AstraZeneca Lobbyists Confirm Labour Relationship

“We are standing up for good jobs in Britain, not Ed Miliband’s supper club cronies” says Tory MP Henry Smith after Guido revealed Ed Miliband received thousands of pounds in donations from an AstraZeneza board member. Ed Miliband should declare his interests before he starts political meddling” Smith continues. Which reminds Guido of a certain dinner we have still never had answers about…

Back in 2011 Ed promised to publish a list of attendees at a suspiciously “private and off the record” dinner held for him at the home of lobbyist-spinmeister Roland “Rat” Rudd:

Rudd’s Finsbury represent AstraZeneca and it’s no secret that he spins for Ed on less official terms. A spokesman for the firm would only confirm Guido that “Astrazenca have an ongoing dialogue with the Labour Party”So was there anyone from the pharma giants at that infamous dinner, and when did they last sit down with Ed?

UPDATE: A Labour spokesman stonewalls:

“The on-going bid for AstraZeneca by Pfizer raises serious questions about a key sector of our economy. It is absurd to suggest that Labour is raising this vitally important issue for any other reason than to represent and reflect the concerns of the tens of thousands of people who could be affected by any takeover.”

They don’t want to answer the questions…

AstraZeneca Board Member Donated Thousands to Miliband

An AstraZeneca board member has personally donated thousands of pounds to Ed Miliband’s office raising questions about the Labour leader’s partiality in the Pfizer take-over row. Miliband failed to declare this interest at PMQs earlier, despite Shriti Vadera donating £4,402 to cover “evening events” with the Labour leader. 

Intervening in such a high profile manner on the side of a pharma company, when you’ve taken donations directly from a board member, leaves very little wriggle room. 

It certainly doesn’t smell right.

Pfizer’s Fixers
Axelrod Hamstrings Another Labour Attack Opportunity

Pfizer are turning out to be just about as well-connected as you would expect a major multinational pharmaceutical corporation to be. They are well in with Downing Street having paid No. 10 director of external relations Gabby Bertin £25,000 when she worked with Adam Werrity at Liam Fox’s struck off Atlantic Bridge ‘charity’. Dave’s pollster Mark Textor also used to work for Pfizer ten years ago.

Normally Labour would make a fuss about this, so why so quiet? Perhaps because Miliband strategist David Axelrod’s old firm AKPD ran attack ads for Big Pharma in the States, a coalition that included the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, whose chairman is Pfizer CEO Ian Read. Lining the pockets of advisers from both parties can’t hurt when you need their support for your takeover…

BBC Pays MPs More Than Every Newspaper Combined

Press Gazette has crunched the numbers and worked out that the BBC pays more money to publicity-seeking MPs for vanity appearances than every national newspaper combined. Rory Stewart trousered £8,000 for his documentary, Alan Johnson pocketed £5,317, while part-time MP and TV personality Diane Abbott has been paid £2,800. Tim Loughton got £1,500 for appearing on Have I Got News For You, as did wannabe London mayor Sadiq Khan, who probably now regrets that ill-fated idea to boost his profile.

It all adds up to £20,000 of licence fee payers’ money paid to MPs so far this year, well ahead of the £17,905.40 the entirety of Fleet Street has stumped up. If ever there was a reason for scrapping the licence fee…

Cam and Clegg’s Free Advertising for Donor Cronies

Nick Clegg unveils the LibDems’ local election campaign this morning, welcoming journalists to the Ministry of Sound for what sounds like a riveting launch. The location is a nice little plug for Lord Palumbo, the owner of the Ministry of Sound who has donated £500,000 to the LibDems and was made a peer for his troubles. Kerching!

Dave was no better last week, name-dropping JCB at the Tories’ local election campaign launch. He three times credited the firm with helping rebuild the British economy – without mentioning the fact that the Tories have received almost £5million in donations from JCB chairman Anthony Bamford. The PM also bunged him a peerage too. Doesn’t it make you proud…

Downton Dave Dines With Donors at Tory Spring Lunch

The Tories held their Spring lunch fundraiser last week, the PM joking on arrival that he misheard when his staff told him it was time to go: “I thought they said swing lunch, which would be a rather different kind of party all together.”

