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…

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…

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…

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.”

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.

wholepicture

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…[…]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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