Another £10,000 Taxpayer Subsidy Bung to the Smith Institute

When the Food Standards Agency wanted to find out about the Effects of Nutrition in School Attainment who should they have asked?

Well apart from Jamie Oliver and everyone’s mother, they could have gone to one of the various centres of excellence in the academic world; The Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University, the Nutrition Research Review team from the department of biochemistry at UCL, the Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research at the University of Dundee would have been particularly appropriate. Maybe the Medical Research Council’s Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research at Cambridge University. These are well known and authoritative centres.

What did the highly politicised Food Standards Agency quango do instead in the aftermath of the Turkey Twizzler scandal? They called those well known experts in child nutrition, Konrad Caulkett and Wilf Stevenson at the Smith Institute. The Sith got Jon Snow in to chair the event, with Dame Deidre Hutton from the Food Standards Agency presiding.

Other seminar contributors included New Labour’s favourite headmaster Gary Philips (Lillian Baylis Technology School), Dame Suzi Leather – who was at the time at the Schools Food Trust. Paul Kelly from the contract caterers Compass Group chipped in – Compass are the firm which shoves chips down the throats of kids.

Funnily enough one of the conclusions they came to was that Mum’s packed lunch was not nutritious and the kids would be better off scoffing Compass Group’s nosh. For this conclusion to the gathering the Smith Institute was paid £10,000 of the taxpayer’s money. The actual benefit to child nutrition was zero. Subsidy value to Gordon’s charitable think tank – £10,000. Isn’t it amazing that once again it costs the taxpayer £10,000 for the Smith Institute to organise one seminar for a government quango, yet costs the Sith nothing to hold nearly 200 hundred seminars on government property at No. 11? The discovery of this latest bung follows last week’s revelation of a last-minute cover-up of another £11,750 bung to the Smith Institute direct from the Treasury. The whole thing stinks.
Even more disturbing is that Dame Suzi Leather, who attended this seminar, is a long-time Labour Party activist who now heads up the Charity Commission, which is conducting the investigation into the Smith Institute for breaches of the Charities Act. No conclusion has been reached in that investigation yet, which is in itself very worrying…

Myners Infraction or Cover-Up?

Back in February this year Guido was pressing for explanations as to the Smith Institute’s use of No. 11 Downing Street. The fact that the charity seemed to have only one beneficiary – Gordon Brown – meant that it was not only breaking the rules against political activity by a charity, it was actually functioning as a factional powerbase for Brownites. The staff and trustees were all allies of the Chancellor.
Political opponents in parliament had tabled parliamentary question after parliamentary question, all were met with stonewalling by the Treasury. Freedom of Information requests were ignored and went unanswered. Then came a breakthrough, the revelation that at a private meeting of the Smith Institute, attended by long list of Brownite allies in the media and the Labour party, the U.S. pollster Bob Shrum had advised on a strategy to defeat David Cameron’s Conservatives based on his experience fighting the Republican party. The speech transcript was proof that the allegations were well founded.

Guido made a formal complaint under Section 8 of the Charities Act. The Charity Commission indicated that it would consider taking action. It leaked out before the official announcement was made that they would commence a formal inquiry. This led to a flurry of activity at the Smith Institute and HM Treasury. Their response was transparently choreographed in the knowledge that a statutory inquiry under the Charities Act would bring previously suppressed documents and information into the public domain.

After months of pressure it was suddenly revealed that nearly two hundred meetings had been held by the Smith Institute (free of charge) at No. 11 Downing Street with the permission of the Chancellor. Guido had been alleging that the use of the building effectively amounted to a subsidy of the Smith Institute’s activities by HM Treasury. It was literally an abuse of office in all senses of the word.

In those circumstances if it were to be revealed that the Treasury had made direct payments to the Smith Institute, Gordon Brown’s political front group, it would have been extremely damaging. The charge against Brown that he was corruptly financing his political ambitions would be hard to defend.

Amazingly a letter dated February 1, 2007, and written by Paul Myners was produced to explain away just such a payment. Myners is a Smith Institute trustee, a Treasury appointed veteran of various Gordon created quangos, who is considered a safe pair of hands by Brownites. He is also a wealthy donor to Gordon’s leadership campaign.

