Spin Cycle : LLM Not Celebrating Christmas

Staff at LLM, the sleaziest lobbyists in London, will not have much to celebrate this Christmas. The close-to-New-Labour firm born at the beginning of Blair’s reign is increasingly finding that nobody wants to be close to New Labour. The firm has told staff there will be no annual bonus this year since the firm has not made any money for the second year running. Oh dearie me…

Guido is Giving Yates a Book for Christmas

Demos think-tank founder Geoff Mulgan was Tony Blair’s chief policy guru from 1997 to 2004. He has a book out Good and Bad Power – The Ideals and Betrayals of Government.
The title is apt – flick to page 84 for an interesting admission from a man who, when he was at the centre of government, is known to have seen the odd honours list in his time “In later years the scarcely concealed sale of peerages to wealthy party donors, and the appointment of the party’s top donor – Lord Sainsbury – to ministerial office, did little to restore the British public’s confidence.” Oh really?

Clearly a copy of this admission should be sent to Scotland Yard sharpish. Any other suggestions for books for Yates of the Yard? Guido sent him the The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze months ago. Now what is Yates going to give Guido in return?

Konrad is Not Speaking to Guido…

… and no-one else at the Smith Institute is answering questions, so Guido will just pass this one straight to the Charity Commissioners for their investigation into if the Smith Institute has crossed over into “politics”.

Konrad:

  • During the 2005 election campaign when you went up to the Normanton constituency to help Ed Balls’ election campaign, were you still being paid by the Smith Institute?
  • Was it in your capacity as “events coordinator” for the Smith Institute that you blew up balloons for Balls?
  • Who does actually pay your salary? The salary sums don’t add up.

Isn’t it odd that a public charity, subsidised by the taxpayers through the treasury, refuses to answer questions about funding?

What has Gordon’s little helper got to hide?

Comrade Konrad, the Sith Apprentice

Eagle-eyed co-conspirators will notice the line-up on this regular feature’s Smith Institute banner has changed, out goes Gordon’s pollster Shrum, in comes curly haired Konrad, the man who could not remember how he got his job. Guido had no idea how widely disliked Gordon’s little helper is until he mentioned him earlier this week.

Now bear in mind that according to Wilf Stevenson, the director of the institute “it has never had and does not currently have a direct relationship with Gordon Brown.” (Incidentally, how does Wilf, never in the office, run a Westminster focussed think-tank from the Lake District?)


Some of the comments about Konrad were just unprintable so Guido has stored them in his files. Essentially Konrad is said to revel in the cloak and dagger aspects of running Gordon’s slush fund and the proximity to power it provides. He enjoys being the secret Sith apprentice to Gordon’s Emperor Palpatine.

To understand how Konrad joined the independent, we-are-not-political, never-heard-of-him-gov-honest-institute, we need to go back to 1999 when New Labour was just starting to look less whiter-than-white. Sarah Macaulay was part of Hobsbawm Macaulay, the PR operation that was the spin-shop of choice for New Labour, and as such had as its client the then struggling New Statesman. Struggling to some extent because the owner (Gordon’s paymaster general at the time) Geoffrey Robinson was paying £100,000 to the future Mrs Brown’s firm. This caused some outrage at the time. As PR to the magazine she became friends with the lowly marketing and promotions employee – Konrad Caulkett. He was forever complaining to Sarah about his low pay and she supported his demands to the managment for a raise. Alas, the till was empty explained the management. Sarah suggested to him that he come work for the Smith Institute for more money, she would have a word and arrange it.

Konrad moved his desk from one side of the New Statesman’s office to the other side. This is the bit they call the independent Smith Institute.* Not so independent that it doesn’t still share the tea kettle with the New Statesman.

Hopefully this will jog Konrad’s memory as to how Sarah Macaulay got Konrad his job. Hobsbawm Macaulay went bust and Sarah became Mrs Brown. Guido wonders if she has a “direct relationship” with whomever she “had a word” with?

UPDATE : The press interest is on Ed Balls’ £100,000 bung for 8 months “work” in 2005. However a co-conspirator points out that if in 2004 the Smith Institute’s 100% owned S.I. Events Limited paid no remuneration to employees, and the S.I. charity only had a wage bill of £48,278 they must have been getting below minimum wage. Four staff; Wilf Stevenson, Konrad Caulkett, Ben Shimshon and assorted £7-per-hour interns presumably had to be paid. So where did the money come from? Over to you Konrad…

More next week.

