Smith Institute Report

Guido is digesting the lengthy Charity Commission report. The Smith Institute has been found guilty of charge after charge first highlighted on this blog.

Back with fuller comment soon.

UPDATE : There seem to be some errors of fact which Guido will be highlighting.

+++ Charity Commission Smith Institute Report Tomorrow +++

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…

How They Fiddle a Political Conference on the Taxpayer

Today’s conference has nothing at all to do with tomorrow’s conference. Total coincidence that there is a private conference on today and another one tomorrow. This is to keep within Civil Service rules about civil servants doing political work. Tomorrow’s thing is being organised by the Civil Service (paid for by you), whereas today’s is by the Policy Network, with funding that isn’t clear (except there’s a big shout-out to David Sainsbury in the program). That would be David Sainsbury who just shuffled some of his assets around last week to save himself £28 million in Capital Gains Taxes since Alistair hiked the rate 80%.

So these conferences are completely separate, got that? Different organisers, different logos, the whole lot. You even had to accredit twice, with different people. By an uncanny coincidence, of the sort that one sees all the time in real life, they feature the same people, meeting in the same place, under the same title (Progressive Governance). But they’re totally different things.

Just like when Gordon’s Smith Institute invited U.S. pollster Bob Shrum to outline an attack strategy against David Cameron to an invited audience of Polly Toynbee, Ed Balls, Dougie Alexander and the rest of the Brownies fan club in the media. That invite wasn’t from the independent non-partisan charity the Smith Institute. It was from the private limited company called the Smith Institute, 100% owned by the Trustees of the charity, from the same office, with the same people. But a totally different thing.

All the SpAds and ministers and security are at the conference on the public payroll. Guido would be surprised if other subsidies hadn’t slipped through. The same applies to all the foreign attendees as well. The Euro-gravy train has come, at their respective taxpayer’s expense, via the channel tunnel bringing the social democratic elite to wine and dine. They really know how to trough on the continent. The British taxpayer is picking up the tab for the European socialist’s weekend break in London courtesy of Gordon Brown. Bet you are happy about that…

Questions About the Progressive Governance Summit

Why is the British taxpayer picking up the tab for what the organisers said candidly “is the largest ever international gathering of international centre-left leaders, policy-makers and thinkers”?
Oops. That kind of blows the lid off it being an inter-governmental, non-partisan affair doesn’t it? If it is an inter-govermental affair, why is Wilf Stevenson on the guest list? Since when was the director of the Smith Institute an “independent and non-partisan” think-tank that has nothing to do with Gordon Brown, part of the government?

This is just a jamboree for the international parties of the tax and spend policy persuasion, paid for by taxpayers. You can be sure that they will not be holding back on the wine list either. What Guido wants to know is: how much this junket for global social democracy is costing British taxpayers?

More soon…

UPDATE : Unbelievably delegates at the conference’s plush Grove Hotel just laughed and clapped as the Chilean finance minister talked about the “poetic justice” of the subprime crisis. What planet are these people on? Millions of people around the world are losing their homes and they laugh?

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.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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 the rest

+ 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 the rest

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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 the rest

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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 the rest

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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 the rest

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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 the rest

+ READ MORE +



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