Cash For Influence: How a Labour Donor Killed a Bill

Guido has written previously on how Labour have let trade union donors buy influence in the House. Well, they have been caught red handed once again.

On May 29, Labour peer Baroness Turner sponsored a Private Members’ Bill seeking to reform Easter trading laws – introducing it at its first reading in the House of Lords.

The bill would have removed the prohibition on Easter trading for large shops.

Two weeks later, on the afternoon of June 16, the general secretary of the USDAW union emailed Labour peers asking them to oppose the Labour bill:

From: John Hannett

Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Subject: Please oppose the Easter Day Trading Bill – Second Reading on Friday 19th June

Dear XXXX,

As the main retail union for the UK’s 3 million shopworkers, Usdaw urges peers to oppose the Private Member’s Bill on Easter Day Trading at second reading on Friday. The UK already has the longest trading hours in Europe, with over 150 shopping hours a week, and only 2 days per year of large stores being closed – Christmas Day and Easter Day…

As the attached briefing sets out, two thirds of shopworkers are already under pressure to work on Sundays, and this pressure intensifies at busy trading times, with holidays not permitted…

For these reasons, I urge you not to support the Easter Trading Bill. 

Yours sincerely

John Hannett

General Secretary, Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers)

Just three days after that email was sent to Labour peers, Baroness Turner withdrew her bill:

In the last five years, USDAW has donated over £6 million to the Labour Party. It has regularly lobbied in defence of exisiting Sunday trading laws.

A major Labour donor, which lobbies heavily on a single issue, successfuly gets a Labour bill withdrawn after lobbying Labour peers. It stinks…

CBI Step Up Pro-EU Campaign Activity

Big business Brexit scaremongers the CBI are stepping up their campaigning activity for an EU ‘Yes’ vote. The “politically independent and impartial” lobbyists are hiring a campaigns adviser on a competitive salary “to promote the CBI’s messages on Europe”. Little doubt from the advert what that message is: 

“With an in-out referendum on the UK’s EU membership now on the table, the CBI is recruiting for a Campaigns Adviser to assist with the organisation’s day-to-day work in this area… the benefits of the UK’s EU membership outweigh the costs and no alternative arrangement offers the UK a better route to future prosperity.”

Key to the job will be remembering the CBI’s farcical Scottish referendum shambles and sorting out their status as a registered campaigner this time round…

Health Lobbyists Plan to Spy on Gays and Pregnant Women

Gay people and pregnant mothers will be spied on under controversial plans drawn up by health lobby extremists. Guido has seen a copy of a report set to be released later this month by ASH, that draws up plans for a massive clamp down on the rights of the individual in regard to smoking.

The anti-smoking lobby group have written a wide-ranging wishlist for the coming parliament and it’s about as authoritarian as you can get. History would indicate that this bunch get what they want; from the smoking ban, to plain packs and restrictions on smoking in cars.

The document includes plan to spy on gay people in order to stop them smoking:

“Improve national surveillance to ensure that timely and robust data are available on smoking prevalence including data on all socio-economic groups, people with long-term conditions, people with mental health problems, minority ethnic groups, the LGBT population and other disadvantaged groups.”

And the midwives will be armed in this fight:

“Issue every midwife in England who conducts antenatal appointments with a carbon monoxide monitor.”

Because obviously all pregnant women are liars.

Smoking is set to be banned in prisons and on stage, as ASH demand the government “remove the smokefree exemption for prisons” and “theatrical performances.”

And they’re not done there…

The leaked memo includes plans to investigate “legislative and non-legislative options to make outdoor environments smokefree” and “all enclosed cars and motor vehicles.”

So what will the group recommend to make all their dreams come true? Higher taxes, obviously:

“Increase the tax escalator on tobacco products to 5 per cent above the level of inflation.”

You read it here first…

Bingle Muses on Losing Friends and Alienating People

Legend in his own lunchtime Peter Bingle must be bitterly regretting sending this most unfortunate tweet – among many – on election day. Good luck to any client the flamboyant Tory PR man now registers he is lobbying the Government on behalf of, as this must count as the Gerald Ratner moment of the campaign. Not sure that many Tory MPs will will be keen to be seen with the lobbyist who tried so hard to trash their saviour!

Dorrell Exits Through Revolving Door

When Stephen Dorrell stood down as chairman of the Health select committee back in June, Guido wondered:

“Why would [he] not want to keep the coveted post, as well as the extra pay, for [his] last year in the Commons? Nothing to do, Guido is sure, with the fact that anti-corruption Cabinet Office rules state that politicians have to spend a year ‘cooling off’ before they a can go to work in the lucrative private sector in an area they have acquired expert knowledge in through their position in public office. Any six-figure consultancy contracts and directorships they take up after the election would more than compensate them for their temporary short-term loss this year. A coincidence, no doubt.”

Sure as night follows day, Dorrell today announced he will be quitting parliament at the election to take a job as a health consultant with KPMG. Giving him time for a nice summer holiday before his cooling off period expires and he can start putting all that experience to good use. Kerching!

