Monday, July 15, 2013

Labour’s Lobbying Reform Proposals Do Not Go Far Enough

Guido welcomes Labour’s new tough stance on lobbying after thirteen years of prostituting in government. They have outlined amendments to be put down to this week’s lobbying bill, amendments which include a change to ensure all professional lobbyists working in the UK will be required to declare their full list of clients and an approximate value of their lobbying activity. In an obvious dig at Crosby they will also demand that “anyone doing a senior job for the government of the day – whether in-house or a contractor, formally for the party or directly by the government – who is a professional lobbyist must be declared.” New appointments to government would also be scrutinised in a similar way to how senior officials or ministers leaving to take up posts in related areas have new their jobs put before a Cabinet Office committee. Solid stuff, but does this go far enough? Not at all.

Labour’s back-of-a-fag-packet announcement today does not take into account successful lobbyists that pay money directly to government figures. Surely, government MPs should  for obvious conflicts of interest reasons have to resign from any union that financially supports them, and not accept money from them directly or indirectly to their constituency parties, whilst in government? Labour’s John Trickett said this morning:

“Labour is determined to stand up to vested interests and we will push amendments to the government’s lobbying bill that will once and for all clean up this aspect of politics.”

Except where their union paymasters are involved?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Labour Ministers Opposed Plain Packaging

plain-packsLabour are trying to make a big issue out of the government formally dropping plain packaging, as if this was all Lynton Crosby’s doing. The policy was not actually in the Queen’s Speech so this announcement was hardly a surprise. The fact is it is hard to find a major lobbying firm that is not, or was not retained by Big Tobacco at some point over the last 30 years.

It is not as if when Labour was in government ministers showed any more enthusiasm for the plain packaging idea:

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State Health, 16 December 2008:

alan-johnson

“I have to say, however, that despite the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right about the huge response in favour of plain packaging, there is no evidence base that it actually reduces the number of young children smoking. We want to keep that under review, and when there is an evidence base for it, it could well be another important measure to meet our goal, which is to reduce the number of young people smoking.

Gillian Merron, Public Health Minister, 25 June 2009:

gillian-merron

“No studies have been undertaken to show that plain packaging of tobacco would cut smoking uptake among young people or enable those who want to quit to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would undoubtedly need strong and convincing evidence of the benefits to health, as well as its workability, before this could be promoted and accepted at an international level – especially as no country in the world has introduced plain packaging.”

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State Health, November 2009:

sad-burnham

“No studies have shown that introducing plain packaging of tobacco products would cut the number of young people smoking, or enable people who want to quit, to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would need strong and convincing evidence showing the health benefits of this policy before it would be acceptable at an international level.”

Exactly the same lines spun by the current government yesterday,,,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Parliamentary Pass-Holders Face New Scrutiny

Rather than suspending them as reported by Sky last night, Bercow has merely ordered the 83 APPG parliamentary passes to be checked by MPs:

“There are currently 83 parliamentary passes that have been issued specifically to staff of APPGs (around 0.6% of the total number of passes).  The Speaker has instructed the Serjeant at Arms to ask Members who have sponsored these parliamentary passes to confirm that they have been properly requested and allocated, as required by the rules governing APPGs.  In the interim, no new passes in this category will be issued.  The Serjeant at Arms has also been asked, as a matter of urgency, to consider with the Administration Committee whether it is necessary or appropriate for this category of passes to exist at all. The Commission also intends that, more generally, applications for passes for Members’ staff should seek more information than at present about the purposes for which a pass is required.”

New rules would be bad news for a few interesting names on this list

How Lobbyists Buy Legislation

Labour hand-wringers protest that unions cannot be seen in the same light as lobbyists as they don’t have a comparable capacity to influence changes the law. This is patently untrue. Wind back to 2011 and Guido revealed how the GMB union flagrantly bought votes from Sadiq Khan’s Shadow Justice team. Minutes from a Shadow Justice meeting at the time note that Labour MPs let the GMB decide which way they voted:

The leaked minutes also showed how GMB sponsored Labour MPs tabled amendments at the behest of the union. If the Tories did the same with, say, Goldman Sachs, there would rightly be uproar.

Several Labour MPs employ trade union lobbyists, subsidised with taxpayer money, sponsoring them for parliamentary passes and having them work on party business. Ian Mearns has Lisa Johnson, Tom Greatrex employs Catherine Godsell and Natascha Engel employs Heidi Benzing, all Political Officers at the GMB. For Unite, Jon Cruddas employs Nick Parrott, Mark Tami has Hannah Blythyn, Ronnie Campbell employs Stephen Turner and Jim Sheridan employs Stephen Hart. David Hamilton employs James McGowan, a ‘parliamentary consultant’ at the ASLEF trade union.

