Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clegg’s Other Lobbyist

With the LibDems trying to have their “told-you-so-moment” over a register of lobbyists, Guido drew your attention yesterday to the controversial spinmeister Clegg has brought into the heart of his operation – Olly Grender. Overnight many a co-conspirator also pointed out that Clegg’s Chief of Staff Jonny Oates is another flesh presser…

Starting at Westminster Strategy in the nineties, Oates worked his way up to become a director at Bell Pottinger in 2004. With a host of international and UK clients that would put any sandal-wearing LibDem member off their lentils, Bell Pottinger are the largest UK firm to refuse to take part in any of the voluntary regulation schemes that are around. Their chairman Peter Bingle has been at the forefront of defending the industry this week. Almost a lone public voice…

So two of Clegg’s closest advisers right now are former lobbyists. His promised clean up of the body politic clearly doesn’t start at home…

Monday, October 17, 2011

Controversial Lobbyist at the Heart of Downing Street

In those heady days of spring 2010 Nick Clegg told the ITV leadership debate that he wanted “something I’ve supported all my adult political life, which is a complete clean-up from top to toe of politics.” This included an end to murky lobbying and he subsequently convinced the Conservative coalition negotiators of the need for a compulsory register of lobbyists. So it is odd then that the lobbyist Olly Grender has gone to spin for Nick Clegg out of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. Grender is in Downing Street covering the maternity leave of Clegg’s gatekeeper Lena Pietsch, which means she will be back on the outside practising the dark arts very soon….

After spinning for the Liberal Democrats in the run up to the 1997 election, Grender turned to the dark-side of lobbying at Neal Lawson and Jonathan Mendelsohn’s scandal ridden and now defunct LLM Communications, which became notorious for their level of access to the Blair government. Eventually she moved on to PLMR – Political Lobbying and Media Relations. Leaving the quack green energy companies represented by the firm aside,  the organisation boasts that they represent Frankenstein doctors  like PLMR client Reneuron who experiment with stem-cells taken from new-born children, and pro-puppy-torturing and mouse-probing animal research organisations like UAR. PLMR also spin for the Brazilian Beef food processing industry, which George Monbiot accuses of “deforestation, slavery and murder”. Classy stuff…

Given the unfettered access that Grender now has and that her appointment is only temporary, what measures have been taken in Downing Street to make sure that her firm’s clients, who until very recently were paying her to represent them, do not have undue influence? The Cabinet Office can instigate a cooling off period after officials leave the government before they can jump through the revolving door. Will this “two years in the cooler” apply to Grender and her corporate lobbying career? With Nick Clegg leading the charge against the spinmeisters, what has he done to get his own house in order?

Miliband Voted Against Lobbyist Register in 2006

Ever the opportunist, Ed constantly tries to be the first out of the blocks in a crisis, so that he can harp on that the Prime Minister is following his example. It’s a useful tactic to mask the real weaknesses of his day-to-day leadership. Well today the tactic is being used with the state register of lobbyists. Except he is going to come unstuck, again…

Ed is expected to take to the airwaves this afternoon with the line tested by Shadow Cabinet Office minister Gareth Thomas, who told the BBC at the weekend:

“David Cameron has still not introduced the compulsory register of lobbyists he promised. The government should bring forward as a matter of urgency plans for a compulsory register of lobbyists with records being kept of meetings between lobbyists and ministers.”

But has Ed and his top team always been in favour of such a register? If so, why did he, along with Balls, Cooper and Gareth Thomas vote against a LibDem bill that would have brought in the register in 2006? Woops…

Via @JasonJHunter. The full list of who voted against the bill is here

Pred-Ed: Miliband’s Shady Dinner with Lobbyists and Predators

Given that this is the week that shady chats and hand shakes in private rooms will be coming under extra scrutiny, Guido thought he would give Ed a gentle reminder of his promise to publish a list of attendees at a suspiciously “private and off the record” dinner held for him at the home of lobbyist-spinmeister Roland Rudd last week:

Ed has turned to the corporate lobbyist to boost his severely dented, if ever existent, reputation in the business world. Roland’s known clients include Murdoch, the Daily Mail, not so environmentally sensitive miners like Rio Tinto and African Barrick Gold. Rudd’s client list includes Boots and easyJet, owned by predatory asset stripping private equity companies, the most aggressive takeover group in the world KKR – the original “Barbarians at the Gate” - investment banks like Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered, UK taxpayer bailed out banks like Royal Bank of Scotland and Greece’s bankrupt Alpha Bank. Glencore the rogue commodities trading operation run out of Switzerland retains Rudd.

