The business card of former CCHQ staffer Sarah Southern, who was busted offering to retain undercover Sunday Times journalists for £15,000 per month in return for access to top Tories, will remain one of the more amusing yet important details of this scandal. Guido understands that the Cameron card was not the only one that Southern uses, and in fact she is said to have a range cards with different photos with various Ministers. Tory insiders suggest that they have been the source of amusement for some time, but not long enough for someone to say “hold on a moment here…”
After doing what is commonly known as “a Derek Draper”, an internet clean up job seems to have been done this afternoon, with various profiles being deleted, but not every trace of Southern’s connection to the British and American Project has been removed. She sits on the Executive Committee of the transatlantic networking group that puts rising stars in rooms so they can show off business cards. And the rest…
If you have been lucky enough to receive one of the sought after picture cards, then do drop us an email…
Picture via Political Scrapbook
UPDATE: Southern is a Director of the British American Project. She also set up Sarah Southern Consulting on the 16th of last month.
Tonight Guido and Tamasin Cave from Spinwatch are proposing the motion for debate that “Lobbyists Are Paid to Thwart the Democratic Will”. Mark Adams from Stand Up 4 Lobbying and Justin Fisher from the The Magna Carta Institute are opposing.
The event is taking place in Smith Square, Westminster and the audience will probably be riddled with lobbyists. So if you want to attend tonight and bolster the forces of democracy, email debate@StandUp4Lobbying.org, There is free booze courtesy of Ellwood and Atfield. Full details here. See you later…
Carina Trimingham turned heads on Thursday when she sat casually having lunch in Portcullis House. Whilst the speculation today is whether or not she was wearing an engagement ring, Guido is more concerned about what a lobbyist is doing having unmitigated access to Parliament.
She apparently has a spouses pass…
And it’s not just wives and girlfriends that get this perk. After two terms in the House, former MPs are entitled to a pass, meaning they can get access to the bars and restaurants and continue to live their subsidised life. So they can retire back to the countryside and have exclusive use of riverside restaurants and bars to entertain in whilst in town, without paying London prices. A nice perk, especially if you are seeking to influence decision makers…
It’s bad enough that we subsidise the public sector workers inside the Palace of Westminster, but can anyone really try to justify feeding and watering their spouses and predecessors?
Though no longer an MP, Jacqui Smith is still lingering around. Today she’s gone violently off message in her weekly column for Lord Sainsbury’s Continuity-Tony faction, Progress:
“We need a ‘prawn cocktail’ offensive for the 21st century – a ‘scallops and celeriac purée’ offensive, a ‘baked figs and goats cheese’ offensive – anyway, you get my point. In the 1980s and 1990s, energetic Labour spokespeople led by then City minister Tony Blair toured the private dining rooms of the City trying to decontaminate the Labour brand with leading business people.”
She criticises Ed’s banker bashing and echoes David Miliband’s warnings of business desertion, before finally concluding:
“I want to see Ed, Ed, Chuka and Rachel on the telly, but I also want them to be in private dining rooms across the City and beyond – making the contacts, generating the policy ideas and building the consensus which will translate into a serious new business and industrial policy for the next Labour government.”
He refuses to release who was at the dinners though, because he is embarrassed.
Maybe you could ask him yourself, and let us know?
Could be tougher all round…
As Guido revealed yesterday union lobbyists are on course to be added to statutory register of spinmeisters. Cue faux outrage. Speaking to the Standard’s Craig Woodhouse, Bob Crow has thrown his toys out of the pram before he’s even read the proposals:
“The idea that trade unions, representing millions of workers up and down the country, should be bracketed in with the chancers and shmoozers from the shadowy world of political lobbying is a gross insult to men and women fighting for a fair deal in the workplace. This is just another blatant ConDem attack on the trade union movement and shows complete and utter contempt for the role we play in protecting working people from the savagery of casino capitalism.”
What are you paid £145,000 a year for then Bob?
Jack Dromey, aka Mrs Harman, aka Unites’ man on the inside, will be forced to issue an apology to the House for failing to declare he was still in the pay of the union when he became an MP. While many Labour MPs benefit from union cash, such a formal arrangement was enough for John Lyon to gently toss an abridged version of the book at Dromey’s feet. Imagine if it had been any other form of lobbyist giving secret payments of £57,000 to an MP…
UPDATE: John Lyons said the matter was serious but has given leniency due to Dromey being “a new an inexperienced MP”. He’s been political operator for decades. He knew what he was doing…
The much awaited government consultation paper on the statutory registration of lobbyists will be released on Friday morning. Even if it recommends putting cowbells on these spinmeisters, it wouldn’t stop them…
Guido hears that there will be one section of it that Labour MPs will find particularly uncomfortable.[…]
It seems Ed Balls’ most loyal Twitter fan can’t get used to life on the outside, Ellie Gellard used to Tweet relentlessly for Ed Balls when he was running for leader. Having left his entourage to go work for Tetra Strategy, the Twitter foghorn formerly known as BevaniteEllie is now “Head of Digital” for the shady spinmeisters.[…]
Despite an on camera promise in October, Ed Miliband has failed to release the list of businessmen and lobbyists he dined with at a secret “off the record” supper organised by Roland Rudd the shady spinmeister. His agency Finsbury has a whole host of “predators” as clients, including at the online loan sharks Wonga.[…]
We have in the past covered the lobbying world’s attempts at self-regulation. The most ardent opponent of a statutory register was Francis Ingham of the widely discredited PRCA trade body, he was instrumental in getting rival lobbying and spin trade bodies CIPR and APPC to join up under the UK Public Affairs Council banner to voluntarily produce a joint register of lobbyists.[…]
While Bell Pottinger lick their wounds, there’s more to Guido’s scoop yesterday about the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, the health lobbyist and a mysterious £21,000 “loan” to his leadership election. Burnham has made the lobbyist his political adviser in murky circumstances.[…]
Bell Pottinger sources are emphasising that a pre-condition of the deal negotiations with the fictional “Azimov Group” set up by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism was evidence of a reform agenda in Uzbekistan. To be fair to the left-wing BIJ they do mention it tucked away in their report.[…]