Willie Free

There were raised eye-brows when former LibDem MP Willie Rennie was appointed as the Special Advisor to the Scotland Office just days after being rejected at the ballot box by the voters of Dunfermline. To his credit he did not ask for a salary as a SpAd, the parliamentary resettlement payment was quite enough. A close ally of Danny Alexander, it seems now his old boss has moved up the ministerial ladder the first SpAd is set to quit. He will be replaced by Ming’s old ginger speech-writer Euan Roddin.

Willie claims he wants to return to Scotland as he is separated from his family while in London. Coincidentally candidates are being picked for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections right about now…

We're All In It Together

Guido has been chewing over the numbers. Given that a lowly CCHQ researcher or press officer would have been lucky to be on around £35,000, the jump to government for the lower rungs of the SpAd list has come with an extremely handsome pay-rise. Nearly 100% rise for those now touching £60-70k.

Though Coulson & Co. at the top have in some cases taken a pay cut, the coalition has brought some serious pay rises for others. Take the MPs in the Cabinet for example, they have had a 107% rise from their standard MPs salary. Backbenchers who are now Junior Ministers have had a 50% rise, even after Dave decreed that they would all have a 5% pay cut. All sharing the pain.

Cameron pre-power promised a cut down on SpAds. The New Dawn of Politics has managed to reduce the number from 78 to 68. There are still vacancies yet to be filled though. In this age of austerity some SpAds will be glancing over the list shocked that their rivals in other departments managed to negotiate more. Meanwhile the voting taxpayers will be looking at the whole get up with utter scorn.

Coulson and the SpAd Pay

There will be some disappointment on the left as the news emerges that despite all the hype, their hate figure Andy Coulson is in fact earning less than the Prime Minister. But on £140k only just – £2000 a year less.  More than Nick Clegg though.

As Director of Government Communications Coulson is the best paid of Dave’s team but overall the Special Advisers are costing the taxpayer £1.9 million per year less than the last government. Despite this Tom Watson was trying to start the attacks just now in the House, moaning that Parliament hadn’t been told first. This is despite the list being published as a written ministerial statement:

Note Steve Hilton’s rather large pay gap with his rival.

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. 
[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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 of the Code for SpAds, it makes an extraordinary claim:

“The Tories are isolated in Europe.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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 anything to go by.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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 narrow Presbyterian boss.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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 paymasters better.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Official Complaint About Ministry for Incompetence’s SpAds

Peter Hain’s DWP employs numerous Special Advisers who are paid for by the taxpayer and barred from doing party political work. SpAds are Civil Servants and must abide by specific rules laid out in a code. Yesterday the SpAds sent out a press release headlined

TORIES AIM TO DESTROY FINAL SALARY PENSION SCHEMES

The press release includes the line “don’t ever vote Tory”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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