Friday, May 14, 2010

Farm-Gate : Spelman’s Agri-Business, Bio-Tech Lobbying Past

On the campaign trail David Cameron said

“It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”

This week Cameron appointed Caroline Spelman to be the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Obviously he feels that nanny-gate is all water under the bridge. Spelman’s long history in agricultural politics and lobbying somehow makes her an ideal candidate for the job in his judgment.

Spelman spent her days before becoming an MP in the agri-business, with a lobbying focus mainly on sugar beet, one of  the most heavily subsidised crops in Europe. She was the Sugar Beet Commodity Secretary for the NFU in the early eighties before becoming  Deputy Director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers. Seemingly well connected in the field, Caroline and her husband Mark went on to set up “Spelman, Cormack & Associates” in 1989 as a food and bio-technology lobbying company.

For over ten years the new Secretary of State, along with her husband, lobbied the very department she now runs. Caroline resigned as a director less than a year ago and conveniently transferred her share of the company to her husband.  The company address was also changed from her constituency home, for which Spelman claimed around £40,000 on expenses for cleaning and bills, to their million pound London flat. According to the company accounts last year, no rent was paid on this “office” subsidised by the taxpayers.

Mark Spelman, who was also a Tory candidate (unsuccessful), uses both his name and his wife’s maiden name (Cormack) on his firm’s letterhead – that won’t hinder business.  After all, the Minister who is now the number one target to be lobbied has her name on the company letterhead. Caroline Spelman lobbied for the industry and is now in charge of negotiating quotas, subsidies and price tariffs with the EU Agricultural Council. Her “family firm”  deals with bio-tech clients that the Secretary of State is now responsible for regulating in the GM foods sector.   As a result of anti-competitive EU regulations and industry lobbying British consumers are forced to pay prices for sugar which are massively inflated in comparison to the rest of the world. Did Cameron know that she was so recently a shareholder in a  lobbying firm focused on Defra before he appointed her to the position?  Because the whole thing taints politics and shows the far-too-cosy relationship between lobbyists, government, business and money…

Thursday, April 29, 2010

+ + + Bristol Police Receive Official Complaint + + +
+ + + Kerry McCarthy Accused of Breaching Electoral Law + + +
+ + + First Case of Electoral Twitter Crime + + +

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ban The Bercow

The non-partisan online fund-raising site YouFund.Me.uk has raised thousands in small online donations to beat Ed Balls, hundreds to unseat Nadine Dorries and is aiming to raise even more money for Nigel Farage in his bid to unseat Bercow.  Guido will bet that a lot of conservatives around the country will be donating to get rid of Bercow.  The unprecedented “Friends of the Speaker” slush fund has ensured Bercow will be fighting for survival hard, so why not throw Farage a tenner to oust the troughing flipper…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Calamity Clegg’s Cab Cock-Up

Having sworn blind that Lord Rennard was not involved in the Liberal Democrat campaign, Cowley Street looks a little silly this morning given The Sun’s dossier scoop. In a blunder, Clegg’s spinner John Sharkey’s notes on debate rehearsals – including how Clegg is being coached to imitate, yet slam, David Cameron, were left in the back of a cab.

Lord Rennard’s role in manifesto planning and organisation is referenced and amusingly, true to form, he was keen on involving token women. Less funny is the fact that Cowley Street staffer Phil Reilly lied to Guido.  Yesterday he said categorically Rennard was in no way involved in Clegg’s campaign. Does he now want to retract that and apologise for lying to Guido?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Disgraced Rennard’s Return

Chris Rennard stood down as the CEO of the Liberal Democrats citing ill health. Nothing to do with the outrage caused by the £41,000 in expenses he claimed for his “holiday home” in Vauxall-on-Sea. Let’s not forget all those other skeletons in the cupboard too.

Well the rotund trougher is back. He was spinning for Clegg in Manchester and has been spotted going in and out of the Lib Dems Cowley Street HQ. When Guido put a call in to ask them what his official role in the campaign was the inept spinner replied “Oh I’m not even sure what his unofficial role is.”

So we know he is back but they have taken over an hour and still no response to what his official role is, how much he is being paid and whether he has recovered from the health reasons that saw him stand down… Still waiting for that return call.

UPDATE: So the official line is that Rennard was in Manchester in a “personal capacity” and “he is not part of our campaign team“. That doesn’t really wash given that the Manchester debate site was on lock down and someone would had to have cleared his pass. Is he also going in and out of Party headquarters in a “personal capacity”?

UPDATE: Cowley Street’s Phil Reilly has got himself into a right teenage rage with this one. He claims because he hasn’t personally seen Rennard in HQ he’s not been there, but that’s not what Guido’s witnesses say.  The line has also changed to Rennard being a “guest of a media organisation” in Manchester.  Everyone there was a “guest of a media organisation” – namely ITV who hosted the event.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gordon’s Gangsters

The downfall of Steven Purcell, Labour’s disgraced former head of Glasgow council has opened up the lid on the rank corruption at the heart of the Labour Party. Three of their MPs face criminal trials and Purcell is now being investigated by the police for Class A drug use and “other matters”, namely to do with his alleged flogging of council contracts to his criminal mates. The Scottish coppers have started interviewing his Labour colleagues over their business deals and drugs links. Further to that the candidate selected to replace Jim Devine has been reported to the police by his own council boss for alleged offences under the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act. Perhaps they could share a cell.

