By-Election Watch: Lobbyist Reunion in Corby

Labour’s Corby campaign might have posed problems for Tom Watson and his team over the last few weeks, but there were smiles all round yesterday as two former public sector lobbyists enjoyed a reunion in the sun. The highlight was Labour chief whip Rosie Winterton posing with party candidate Andy Sawford as she opened Labour’s new campaign bunker. Cosy.

Yorkshire mafia footsoldier Winterton is a former employee of Connect Public Affairs, a lobbying firm with close links to the Labour Party. Connect currently employs ex-Unite trade unionist Tom Denney, Yvette Cooper’s former adviser Caroline Gordon, David Blunkett’s ex-researcher Emily Wallace and Gill Morris, described as “the best connected Labour lobbyist in the business“. Another former employee of this merry band of lefty lobbyists? One Andy Sawford…

Why Tim Yeo is Really Upset About Green Cuts

Guido’s old adversary Tim Yeo has been flying the green flag once again this morning, laying into George Osborne for failing to back renewable energy. Yeo sided with Energy Secretary Ed Davey in his dispute with the Treasury: “They are working particularly to target some Conservative backbenchers, pursuing a policy designed to prove that they are not going to get into so-called costly green initiatives. It is extraordinary.”

Rather more extraordinary is the vast amount of money Tim rakes in from his personal investments in green companies. In the past twelve months Yeo has made over £60k as chairman of TMO Renewables, a company which develops and supplies technology for second generation biofuels. He is also chair of AFC Energy, an alkaline fuel cell technology that pays him over £50k per year. Guido has visited this before:

Given that Yeo makes over £100,000 each year from private green investments, using his role  to lobby on behalf of the industry for subsidies represents a serious conflict of interest. This is the Chairman of the Energy Select Committee.  Replace the words “green” with “oil”…

Portland Lobbyist Alastair Campbell Slags Off Firm’s Star Client

Guido is not quite sure why Apple will bother to retain Portland for thousands per month when one of their big name fixers takes to Twitter to lambast the company to his 150,000 influential followers:

Maybe Campbell should have picked up the phone…

Michel Threatens Hunters

So the fightback begins, and not just from Hunt, who quite fairly wants his day in court. The statement he put out last night claimed some of the information was inaccurate and it later emerged the the Permanent Secretary at Culture had given permission for Hunt SpAd Adam Smith to hand hold BSkyB through the bid. Guido doubts that permission would have extended to accurate pre-parliament tip-offs though…

The other man kicking back is the spinmeister Fred Michel who has given a less than subtle threat via Iain Martin:

“If a diary of all Fred Michel’s meetings with senior government figures and MPs was to be published at some point, then a lot of well-placed people in the three main parties would feature. Oh, and he’s a neighbour and close friend of Nick Clegg. This could get even messier.”

By the end of Rupert Murdoch’s testimony today we could all be talking about much more than Hunt…

Exclusive: Sarah Southern’s Thatcher Business Card

Thanks to an anonymous reader who goes by the name Paw the Mutton. They liked it so much that they laminated it…

UPDATE: For maximum amusement Guido is after the much rumoured Southern and Fox card. And the rest. They are out there somewhere. Get in touch if you find one.

Ed Commits To Transparency, Yet Still No Rudd Dinner List

Ed just told ITV News: “I’m very happy to be open and transparent about what we’re doing.” A nice platitude. And another promise. Now for the action:

Time to cough up who was at this dinner and whether any “wonga” was involved…

Sarah Southern Had Other Tories on Her Business Cards
Links to Transatlantic Lobbying Group Masked

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.

Debate Tonight:
“Lobbyists Are Paid to Thwart the Democratic Will.”

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…

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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

[…]

+ READ MORE +

READ: The Full Lobbyist Register Consultation Document

Could be tougher all round…[…]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ 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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