Musical SpAds

A few re-jigs of the SpAd list after the weekend’s little upsets. With Danny Alexander moving, perhaps temporarily, to the Treasury, MP-turned-Special Advisor Willie Rennie keeps his job now becoming Michael Moore’s bag carrier in the Scotland Office. Alexander’s other SpAd, Alison Suttie, Clegg’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, appears to be out on her ear though as her old boss will no longer have time to mess about with Clegg in the Cabinet Office.

It could all change back though, the bookies reckon there is a 40% chance Laws will be back by Christmas

Susie Squire Slips in to Spinning at the DWP for IDS

Guido is particularly pleased to add Susie Squire (pictured here briefing a senior political journalist) to the list of SpAds, bag carriers and wonks going over to government. She joins Philippa Stroud working at the DWP for Iain Duncan-Smith.  Formerly at the Taxpayers’ Alliance she will now be part of the team exorcising / reforming the welfare system.

Additions to the list include Richard Parr who follows Andrew Mitchell to DfID, Poppy Mitchell-Rose who goes with Osborne to the Treasury.  Honor Fishburn, daughter of Dudley Fishburn the former Tory MP for Kensington and Chelsea, goes to Downing Street to do Andy Coulson’s bidding and Cameron’s speech writing team of Ameet Gill and Claire Foges follow him from CCHQ to become the PM’s speech writing team.

There are still a few more names left to be confirmed…

The Final Special Advisers List*

Guido’s list of the assorted SpAds, bag carriers and spinners is pretty much complete. He has yet to sub-categorise it into naughty and nice though. Thank you to all those who helped out with the tip-offs. One newspaper editor told Guido they had printed it off for reference in his newsroom. Guido has kept their mobile numbers to himself…

*Almost complete, subject to revision, not legally binding, do not swallow whole.

More LibDems Added to the SpAd List


The list includes a few more LibDem names, forinstance Giles Wilkes is tipped to move from the Centre Forum think tank to Vince Cable’s office.

Guido has had a few complaints that people on the list are not strictly speaking Special Advisers. Guido is using the term loosely, basically the people on this list are political appointments of various kinds doing the bag carrying for Ministers, some are not your usual wonky, spinning, greasy pole-climbing SpAds – clearly Sir Peter Ricketts heading up the National Security Council for Hague is not a teenage bag carrier.  Nic Boles for example is an MP but glides in out of the Cabinet Office helping the Implentation Unit in some unspecified and presumably unpaid way.  One way or another they’re on Guido’s list…

More SpAd’s

Further to the first list of special advisers earlier here are a few more:

Andrew Mitchell – Philippa Buckley. Guido never reveals sources, but someone got in touch who is very proud of his little girl!

Eric Pickles – Sheridan Westlake (who many thought would never leave CCHQ alive) and Giles Kenningham.

Philip Hammond – Sian Jones

Theresa May – Nick Timothy and Fiona Cunningham

Oliver Letwin – Martha Varney

Liam Fox – Luke Coffey and Oliver Waghorn

William Hague – Denzil Davidson, Arminca Helic and Chloe Dalton. Seems Hague didn’t get the memo about only having two SpAds.

Caroline Spelman – Simon Cawte. Let’s hope this time his pay is all in order.

Sir George Young – Robert Riddell

Jeremy Hunt – Sue Beeby and Adam Smith

Perhaps if the government open sourced their information as promised they wouldn’t need so many advisers, weren’t we all invited to join the government?  Keep it coming.

Mad SpAd Jostling Climax

Despite promising to clamp down on the numbers, the list of new Special Advisers is steadily growing:

David Cameron
Chief of Staff: Ed Llewellyn, Deputy Chief of Staff: Kate Fall, Strategy Adviser: Steve Hilton. Policy Advisers: James O’Shaughnessy, Oliver Dowden, Tim Chatwin. Head of Strategic Comms: Mark Flanagan

No surprises here really except the retention of Mark Flanagan, a hangover from the old regime, who famously shot “that video” of Gordon smiling.

Nick Clegg
Special Advisers and media: Sean Kemp, Jonny Oates, Lena Pietsch and Chris Saunders

Oates was poached back by Clegg from Bell Pottinger. Very new politics. When blonde bombshell Lena Pietsch and Clegg don’t want the media to know what they are talking about they converse in German.

William Hague
Chief of Staff: Arminka Helic. National Security Adviser: Sir Peter Ricketts

Michael Gove
Special Adviser: Henry De Zoete

Gove’s SpAd was expected to be Dominic Cummings but the story goes that Coulson vetoed this. The reason it took Gove so long to be announced as Education Secretary was due to the fact he was in a locked battle. He told Couslon if he couldn’t have Cummings he wouldn’t take the job. Cummings told Gove not to be so daft, and left.

George Osborne
Special Advisers: Rupert Harrison, Eleanor Shawcross. Media: Ramesh Chhabra

As expected really. Eleanor Shawcross, a fellow St Paul’s alumnus and head-turner made the jump, but anyone know what happened to Rohan Silva?

Vince Cable
Special Adviser: Will de Peyer

The long-term Lib Dem treasury man was rewarded. Gone very quiet since election day.