It explained that two years previously the Treasury had paid the Smith Institute £11,750 to hold two seminars on behalf of the Myners Review into the financial sector for Gordon. It went on to claim (without explanation) that the Treasury had paid the money by mistake. That it was always Myners’ intention to pay the cost himself. That he had now, over two years later, paid the sum personally.

If the Charity Commission investigation was not going to bring knowledge of this payment into the public domain, there is no doubt that the Treasury payment to the Smith Institute would have been kept well hidden with no danger of it being discovered or repaid.

The Myners letter is here. The explanations given by Myners are frankly incredible. He is expecting us to believe that the Smith Institute accidentally invoiced HM Treasury and that HM Treasury accidentally paid the invoice. We are asked to believe that suddenly two years later he decided to pay the bill having told his “team that I would be happy to personally contribute some or all of the costs of the seminars”. But he didn’t actually do it at the time, did he?

Why the Two Year Interval?

Could it be that the imminent and inevitable exposure of the payment by HM Treasury to the Smith Institute during the course of the Charity Commission’s investigation was the real and only reason the payment was now refunded by Myners to the Treasury? It was a plain and simple cover up – long after the event – by Myners to help his friend Gordon Brown out of a politically difficult situation.

Editorial Advisory : 17:00 GMT Today

The whole Wonks-on-the-Taxpayer scam is much more widespread than this morning’s Times story reveals. Paul Myners is not only a donor to Brown’s coronation campaign, he was central to a less than credible cover-up of Treasury payments to the Smith Institute. Doubt he will be plain “Mr” Myners after Brown gets control of the honours list…

Full story this evening.

How Much Does Gordon’s Pollster Charge for a 1-Day Seminar?

Guido has said it before and he’ll say it again, the way Gordon Brown’s pollster, Deborah Mattinson at Opinion Leader Research, gets contracts is not right.

Hidden away in an announcement made quietly on May 4, when all our attention was on the local election results, was the news that OLR had won another government contract to organise a one-day seminar.

£153,484.38 was the price the taxpayer paid OLR for a one-day seminar on the “The Skills Challenge: A Public Debate” in February. That should subsidise a hell of a lot of free polling for Gordon.

Sith Come to Gordon’s Aid in Scotland

The SNP’s fight for freedom and self determination for Scotland is hitting Gordon hard on his home turf. Gordon has been arguing that the SNP would damage the economy and the party has no support from the business community.

So when the SNP listed 100 leading businessmen who were supporting them, Gordon was not amused. A counter list of 100 businessman opposed to Scottish independence was hastily assembled. An advert was placed in The Scotsman by these “non-partisan” business leaders. Guido understands that it was financed by John Milligan, who is also a trustee of the Smith Institute…

Sith Pollster Believed UnderProfessional Standards Investigation

As if Gordon’s Sith allies didn’t have enough problems with the Charity Commission investigation, it appears that the Market Research Standards Board is to investigate Opinion Leader Research, Gordon Brown’s pollster. Guido called the Standards Board to get confirmation, but they said they could not comment on individual cases. When Guido asked them to confirm they weren’t investigating OLR, they declined.

Guido has previously noted the cosy closeness of the relationship between OLR, HM Treasury, the Smith Institute, Deborah Mattinson and Gordon Brown. Whenever more objective polls are gloomy for Gordon, OLR can be relied on to produce “Gordon more popular than sliced bread” stories.Other pollsters are very sniffy about OLR’s methodology and the fact that despite not even having a field team they still manage to win juicy government contracts, most recently for the polling for the London Olympics. It obviously helps to have contacts at the highest levels of government when bidding for those contracts…

Hat-tip: Pendennis

Slippery as a Silverfish

Dizzy got a nice scoop* yesterday. Basically Silverfish TV have bought up gordonbrown4leader.com and similar sites. So what? Well Gordon doesn’t officially have a campaign and when he does he will be expected to list cash donations and donations in kind. The Electoral Commission is taking a tough line on this sort of stuff. Silverfish rushed out an explanation that they had bought the domain merely as a speculative punt to make money (something – as Dizzy points out this morning – is prohibited by the internet authorities). Guido frankly finds it unbelieveable that Silverfish really were going to try and make a quick profit out of Gordon Brown.