Lobbyists Claim Fallon SpAd Retained Whilst at MoD

Back in September Michael Fallon hired defence lobbyist Bill Clare to spin for him as his special adviser. The right-winger worked for Michael Howard before joining Liam Fox’s abortive bid for the Tory leadership, ending up on the side of the angels at arms manufacturers General Dynamics, eventually going on to spin for the London First group. A job that he appears to have kept for longer than he strictly should…

An email has emerged that shows Clare’s old lobbying organisation claiming to have kept the newbie SpAd on their roster while he worked at the Ministry of Defence:

​From: Gavin Hayes
Sent: 02 October 2014 15:25
To: LondonFirst
Subject: Bill Clare

Hello

This it to let you all know that as of Monday 22 September Bill has started an exciting new role working as an adviser to Michael Fallen MP the Defence Secretary at the MOD.

Bill will continue to provide advice and support for the Let Britain Fly campaign over the next couple of weeks by phone and email but will no longer be coming into the office.

I would like to personally thank Bill for all his fantastic work on the Let Britain Fly campaign over the last year and for all the support he has given us.

We wish Bill all the very best of luck and success in his new job.

Gavin
Gavin Hayes
Campaign Director, Aviation
London First

At a time when the MoD were bombing ISIS, why was Clare apparently combining SpAd-ing with being a business lobbyist? Curiously, London First also “work with government and police organisations in helping their respective cyber units”.

Cyber Units like the one recently set up by the Ministry of Defence.

Guido does wonder if this unusual arrangement was cleared with the MoD permanent secretary and the Cabinet Office, and whether the conflict of interest was declared?

UPDATE: Statement from Bill Clare:

My last working day for Let Britain Fly was Monday 22nd September – as they have now confirmed – at which point I closed down my company in accordance with my agreement with the Cabinet Office. I began work with the MOD on Thursday 25th September. The email you’ve been “leaked” is not accurate – so your story isn’t either – a point I understand Let Britain Fly has been in touch to make and to confirm the dates above.

Guido has received no such communication from Let Britain Fly…

Shepherd’s Buy:
Tory Lobbyist Swoops for Westminster Lunch Spot

There were lamentations across Westminster when the once great lunch spot Shepherd’s shut down last year after going down the pan. Well, it’s back! With caveats. Public Affairs News reports Tory spin merchant Lionel Zetter has bought the lease and the name, saying “I want to resurrect Shepherds and take it back to its best: superb food, great service, an elegant ambience and a discreet environment”. It used to be lobbyists just picking up the tab, now they’ve picked up the whole damn building…

Burnham ‘Owes’ Tax Efficient Lobbyist Aide £20,000

The Times and Mail are on the case of Andy Burnham’s health lobbyist aide Kevin Lee over his tax arrangements, a story Guido broke over two years ago. Readers will remember how back in 2011 this blog revealed how Lee was being paid as Burnham’s spinner not on a normal PAYE contract, but through his company, Lee Communications. Since Labour advisers are paid for by taxpayer-funded ‘Short Money’, this seems particularly creative. And the murkiness doesn’t end there.

When Burnham was Health Secretary, Lee Communications raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds in NHS cash, which is somewhat ironic given Burnham’s apocalyptic warnings about the Tories privatising the health service. Lee also splashed himself all over the internet boasting about his connections with Burnham and his expertise in public affairs. He was a health lobbyist with NHS clients.

As if Burnham employing Lee’s company and giving him a parliamentary pass permitting a health lobbyist access to parliament was not suspicious enough, Lee also “loaned” £20,000 to Burnham’s failed leadership campaign. Burnham has never managed to explain why he gave a lobbyist donor unfettered access to the parliamentary estate. As for that £20,000 loan, did Burnham ever pay it back? Let’s see if he can clear it up once and for all two years on…

Goldsworthy Joins Lobbyists Before Losing Election

“Hanover Communications has secured the services of Liberal Democrat politician Julia Goldsworthy,” reports PR Week. The former LibDem MP turned Treasury SpAd for Danny Alexander was last heard from heralding her campaign to win back her old Cornish seat. […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

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Left Eagle Doesn’t Know What the Right Eagle is Doing

Readers will be well aware of Labour’s hypocrisy when it comes to gambling – last year alone two-faced Chuka bashed bookies before taking their cash, Tristram Hunt did exactly the same thing and Stephen Timms also went each way[…]

+ READ MORE +

Clegg Brings Yet Another Lobbyist into the Heart of Government

Ssssh no one mention lobbying reform! Clegg has replaced his not-up-to-the-job Comms Director with Edelman’s public affairs managing director Stephen Lotinga. It’s a bit of a slap to Edelman considering the spin-merchant had only been there for a few weeks […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Ken Clarke tells the Ben Fellows trial:

“The idea that I would go strolling off in order to grope a man in an office is highly unlikely.”

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