Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hennessy’s Telegraph Deputy Becomes Banker Lobbyist

All change on the Sunday Telegraph political team. With Paddy Hennessy off to spin for Ed, his former deputy Rob Watts has taken a slightly different path. Watts has been snapped up as a lobbyist for the British Bankers’ Association, where he will help to make them “a less defensive and more proactive organisation”. Another Telegraph hack moving over to the dark side…

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wonks Demolish Lobbying Bill
IEA, TFA, CPS, TPA, BBW and ASI Slam Proposals

We wish to highlight our grave concern about the Government’s Lobbying Bill, a piece of legislation that poses a significant threat to legitimate campaigning freedom of speech, political activism and informed public debate.

Part II of the bill threatens the ability of charities, research and campaigning organisations to inform the public debate, fulfil their missions and raise awareness of important issues. The current drafting would capture a huge number of organisations who would not presently be considered as relevant to electoral law and who do not receive any state funding. It also threatens to dramatically expand the range of activity regulated far beyond any common sense understanding of commercial lobbying. 

We do not regard the Cabinet Office’s assurances as sufficient given the widespread legal doubts expressed from across the political spectrum. It cannot be a prudent approach to legislate on the basis of assurances that enforcement will not be to the full extent of the law. The exceptions offered are unclear and unconvincing.

The lack of clarity in the legislation further exacerbates its complexity, while granting a remarkably broad discretion to the Electoral Commission. The potential tidal wave of bureaucracy could cripple even well-established organisations, while forcing groups to reconsider activity if there is a perceived risk of falling foul of the law. This self-censorship is an inevitable consequence of the bill as it stands. 

We urge the Government to reconsider its approach and to urgently address the fundamental failings in this legislation.

Yours Sincerely,

Mark Littlewood, Director General, Institute for Economic Affairs
Simon Richards, Director, The Freedom Association
Tim Knox, Director, Centre for Policy Studies
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive, Taxpayers’ Alliance
Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN
Emma Carr, Deputy Director, Big Brother Watch
Eamonn Butler, Director, the Adam Smith Institute

Well that’s pretty comprehensive…

Another Happy Reader

One of the Eagles knows her blogs, name-checking the best in her speech opposing the Lobbying Bill:

No mention of that Scrapbook site. Whatever happened to them?

Lansley: I Will Stand Up For Lobbyists

Andrew Lansley has been sent out by the government to defend the already badly wounded Lobbying Bill this morning. He seemed to admit some flaws on Today, though insisted “we are the most transparent government you have ever seen”. In the interests of transparency, Guido thought he would publish a particularly honest extract from Lansley’s letter to Tory MPs last night:

“I will stand up for the role of lobbyists; they do an important job, representing wide views to Government to assist informed and considered policy making… it is not my job, nor the job of Government, to control the lobbying industry; nor to create a burdensome and bureaucratic monster.”

When people are accusing your bill of not actually doing anything to tackle lobbyists, saying you are going to stand up for them probably isn’t the best idea. Lansley also provided colleagues with a helpful “myth-buster”, which seems to serve only to confirm the large number of lobbyists exempt from the bill. It’s going to be yet another awkward debate for the government…

Monday, July 29, 2013

Emma Reynolds Lobbyist Merry-Go-Round

Labour Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds doesn’t tend to shout from the rooftops about her previous career. Reynolds gave up her job spinning for lobbyists Cogitamus when she won her seat, just as her old firm were lobbying on behalf of the Campaign for Better Transport. As Guido reported in yesterday’s Sun column, the campaign focussed on lobbying for:

“co-operatives and mutuals to play a pivotal role in providing transport services.”

Guido is sure it was pure coincidence when Reynolds then stood up in Parliament and asked:

“will the Government consider changing it in their review to allow mutuals and co-operatives to bid for future franchises?”

