Monday, July 22, 2013

Guardian Puts Record Straight

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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.

“Crosby Presentation” Organised By Labour Lobbyist
Labour MPs Attended Event Held in Commons

clippingThe Guardian, which likes to boast that they give “the whole picture”, are very excited this morning with the suggestion that “The lobbying firm founded by the Tories’ chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived “failings” in the NHS, according to a leaked document obtained by the Guardian. The presentation was made by Crosby Textor, known as CTF Partners in Britain, towards the end of 2010.” The timing is right, just who the presentation was actually made to has been conveniently left out of the story.

dominic-churchThe Guardian claims that the “leaked” presentation was made by CTF to private healthcare profiteers, it was actually organised by the lobbying firm Westminster Advisers for MPs - who were all given copies – making it more of a handout than a leak. Westminster Advisers is headed by Dominic Church, a wealthy Labour supporter and a former Hammersmith and Fulham councillor for the party. He is a Blairite private healthcare lobbyist

Church lobbies for the H5 Private Hospitals Alliance. The slideshow was shown at their parliamentary reception themed ‘Improving Britain’s healthcare’ on 29 November 2010 in the House of Commons. The invitation was open to all MPs and Guido understands that many Labour MPs enjoyed the hospitality served in Dining Room A. One attendee remembers seeing, for example, Gisela Stuart at the event. CTF merely providing polling data for the report. It was a briefing for MPs by private healthcare, not a briefing to private healthcare.

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Mysteriously there is plenty missing from slideshow the Guardian have published. They have run just 4 pages out of the 31 slide presentation, leaving out what does not fit the story. Take this page for example which is positive about the NHS, and inconveniently shows – for the Guardian’s preferred narrative – that the public back reforms:

Nowhere is this to be seen on the Guardian website. Despite cutting pages, they have re-numbered the 4 pages so you would never know. Guido senses a lengthy Corrections and Clarifications coming tomorrow…

Full presentation:

UPDATE:

Tory MP Reports Mandy’s Logging Lobbying to Lords

Priti Patel has written to the Lords Commissioner for Standards asking him to investigate whether Mandy’s failure to declare his work for Asia Pulp and Paper broke lobbying rules.

It’s going to be a tough one to explain…

Mandy’s Paper Thin Excuses

House of Lords rules were recently updated to make sure peers registered any interests they may have from “personal clients” rather than simply hiding behind a declaration that they work for a firm. So odd then that in his register of interests, Lord Mandelson does not mention controversial Asia Pulp and Paper, who have a lovely progressive record of  illegally logging endangered rainforests. Mandy is claiming that his declarations are in all in order and they are not a personal client,  yet in an interview last year he claimed:

“We are helping the top management at the company to realize their sustainability ambitions. To do this they have to comply with exacting standards and in a sense we are providing a bridge between what they are doing in Indonesia and what the EU and their European customers expect of them”.

He goes onto boast about what his experience in the European Commission brings to the client:

“When I was at the European Commission, I encouraged dialogue and a progressive trade policy, one that harnessed development and in which I encouraged sustainable and progressive practices wherever I could… So working with APP and helping the senior management understand the implications of the tough new European standards, and how they can use them to drive further improvement within the company is a big opportunity for us, and is in a sense continuing the work we did at the Commission.”

That sounds a lot like personal work to Guido… 

Friday, July 19, 2013

How Lords Help Lobbyists Flout Rules

Cameron’s Lobbying Bill certainly leaves a lot to be desired, not least with its failure to address the clear abuse of parliamentary passes by lobbyists working for Lords. Take the case of Lord Kilclooney. The Ulster Unionist peer sponsors a pass for the confusingly-named Edward Lord, a LibDem City of London Corporation figure. Lord was done over by the Indy back in 2011 for his involvement in a deal to lobby for alleged Rwandan war criminals. Yet he is wandering round Parliament…

Lord was the Deputy Chairman of the European Azerbaijan Society, which according to its website specialises in public affairs. In his City of London register of interests he also confirms he lobbies on behalf of four other organisations, indeed Lord declares no less than thirteen links to “bodies whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy”. A lobbyist pure and simple, given access to the corridors of power by a peer. This is a scandal the Bill needs to deal with…

UPDATE: Lord responds on his own blog. It was Uzbekistan, not Rwanda and he no longer works with Azerbaijan. He does not deny he is a lobbyist with a parliamentary pass though.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lobbyist Bill “Covers Just 1% of Lobbyists”

The spinmeisters were out in force yesterday trashing Dave’s Lobbying Bill. While it is obviously a case of well-they-would-say-that-wouldn’t-they, there is a pretty big hole in the Bill. Guido isn’t sure how Cameron can be claiming to clean up lobbying when his Bill, according to the Association of Professional Political Consultants, only covers 1% of lobbyists. Firstly, lobbyists won’t have to disclose clients if they limit meetings to SpAds and civil servants. Unless they meet minsters or permanent secretaries, they can keep their clients secret. Secondly, if you are an in-house lobbyist or your company is not a lobbying firm first and foremost, as are many of those who actually lobby ministers in person, you are exempt. Which means a huge amount of the type of lobbying that needs most scrutiny has been let off entirely. 

If a lobbyist only meets a SpAd or permanent secretary, their clients can be kept secret. If an in-house lobbyist meets a minister, their clients can be kept secret. APPC surveyed 998 meetings between lobbyists and ministers, finding only two that would be covered by this Bill. These aren’t loopholes, they are chasms…

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lobbyists Moan About Lobbying Bill

For some reason today’s Lobbying Bill hasn’t gone down too well with one crowd in particular:

Anyone would think this lot spin for a living…

WATCH: Gobby Meets Aussie

For those readers unfamiliar with Gobby, the BBC have helpfully profiled their attack dog here.

Miliband’s Marlboro Man

Tobacco was top of the agenda at  PMQs today, with Ed Miliband puffing away about the Prime Minister’s indirect connections to Phillip Morris International via Lynton Crosby. But what of his own Marlboro Man? When Ed’s Political Relations Manager left his desk in the Leader of the Opposition’s Office, where did he go? Phillip  Morris International, obviously. James Barge is now the tobacco giant’s Corporate Affairs Manager. When was was the Labour leader last lobbied by his former aide?

See also: Labour Ministers Opposed Plain Packaging


Seen Elsewhere

Ward Faces Disciplinary Action | Guardian
I’m Scared to Talk About Israel and Gaza | Emma Barnett
Sack David Ward | LibDem Voice
David Ward Condemned for Rocket Support | BBC
LibDem MP Backs Rocket Attacks | Indy
LibDem MP: I Would Bomb Israel | ITV
A Bold Plan to Reform Welfare | Ruth Porter
Clinton’s Busty Mistress Nicknamed ‘Energizer’ | Mail
Photo Analysis of Miliband’s Obama Visit | Buzzfeed
Dave Shouldn’t Have Moved Gove | Michael Howard
Bercow’s Nightmare | Alex Wickham


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Owen Paterson lifts the lid on the Green Blob:

“I received more death threats in a few months at Defra than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland.”



Flight Watch says:

Russia Today is a cauldron of bullsh*t. The only people that take it seriously are deluded conspiracy theorists. Other RT journos have resigned citing the same reasons.

It’s about as believable as Press TV, KCNA of North Korea or the Daily Mirror.


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