Taxpayer-subsidised trade union lobbyists employed by Labour MPs wear union lanyards around their necks as they enjoy unfettered access to the corridors of power. It is no wonder Ed Miliband voted against a lobbyist register in 2006Labour have sold their votes, their amendments and their staff to trade union lobbyists pure and simple…

Bell Tolls for Lobbyists

Guido made a modest proposal to lightly regulate lobbyists back in 2011. Here is the outline of Guido’s policy reform:

Guido is no fan of government regulation of the private sector however the political lobbying industry thwarts democracy and pollutes the body politic to such an extent something has to be done. Guido’s policy idea is that all politicians and civil servants should be required to transparently publish all details of meetings with lobbyists – government ministers and Downing Street SpAds already have to do this. The idea should be rolled out as a requirement for all those paid by taxpayers and involved in influencing legislation. Obviously this means the question of identifying political lobbyists will have to be addressed.

To avoid any confusion by ministers or civil servants when unknowingly or inadvertently meeting lobbyists socially, taking up tickets to the opera or lunching at Michelin-starred restaurants and the like, registered lobbyists should make themselves easily identifiable.  The historically tried and tested solution for just this problem springs to mind. They should be made to wear bells around their necks, like lepers…

Monday, June 3, 2013

When Rawnsley Was Wrapped in the Tentacles of Lobbyists

Andrew Rawnsley really went for the lobbying industry in his Observer column yesterday. “Too many MPs are wrapped in the tentacles of the lobbyists” he warned, laying into “the murky world of lobbying”, describing it as an “industry that too often distorts and subverts democratic decision-making” and gagging at “the pungent smell given off by the whole business”.

He must have held his nose when he picked up the Public Affairs News award for Political Journalist of the Year from Warwick Smith of Citigate Public Affairs back in 2006

Shamed MacShane Becomes Lobbyist

In Guido’s Sun column yesterday we revealed that the disgraced former MP Denis MacShane has become a lobbyist despite still under police investigation for expenses fiddles. The laptop grabber is currently hawking around his CV in which he describes himself as a self-employed consultant based in “London, Paris and Washington”, “advising Asian, US and UK based firms on government policy problems and media strategy”. For some reason the would-be lobbyist’s CV doesn’t mention why he was kicked out of Parliament and remains to this day under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

His alleged new offices in “London, Paris and Washington” will be a big step up from his old office – the garage of his semi-detached house in Rotherham – for which over 8 years he pocketed £125,000 in office rent expenses from the taxpayer

Friday, May 31, 2013

Lobbyists Warned of Undercover Sting Last Week

Spinmeisters were already trying to get ahead of a sting by “two undercover journalists” last week. This from PRWeek last Thursday makes very interesting reading:

“PRWeek has learned that what appear to be undercover reporters have contacted a number of public affairs consultancies and met with at least one to investigate the role of lobbying firms in the establishment of all-party parliamentary groups. Insight Communications MD John Lehal alerted PRWeek to what he described as a ‘clumsy attempt at investigative journalism’ following a meeting last week. He met with two individuals purporting to be from an international management consultancy working on behalf of an energy investment fund.”

Obviously not that clumsy…

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Balls Denies Gambling Lobbyist’s ‘Adviser’ Claim

In Sunday’s Sun column Guido revealed how a controversial gambling lobbyist was claiming to be a “Business Adviser” to Ed Balls, despite the Shadow Chancellor denying ever having appointed him. Neil Goulden is the chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, boss of Gala Bingo and the man in charge of the Coral high-street betting shop. He claims to be a “Business Adviser to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls”, yet that is the first Team Balls have heard of it.

Balls’ spokesman insists to Guido that “Neil has not been appointed as a business adviser to Ed Balls”. Interesting that Balls told industry insiders he wanted to curb his party’s anti-bookies rhetoric at a private dinner organised by Goulden earlier this year. And that Goulden also donated £15,000 to Labour in the run up to the last election. Odds on that we haven’t heard the last of this one…

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chloe Smith Forgets Cosy Lobbyist Supper

Here is what the minister responsible for lobbying reform said when asked how she was getting on with tackling the “next big scandal waiting to happen” last week:

Miss Chloe Smith: Cabinet Office Ministers have had no meetings with interested parties on the Government’s plans for a proposed statutory register of lobbyists since September 2012.

The Government is committed to introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. We are continuing to carefully consider the evidence submitted in response to our consultation and will publish revised proposals in due course.

No meetings with anyone related to the lobbying industry since September, says Chloe. Oh dear. Funny then that she was spied dining with a lobbyist at Tory party conference in October. Must have slipped her mind…


Seen Elsewhere

Ditch Tobacco Plain Packaging | Grassroots Conservatives
What Farage, Boris and Rob Ford Have in Common | William Walter
Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV
Dave Stung by Jellyfish | Sun
City Minister’s Inheritance Tax Dodging Trusts | Indy
What I Would Have Done if I was Sarah Wollaston | Iain Dale
Boris is an Epic Europhile | Louise Mensch
Warsi Got PM to Confront “Secular Fundamentalism” | Fraser Nelson
Guardian April Fools Apology | Press Gazette
Jenni Russell and Her Child’s Godfather, Ed Miliband | Breitbart
Labour’s Left and Right are Growing Restive | Staggers


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Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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