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…
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 of press at CCHQ.
Clearly IDS is seen as a safer job prospect…
UPDATE: Another Hunt SpAd gets in touch to say Hunter was covering maternity leave.
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. Worth was on secondment to fire-fight at health and Guido hears, like another recently departed member of Team Dave, he wants to be able to speak out more than he currently can about how to radically reform the public sector.
This is the second prominent hire for Policy Exchange from government – with No.10 policy wonk James O’Shaughnessy also joining their team. Traditionally seen as a bit of a SpAd school, Policy Exchange seems to becoming a rehab centre for them on the way out of government too…
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 resisted by Mr Miliband, is blamed by some on the Shadow Chancellor’s bovver boys. “There’s a gang within the gang,” says an insider. “The punishment beatings are back.” One MP compares Mr Balls and his wife, Yvette Cooper, to the Borgias who just can’t help plotting.”
Belardinelli the bovver boy has a certain ring to it…
The LibDems are continuing to claim that they are untainted by BSkyB bid revelations this week. While it is true that Cable’s SpAd Giles Wilkes set the example of how Adam Smith should have been dealing with News Corp spinmeister Fred Michel, the email chains are still damning for the party. When Wilkes rejected a meeting it seems that Michel went to other LibDem spinners and found success with Jonny Oates, the former Bell Pottinger director turned Clegg SpAd, who as Guido reported yesterday was happy to help and brief. But he didn’t stop there…
Paul Marshall, the founder hedge fund Marshall Wace, is a LibDem donor. Crucially he’s also an adviser to Nick Clegg.
Here not only does Marshall acknowledge a meeting with James Murdoch to discuss the bid, he also gives further advice, in writing, for Fred Michel to pass on to his boss:
He recommends BSkyB beef up their PR team and goes so far as to recommend his friend and Brunswick chief Alan Parker. All of this is so that BSkyB can get the “easy win” that Marshall clearly supports adding: “I wish you luck. You have built a great business and it must be very frustrating to be penalised for your success.” It doesn’t sound like all the LibDems were at war with Murdoch…
Hunt’s SpAd has been resigned for apparently speaking to News Corp without Hunt’s permission, but it does not stop there. Section 4 of the Special Advisers code states:
“The responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment.”
That is also confirmed in section 3.3 of the Ministerial Code:
“All special advisers must uphold their responsibility to the Government as a whole, not just their appointing Minister. The responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment. Individual Ministers will be accountable to the Prime Minister, Parliament and the public for their actions and decisions in respect of their special advisers. It is, of course, also open to the Prime Minister to terminate employment by withdrawing his consent to an individual appointment.”
With Hunt up at 12.30, Guido is wondering how he’s going to try claim his SpAd was acting rogue when last night he said the contact was authorised?
UPDATE: Adam Smith says:
“While it was part of my role to keep News Corporation informed throughout the BskyB bid process, the content and extent of my contact was done without authorisation from the Secretary of State. I do not recognise all of what Fred Michel said, but nonetheless I appreciate that my activities at times went too far and have, taken together, created the perception that News Corporation had too close a relationship with the department, contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt and the permanent secretary that this needed to be a fair and scrupulous process. Whilst I firmly believe that the process was in fact conducted scrupulously fairly, as a result of my activities it is only right for me to step down as special adviser to Jeremy Hunt.”
They have now admitted that there was wrong doing. The rules are very clear…
Well in his head at least…
Labour have spent all morning spinning the line that last night’s vote on the 45p tax rate was not a vote on it and that their abstention was not a massive howler. Well now Guido has seen a chain of emails between nervous political advisers looking to Balls’ bruiser Alex Belardinelli for direction on how to clean up his mess. Bear in mind that Belardinelli and Balls have spent the morning denying that this was a cock up or anything other than part of their grand master plan:
From: “BELARDINELLI, Alex”
Date: 27 March 2012 09:42:32 GMT+01:00
Subject: Re: Fwd: Nats in 50p
Truth is there was a screw up somewhere along the way last night and it wasn’t clear what SNP had called a vote on or how, so we abstained on their vote.
Line is: we voted against whole Budget package which obviously includes 50p (first vote at 10pm), and we will seek to amend and vote on the Finance Bill on 50p, plus other issues of concern like the changes to allowances for pensioners (granny tax). There’s not much more we can say beyond that.
Who would have thought that someone trained in the dark arts by firstly Tom Watson and then Balls would say one thing in public and something very different in private…