Thursday, August 14, 2014

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…

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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. Which is clearly not taking up all of her time.

Well at least she is off the taxpayer dime for the first time since 2005…

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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…

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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. Now one of the Eagles is going all in, hiring a gambling lobbyist as her new Political Adviser.

Ex-Blair press secretary Michael Stephenson previously worked for Miliband’s bargain basement strategist Bruce Hawker‘s lobbying firm, where he used his connections to lobby the Labour government on plans for 16 super-casinos across Britain. A former Co-op general secretary, his sound judgement and experience at keeping on top of the finances no doubt made him the stand out candidate to be Maria Eagle’s new political adviser. In other news Maria’s sister Angela is laying it on thick attacking the government’s Lobbying Act for “letting vested interests off the hook”…

Friday, April 4, 2014

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 after signing from those paragons of virtue Bell Pottinger.

Fresh from spinning for the likes of ATOS, Russian banks and Kazak private equity firms, Lotinga’s only other job recorded on his CV seems to be working for the LibDems. Hiring a communications director who has never had a job outside politics or PR is sure to help the party connect to voters. Clegg will be hoping this one lasts more than two months…

Monday, March 17, 2014

Government Trade Envoy’s £60,000 Conflict of Interest
Charles Hendry’s Oil Job Linked to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan

Tory MP Charles Hendry has been a busy coining it since he was sacked as Energy minister, landing a £48,000 windfall from wind energy giants Forewind and hobnobbing with Hanover lobbyists and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. On top of that, Hendry has now bagged another outside job as a consultant at oil giants Vitol. He will be paid £60,000-a-year for eighteen days’ work, taking his outside earnings over £100,000.

Vitol is a $300 billion energy trading company which runs oil exploration projects in corrupt, authoritarian countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Guido is sure it is nothing more than coincidence, but Hendry is also the president of the advisory board of the Russo-British chamber of commerce and is the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Hendry is standing down in 2015, but not before he trousers one last big payday…

Friday, March 7, 2014

London Lobbyists Landed Millions in Filthy Ukrainian Lucre

Lobbyists and spinmeisters who coined it on the back of Viktor Yanukovych’s authoritarian Ukrainian regime are getting jumpy. Meet James Wilson, a leading light at city spin shop FIPRA (Finsbury International Policy & Regulatory Advisers) who looks after firm’s Ukrainian clients. Oddly enough Wilson’s work at FIPRA Ukraine is not declared on the EU Transparency register. That despite FIPRA’s own website confirming that he is in charge of spinning for the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, who are backed by Yanukovych ally Serhiy Kurchenko, one of only 18 Ukranian kleptocrats to be hit with an EU asset freeze and travel ban. Possibly to do with him defrauding the Ukraine’s coffers of more than $1 billion…

Wilson is listed as a representative of the innocuous sounding “EU Ukraine Business Council” set up to “promote trade, economic and business links between Ukraine and the EU and initiate projects that contribute to the development of Ukraine”. The Chamber, whose offices are located in Viktor Yanukovych’s powerbase of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, holds regular conferences in the European Parliament, where it euphemistically claims to “help to solve market access difficulties”. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

Also among Wilson’s clients is shady pharma firm Alcon, who have been embroiled in several bribery scandals, to top it all, he also spins for the State Administration of Sevastopol – who have just declared independence from Kiev, backed up by Russian troops. Presumably they’re going to start paying him in roubles… 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stop Ex-MPs Turned Lobbyists Prostituting Access to Parliament

As regular readers will remember, disgraced former Labour Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has resurfaced as a lobbyist. Given that he was found guilty of electoral fraud after attempting to stir up racial tensions in his constituency, Guido would advise any potential clients of Wellington Street Partners to hold on to their money. The lobbying firm is the sleazy brainchild of three ex-MPs (Woolas, Tory Sydney Chapman and LibDem
love cheat Paul Keetch), and was set up to “provide our clients” services “based on our combined sixty years of Parliamentary and Government experience”.

Crucially, all three of the MPs have been given courtesy passes to Parliament as former MPs despite strict rules that ban lobbyists having unchecked access to the Commons. Time to remove this perk which allows ex-MPs to openly prostitute their easy access to parliament.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Paterson Doth Protest
Mystery of Minister, MP, Lobbyists and Empty Wine Glass

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson is rather cross with Guido over the suggestion he was drinking with lobbyists late into the night on Wednesday in the Intercontinental Hotel bar while large swathes of the country were still underwater. His people claim that although he was with the lobbyists on Wednesday and that it was late at night and that it was the posh Westminster Intercontinental Hotel bar, what Guido said was greatly defamatory. Apparently he wasn’t drinking. As you can see from the pictures, Guido must have been confused…


So who were Owen’s companions? Well Hanover Comm’s Charles Lewington was there and former Tory Energy Minister Charles Hendry, the current Tory MP for Wealden, was loitering in the background (to the left in the picture) in a manner which is surely entirely unrelated to the £5,000 plus-a-month he is paid by various energy companies. Hanover represent those mother-frackers Cuadrilla as well as Shell UK, amongst others. Coincidentally Lewington and Hendry chatted at length the very second that Paterson left the room after 25 minutes of, apparently, not drinking in the bar. Guido is sure that the floodplains of Somerset were high up on their late night, cosy and totally dry agenda.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Yeo Could Face Legal Challenge for Overt Campaigning

Despite party rules stating that he is not meant to be overtly campaigning, Tim Yeo is fighting hard for his political survival in Suffolk. The trougher even sent members Christmas cards for the first time in a decade and has become uncharacteristically active in his previously neglected seat. Neighbouring MP Dan Poulter is helping to boost support locally, “they’re golf buddies” notes another MP dryly.

If Yeo should win the crunch vote, a legal challenge has been prepared by local Tories desperate to be rid of him. In 1983 Yeo comfortably survived an attempt to oust him as the candidate after a company he chaired was investigated by the London Stock Exchange over a share scandal, this time it might be time to sell shares in Tim Yeo. Local party elders suggest the fall out, division, and defections will be greater if the great greedy green survives the vote.


Seen Elsewhere

Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT
Cameron Faces Revolt Over ‘Vow’ | Sun
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:

“Sunday, May 10, 1998

Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.

After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.

I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.

They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].

I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”



The British media are Hunts says:

Now the SNP know how UKIP voters feel all the time.


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