“2007 will be the year that Labour’s dark side comes to the fore. With Blair going and Brown coming, we need to prepare ourselves for an onslaught of negative campaigning and the politics of fear and division.
The real battle for Britain’s future begins: Labour’s state control versus Conservative social responsibility.”
Remember Wilf Stevenson, the institute’s director, both denies it is political (which would put it in breach of charity law) and that it is a Brownite front. Nevertheless we discovered recently that Gordon pushed to have Wilf made a working peer.* That would have meant that Brown had made him a Labour working peer for his Smith Institute work. How in any sense therefore is he non-political and non-Brownite?
This is all a “Mandelson smear” the Sunday papers were briefed. Guido has no formal link with Mandelson, but he has been digging into “the Sith” sleaze for months. When is a smear not a smear? When it is the truth.
Guido has obtained this list of events being held by the Smith Institute. You have just missed “Shaping Global Policy” – which seems an odd subject title for a non-political public charity. Isn’t policy formation a bit political?
Are these meetings open to the public in line with the charity’s charter? No. Are they anything to do with Brown’s current imperative to repaint himself as Green? They are all being held at No. 11, what do you think?
*So, yes, he would actually have become the Dark Emperor’s very own Sith Lord.
The “McSnide” statement:
Rather than respond in piecemeal fashion to these unfounded allegations and smears, we wish to make the Chancellor’s position absolutely clear – on the public record:Guido thinks Brown really wasn’t involved in the Loans for Lordships scam, but McSnide does not really deny that Gordon lobbied for Ronnie and Wilf to get peerages to become working peers. Odd because Wilf protests that he is non-political and has no relationship with Brown, who in turn claims no formal relationship with the Smith Institute. A patently false claim, since we all know that it is a Brownite operation and that if Gordon had his way his friend Wilf would now be a Sith Lord…
Neither is there any formal position for the Chancellor in the system of nominations for Labour working peers. And the Chancellor has never made any such submissions nominating an individual or individuals in letters or statements.
When asked to give his opinions informally about potential working peers to be nominated by the party, the Chancellor has, of course, been happy to give them on the basis that eligibility should naturally be based on service to the community and country, present and in the future.
Mr Stevenson, former director of the BFI and now director of the Smith Institute, and Sir Ronald Cohen of the Portland Trust are known by the Chancellor and he respects their service to public life and has no hesitation in saying they would have made valuable working peers.
But the fact is that no nomination has been made for either individual to the political honours committee, nor has the Chancellor ever submitted any letter or statement of nomination. In Sir Ronald’s case, it is understood anyway that Sir Ronald has made it clear he would not wish to be considered.
We understand that neither Mr Stevenson nor Sir Ronald has ever made loans to the Labour party.
We also know that if any donations have been made they are anyway a matter of public record under the rules and neither individual has ever discussed any such donations with the Chancellor.
And, as the register of Members’ interests confirms, at no time in Opposition and, of course, never subsequently have either of them made any donations to Mr Brown’s political office.
And in respect of the Smith Institute, set up in memory of his friend, the late John Smith, Mr Brown welcomes and encourages the work they do and their contribution to the intellectual and policy debate of the country but Mr Brown has no financial nor any formal relationship with them.
Wilf, who says the institute is non-political and “has no direct relationship with Gordon Brown”, told Eric at the meeting “What you are going to say will have a great impact on the government’s thinking”.
EMI then paid £29,375 to the New Statesman, owned by Geoffrey Robinson, the former paymaster general. The Gordon Brown backing New Statesman rents office space to the Smith Institue at below market rates. EMI has also made undisclosed*, but substantial donations to the The Smith Institute. Nor is this the only Smith Institute/New Statesman event organised by Konrad Caulkett and sponsored by EMI over the last two years.The Smith Institute held a seminar on copyright reform at No. 11 just before Gordon’s big PBR speech last week. It was a happy affair. Later, in his PBR speech Gordon went outside his usual brief to announce reform of copyright legislation.
So co-conspirators, what was Eric Nicoli really saying to the Smith Institute meeting?
*Neither EMI or the Smith Institute were willing to make a comment.
Co-conspirators and readers of this blog will have heard about Ronnie Cohen months ago.
Guido will name the the donor the institute’s director, Wilf Stevenson, told at a Smith Institute meeting “what you are going to say will have a great impact on the government’s thinking” – two months before Gordon announced the policy change wanted.
- During the 2005 election campaign when you went up to the Normanton constituency to help Ed Balls’ election campaign, were you still being paid by the Smith Institute?
- Was it in your capacity as “events coordinator” for the Smith Institute that you blew up balloons for Balls?
- Who does actually pay your salary? The salary sums don’t add up.
Isn’t it odd that a public charity, subsidised by the taxpayers through the treasury, refuses to answer questions about funding?
What has Gordon’s little helper got to hide?
To understand how Konrad joined the independent, we-are-not-political, never-heard-of-him-gov-honest-institute, we need to go back to 1999 when New Labour was just starting to look less whiter-than-white. Sarah Macaulay was part of Hobsbawm Macaulay, the PR operation that was the spin-shop of choice for New Labour, and as such had as its client the then struggling New Statesman. Struggling to some extent because the owner (Gordon’s paymaster general at the time) Geoffrey Robinson was paying £100,000 to the future Mrs Brown’s firm. This caused some outrage at the time. As PR to the magazine she became friends with the lowly marketing and promotions employee – Konrad Caulkett. He was forever complaining to Sarah about his low pay and she supported his demands to the managment for a raise. Alas, the till was empty explained the management. Sarah suggested to him that he come work for the Smith Institute for more money, she would have a word and arrange it.
Konrad moved his desk from one side of the New Statesman’s office to the other side. This is the bit they call the independent Smith Institute.* Not so independent that it doesn’t still share the tea kettle with the New Statesman.
Hopefully this will jog Konrad’s memory as to how Sarah Macaulay got Konrad his job. Hobsbawm Macaulay went bust and Sarah became Mrs Brown. Guido wonders if she has a “direct relationship” with whomever she “had a word” with?
UPDATE : The press interest is on Ed Balls’ £100,000 bung for 8 months “work” in 2005. However a co-conspirator points out that if in 2004 the Smith Institute’s 100% owned S.I. Events Limited paid no remuneration to employees, and the S.I. charity only had a wage bill of £48,278 they must have been getting below minimum wage. Four staff; Wilf Stevenson, Konrad Caulkett, Ben Shimshon and assorted £7-per-hour interns presumably had to be paid. So where did the money come from? Over to you Konrad…
More next week.
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?”
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.
Michael White is scoring the fight this morning-
The war of Prezza’s stetson is not over yet. But the political bloggers have lost the first round.