Andy Burnham Shroud-Waving again…
“This Government are taking away people’s security and piece of mind and causing worry and anxiety. And I’ve heard anecdotally that the suicide rate is increasing.”
The Manchester Evening News is reporting that Andy Burnham is a rent-swapper. They accuse him of letting out a London home while renting another property in the capital at the taxpayers’ expense. It’s a bit odd given that the Guido did some digging around Burnham this morning and found that he has been claiming thousands of pounds worth of mortgage interest for his home on expenses. Either way a member of the Shadow Cabinet is taking public money to subsidise living in his London flat while renting out another London property at the same time. The people of Leigh should remember that in 2015. Many, many more to come…
Despite the New Statesman’s story about NHS privatisation turning out to be a steaming pile of wishful thinking, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham is continuing to peddle the smear.
Probably time to retract that one, eh Andy?
The Department of Health was forced to apologise last night after it was revealed that 25 of their civil servants were paid via limited companies in what looks like a Whitehall-wide tax-dodge. This one is going to play and play, Guido imagines there are plenty of mandarins fretting about their accounting today. And BBC news presenters…
Normally you would expect the opposition to be leaping on a story like this, yet Andy Burnham is silent. Could that be because his senior advisor Kevin Lee uses a similar payment structure? As Guido reported in December, Lee is not paid directly by Labour Party HQ, he is instead paid via Lee Communications & Public Affairs Ltd. Assurances were given when Guido first started digging that Lee is no longer lobbying, or “consulting” as he was so keen to put it. If that is the case then why does he need to be paid through the company?
And that’s not the only awkward question Guido has for Andy and Kevin this morning…
When we revealed that Lee had been taken on in murky circumstances, Guido got FoIing. There were some awkward questions; firstly about at £20,000 loan Lee had given Burnham’s abortive leadership campaign, then the fact that the job had not been advertised publicly and there is no evidence that Kevin Lee had declared his own interests in the NHS and how he had made his money. Lee went to ground and Burnham refused to shed any light on whether due process had been followed.
We can now reveal that Lee worked on private projects which have cost the NHS at least £170,000. Though he set up the lobbying firm Lee Communications just one month after Andy Burnham became Health Secretary in 2009, Lee was previously a director of Vision 21. Despite telling Guido today that he’d never been “a health lobbyist”, Lee’s CV claims he was “responsible for establishing a Public Affairs portfolio” there. FoIs show that whilst Lee was at Vision 21, the NHS cash was flowing in. Including £92,486 from the East of England SHA, and £77,000 from NHS Southwark. Lee explicitly denies any contact with Andy Burnham whilst he was Health Secretary.
None of this information was made available when Lee was quietly put on to Burnham’s staff and Guido can see no evidence that it was taken into account. While Burnham moans about the death of the NHS due to privatisation, we revealed that his closest aide and campaign donor was a director of a company that made a six-figure sum from private NHS work. Lee is still claiming this morning that there was no need to declare this and there were no plans to ever make this public.
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.
A co-conspirator forwarded this email sent to Massoud Fouladi, the Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of the Circle partnership which is taking over the running of a failing NHS hospital.
Labour leaning blogs and activists are up in arms about the invitation to the Circle Partnership to come in and run Hinchingbrooke Hospital. They seem to forget that it was Labour’s now Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham who started the Hinchingbrooke process. The decision to proceed with the franchise was one of his first acts as Health Secretary. Circle has already done some £110 million of NHS business under the last Labour Government. Labour’s Liz Kendall told the commons today: “Patients and the public will be deeply worried that this morning they have seen this Government’s true vision for the future of our NHS”. Ironically Andy Burnham, who started the whole process, was nowhere to be seen today,…
With Burnham going on the attack over the Department of Education email leaks all day, he’s managed to get himself in a right muddle. Firstly he suggested that when in government he used his departmental email address for everything including, we must presume, political activity, which would be against the rules. And this evening one of his spinners has told the BBC: ‘It’s pretty hard to separate purely party political issues when in government’. Well that somewhat dampens the attack.
With the Tories expecting other leaks to surface in Chris Cook’s FT copy, Guido is wondering quite what this former Tory education advisor is up to. The Information Commissioner has confirmed that they are not running an investigation, contrary to Cook’s report this morning and the whole story has unravelled rather quickly. Toby Young thinks he might have worked it out…
Andy Burnham seems to have let the cat of the bag about the reality of the Education Maintenance Allowance that looks set to be scrapped in the Commons today. On the BBC last night Reeta Chakrabarti put it to him that:
“…there is anecdotal evidence that sometimes EMA money isn’t just spent on books and transport but on clothes, nights out and even gym membership.”
In reply the Shadow Education Secretary let slip:
“Yes, they may spend some of it on food and even the occasional time out with friends…”
He went on to ask why some people should be able to have fun while others can’t. Perhaps Andy might like to explain why he thinks the government should be spending £500 million on taxpayer funded nights out on the town? Would he rather half a billion was cut from the schools’ budget to keep funding it?
Poor Andy Burnham, try as he will, nothing seems to be going right in his leadership campaign. Despite basing his campaign oop north, last night he was all set for a big phonebanking event at Labour HQ, which all candidates have fair use of.
The volunteers were gathered, the scripts prepared, the pizza man on speed dial. Shame no one had actually remembered to book the room. Much fun was had by all though – down the pub instead.
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New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:
“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”