Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bell Does Not Have the Ring of Truth

An early contender for the funniest quote of 2013, spinmeister Lord Bell has been musing on lobbying and PR:

 ‘Although people constantly accuse us of being the most evil, corrupt sons of the devil, we aren’t. We are actually the most truthful people in the world, because we know that the truth works.’

Rewind back to November 1977  though and Tim Bell himself claims that he was not telling the truth after he was charged with “wilfully, openly, lewdly and obscenely” exposing himself “with intent to insult a female” under Section 4 of the 1824 Vagrancy Act. He was found guilty and fined £50 by Hampstead Magistrates Court after a solo erotic incident visible at his bathroom window. According to his biographer Mark Hollingsworth, Bell “admitted the conviction but denied that the event took place. He confided to a colleague that his lawyers, Butcher Brooks and Co. advised him to plead guilty to avoid a scandal.” Was he guilty – as he claimed – or not? Is that “how the truth works”?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Debate Tonight:
“Lobbyists Are Paid to Thwart the Democratic Will.”

Tonight Guido and Tamasin Cave from Spinwatch are proposing the motion for debate that “Lobbyists Are Paid to Thwart the Democratic Will”. Mark Adams from Stand Up 4 Lobbying and Justin Fisher from the The Magna Carta Institute are opposing.

The event is taking place in Smith Square, Westminster and the audience will probably be riddled with lobbyists. So if you want to attend tonight and bolster the forces of democracy, email debate@StandUp4Lobbying.org, There is free booze courtesy of Ellwood and Atfield.  Full details here. See you later…

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lobbyists’ Umbrella Group Splits

We have in the past covered the lobbying world’s attempts at self-regulation. The most ardent opponent of a statutory register was Francis Ingham of the widely discredited PRCA trade body, he was instrumental in getting rival lobbying and spin trade bodies CIPR and APPC to join up under the UK Public Affairs Council banner to voluntarily produce a joint register of lobbyists. Guido suggested it might be simpler to just require lobbyists to wear leper’s bells.

Ingham has now performed a volte-face and come down on the side of a statutory register.  His email to Elizabeth France, the first and probably last Chairman of the UK Public Affairs Council landed in Guido’s inbox this morning:

From: Francis Ingham

Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2011 10:44:04
To: Liz

Subject: RE:

As it happens Liz, I was about to email you the text below. Happy to talk if you’d like:

Dear Liz

It is with regret that I write to inform you that we are resigning with immediate effect from UKPAC.

I understand that this will be unwelcome news, and I apologize for that fact.

My Board has concluded that a statutory register is the correct public policy choice for the Government to make. It has also concluded that on the basis of UKPAC’s performance over the past year, UKPAC simply is not a credible body to hold that register.

We have come to this conclusion with regret and after considerable debate. The continued inability of UKPAC to deliver a timely, comprehensive and accurate register is an embarrassment to the whole industry. Having founded UKPAC alongside the CIPR and APPC, and having spent a considerable amount of time and money supporting it, we regret the fact that it has failed, but we are clear that this failure is manifest and irreversible.

We have today written to the Cabinet Office, making them aware of this decision, and urging them swiftly to introduce a statutory register, held by an independent body, to run in parallel with the Codes of Conduct that exist already within the industry. We will also this morning be notifying the press, and sending them a copy of this formal note of resignation.

I should like to thank you for the effort you have put into UKPAC over the past year, and personally wish you well in the future.

Yours sincerely

Francis Ingham

Francis Ingham
Chief Executive

Self-regulation looks dead. They brought it on themselves…

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bell Pottinger Power Point Presentation

Bell Pottinger sources are emphasising that a pre-condition of the deal negotiations with the fictional “Azimov Group” set up by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism was evidence of a reform agenda in Uzbekistan. To be fair to the left-wing BIJ they do mention it tucked away in their report. But here is the introductory Power Point they gave in the now infamous meeting:

So they were telling the “Uzbeks” to reform…

UPDATE: This is what Bell Pottinger were offering to spin:

The Dark Arts

A good hit for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which they have handed to the Indy on a plate. While pretending to be representatives of the Uzbek government, they have stung lobbyists Bell Pottinger something rotten. The video is fairly cringe-worthy, not least because when the words weren’t put in their mouths, the promises seemed either implausible, or hardly worth the fees. They were clearly in full BS-mode, especially former Tory MP Tim Collins, who boasts that he was once Ed Llewellyn and Steve Hilton’s boss. Guido isn’t sure he’ll be getting calls from his one time minions any time soon though…

The BIJ got them:

