed to report an item after 60 days a £1,000 fine. If they fail to report an item after 90 days a mandatory one month suspension from the house – unpaid.

Party and constituency reporting would continue as now. To accept donations any other way would be a criminal offence. Simple enough even for the most incompetent politician…

Why is Ken Sending The Londoner to Scottish MPs?

The Londoner is a Ken Livingstone financed propaganda sheet. The SNP’s Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie reckons Ken is “wasting public money on a lavish scale” sending the newspaper, subtitled News from the Mayor of London to the constituency offices of Scottish MPs and MEPs, and at least one MSP. Some 5,000 copies are being sent to each postcode district in the UK according to the publishers.

Since Ken is quoted in nearly every article throughout the 20 pages, on concerns ranging from London’s housing shortage, Tube fares, a Metropolitan Police survey, Oyster Cards, offers for Londoners to get half price bus fares and crime in London, Hosie says: “This is an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money to provide propaganda for Ken Livingstone’s mayoral campaign. The newspaper articles have little or no relevance to anyone outside London. Bad enough that taxpayers’ money is wasted on propaganda but then to have it posted throughout the UK adds insult to injury.”

Revolting Coincidence

The Guardian this morning reported that “It was stressed yesterday by Steve Morgan, one of Hain’s campaign organisers, he had played no role in soliciting cash from the PPF to fund the deficits.” They clearly have absolutely no relationship to each other and his firm Morgan Allen Moore has nothing to do with the fake think tank. This is just a bizarre coincidence…

Hat-tip : Laban

Steve Morgan Distances Himself From Fake PPF Think Tank

The biggest rat on the Hain gravy boat is deserting the sinking ship. “My work ended the day the election for deputy leader took place [June 24]. Aside from personally donating £5,000 to the thinktank [sic] I have not been involved in fundraising for the thinktank.”

As an experienced spin merchant he is executing a PR technique known as CYA – Cover Your Arse…

UPDATE : Ian Gibson MP, not Morgan told the Guardian that he is “revolted” that the PPF appeared to have been established solely to channel funds to Hain’s campaign. The Guardian “article was amended on Tuesday January 15 2008. We conflated quotes from Ian Gibson and Steve Morgan in error. This has been corrected.” So Guido has amended this posting and deleted comments based on a reading of the article.

The Silent Trials and Tribunals of Peter Hain

People forget that Hain already has a criminal conviction for conspiracy. It was this experience that presumably provided the basis for his 1984 book, Political Trials in Britain (still available on Amazon.)

During his conspiracy trial Hain elected not to give evidence, Lord Justice Roskill finding him guilty emphasised “He gave no explanation of his part over the incidents with which he was charged.”

In another legal case, Donna Easter, a 32 year-old single mother of two who worked in Mr Hain’s constituency office in Neath, took him to an industrial tribunal – she allegedly was paid £35 for supposedly a 15-hour week. There were allegations floating around at the time that she was also paid from petty cash to allow her to continue claiming benefits. Hain was not at the hearing in Cardiff, despite his desk at the Welsh Office being only 300 yards way.

Rachel Davies, the tribunal chairwoman, said: “It is unfortunate that Mr Hain is not present today to put his side of the case”. The tribunal found unanimously in her favour and she was awarded compensation of £2,746 and £299 holiday pay. Similarly today Hain once again stays silent when he is in the shit, as speculation grows that the police will be called in

Mystery of Missing Clients

The two PR firms involved in donations to Hain’s campaign had something very interesting happen when Hain’s donor troubles hit the headlines. As you can see from the above screenshots, things started disappearing. Counter-productively for them this intrigued Guido. Morgan Allen Moore’s client list disappeared and T M Communications entire website went offline – which is strange for experts in “technology and communications”.

So Guido started digging around for their client lists. That is how the coincidence between Steve Morgan’s client Tesco and Hain’s “Every Little Helps” endorsement was uncovered.

TM Communications are not registered lobbyists with the APPC so their client list wasn’t on the register. It took some investigative digging to find a client list already in the public domain from their now deleted website. Their clients include Newport Networks, The Professional Golfers Association, and investment group Wesley Clover.

