SpAd Put Through the Mill-er

Accusations from the Tories that the Telegraph coordinated their Maria Miller expenses story to coincide with the gay marriage announcement yesterday went down very badly over at Buckingham Palace Road. Still smarting, they have thrown the ‘rules’ out of the window and published rather embarrassing communications between Miller’s people and the paper in the run up to the story coming out:

“The Telegraph has decided to disclose details of the private conversations amid widespread concern about the potential dangers of politicians being given a role in overseeing the regulation of the press. When a reporter approached Mrs Miller’s office last Thursday, her special adviser, Joanna Hindley, pointed out that the Editor of The Telegraph was involved in meetings with the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary over implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson.

“Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about,” said Miss Hindley. Miss Hindley also said the reporter should discuss the issue with “people a little higher up your organisation”.”

Not the best way to try to fight a negative story and particularly chilling in light of the fact Ofcom answers to the Culture Secretary – the exact chain of command that would control Leveson’s state backed press regulator. Eyebrows were raised about levels of experience after the Adam Smith mess at Culture when Miller hired Hindley back in September. She had been at Prince Charles’ Foundation as head of comms after a relatively junior role in the CCHQ press office. A pretty awkward situation…

Tory Minister Complained About Thea


The BBC’s Nick Robinson said he was taken by complete surprise when he learnt that his producer had been poached by the Chancellor George Osborne to beef up his dismal telly image. She was, Guido noted at the time, seen drinking with the Treasury team into the early hours at Tory party conference. Many Tories were rather surprised given that Thea Rogers worked for Labour in 2005.

Things might be a bit tense if Thea has to deal with Transport Minister Mike Penning, he once put in an official complaint about Rogers and former Labour cabinet minister James Purnell. The row even made it into Tory press releases

See also: Craig Oliver’s Late Night Lobby Briefing

More Than Windmills Spinning at DECC

Troubled times at the department for windmills and other omni-shambles. Guido hears that the hunt is on for a new Special Advisor for the DECC – a suspected nark for No.10 to keep an eye on Greg Barker and John Hayes. Despite his high-Toryism, Hayes is felt to be “wandering off reservation”. Ed Llewellyn is said to be particularly unhappy with the larger than life Minister after telling the Prime Minister that he “wouldn’t hear a peep” from Hayes just hours before last week’s wind-farm mess. Meanwhile one source says that “Barker’s lost in all this green deal crud”.

The LibDem SpAds – Chris Nicolson and Kate Waring – are said to not like the idea of a spy one little bit, and Guido understands they have kicked up a mighty fuss. What was that pre-election promise about cutting the number of advisers? 

New SpAd Appointments

Final Special Adviser appointments have been confirmed:

  • Health – Sam Talbot Rice.
  • BIS (for Fallon) – James Wild.
  • Justice – Will Gallagher
  • Home extra SpAd –  Stephen Parkinson.
  • Culture – Joanna Hindley
The full list is available here.

SpAd Movements – Glover Out of No.10

There was a big fanfare when Downing Street poached the Guardian’s Julian Glover to be chief speech-writer in October 2011. Comparisons with Sam Seaborne from the West Wing were flying around – though that may have been a bit premature – Glover has quietly left No.10 and is now the policy Special Adviser at the Department of Transport. After less than a year in the job, the man hired for his way with words to defend the coalition did not even get a conference speech under his belt.

Sources say he was keen to branch out to a more policy heavy role, but Guido is sceptical…

New Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin  has also hired Benjamin Mascall to do his media. Until recently Ben was fire-fighting on the education brief as a CCHQ press officer. McLoughlin old Whips Office adviser Chris White has gone over to Lansley as Leader of the House. Other appointments are still being cleared by No.10. 

Hunt Privatises His Circle

When Jeremy Hunt was appointed as Health Secretary it was seen as “up yours” to his countless enemies on the left and in media. After his car-crash encounter with Murdoch, many saw him as a wounded beast, and Leveson could well slaughter him. What with going on holiday in his first few weeks in the new job, it now appears as if the “up yours” attitude is here to stay.

The Guardian are sobbing over the fact that Hunt is set to appoint the gorgeous Christina Lineen as his Special Adviser. Who? Well that is the problem, Lineen is the Communications Director of Circle Health – the group that set to benefit from the NHS reforms and are currently running their first hospital. The fact that Lineen used to be a Lansley SpAd, before moving to the group two years ago, is being somewhat overlooked in the fuss. It’s a ballsy move though, and upsetting all the right people…

UPDATE: Guido can’t help but laugh at the fact that in all their anger the Guardian have forgotten to check what Ms. Lineen’s name is. It’s Christina not Christine.

Mitchell SpAd Transfer Mystery

As Tory MPs nickname their new Chief Whip “Fifty Shades”, backbenchers have been speculating whether Andrew Mitchell would be taking his Special Adviser Philipa Buckley over from the Department for International Development. Mitchell and Buckley are said to have developed a strong professional relationship, greatly aided no doubt by the extensive international travel required in his previous brief. Since the reshuffle Buckley has apparently been introducing herself as Special Adviser to the Chief Whip, but caveating that she doesn’t think she will be staying long. Why might that be then?

SpAd-flation Breaks Coalition Agreement

The Coalition Agreement is frequently referred to as the government’s “sacred text”, if that is the case it is guilty of sacrilegious behaviour with Special Advisers. The document promised “We will put a limit on the number on Special Advisers”, the last government had 80 SpAds, yet according to figures released yesterday this government now has 81 up from 69 in the last 2 years since the election. The wage bill has risen some 30% as well…

SpAd-U-Like

The new Special Adviser’s list, with updated pay, has been released this afternoon:

That public sector pay and recruitment freeze hasn’t quite been enforced all over Whitehall…

UPDATE: 

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Musical SpAds: Hunt Loses Another Aide

Survival hopes post-reshuffle for Jeremy Hunt look even bleaker this morning with the news that he has lost yet another Special Adviser.

Lisa Hunter has been poached by Iain Duncan Smith to replace Susie Squire, who was promoted to head […]

+ READ MORE +

Exclusive: No. 10 SpAd Sean Worth QuittingMoving to Policy Exchange Think Tank

Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Sean Worth is departing government to head up an investigation into better public services at Policy Exchange. It seems to be mid-term transfer season with lots of  SpAds looking to move on and out. […]

+ READ MORE +

Balls Blamed for Byrne Putsch
“The Punishment Beatings Are Back”

This snippet from Rachel Sylvester’s column, stuck behind the Times pay-wall, deserves a wider audience:

“At Westminster, Mr Balls can be overbearing. An attempt to oust Liam Byrne, the Blairite Work and Pensions Secretary, from the Shadow Cabinet, which was

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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