Friday, April 11, 2008

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…

Friday, April 4, 2008

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?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

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.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

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?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

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…

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

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”.

Hope has picked up on the use of “Fair” by Gordon yesterday at his press conference in reference to tax, and the seminar’s “Fair Tax” title. Could they somehow be related?

Anti-sleaze campaigner Chris Grayling MP agrees; “It looks like an amazing coincidence that the Smith Institute is riding once again to the rescue in areas where Gordon Brown is having political problems.”

Monday, October 8, 2007

+++ 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. Is this what Gordon meant this morning when he said he wanted more time to “forensically” take apart Osborne’s proposals?

Judging by the copy of the invitation Guido has obtained, it looks like the Smith Institute is being tasked with developing a political response strategy for dealing with the non-domicile and inheritance tax proposals – Osborne has pushed Brown into uncomfortably defending tax-free billionaires. Something the Brownies would not have been expecting…

No wonder Smith Institute director Wilf Stevenson is inviting people to 11 Downing Street “with the kind permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer”they need a new tax philosophy and fast.

UPDATE : The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies is distinctly unimpressed at the claim that the event is part of a jointly held seminar series. Bonnie Brimstone the events organiser at the IFS told Guido she had not heard anything about it, Robert Chote the Director of the IFS was more diplomatic, when Guido put it to him that Wilf’s invite said it was a joint seminar he demurred “I wouldn’t describe it that way”.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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. Shrum is understood to have been given a desk in Downing Street.

Guido need hardly remind readers that Bob Shrum was paid by Gordon’s think-tank, the Smith Institute, to advise him on political strategy. It was documentary evidence of that blatantly illegal activity (provided by Guido) which triggered the ongoing Charity Commission investigation. Ed Balls also berthed at the Smith Institute between leaving his job as a Treasury SpAd and becoming an MP – he was paid a little short of £100,000 for writing a couple of pamphlets.

With the transfer also of Konrad Caulkett from the Smith Institute to Downing Street as well, it is abundantly clear that the Smith Institute has served its purpose – preparing the ground for the Brown premiership. All unlawfully subsidised by the taxpayer…

Friday, September 7, 2007

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.

Gordon is pushing for a change in the laws the Smith Institute broke so that their actions are decriminalised. He told voluntary workers this week

“I do not personally believe that you can be an effective community and charity organisation… if you’re somehow limited in advocacy and your ability to speak and campaign on things you think are wrong. It should not be wrong for you to say `we urge you to support this cause.’ That’s a controversial thing as well.”

Ed Miliband, the ultra-Brownite Cabinet Office minister and frequent attendee of Smith Institute events at 11 Downing Street in the past, also reckons “Charities should be free to participate in appropriate ways in political activities. There are clear benefits to society from allowing charities to do so.” Clearly such a change would benefit the Smith Institute and that charity’s sole beneficiary – G. Brown.

Nevertheless this will be a change in the law that will allow tax rebates for political campaigning. Surprisingly enough Guido favours the change. Guido has never yet met a tax deduction he hasn’t liked…

Just so long as it is not retrospective and doesn’t get the sleazy Sith off the hook. Which is why a timely conclusion to the Charity Commission’s investigation is now overdue.


Seen Elsewhere

Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome
UKIPers Will Come Home in 2015 | Sun


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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