Despite being repeatedly asked on television and in the House, Gordon is still being cagey about the problems engulfing his old tribe. Ironically it was the SNP’s John Mason, who won the Glasgow East by-election, who asked Gordon his last ever PMQs question. Gordon again claimed he would “investigate” a conference call between Downing Street and Scottish Labour where Mr Purcell’s little problems were discussed and ruled him unsuitable to stand in that very by-election. He said exactly the same two weeks before.

Three times he has dodged answering and given the growing list of Scottish Labour mob connections you can see why he wants to keep his distance. Once would be unfortunate, twice a coincidence, but on top of the trials and police investigations, the Labour Party have been exposed as associated with organised crime in Scotland dozens of times in the last few years. Cagey Jim Murphy even had a well-known mobster pop into his fundraiser for this election. In the Labour heartlands the party is as bent as a nine bob note.

Monday, April 12, 2010

School of Piglets

Just as the curtain is brought down on this rotten parliament, it seems the next generation of wannabes have taken a leaf out of their book. When the UK Youth Parliament were allowed to use the Commons for a debate, Bercow told them “This is an historic moment and one which I hope will show young people that the House of Commons, and the work that goes on here, is relevant to their lives.Clearly they were paying attention as the kids have now been embroiled in their very own expenses crisis.

Replace duck houses and phantom mortgages with “pizzas, chicken wings and fizzy drinks“.  A whistle-blower claims taxpayers money was being re-directed from deprived kids and spent on taxis and Blackberries,”“I said it was nothing short of corruption.” The former head of the Scottish Youth Parliament branded the organisation as nothing more than a booze fuelled “knocking shop“. Seems the kids have taken to the lifestyle like ducks to water.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sadiq Khan Facing Met Fraud Investigation

This morning’s Times is reporting that the Met are considering an investigation into the Transport Minister for a very dodgy receipt. Khan had his expenses claim rejected for birthday cards after the Fees Office  told him in no uncertain terms that his claim was against the rules.

khan and coppersKhan’s printing company Public Impact, run by former Labour Party staffers, then sent another invoice which Khan submitted to the Fees office. Crucially this one did not identify the bill was for greetings cards, the Fees Office coughed up for it the following month.

This goes beyond sleaze and is borderline fraud, over to you Scotland Yard…

Labour Sponsored Whelan’s Pass

Finally we know how Charlie Whelan had free reign of the parliamentary estate:

Mr. Dunne: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood of 24 March 2010, Official Report, column 295W, on Charlie Whelan, what type of pass Mr. Whelan holds; when it was issued; and who the sponsor is of the pass.

Nick Harvey: Mr. Whelan holds a temporary pass (light blue) issued in June 2009. It is sponsored by the parliamentary Labour party from within an agreed allocation.

It was speculated that he was there on as a union officer,  but in light of this revelation, his claims that he is not officially connected to the Labour campaign look particularly shaky. What was the justification for this high level access granted to, essentially, a lobbyist for vested interests?

UPDATE: PA are now reporting that Bercow is to look into the reasons behind why Whelan was given the pass.  Michael Fabricant asked the House: “You will recall that the Prime Minister asserted in previous Prime Minister’s questions that he is in no way connected with the Labour party. Has any indication been given to you that the Prime Minister now wishes to correct his original assertion, which was untrue?” Quite.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Scotland in the Dock

Anyone who finds themselves in a little difficulty regarding hiring illegal immigrants can have some free legal advice from the Attorney General. Having originally briefed the press about seeing a passport and Home Office letter showing that her Tongan maid had the right to work in Britain, the highest law officer in the land was “close to tears” as she argued she had been duped. She went on to say she had been going through a ‘very tough time’ when she took her cleaner on.

So if the person responsible for drafting and passing the law can get away with breaking it with this line, so can all the businesses bankrupted for falling foul of the rules, right?


Seen Elsewhere

Hunt Told Off By Former Head | TES
Scrap Tax on Family Flights | ConHome
Has May Declared War on Downing Street? | James Kirkup
The Nasty Left | Dan Hodges
Men Flock to UKIP | Andrew Cadman
London-Britain Divide | Alex Wickham
Pickles Puts Prezza’s Surplus Stationary to Use | Speccie
How Capitalists Can Win the Argument | CapX
Theresa May, or Maybe Not | Spectator Life
YouGov: Working Class Prefers UKIP to Labour | Times
Sainsbury’s Disowns Left-Wing Blogger | Mail


Find out more about PLMR AD-MS


A ‘senior Conservative party official’ passes judgement on Theresa May:

“She is boring. A technocrat. She is Philip Hammond with a fanny. Not interesting, but rendered interesting by circumstance. And that circumstance is that she is a woman. And in an age when the Prime Minister gets it in the neck for refusing to wear a fucking T-shirt that says he is a feminist, that is a rocket boost right underneath you.”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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