Dark Force Recognised

The Mail this morning casts Gordon Brown as the Sith Emperor from Star Wars. The dark forces of the Smith Institute are still under investigation…

Civil Service Swerves Jacqui’s 42 Days Speech Under Investigation Smith Institute Serves Speech

Guido drew attention yesterday to the Smith Institute giving a platform for Jacqui Smith to sell the 42 days policy. The Smith Institute is, as a tax-exempt charity, restricted from getting involved in politics or in matters not compatible with its charitable objectives. It is currently under investigation for a second time for breaches of the Charities Act.

So what was it doing last night? Any claim that the speech given by Jacqui Smith was non-political and made in her capacity as a government minister should be dismissed. Guido understands that senior civil servants ruled that it was a political speech – hence it was not reported or distributed via the official Government News Network or spun by civil service press officers. Quite correct and proper, she was after all making the case for a politically controversial policy.

So the speech was distributed only by the Labour Party’s press office. Which raises the question – what was the legally non-partisan Smith Institute doing getting involved in this controversial area a few days ahead of a close run vote, which theoretically could turn into a confidence vote for Gordon Brown? Another example of blatantly partisan politicking from the Smith Institute.

Smith Institute Used to Sell 42 Days

Gordon Brown is in a lot of trouble over 42 days, his attachment to this Blairite legacy policy has become a trial of strength. Jacqui Smith is going round selling the policy to sceptical Labour backbenchers and implacable opposition.
Strange that tomorrow evening of all days, in the middle of this effort to sell this most politically controversial security policy, Jacqui Smith is giving a speech on the issue to a Smith Institute invited audience. Haven’t we been here before?

The Smith Institute is supposed to be an independent charitable think tank, set up “to undertake research and education in issues that flow from the changing relationship between social values and economic imperatives”. The Smith Institute during the first (2001) investigation by the Charity Commission undertook to stick to its charitable objectives – education in social and economic issues. The second investigation, now into year two, is yet to report.

How does the Home Secretary pushing government security policy in this controversial government policy area constitute “education”? Her speech is on “How can the state adapt its traditional security approach to manage a new and wider range of threats?” “Lock people up for 42 days without trial” will, Guido suspects, be the answer.

This is not even in the charity’s remit and is completely incompatible with the Smith Institute’s charitable status and stated aims. It is merely a politically convenient platform provided for Jacqui Smith when no respectable think-tank would touch the issue…

Why Do Brownies Like American Losers?

The rumour in PR Week that Stephen Carter wants Mark Penn to come over and advise Brown dumbfounds Guido. Penn, a pollster, was supposedly fired in disgrace from the Clinton campaign after he was found to be taking money to lobby against Hillary’s own policies. (It is all a bit of a sham, she doesn’t really believe in the policy, he isn’t really fired). He hasn’t exactly proved to be the wisest of counsels to Clinton has he? Clearly he will be perfect for Brown.

Gordon has fallen out with Bob Shrum, the unrivalled adviser to 8 losing Democratic Party presidential campaigns. Shrum was last seen at Heathrow, fleeing the country after a bollocking from an ungrateful Brown.

Still, the payments he picked up via the Smith Institute during his time as an adviser to Brown will cushion his hurt…

Smith Institute Cash for Policy

Guido has just noticed that Gordon’s favourite think-tank, the Smith Institute, has a new publication out today. In it the director-general of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Stephen Haddrill, calls for a way out for the insurance industry from the “vicious circle of unquantified longevity risks”.

So an insurer does not like risk – is he in the right business? He suggests shifting the risk off insurers onto taxpayers. Of course he wants the industry to be able to offer attractive low premiums by having the insurance industry state subsidised.

Guido expects big business with naked self interest to beg favours from big government, protectionism is the easy way to profits. But shouldn’t an “independent” think tank question the propriety of such an arrangement? Who benefits from this apart from shareholders in insurance companies?

Guido called the Smith Institute to find out how much they were paid by the ABI to produce the report. The public charity refused to answer the question. Guido contacted the ABI’s Jonathan French to ask the same, he has as yet not responded. Guido understands that the Smith Institute got a five-figure sum from the ABI. Would that compromise their independence or integrity?

UPDATE 16:00 : The ABI’s Jonathan French has got back to Guido with the promise of an answer and a request to spell his name correctly.

Tories Call for an Inquiry into Balls’ Bung

The Tories are calling for a Civil Service inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a 2005 payment of nearly £100,000 to Ed Balls from the already under statutory investigation Smith Institute. The payment was allegedly for his work on two pamphlets published by the Institute. Ex-employees confirm that he was never seen at the Institute’s offices during his 8 month tenure despite being paid an unheard of (for wonkland) monthly salary of over £10,000.

The Smith Institute was used as a slush fund for the Brownies. It functioned effectively as Gordon’s policy and political secretariat in his long putsch for the premiership. Once Gordon Brown was installed in No. 10, Konrad Caulkett moved seamlessly from his executive position at the Smith Institute to become a Special Adviser in Downing Street. During Konrad’s time at the supposedly non-political charity he assisted Ed Ball’s 2005 election campaign in his Normanton constituency whilst still drawing a salary from the charity.