Iain Duncan Smith
Special Adviser: Philippa Stroud

The voters of Sutton made it pretty clear that they didn’t want to send Stroud to Westminster. Without The Observer retracting their “gay-curing” story her appointment would not have been possible. A source in the DWP said “it’s common for newspapers to get a story wrong when their source is either wrong or lying, but it’s pretty worrying when a front-page story is based on a source that doesn’t exist.” Legal action is apparently ongoing.

Chris Huhne
Special Advisers: Duncan Brack & Joel Kenrick

A real left-wing grouping here. Despite his hippy tendencies Kenrick used to advise the CBI on climate change. Long term wonk Duncan Brack is most definately of the beards and sandal variety of Lib Dem.

Danny Alexander
Special Advisers: Willie Rennie and Alison Suttie

So nice of the Scotland Office to rescue the failed career of former Scottish MP Willie Rennie. He lost his seat at the beginning of the month but is back at the levers regardless.

David Laws
Special Adviser: Katie Waring

This is in no way a complete list but these things are very slow to be confirmed. Know more? What do you know about this lot? Drop Guido a line.

Jack Straw’s Sweatshop

This just in* from a bit of Hansard that Carter-Ruck have not tried to injunct:

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many hours were worked by each special adviser in his Department in each week between 8 June 2009 to 3 July 2009.

Mr. Straw: As working for me as a Special Adviser is, I am told, pure pleasure and stress free, my Special Advisers work exceptionally long hours, often at weekends and late into the evening without complaint, and have not therefore felt the need which they otherwise might to complete timesheets to show that I was sweating their labour.

*Paddy from Grayling was the tipster co-conspirator.

Not Nihilistic, Realistic

Yesterday afternoon Guido put in a call to Paul Richards, Hazel Blear’s SpAd, after being tipped off that she was going to attack Guido in a speech later today to the Hansard Society. Guido also called the Hansard Society to arrange to attend the speech. He was told it was a closed meeting. The subject of the meeting, ironically, is political disengagement.

The pre-speech spin to the press is that corrosive cynicism, fueled by politically nihilistic blogs and a retreat from dispassionate reporting is endangering British political discourse and fueling growing political disengagement in Britain. She will say:
“We are witnessing a dangerous corrosion in our political culture… Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a ‘Samizdat’ style. The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?

“But mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.

“Until political blogging ‘adds value’ to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair.”

Paul Richards, Guido understands, wrote her speech. (Guido has written about him a few times.)

Anti-establishment and occasionally vicious Guido may be, but nihilistic? Never. Nihilists deny that an objective morality exists. Guido has a clear sense of morality – Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Blears really shouldn’t use words she doesn’t understand. Does Blears actually think that Guido rages against political corruption because he cares not for morality?

She is however correct to say that Guido has disdain for political corruption and seeks to unearth scandal and hypocrisy. Does Blears really think that is a bad thing?

Asking political bloggers to “add value” is to misunderstand the relationship between a free press and politicians. Take a memo Ms Blears, we are not here to “add value”, or do what politicians want, Guido has his own values and aims to hit back at political hypocrisy and lies. Politicians make laws, so they should be held to account, to a higher standard. The Nick Robinsons, Peter Riddells, Michael Whites and Steve Richardsons of the world don’t do investigative digging, they report back their impressions from their lunch meetings. They re-package and interpret spin from the party machines. That is how they “add value”. They are what Peter Oborne memorably described as the “client media”.

Guido has, without the platform of a newspaper or broadcaster backing him, achieved a position of influence for some reason. From nowhere this blog has become one of the most widely read political sources in Britain. It reaches a lot of people who were once disillusioned with and disinterested in politics, it is written (on a good day) in an accessible and entertaining way. Why does Hazel think this fuels political disengagement? The Labour Party would love to have a website that engaged as many people as this blog.

What has deservedly brought about disengagement from and cynicism towards politicians is spin, triangulation, focus group derived policies, positioning purely for partisan advantage, vacuous slogans and meaningless promises. Add in personal self enrichment from expense fiddles, petty corruption and barefaced lying to that toxicosis. Hazel has herself personally defended with repulsive sophistry everything from 45 minutes to mass destruction and cash for honours in her time. Who has really fueled corrosive political cynicism? Look in the mirror Hazel.

Leaked Labour Party Document Shows Quality of FCO Analysis

The Foreign Secretary’s SpAd, Madlin Sadler,* put together a briefing on today’s European Union Bill Third Reading for Labour MPs. Brushing aside the fact that the taxpayer should not be paying Madlin Sadler to produce Labour Party briefings in breach

[…]

Sad ex-SpAd Slacker

Matthew Burchell, Hain’s former special adviser, is finding the pace outside of the public sector a little bracing. A month after becoming unemployed he has yet to get round to writing his CV if this status update on Facebook is

[…]

Des Browne’s Scottish SpAd Says Scots,"Narrow, Presbyterian, Racist"

John McTernan, the mastermind of the Labour Party’s historic defeat in Scotland wrote to a Labour MSP describing Scotland as “narrow, Presbyterian, racist”.

Seems largely accurate, but unwise a thing to say if you are a Catholic working for a

[…]

Opaque SpAds and Researchers

Classic example of pig ignorant behaviour from an uppity Hain staffer cited by Rosa Prince*. If SpAds and assistants only realised that even a hostile questioner deserves answers rather than evasions, they might actually serve their masters and their public

[…]



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Quote of the Day

Tim Shipman to Adam Boulton on the TV debates…

“If Cameron gets in a car to go to the debate, Lynton Crosby will stage a car crash.”

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