*Guido’s co-conspirators have renamed the institute “the Sith” after the evil cult devoted to the dark side of the Force. In Star Wars they attempt to overthrow the legitimate elected political leader and replace him with an unelected dictatorial emperor Gordon Brown Palpatine. It is a fantasy.

Labour Lawyer’s Looking to Knock Party’s Debts?

The Guardian’s David Hencke has a story which seems speculative, is unattributed and improbable (he really should get a blog). He claims that disgruntled Labour supporting lawyers and activists are contemplating a judicial review of the loans that could have them ruled ultra vires. The debts would then become due from Blair, Levy and Carter.

Guido thinks such a ruse to bankrupt Blair et al unlikely to succeed, the money was spent by the Labour party, Blair was party leader and Carter general secretary. Would be fun to see them wriggling in court.

Guido has however heard Tory-inclined lawyers contemplating over their brandies the prospect of bringing a private prosecution in the event that the CPS fails to take action. Guido is good for a grand towards costs and suspects many, many others would willingly do the same.

After Levy’s Office Fire, Matt Carter’s Office Tragedy

Matt Carter, the former general secretary of the Labour party, was responsible for organising the delivery of Labour’s successful 2005 general election campaign and is currently the managing director of the London office of Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.

Presumably it was Matt Carter who authorised the £500,000+ payment for the slogan “Forward, not back” to the same Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates in the run-up to the election. Shortly after the election he joined Penn’s polling organisation in the UK. Typical feather-bedding by a politician at other people’s expense – nothing special.

It was Carter of course who wrote to rich wannabee peers telling them that any loans would not have to be declared. It was Carter who drew up the “commercial loan agreements” which Labour is now unable to re-pay. Obviously his letters, emails and agreement documents are of particular interest to Yates of the Yard and the investigators from Operation Ribble.

He is at the heart of the “cash for peerages” and is expected by many in Westminster to be the fall guy for Blair and Levy’s scam. So it is tragic that he has had four laptop computers stolen from his office in London.

According to the Sunday Herald:

The theft from the Bloomsbury offices of Penn, Schoen & Berland, the Washington DC-headquartered consultancy where Matt Carter is managing director, was reported to police in Holborn on October 9. It is not known what data was kept on the stolen computers.

He was one of only three people said to know the full details of secret loans worth GBP14 million made to the party. The others were Tony Blair and Lord Levy, Labour’s most high-profile fundraiser.

Officers at London’s Holborn police station revealed details of the theft from Carter’s office… The four computers went missing over the weekend prior to October 9… Carter’s office is only one of a number of subsidiary firms owned by the international WPP agency which share an address at 24-28 Bloomsbury Way. Only Carter’s office reported a theft. No other firm at the address reported anything missing, according to the police file..

Carter has made no formal admission that he has been questioned by Yates’s team, but sources close to the investigation maintain he has been questioned on “more than one occasion” on what he knew of the GBP14m raised by Labour from private backers before the last general election.

Yates’ team is known to be using the same software and equipment that the FBI uses to recover deleted data from hard-disks. It is not clear if the lap-tops had already been examined by the police in the way that the computers of Sleazy Levy and Des Smith have been. Following on from Levy’s office fire Guido worries for the offices in Downing Street.

Sarah Who?

Guido called up the Smith Institute this afternoon to get an invite to go to a Bob Shrum talk he had heard they were hosting. The S.I.’s Konrad Caulkett was a bit evasive.

KC “No.”
GF “Why?” ,
KC “You’ve missed it” he said gleefully, “we had it this morning”.
GF “Oh, was it at No. 11?”
KC “No” (defensively)
GF “Is it a secret where it was?”
KC “Westminster”
GF “Where in Westminster?”
KC “RUSI”
GF “Nice.”

GF “How did you get your job Konrad?”
KC “Errr, can’t remember.”
GF “Was it advertised?”
KC “Can’t remember.”
GF “You can’t remember how you got your job? Did Sarah get you the job?”
KC “Sarah who?”
GF “Macaulay”
KC “I don’t have to talk about my friends”
GF “No you don’t…. Did Sarah Brown get you the job?”
Silence.

The Smith Institute is not a Brownite political front they repeatedly protest to the press and the Charity Commissioners. But Wilf Stevenson, editor of Brown’s yawn inducing collection of speeches, who had Gordon as his best man at his wedding, is the boss. The number two got his job through his relationship with Brown’s wife. Bob Shrum advises Gordon on polling (and is also on the S.I. pay-roll), Ed Balls got bunged £100,000 for 8 months to tide him over when he stopped working directly for Brown at the Treasury. The whole thing is run out of Brown-backing Geoffrey Robinson’s New Statesman offices. It smells.

