Guido called up the Smith Institute this afternoon to get an invite to go to a Bob Shrum talk he had heard they were hosting. The S.I.’s Konrad Caulkett was a bit evasive.
GF “Why?” ,
KC “You’ve missed it” he said gleefully, “we had it this morning”.
GF “Oh, was it at No. 11?”
KC “No” (defensively)
GF “Is it a secret where it was?”
GF “Where in Westminster?”
GF “How did you get your job Konrad?”
KC “Errr, can’t remember.”
GF “Was it advertised?”
KC “Can’t remember.”
GF “You can’t remember how you got your job? Did Sarah get you the job?”
KC “Sarah who?”
KC “I don’t have to talk about my friends”
GF “No you don’t…. Did Sarah Brown get you the job?”
The Smith Institute is not
a Brownite political front they repeatedly protest to the press and the Charity Commissioners. But Wilf Stevenson, editor of Brown’s yawn inducing collection of speeches, who had Gordon as his best man at his wedding, is the boss. The number two got his job through his relationship with Brown’s wife. Bob Shrum advises Gordon on polling (and is also on the S.I. pay-roll), Ed Balls got bunged £100,000 for 8 months to tide him over when he stopped working directly for Brown at the Treasury. The whole thing is run out of Brown-backing Geoffrey Robinson’s New Statesman
offices. It smells.
Over a hundred events have been held by the Smith Institute at No. 11 at the taxpayers expense – Gordon Brown himself often attends the regular Wednesday morning seminars. Who knows how much the Smith Institute gets in kickbacks* from the Treasury as rebates for “charitable donations” from secret donors. There is nothing wrong with Gordon having a slush-fund for his political ambitions, but it is wrong that it is subsidised by the taxpayer with the details kept secret from the public. The Smith Institute is legally supposed to be a charity for the education of the public, not a secretive cabal for Gordon with meetings held behind closed doors at the public’s expense.
If it isn’t a secret cabal why won’t they openly say who gives them the money? (Over £2 million). Guido has been given a few tips, and if correct he suspects it is because they do a lot of business with the Treasury and in some cases have been ennobled. Why stay in the shadows if you have nothing to hide?
*Legal, but not exactly transparent or a good example of open government.