Newport Networks was set-up by Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews, who is also the chairman of Wesley Clover and his Celtic Manor Golf Resort will be hosting the PGA Ryder Cup in 2010.

TM Communications say that their £1,500 donation to Hain’s campaign was made by them “on behalf of the directors and shareholders”. Not Sir Terry, he “doesn’t do politics”.

More Questions Asked About Hain’s Corporate Endorsements

Chris Grayling has written to Peter Hain listing pertinent questions. As has been pointed out previously on this blog, under the terms of electoral law, to be permissible, any company, such as the faux think tank, Progressive Policies Forum Limited, has to be actually trading in the UK.

Grayling ask what PPF’s “status actually is, what due diligence your campaign carried out into it, and what involvement you have had with it?”

He also asks about the corporate endorsements highlighted on here over the last week
“In your statement on Saturday afternoon you said that you had ‘checked with my Permanent Secretary whether there is any conflict of interest’. This statement raises more questions than it answers – questions it is essential you answer fully and urgently:

· I assume that ‘Permanent Secretary’ here refers to the Department for Work and Pensions; who have you contacted in the Wales Office to make the same checks regarding conflicts of interest?

· Have you discussed with the Permanent Secretary at the DWP and appropriate officials in the Wales Office comments you have made supporting Picture Financial Services, Tesco, the Cuddy Group, and indeed any other companies you have endorsed as a minister?

· When did you first make the Permanent Secretary at the DWP and appropriate senior officials in the Wales Office aware that donations to your deputy leadership campaign had been made by Neville Allport (CEO of Picture Financial), Steve Morgan (whose lobbying firm represents Tesco) and Mike Cuddy (Managing Director of Cuddy Group)?”

The conflict-of-interest aspect is the subject of Guido’s complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. It is a fascinating coincidence that donors to Hain’s Steve Morgan run campaign as well as clients of Morgan-the-Organ’s lobbying firm get gushing praise from their financial beneficiary – Peter Hain.

All too fascinating for Guido…

Do Emails Get Osborne Off the Hook?

Guido has been slow to comment because despite having asked Osborne’s office for copies of the emails which Osborne claims get him off the hook on the non-declaration of third-party financial support for his staff, he hadn’t seen them. Sam Coates’ Red Box got them first.


From : BARRY, Alda
Sent: 06 December 2007 14:44
To: Da Costa, Nikki

Subject: Overlap

Good morning Nikki

I promised Mr McLoughlin written confirmation of the areas of interest where Members must register both with me and also, under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), with the Electoral Commission.

I hope the following brief summary is helpful, but Mr McLoughlin might also like to consult the Electoral Commission for more detail. I usually speak to Rachel Savage on 020 7271 xxxx

The Electoral Commission is

interested in ‘political donations’. Benefits personal to the Member (eg tickets to sporting events) are not of interest to them.

The areas of overlap are concentrated in Categories 4 (Sponsorship) and 6 (Overseas visits). In the case of the latter, their threshold is higher than ours – they do not require the registration of visits worth £1,000 or less.

There are also a few interests which we register under Category 5 (Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)) which are regarded by the Commission as political donations which need to be registered with them if they are worth more than £1,000 – car parking passes or web-site design (if worth more than £1,000) are examples of these.

Under PPERA, it is the responsibility of the Member to report appropriately to the Electoral Commission. It has recently become the practice of this office to advise Members to consult the Commission if it appears to us that an interest should be registered with them, but I must emphasise that this is purely informal arrangement and does not absolve Members from the responsibility for being aware of, and complying with, their obligations under the Act. Nor can this office advise, expect ingeneral terms, about the requirements of the Act.

This office and the Committee on Standards and Privileges are aware of some dissatisfaction among Members that they have to register the same interest twice. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 opens up the possibility of a ‘one-stop shop’ for reporting where the requirements overlap, and it is hoped that the House will, before too long, be given the opportunity to consider the implications of such a system and decide whether it wishes to implement it.

I hope this helps

Alda Barry

So nothing about third party funding of staff via CCHQ in the main email.

From: Da Costa, Nikki
Sent: 07 December 2007 11:03
To: BARRY, ALda
Subject: RE: Overlap

Thanks Alda.