Silverfish.TV are Labour’s preferred new media / video producers, doing most recently Scottish and Welsh Labour’s Party Political Broadcasts. They also did the “Dave the Chameleon” video for Labour, for free. Obviously it costs quite a lot to do an expensive CGI animation, but they didn’t charge the Labour party a penny. They do however have a number of juicy contracts awarded by Labour cronies and paid for by the taxpayer.

Do you see a pattern here? The Smith Institute is paid thousands of pounds to organise seminars for HM Treasury at the taxpayers expense. The Smith Institute gets to use No. 11 Downing Street for seminars for free. Opinion Leader Research is paid huge amounts to do polling for HM Treasury. Opinion Leader Research does polling for the Smith Institute for free. Silverfish are paid by Downing Street at fat rates, subsidising them to do “Dave the Chameleon” attack videos and coincidentally buy campaign websites on Gordon’s behalf for free.

It is a corrupt practice, Gordon’s campaign bills are being picked up by the taxpayer indirectly. In a secretive, behind closed doors, third-world style, “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours way”. He is running an undeclared campaign, it is funded, and no declarations are being made to the Electoral Commission because the funding is covert. Donors get tax relief from HM Treasury on donations to the Smith Institute, which is a charity of which Gordon is the only identifiable beneficiary. His pollster gets HM Treasury contracts and produces positive push polling for him. Labour’s friendly new media production outfit similarly wins Whitehall contracts and does work for Labour and Gordon for free. It has come to something when Nigerian newspapers are running stories about political corruption in Britain which feature the Smith Institute.

*Notice how despite Channel 4 News and the Times running with it, no credit was given to Dizzy. They say bloggers are parasitical leeches on the Dead-Tree-Press etc.

Smith Institute : Polly Advised Sith on the “Legend for the Left” Against Tories the Month Before 2005 General Election

MPs like Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Liam Byrne, Martin Salter discussing with Polly Toynbee anti-Tory political strategies is nothing new, discussing them at a non-partisan, non-political charity event would be very interesting. That is exactly what they did at a seminar held on Tuesday 22nd March 2005 on the very eve of the General Election.Also attending were – surprise, surprise – Deborah Mattinson and Scarlett McGwire from Opinion Leader Research, pollsters for the Treasury.

Polly advised the Labour team about the Tory’s tactics; “Dog whistling is exactly what it is: hitting and running day after day, leaving Labour looking lame, wrong footed, unable to keep up. All the more important is to be able to produce the kind of moral vision that is envisaged here or is beginning to be described here.”

All the more important for who? Ed Balls tells her he was “very taken by Polly’s language in terms of a need for a legend for the left.” The seminar transcript goes on and on. So the question is – does the Charity Commission still believe that the Smith Institute is non-political?

Isn’t it just Gordon Brown’s strategic campaigning arm?

UPDATE : Christopher Hope in the Telegraph has discovered that Ed Balls advocated a new NHS tax at another closed meeting of the Sith.

Smith Institute : Final Nail in the Non-Partisan Coffin

On Monday night Margaret Beckett made a speech that hammered the last nail in the non-partisan coffin for the Smith Institute. This is despite the Smith Institute currently being under investigation by the Charities Commission under Section 8 of the

[…]

May the Force* Be With You

To the Jedi going into Sith HQ tonight - do give Guido’s regards to Konrad.

Beckett is speaking about John Smith. Maybe the co-conspirators / Jedi should ask her about the secret political slush fund she operated during his period

[…]

Sith’s "Operation Bluewash" Infiltrated by Co-conspirators

Despite applying well in advance to the “public” event advertised in the Speccie as part of the Smith Institute’s Operation Bluewash - “we’re not Gordon’s front-group, look we invite Tories via adverts in the Spectator” – Guido’s invitation never arrived.

[…]

Mirror’s Maguire Brown-Nosing Into Downing Street

Kevin Maguire fantasises that he will be the Alastair Campbell of the Brown regime. He has Campbell’s old job as political editor at the Mirror and certainly sucks up to Gordon enough to make himself a candidate to follow his

[…]



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