Over a hundred events have been held by the Smith Institute at No. 11 at the taxpayers expense – Gordon Brown himself often attends the regular Wednesday morning seminars. Who knows how much the Smith Institute gets in kickbacks* from the Treasury as rebates for “charitable donations” from secret donors. There is nothing wrong with Gordon having a slush-fund for his political ambitions, but it is wrong that it is subsidised by the taxpayer with the details kept secret from the public. The Smith Institute is legally supposed to be a charity for the education of the public, not a secretive cabal for Gordon with meetings held behind closed doors at the public’s expense.

If it isn’t a secret cabal why won’t they openly say who gives them the money? (Over £2 million). Guido has been given a few tips, and if correct he suspects it is because they do a lot of business with the Treasury and in some cases have been ennobled. Why stay in the shadows if you have nothing to hide?

*Legal, but not exactly transparent or a good example of open government.

Hoodies : Reid v Cameron

Iain & Guido’s Christmas Party Drinks

Iain and Guido have not forgotten the promised party for The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze contributors and our friends. We’ve booked this Friday 15th because it clashes with nothing important that we have been invited to and obviously nothing and nobody important in politics would forget to invite either of us…

Invitations for for mulled wine and nibbles will be emailed shortly…

Maggie’s Freedom to Party

How Much is Balls Really Worth?

Bloomberg’s Rob Hutton has a reputation as a demon with figures (it is he who compiles the annual MP’s expenses spreadsheet for the lobby) and it seems when he was digging into the Smith Institute’s charity returns he spotted something Guido and the rest had missed. He whipped his calculator out and deduced that for producing a couple of pamphlets Ed Ball’s probably got a £100,000 bung:
Accounts on file at the Charity Commission don’t specify what Balls was paid. They show that in 2005 the institute’s wage bill rose to £156,501 pounds from £48,278 pounds in 2004. The accounts note that one person was paid more than £50,000 pounds that last year. Stevenson confirmed in an interview that this was Balls.

“We want to hire the best people – that’s why we hired Ed Balls,” Stevenson told Bloomberg “When he left the Treasury in 2004, every think tank in the country wanted him”.

Believe that and you’ll believe any old balls. He has a reputation as being unpleasant to work with, hot-headed and a slave to his master’s will. What independent think tank would want him? Clearly despite his closeness to the Chancellor and former position at the top of the treasury, no investment bank was willing to snap him up. That in itself tells you something about Ball’s popularity in the City…

Charity Commissioners to Re-Investigate Smith InstituteGordon’s Spin Merchants Front-page His Bad News

On Saturday The Telegraph followed up on Guido’s story from earlier this month about the Smith Institute and today it has a leader and an article on the subject. The Charity Commissioners received calls from the Times, Bloomberg and The Telegraph chasing the story, which seems to have galvanised them into action. They have announced that they intend to re-investigate what is effectively Gordon’s slush fund and charitable successor to his “blind trust”, the Industrial Research Trust.
All are chasing what could be a dynamite scandal for Ed Balls and Gordon Brown, the Smith Institute’s use of Treasury tax rebates on donations to the “charity” to fund Ed Balls’ salary and subsidise what is the secretariat for Gordon’s government-in-waiting. The prospect of being able to lay abuse-of-office charges at the door of No. 11 has hacks salivating.

Now call Guido cynical if you will, but on the day the Charity Commissioners announce their intentions, and the Telegraph articles show the press chase has begun, we learn from a deftly placed story in the government’s favourite mouthpiece, The Sun, that tragically Gordon’s son has cystic fibrosis. A good day to front-page the tragic news?

DEVELOPING – MORE TO FOLLOW

Previous here, here and here.

Levy Makes An Admission

Martin Bright has been all over the Loans for Lordships story. In this week’s New Statesman he recounts a recent conversation he had with the Sleaze-Master General himself.
The exchange took place at this year’s Labour Party conference during a reception hosted by the GuardianObserver, where Levy took it upon himself to act as an unofficial “meeter and greeter”.

Levy and I started talking, particularly about a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on the “cash for honours” affair which I had presented and had been broadcast that same night.

Levy was his legendary charming self. Disarmingly, he told me that his wife had watched the programme and found it very fair. I was delighted, but said there was one matter I felt I had to raise with him. What did he make of the general point I made in the programme: that the loans from wealthy party supporters were not intended as loans, but were to be converted into donations?

He gripped my arm like a long-lost friend and said, by way of answer: “Only some of them.” I asked him what he meant and whether he could point to any specific loans. He volunteered the name of Lord Sainsbury, the billionaire former science minister who had lent the party £2m.

