Electoral Commission Did Not Write to MIC

Word reaches Guido that the Electoral Commission wrote to “certain” unincorporated associations last week, not including the Midlands Industrial Council. Lisa Klein, Director of Party and Election Finance, wrote the letter reminding them about original money sources being permissible donors.

The MIC has long been the target of Labour complaints and has gone to some lengths to satisfy the Electoral Commission.

Lisa Klein was unavailable for comment…

Murkier and Murkier

Two Labour MPs John Mann* and Kevan Jones** have written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner with a list of donations to 80 Tory MPs they want probed. Guido asked a Labour contact for some background on them, he said “they think they are being clever, but they are idiots”.

The list is a list of donations from unincorporated associations consisting of mainly Tory dining clubs and support groups. There is a real and important issue of transparency here. What Mann and Jones seem to have forgotten is that Labour too has had some £2 million from unincorporated associations. In fact Harriet Harman got £5,000 from one for her leadership campaign…

It might not be illegal, but it is shady, and none of the parties have anything to be proud of on this front. However it is of an entirely different order to Hain’s fake think-tank. Hain’s campaign didn’t even report the donations never mind the source.

UPDATE : Am reliably informed that Kevan Jones was put up to this by his former boyfriend Nick Brown, the long time Gordon loyalist henchmen and enforcer. Kevan was, a long time ago, Nick Brown’s researcher and has enjoyed the patronage of Nick Brown ever since. One amusing story that Guido has been reminded of is that during the 2003 backbench Tuition Fees Rebellion Kevan Jones was summoned to see Gordon who told him he should vote for Tuition Fees. Jones said he represented a working class constituency in the North East and they could not afford to pay for their children to go to university. Gordon’s reply was classic, “I’m not f***ing asking you, I’m f***ing telling you.”

*
John Mann flew to Nigeria recently on a junket courtesy of Shell. Shell is the largest operator in Nigeria providing most of Nigeria’s export earnings. Shell were implicated in the judicial execution of Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. In September 2001 a court in New York granted relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa and another of the executed activists, the right to sue Shell. The suit alleged the company fabricated evidence to support murder charges against the two men.

**Kevan Jones loves a junket, Guido counted at least half a dozen trips to Washington and elsewhere courtesy of various arms trade interests on the register in the last couple of years.

Steve Morgan Sleaze Investigation

The Spin Industry’s self regulatory body, the APPC, describes itself “as the representative and regulatory body for UK public affairs professionals in the consultancy sector.” It was set up in the wake of brown-envelope lobbyist scandals by some of the more respectable lobbying firms to try and prevent the most egregious happenings that are endemic to a murky industry.

Guido has learnt that the APPC has received a complaint from James Davenport, a former employee of Morgan Allen Moore, concerning ten separate breaches of the APPC Code of Conduct by Steve Morgan, Hain’s campaign manager. The book is well and truly being thrown at “Morgan the Organ”…

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

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.

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…

+++ 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…

+ READ MORE +

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.[…]

+ READ MORE +

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.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

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).

[…]

+ READ MORE +

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 +

The whole Labour Party leadership campaign funding saga is turning into a farce, with the revelation that even Gordon Brown broke his own party’s donation rules.

Guido has checked the Electoral Commission website, his campaign lists 21 donations amounting to £196,700 and 3 non-cash donations totaling £19,005, giving a total of £215,705 altogether.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Hain’s Story is Unravelling

Let’s tell it like it is, the Progressive Policies Forum is a slush fund. It has done nothing, has undertaken no known political activity, has no employees, no policies and there was no forum or indeed any meeting ever. When it quacks like a slush fund, acts like a slush fund and washes money like a slush fund, it is a slush fund.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Shaun Woodward Spoke at Fundraiser

The April 23, 2007, £1,300 Hain dinner paid for by Royal Mail director Huw Roberts had, Guido understands from a source at the dinner Shaun Woodward as the keynote speaker. That a supposedly left-wing campaign fundraiser was addressed by a multi-millionaire ex-Tory MP should surprise no-one.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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