This is very useful

Kind regards

Nikki

Nikki da Costa
Special Adviser to the Opposition Chief Whip

A simple acknowledgement.

From : BARRY, Alda
Sent: 07 December 2007 13:53
To: Da Costa, Nikki
Subject: RE: Overlap

Nikki

I think I misled you just now. The register deals with donations to a member’s constituency association and not to central offices. Sorry.

Alda

The highlighted text appears to get Osborne off the hook. What do you think?

+++ Hain’s CLP Emergency Meeting +++

Hain’s own constituency Neath Labour Party is holding an emergency executive meeting on Wednesday to discuss the affair. Hain has a lot of questions to answer…

Disorganised or Destabilised?

Emily Thornberry, the former Trotskyite turned property developing MP, was on Radio 4. She defended Hain on the grounds that he was obviously disorganised and the proof of that was that his campaign strategy and budget details were revealed last year on this blog. Guido would contend that it was good investigative journalism that got the stories on here that so destabilised his campaign. What does it say about him as a Minister when the best defence his colleagues can proffer is that he is disorganised and chaotic?

Home v House

ConservativeHome is not taking the Speccie’s critically successful entry into online discussion (with CoffeeHouse) lying down. It too has now launched a multi-authored comment site. CentreRight.Com’s groundbreaking advance is to not have reader comments. Now the Dead-Tree-Press is all full of unpaid commentators maybe the truly avant garde Web 3.0 thing to do is to remove the interactivity…

Guido is sceptical about multi-authored blogs. They have to have a tight-focus to be successful. Waffling about anything and everything doesn’t work. Good luck, but Guido is reaching info overload…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Labour Rank and File Disown Hain

The Sunday Times reports members of Hain’s campaign urging him to quit. The rumblings in the rank and file don’t sound any better. Looking around the Labour blogosphere there is no comfort for the embattled Hain:-

Paul Burgin, a party press officer for the N. E. Herts CLP writes “Hain Must Go…he should hand in his resignation first thing on Monday”. Highbury CLP’s Tim McLoughlin has questions, “If he is unable to run his own small office effectively, how can one expect him to properly manage the Department for Work and Pensions?”

Susan Press, a Labour Deputy Mayor, writes “In life we all make mistakes. So I admit to serious misjudgment in voting for Peter Hain as Deputy Leader.” The “bogus think-tank” is the last straw, she doesn’t believe a word he says.

Even LabourHome’s usually on-message Alex Hilton reckons it “untenable that he will remain in his position for another week and the end of his ministerial career is probably only awaiting the Prime Minister’s deliberations on the implications for a full-scale reshuffle.” On the left Andrew Coates complains “that he has the gall to explain away his gaff of trousering a mere £100,000 by means which would get him imprisoned were he to do the same as a Claimant under the system of his own Department of Work and Pensions… Meanwhile Hain is found out as Mister Well-lined Pockets himself.” David Osler, a left-wing friend of old, regrets that once “I did at least accord you a certain degree of genuine respect as a radical reforming politician. I don’t think I like what time and high office has done to you.”

It is also noticeable that not a single Cabinet Minister has defended Hain…

Every Little Endorsement Helps :Another Company Endorsed for Hain’s Fundraiser

Hain’s chief fundraiser is the sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan. His biggest client is Tesco, so is it any surprise that Hain was pictured promoting Tesco? No.

This is the third identified corporate endorsement with cash links to Hain. (Picture Financial Services and Cuddy both got Hain’s endorsements, he got their cash). Morgan gave £5,000 of his in part Tesco derived earnings to Hain’s campaign. Which Morgan then forgot to declare…

The press release sent out by the DWP was headlined “Every Little Helps”. The somewhat thin justification for his civil service department doing corporate PR slogans for Tesco was that they had employed previously unemployed workers. The evidence is that Peter is always willing to help out with PR for donors…

Hain Cover-Up Not An “Absurd” Idea

Hain is attempting to shamelessly tough it out, despite even members of his own campaign team telling him to resign. He says the idea that he had attempted “to hide anything is absurd”. Is it really?

Why did his campaign wash cash through the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) shell company in that case?

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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