Wives, Girlfriends, Predecessors

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?

A Job for Jacqui

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.”

But Ed is doing that Jacqui. He’s using shady spinmeister Roland Rudd to set up all sorts of secret meetings with these types.

He refuses to release who was at the dinners though, because he is embarrassed.

Maybe you could ask him yourself, and let us know?

READ: The Full Lobbyist Register Consultation Document

Could be tougher all round…

The Crow Flies

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? 

Dromey Was in the Pay of Lobbyists While an MP

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…

Government Consultation to Examine Union Lobbying

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. The consultation will include scrutiny of the relationship between politicians and trade unionists, with an eye to making political union officials and liaison officers sign the register. Apparently Canada will be used as a model, unions were forced to register there.

Given the amount of money floating between the unions and Labour, as well as their presumption that they will be consulted before any big decision made by the party, the move seems like a no-brainer. Unions lobby for their vested interests and pay to play. Just take a look at the recent Cash for Votes scandal that saw countless Labour MPs take cheques in election season and do their paymaster’s legislating for the rest of the parliament. Given that millions of taxpayer pounds are channelled to the unions every year, we should know who is being paid to meet the politicians who hand out the cash.

Ellie Keeps the Red Flag Flying From the Outside

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.

And look what a difference it has made to their Twitter feed:

Compare that to the more neutral offerings put out before she arrived. Though Tetra was set up by former Labour figures, they have been trying to ingratiate themselves with Tories, most notably with their hiring of the disgraced expenses cheat Julie Kirkbride.

Someone better tell the new kid though…

It’s All Gone Wonga Is Ed in a Ruddy Mess?

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.

There is growing concern in Labour circles that Ed is not putting his full weight behind Stella Creasy’s ill thought out campaign to outlaw these companies, that she claims, target the vulnerable. Ed has given the campaign the nod, but Guido hears that there is disappointment that it has remained a backbench attack. Some were expecting it to be referenced in Tuesday’s speech. Is Ed pulling his punches because of his behind-the-scenes relationship with Roland Rudd? Proper lefty blogger Carl Packman certainly thinks so. Guido will go further: Did this meeting of “independently minded senior business leaders”, aka Rudd’s clients, include anyone from, or representing, Wonga? We’re still waiting for Ed to keep his promise to let us know who he supped Rudd’s champagne with…

Gus O’Donnell tells businessmen not to waste money on lobbyists…

“People can exaggerate the impact of lobbyists, and the people who do that – surprise, surprise – are lobbyists, because they want to sell their wares. I’ve never felt that they’ve been that effective.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Lobbyists’ Umbrella Group Splits

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.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Breaking: Burnham Reported to Standards Commissioner

Details are sketchy and Guido is on the way to the pub, but he understands that Burnham, the loans and the ongoing mystery around the contracting of Lee Communications by the Labour Party has been reported by a Member to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyons tonight.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Health Lobbyist Seconded To Spin For Burnham Political Adviser and Close Friend Not Paid Directly by the Party

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.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Bell Pottinger Power Point Presentation

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.[…]

+ READ MORE +

The Dark Arts

A good hit for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which they have handed to the Indy on a plate. While pretending to be representatives of the Uzbek government, they have stung lobbyists Bell Pottinger something rotten. The video is fairly cringe-worthy, not least because when the words weren’t put in their mouths, the promises seemed either implausible, or hardly worth the fees.[…]

+ READ MORE +

You Can Let Your Daughters Out Again

Despite all the noise about Andy Porter being “promoted” from Political Editor and “up” to Policy Editor at the Telegraph, everyone knew that it was a humiliating side-lining. As one Telegraph insider said “we put him in charge of paper clips.” It seems he’s finally seen the light too and decided to turn to the dark side and go spin for Brunswick PR.[…]

+ READ MORE +

League Against Cruel Sports Sack Thieving Spinner

What a strange coincidence that the unpopular parts of the blogosphere have made such an effort today to try to spin a “Toffs-in-Turmoil” story about the head of the Countryside Alliance leaving their job. This comes the very same day that one of their own is up the creek – The League Against Cruel Sports Head of Comms Steve Taylor has been busted with his hands in the till.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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