Almost word-for-word identical…

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Select Committee Recess Date to Slam Lobbying Bill

Dave’s Lobbying Bill covering just 1% of lobbyists was never going to get through smoothly. Now Graham Allen MP, chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, has got all shouty about the government “mishandling the bill and treating Parliament with disrespect”. He says they have been “slothful” and “there is no legislative scrutiny”, calling the MPs on his committee to meet during recess to take further evidence so they can “fill the gap”.

It is obviously a party political hijacking of the select committee by Labour but to be fair they do have a point. Under Dave’s legislation lobbyists won’t have to disclose clients if they limit meetings to SpAds and civil servants and in-house lobbyists are exempt too. Which means a huge amount of the type of lobbying that needs most scrutiny has been let off entirely. Cue amendments when Parliament is back in September…

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Two Years Since Ed Promised Lobbying Dinner Details

While we are talking about lobbyists,  it is time for Ed to come clean about his own dealings. Back in October 2011, getting on for two years ago now, Guido asked Miliband to name the predator lobbyists he had dined with at the home of Roland Rudd. He promised to reveal all:

“I will definitely release the names of the people who were at the dinner.”

21 months on, Miliband is still refusing to say who was present. Just because Rudd’s known clients include investment banks, not so environmentally sensitive mining companies and firms owned by asset stripping private equity companies, there is no reason for Ed to be shy. Of course there definitely wouldn’t have been any other dodgy lobbyists present at the dinner who lobbied him about anything unsavoury. With Miliband repeatedly saying Cameron “can’t keep evading questions”, he wouldn’t want to be accused of hypocrisy. Guido is sure he has as convincing and full-proof an answer as Crosby’s, so now would be as good a time as ever for him to stay true to his word. Over to you, Ed…

The Invitation Westminster Advisers Won’t Comment About

As reported last night, the Guardian have added some important details to their Lynton Crosby/healthcare yarn, after Guido’s little fact checking yesterday. Lobbying firm Westminster Advisers “declined to comment” last night over Guido’s revelation that the firm “run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research.” They told the Guardian: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.” For the sake of clarity, here is the invitation to their event:

“That is all we are saying.”

Monday, July 22, 2013

Guardian Puts Record Straight

wholepicture

The Guardian has done a follow up which largely corrects the record after Guido pointed out the factual errors in their healthcare lobbying story from this morning. Namely that they had got the target audience completely wrong and that the firm organising the event wasn’t Tory leaning CTF, it was in fact Labour leaning lobbyists Westminster Advisers. A statement issued by Mark Detre from Westminster Advisers confirms the accuracy of Guido’s version of events:

“Crosby Textor Fullbrook provided research and advice into public attitudes on healthcare to H5. H5 is a predecessor to the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations and they did that in 2010 and 2011. The arrangement between CTF and H5 ended in mid 2011. AIHO is a new organisation formed in March 2013 and has no relationship with CTF.”

Nicholas Watt at the Guardian reports that

Detre declined to comment on a report on the Guido Fawkes website that Westminster Advisers, run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research. Detre said: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.”

Judge for yourself…

Lording it Up, Azerbaijani Style

With lobbying top of the agenda and  Nick Clegg on his high horse, last week Guido brought you news of a LibDem with an unusual parliamentary pass that they denied was ever used inappropriately. This morning Edward Lord has accused Guido of an “unfortunate and highly inaccurate attack”, writing to colleagues at the City of London claiming that the piece had been given a “full rebuttal”. Not quite – the word Rwanda was replaced with Uzbekistan.

Lord denies that his parliamentary pass was anything to do with his work for the  European Azerbaijan Society. On his own website he claims to have stood down from the society in November 2011, which does little to help his case given the fact that his pass sponsor, Lord Kilclooney, was flown all expenses paid to Azerbaijan in May of that year. Kilcloony even went again the following year. As the above picture shows, Edward Lord remains a strong advocate for the republic. The Mail have more on Kilcloony and other sinister connections to the country. Passes and free holidays. A coincidence, no doubt.


Seen Elsewhere

Labour’s Plan to Attack Part-Time Boris | Standard
Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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