Among the usual auction items of weekends at Scottish Tory lairds’ Castles for hunting ‘n fishing and tickets to boxes at the opera there were a few more unusual items that caught Guido’s eye. The bidding topped £600 for Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond to come and cook for a dinner party. He tells Guido that he is “a reasonably talented amateur chef. I normally cook for people three times a year for charity and I’ve never had any complaints. I’d do a prawn mousse to start followed by chicken breast stuffed with bacon.”

In a departure from raffling off membership to old, white, stuffy male institutions the only private club to auction membership this year was Grace, the women-only club in Belgravia where they could wear an Amanda Wakeley designer dress which went for over £3,000.

All of this will not help the Tories shed their Downton Abbey reputation – not least because Lord Fellowes donated a goody bag of box set videos and books from the upper class TV show he created.

MPs Want to End Cheap Beer for Our Boys
Taliban Tory Soubry Wants Troops’ Beer Prices Raised

In 1944, at the height of the Second World War, Winston Churchill famously defended the right of Britain’s war heroes to enjoy a pint:

Make sure that the beer – four pints a week – goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop.

This afternoon at the Defence Select Committee, Labour MP Madeleine Moon demanded that the alcohol subsidy providing cheaper booze for war heroes serving overseas be scrapped. Moon, who herself takes advantage of parliament’s food and drink subsidy allowing MPs to sink cheap pints on the taxpayer, says that the subsidy at military bars in army bases abroad should be removed. According to Press Association, she said she was given the “fight of my life” when she saw the prices at a base in the Falklands:

“One thing that could be done about alcohol problems in the armed forces is tackling the high level of subsidy in bars in military units – perhaps so they were the same price you would pay in town.”

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Defence Minister Anna Soubry suggested she was open to the idea, saying she wanted to curb a culture of “drinking to the point of oblivion” in the armed forces. Our politicians want themselves to have a taxpayer funded subsidy for their booze, but want to deny the same perk for the soldiers they have sent to war.

Labour’s Karl Turner Faces Standards Investigation

Regular readers will remember Labour’s rent-a-gob Karl Turner previous run in with the authority when he nicked a newspaper from a first class train carriage. “A self-satisfied, obnoxious, patronising bully who can afford a quid for The Times” was one of the kinder witness statements. Well the passive-aggressive MP has been caught red-handed breaking House of Commons rules by trying to raise party funds using non-partisan parliamentary resources. Turner’s potential opponent in Hull East Mike Whitehead made the original complaint and had him bang to rights. The uninspiring Labour MP admits sending out invites to the £45-a-head fundraiser from a parliamentary account, in clear breach of the members’ code of conduct:

“It shouldn’t have happened and I have made sure it will not happen again.”

Local Tory MP Graham Stuart is accusing Turner of a serious and ongoing error of judgment”, referring the “unapologetic” and “flippant” Turner to the Standards Commissioner. He says Turner sold the tickets “under false pretences”. An apology to the House is in order.

Labour’s New Bank Controlled By Co-Op
Pay Cut Fears at Labour HQ

Iain McNicol’s sham plan to cut Labour’s ties to the Co-op by moving £1.2 million of debt to the Unity Trust bank doesn’t really cut any ties at all. As Faisal Islam reports, as a condition of the banking licence […]

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Davey’s New Green Projects to Cost Taxpayer £1.4 Billion a Year

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has today unveiled eight new major renewables projects which he says will be funded by £12 billion of private sector investment to “boost green growth and green jobs“. Renewable projects are guaranteed a price […]

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#Guardian100m: The Road to £30,900,000 Losses

The Guardian is in full back-slapping self-congratulatory mode this afternoon as it reaches 100 million monthly unique browsers for the first time. They are even treating lucky readers to a video taking them along the Road to 100 million[…]

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GuyNews Special: Walthamstow’s #BiscuitGate Outrage

Expenses are back in the news, so the Guy News special rapporteur decided to travel to sunny Walthamstow to ask Stella Creasy’s constituents what they thought about their MP’s #BiscuitGate troughing. A complaint was sent to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner […]

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