The point is that large donations, under this government’s own legislation, had to be declared, but loans did not. So what exactly was Levy saying to me? Did he misunderstand my original question? That is possible, but he had gone on to give me an example. Was he joking? Again possibly, but it’s an odd matter to joke about. Or was he merely expressing his hope that the loans would be converted into donations?

Guido thinks that this is an admission of some guilt. If Sainsbury’s loan wasn’t really a loan and the intention was always to turn into a donation at some point, that is an offence. A false loan which disguises a donation is surely an evasion of the legally required reporting of donations under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000?

UPDATE : According to an impeccable source who has just emailed me, the Yard’s attention has been drawn to the Martin Bright story in this week’s New Statesman.

Welsh Politician Gives Speaker the Finger

Mick Bates AM (Lib Dem), and David Davies MP/AM (Conservative) interesting hand-gestures towards the Presiding Officer in the Welsh Assembly chamber.

What Kind of “Charity” is the Smith Insitute?

If you call the New Statesman you get an automated response system, which at the end directs callers to the Smith Institute. The Brown-backing New Statesman is owned by Geoffrey Robinson. Guido is making a wild guess here, but would be willing to bet that the Smith Institute gets a substantial amount of financial and other benefits-in-kind support from Geoffrey Robinson. Geoffrey is Gordon’s great long time cheerleader and paymaster-general.

The Smith Institute has a wholly-owned subsidary, SI Events Limited, which has a close commercial relationship with the New Statesman. It is all a bit incestuous isn’t it?

Tonge Gobs Off Again

Baronness Jenny Tonge is a game trier. With all the grace and elegance of Euston Station. She’s the one who opined that if she had been born a Palestinian she’d probably have become a suicide bomber. Go for it, girl![…]

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

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.”

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

Britain Votes For Brexit Britain Votes For Brexit
BBC Declares Brexit Winner BBC Declares Brexit Winner
Guido’s Referendum Best Bits Guido’s Referendum Best Bits
Bob Geldof Boat Passenger Votes Leave Bob Geldof Boat Passenger Votes Leave
Which Brexiteer Are You? Which Brexiteer Are You?
Referendum Day CCHQ Leak Referendum Day CCHQ Leak
Liz Hurley Backs Brexit Liz Hurley Backs Brexit
WHICH REMAINER ARE YOU? WHICH REMAINER ARE YOU?
EU TO OPEN NEW TURKEY MEMBERSHIP TALKS ON JUNE 30 EU TO OPEN NEW TURKEY MEMBERSHIP TALKS ON JUNE 30
GERMAN BUSINESS CHIEF CALLS POSSIBILITY OF POST-BREXIT BARRIERS “VERY, VERY FOOLISH” GERMAN BUSINESS CHIEF CALLS POSSIBILITY OF POST-BREXIT BARRIERS “VERY, VERY FOOLISH”
PROJECT SNEER: LUVVIES SAY LEAVERS ARE ‘THICK IDIOTS’ PROJECT SNEER: LUVVIES SAY LEAVERS ARE ‘THICK IDIOTS’
TURKEY “FLABBERGASTED” BY CAMERON: “HE’S OUR BIGGEST SUPPORTER!” TURKEY “FLABBERGASTED” BY CAMERON: “HE’S OUR BIGGEST SUPPORTER!”
BORIS LOOKS FORWARD TO INDEPENDENCE DAY BORIS LOOKS FORWARD TO INDEPENDENCE DAY
HESELTINE: UK WILL JOIN EURO IF WE REMAIN HESELTINE: UK WILL JOIN EURO IF WE REMAIN
Sadiq “EU Should Not Be a Christian Club” Sadiq “EU Should Not Be a Christian Club”
“REST IN POWER”: CORPORATE SPIN DOCTORS TAKE CONTROL OF COX IMAGE “REST IN POWER”: CORPORATE SPIN DOCTORS TAKE CONTROL OF COX IMAGE
3 TORY CHICKENS YET TO DECLARE 3 TORY CHICKENS YET TO DECLARE
KEN SQUIRMS AS HITLER HISTORIAN DEBUNKED KEN SQUIRMS AS HITLER HISTORIAN DEBUNKED
REMAIN LEAFLET BLAMES LEAVE: “JO COX’S MURDER IS ONLY THE START” REMAIN LEAFLET BLAMES LEAVE: “JO COX’S MURDER IS ONLY THE START”
MOMENTUM CHIEF: MCDONNELL WHO IS SHOWING LEADERSHIP MOMENTUM CHIEF: MCDONNELL WHO IS SHOWING LEADERSHIP