“* Claiming they have used their access to Downing Street to get David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their business clients within 24 hours of asking him to do so;

* Boasting about Bell Pottinger’s access to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, to Mr Cameron’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn and to Mr Cameron’s old friend and closest No 10 adviser Steve Hilton;

* Suggesting that the company could manipulate Google results to “drown” out negative coverage of human rights violations and child labour;

* Revealing that Bell Pottinger has a team which “sorts” negative Wikipedia coverage of clients;”

“Sorting” Wikipedia? Guido hadn’t realised they had hired Johann Hari…

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ask Pred-Ed About the Lobbyist Roland Rudd Right Now

Last week Ed promised to release a list of business clients he met at a dinner at the home of super-spinner Roland Rudd. So far he has not coughed the information. Lets ask him what he’s hiding…

Ed’s Twitter humiliation is becoming a near monthly occurrence. He’s doing yet another #AskEdM event at 15:00.

As ever Guido is making it easy for you to take part, all you have to do is click the box above and you are away.

Did you sup with a long spoon Ed, or were you the prey?

UPDATE: Are you listening Ed? Lots of people want a question answered:

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?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lobbying Register Warning Bells

Guido has to laugh at the audacity that some of the more brazen members of the lobbying community have shown in defending the new voluntary register of “political consultants”. As Spinwatch said, this is no more than a “PR stunt from PR experts”.

As the new UK PAC site with public registers went live this week just 251, out of an estimated 14,000 spinners, had  voluntarily signed up. A further 1,362 were put on the list automatically by their companies, but where are the big hitters? Search the register for power-lobbyists like Roland Rudd, Tim Bell, Alan Parker or Matthew Freud and you get “Your search did not return any results.” Francis Ingham, spinmeister for the widely discredited PRCA trade body, makes hyperbolic claims for the nascent self-regulator: “It provides a foundation on which to grow self-regulation. It is – though doubtless our detractors will dispute this – a good thing.” It is an abject failure, with an estimated 90% of lobbyists ignoring the register.

Guido is no fan of government regulation of the private sector but the political lobbying industry thwarts democracy and pollutes the body politic to such an extent something has to be done. Guido’s idea is that all politicians and civil servants should be required to transparently publish all details of meetings with lobbyists – Cameron’s government ministers and Downing Street SpAds already have to do this. The idea should be rolled out as a requirement for all those paid by taxpayers and involved in influencing legislation. Obviously this means the question of identifying political lobbyists will have to be addressed.

To avoid any confusion by ministers or civil servants when unknowingly or inadvertently meeting lobbyists socially, taking up tickets to the opera or lunching at Michelin-starred restaurants and the like, registered lobbyists should make themselves easily identifiable.  The historically tried and tested solution for just this problem springs to mind. They should be made to wear bells around their necks, like lepers…

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Audit Commission Full of Spin

According to PR Week the Audit Commission has 48 “communications” staff – spin doctors to you and Guido. PR Week worries that they may now lose their jobs. Why did bean-counting public servants need so many spin doctors in the first place?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Death by Spin

Eric Pickles is busy explaining the practical business reasons why the Audit Commission is being killed off. Undoubtedly the organisation had, under New Labour, long ago moved on from being austere bean counters to doing politicallycorrect box ticking exercises, costing unnecessary millions. That is when they weren’t treating themselves to massages or a day at the races at our expense…

Guido suspects that the decisive moment when the fate of the Audit Commission was sealed was before the election when it became public that £56,000 had been paid to spin-merchants Connect Public Affairs to advise them on how to save their overpaid jobs. Connect recommended an expensive

“strong local lobbying response in order to mitigate and combat the activities of Eric Pickles”

Suicide by spin…

Looking down Connect’s list of mainly public sector and trade union clients it provides a handy guide to organisations that are clearly finding it difficult to justify themselves on their own merits, so instead they throw thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money at spin merchants to do it for them. Quite a few more targets on that list merit defunding by the taxpayer…


Seen Elsewhere

What Happens in the Event of a Recount? | Breitbart
Yes Side Emphatically Won Campaign | Speccie
Joyce Thacker on Sick Leave | Doncaster Free Press
Claire Perry Slams ‘Goodies’ for Scots | Sun
Westminster Truce Shatters | Times
Boris: Prime Minister By Monday | James Ford
Tories Say Don’t Bribe the Scots | Times
Dave Can’t Stay if Scots Go | Laura Perrins
BBC Crew Attacked in Russia | BBC
English Parliament Would Rescue Cameron | Tim Montgomerie
Hodge Confesses to Second Bike Crash | Standard


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