Who stumped up for Ed Balls’ generous payments package? Could it have been wealthy property developer John Milligan? Pictured here with Brown, he is a trustee of Gordon’s charity, the Smith Institute, has given tens of thousands to the Labour party and even made a personal donation of £25,000 to Gordon’s leadership coffers.

For some strange reason Ed Balls failed to properly declare his income from the Smith Institute or get the necessary Treasury clearance required for a Special Adviser before taking the sinecure. The rules were designed to prevent conflicts of interest. It also turned out that the Treasury had made undeclared payments to the Smith Institute, by mistake of course, which were only discovered when Guido succeeded in pushing the Charity Commissioners to investigate. They were the result of a mix-up according to yet another Smith Institute trustee Paul Myners, one of Gordon’s favourite businessman who only remembered (during the week the investigation was announced) that he was himself supposed to make good the payment, some two years later.

Of course the Smith Institute received free advice and polling data from another trustee, Deborah Mattinson, whose firm coincidentally won government contracts for which they charged the Treasury £3 million. Do you think there is a strong piscine smell here?

OLR Win 90% of Government Contracts

OLR has become the Halliburton of British politics. Whereas Dick Cheney’s old firm was suspiciously successful in winning war profiteering contracts, Gordon’s crony pollster Deborah Mattinson’s OLR wins focus group and citizen’s juries contracts. Guido explained how this works in September. In May Guido revealed the £153,484.38 focus group. Why does Gordon like OLR so much? Well could it be that they get (free of charge) research results that give Gordon 92% approval ratings? Teasy May has now written to Gus O’Donnell, the head of the civil service, demanding an inquiry. She says “Citizens’ juries are increasingly looking like a sham… Not only are these glorified focus groups wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money but he has the nerve to award the contracts to his personal polling crony.” It is corrupt, plain and simple.

Tories Slam Sith “Fair Tax” Plans

This morning’s controversial Smith Institute summit on “fair taxation” was relocated from Downing Street after Guido drew attention to it. The event featured Gordon Brown’s former adviser and architect of Brown’s pensions grab, Chris Wales. As the principal architect of Gordon Brown’s pensions tax he is responsible for devastating pension funds. Today he gave the Sith a few new ideas for “fair taxes” on property to be levied through local councils.

Eric Pickles MP, Tory local government shadow didn’t hold back, he laid into the Smith Institute today – “the public will be alarmed that Gordon Brown’s advisers and favoured think-tank are calling for a toxic cocktail of local income taxes and a new national property tax.”

The Charity Commission is still investigating the Smith Institute for engaging in illegal political activity. Obviously these new policies are just a tad politically contentious…

Sith Cancel Scheduled Downing Street Meeting

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope is reporting that the Smith Institute has cancelled the meeting it was having at No. 11 Downing Street and moved it to a different central London location – the British Academy.

He says the Smith Institute refused to say where it originally planned to have the meeting – despite it stating clearly in the original invitation that it was being held “with the kind permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer”.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ EXCLUSIVE +++Tax Policy Emergency : “Call in the Smith Institute”

The non-political charity known as the Smith Institute, which is in no way a front for the Brownies, is having a Downing Street seminar on Wednesday next week.

The subject? “Fair Tax” – which is the political hot-issue of the moment for the Brownies.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

The Fink Spots Shrum Hand

Tomorrow’s Times will highlight the input of Bob Shrum into Gordon’s conference speech. It turns out to have been a formulaic re-hash of old Shrum speeches. Danny Finkelstein spotted the similarity this afternoon and the paper has since confirmed it to be the case.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Sith’s Deborah Mattinson is Advisor to Northern rock

Gordon Brown’s personal pollster, Deborah Mattinson, advises Northern Rock on corporate responsibility programmes. Presumably it was she who advised giving circa half-a-million quid to New Labour’s IPPR think-tank. How many more of Gordon’s circle have their hand in the Northern Rock till?[…]

+ READ MORE +

Charity Commission Will Publish Sith Investigation Findings

Guido contacted the investigators at the Charity Commission recently to inquire as to how the eight-month long investigation into the wrong doings of the Sith was progressing. They won’t say as yet, but did promise they would publish their report online.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Coincidence or Corruption?

Gordon’s pollster Deborah Mattinson sits on the board of Gordon’s think-tank, the Smith Institute. Her relationship with Gordon has been very profitable for her firm, OLR. According to today’s Sunday Telegraph, government contracts totalling some £3 milllion have come her way.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Sith’s Konrad Rewarded with Downing Street Job

Guido can reveal that Konrad Caulkett, the former Smith Institute “charity worker” who was responsible for organising the nearly two hundred events at 11 Downing Street which proved so controversial that the Charity Commissioners launched a statutory investigation into the affair, has become a Downing Street Special Adviser.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Sith Break the Rules, Sith Change the Rules

The Charity Commission has been foot dragging on reporting any findings from their investigation into the Smith Institute’s multiple breaches of the charity laws.

Ed Miliband, the Cabinet Office minister and frequent attendee of Smith Institute events at 11 Downing Street in the past, now reckons “Charities should be free to participate in appropriate ways in political activities.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

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