Labour’s current favourite targets the big energy companies like ENI, Shell, EON and Centrica could have been sat round the table with Ed. Embarrassingly UK Uncut favourites Vodafone may have passed the port to Ed and given Rudd represents Wonga, which the Labour Party’s Stella Creasey campaigns against, there will be extortionate interest if they were there. Rudd represents hedge fund operators DE Shaw and the London Stock Exchange, currently home to the unwashed 0.99% in occupation. With all these “predators” at his fingertips, which ones did Rudd choose to give Ed “some straight advice”?  No wonder Ed is reluctant to admit who he had dinner with…

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rumour Mill Says Fox Might Go Tonight

And so the “Dear David/Dear Liam” rumour mill begins. Paul Waugh tweets that he is picking up chatter that Fox will walk tonight. It would make sense and take the sting out the inevitable savaging by the Sundays, but then it would also be out of character. Guido did a quick text around to be told the it was a load of cobblers. But then they will say that until they are setting up a microphone…

UPDATE: Speculation mounting. Think it’s Foxtrot Oscar time…

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Michael Hintze: For Whom the Bell Spins

Flying in from China to face the growing music, Michael Hintze, the donor in the spotlight regarding Liam Fox’s shadow operation, is said to have hired Lord Bell to spin for him this morning. Hintze, the chairman of the hedge fund CQS, gave Adam Werritty a desk in his Grosvenor Place office and is one of his key benefactors. Given that the Sunday papers are crawling over anyone who has ever given Fox a penny, it seems Hintze is getting ready for a fight… 

UPDATE: It looks like they are keeping it cosy. Richard Alston the Non-Executive Director of Bells’s Chime Communications (which owns Bell Pottinger,) also sits on the international advisory board of CQS. Bell Pottinger also represent the Sri Lankan government and have worked closely with Liam Fox in the past.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fox Trashes Werritty

Another key development in the fox-hunt from Joe Murphy at the Standard. He has got the text of “friends of Fox” attempting to trash his bestest friend Adam Werritty. Murphy stresses that he believes this is what Fox told GOD:

“It is clear that Werritty was masquerading as something he was not. He was hanging around and popping up in places, trying to be part of a group. This guy was clearly a Walter Mitty figure.

It’s fair to say that he [Fox] was naive about Adam Adam did arrive in certain places and took advantage of his friendship with Liam. It will be a very different friendship in future.”

If the government are calling you Walter Mitty, Guido doesn’t recommend you go for a walk in the woods any time soon…

Exclusive: Cameron’s PMQ Briefer Leaves Downing Street

Today’s PMQs session will be a tough one, unemployment is up, the defence secretary is in the wars and the Health Bill is falling apart. If you notice something a little different about Cameron’s performance at Prime Minister’s Questions later it will be because Peter Campbell, who has been in charge of Dave’s PMQs briefings since the moment he became Tory leader, has joined the Downing Street exodus. He left Cameron’s Private Office last week.

Something tells Guido that this won’t be the last we hear of Mr Campbell. The PMQs briefer is a key job in any leader’s office and it was a fresh faced young Conservative Party researcher called David that used to do the honours for John Major.

He was the future once…

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fox Speaks Out, Sort Of

“Friends of Liam Fox” have been in touch with Ben Brogan over at the Telegraph:

“I gather he is close to a put up or shut up moment about his private life: if his pursuers have something to say they should say it out loud rather than whisper speculation, he tells friends.”

Given that it’s Liam’s “friends” that have got him into this mess in the first place, Guido would take what they say with a pinch of salt, but he’s certainly surprised that Fox would take that high-risk route. The last roll of the dice?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fox: “Why Don’t You Just Say What You Mean, Kevan?”

Labour’s Chris Bryant did his part to muddy the waters around Liam Fox this morning by tweeting: “I’m perplexed by this smear and innuendo about ‘smears and innuendo’.” An infinite loop of smear and innuendo…

There is a rumour doing the rounds that the Guardian have been sitting on some rather saucy details about Werritty and Fox since last Thursday, with the editor believing that Fox’s position is untenable without the need for the full picture being disclosed. In the mean time the rest of the media seem to be trying rather hard to get a message out there…

Sky News defence correspondent Niall Paterson said in a live broadcast that the Defence Secretary is “not normal”. He later sent a tweet presumably in an attempt at clarification claiming “’twas in the context of making clear that secs of state don’t usually bring their pals on trips”. Quite.

The Mail have a bit of a mixed message. Political Editor James Chapman has gone on the attack, implying that Labour are playing dirty:

“Last night, for instance, Labour’s defence spokesman Kevan Jones, responding to Dr Fox’s apology, declared: ‘This is a man in denial.’ Why don’t you just say what you mean, Kevan?”

Yet his Mail colleague Peter McKay has gone the furthest of any hack yet, pushing the same idea as Kevan Jones:

“There is a final, delicate reason why Cameron and Co might have shied away from dealing with Fox’s private and public association with Werritty. Although Fox has denied rumours that he is gay, his friendship with Werritty seems to go beyond what many might consider is normal in male friendships. But the more-inclusive-than-thou Cameron would instinctively steer clear of querying it.”

“Querying”, eh?


Seen Elsewhere

Uber Needs to Mind Its Manners | CapX
Sun Victory in Court | MediaGuido
UKIP Gains Coming at Labour’s Expense | Elections Etc
Farage’s Migrant Muddle | Indy
Tristram Should Stop Bashing Independent Schools | Toby Young
Journalists in the Dock | David Banks
Let Them Eat Gay Cake | Laura Perrins
May v Javid | ConHome
Politicians Never Safe From Being Recorded | Stephen Pollard
Superstar Carney | Alex Brummer
Gulf Dividing Labour | Mary Riddell


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Tony Blair threatens Ed:

“If you had a strong political lead that was combining the politics of aspiration with the politics of compassion, I still think that’s where you could get a substantial majority…  If I ever do an interview on [the state of the Labour Party], it will have to be at length…”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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