Monday, July 12, 2010

The NHS’s Protected Doctors (Spin)

While the “front-line services” of the NHS may well be protected from the axe, it seems the Department of Health’s bloated “first-line of defence” could be ripe for a squeeze. Why exactly does Andrew Lansley and his ministers require more press officers and PR civil servants than the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office?

The list – 31 in total – range from a 10 strong news-desk, to strategic planners and multiple layers of spin. The Department has four full-time speech-writers – could some of the other 27 spinners not yell down the phone and occasionally type? Lansley has had his accident prone days and is known to put his foot in it, yet his old media team used to fit in the back of a transit van, but he still made it to government.

When other departments are slashing the public services they provide, having that many media-manipulators clucking around in the ring-fenced pen is absurd.

Spotted by Liam Murray.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Farm-Gate : Spelman’s Agri-Business, Bio-Tech Lobbying Past

On the campaign trail David Cameron said

“It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”

This week Cameron appointed Caroline Spelman to be the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Obviously he feels that nanny-gate is all water under the bridge. Spelman’s long history in agricultural politics and lobbying somehow makes her an ideal candidate for the job in his judgment.

Spelman spent her days before becoming an MP in the agri-business, with a lobbying focus mainly on sugar beet, one of  the most heavily subsidised crops in Europe. She was the Sugar Beet Commodity Secretary for the NFU in the early eighties before becoming  Deputy Director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers. Seemingly well connected in the field, Caroline and her husband Mark went on to set up “Spelman, Cormack & Associates” in 1989 as a food and bio-technology lobbying company.

For over ten years the new Secretary of State, along with her husband, lobbied the very department she now runs. Caroline resigned as a director less than a year ago and conveniently transferred her share of the company to her husband.  The company address was also changed from her constituency home, for which Spelman claimed around £40,000 on expenses for cleaning and bills, to their million pound London flat. According to the company accounts last year, no rent was paid on this “office” subsidised by the taxpayers.

Mark Spelman, who was also a Tory candidate (unsuccessful), uses both his name and his wife’s maiden name (Cormack) on his firm’s letterhead – that won’t hinder business.  After all, the Minister who is now the number one target to be lobbied has her name on the company letterhead. Caroline Spelman lobbied for the industry and is now in charge of negotiating quotas, subsidies and price tariffs with the EU Agricultural Council. Her “family firm”  deals with bio-tech clients that the Secretary of State is now responsible for regulating in the GM foods sector.   As a result of anti-competitive EU regulations and industry lobbying British consumers are forced to pay prices for sugar which are massively inflated in comparison to the rest of the world. Did Cameron know that she was so recently a shareholder in a  lobbying firm focused on Defra before he appointed her to the position?  Because the whole thing taints politics and shows the far-too-cosy relationship between lobbyists, government, business and money…

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Final Debate – The Anti-Spin Room

The main topic of hack conversation in Birmingham seems to be that the school hall feel of the BBC operation doesn’t really live up to the lavish Sky News debate last week. Guy News is in the there armed with a camera, and you can follow what the right people are saying live:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Second Debate - The ANTI Spin Room

Click HERE for a live stream from our sister station Sky News.

The stage is set, the polls are down for Clegg and the spin is already beginning. Below you can see what the right pundits are saying. Emily Nomates will be filing from the Bristol spin room, Tory Bear has fired up the TweetDeck and Guido is hitting Smarkets hard. Welcome to the Guy News ANTI Spin Room.

Emily Nomates will be sending in behind the scenes pictures. Wonder what these two really wanted to say to each other.  They look like they are getting on like a house on fire.

UPDATE: During the angry Dave leaflet ding dong Gordon denied that he had authorised any such leaflet. Meanwhile in the Spin Room Gove calls Whelan: “Did you pay for them Charlie?” Cue look of absolute death.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Twitter Blows Spin : Labour Fakes Up Gordon Support

The first Twitter based new media gaffe of the campaign is a revelation. PPCs and activists of all colours have been out in force today, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats invited them to speeches by their leaders and press released the whole thing as just that – speeches to the party faithful.

It was only Gordon that felt the need to attempt to create a “spontaneous” Potemkin Village of support. The news channels are reporting Gordon being “cheered off” by the public who were shouting “good luck Gordon” as he departed St. Pancras station. Funny then that there is a remarkable similarity between the crowd below and the one leafleting for Labour at tube stations earlier this morning. It seems no one has bothered to check that this “crowd” was in fact a group of Young Labour hacks and Labour Students.

In what will, Guido suspects, be a recurring theme this election, Twitter lets slip what really happened. Notice how the party activists, (including PPC Emily Benn, the President of the National Union of Students Wes Streeting, the chairman of Young Labour Sam Tarry and über-spinning totty Ellie Gellard) aren’t wearing their Labour T-shirts in order to appear like a random gathering of ordinary voters. As if genuine members of the public would cheer Gordon…

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lobbyists are the Scum of Democracy

The Sunday Times sting that caught Byers, Hewitt and Hoon offering themselves for hire comes as no surprise.  Guido has said it before and will say it again: we have a parliament of whores. It is essentially the job of a government lobbyist to subvert democracy, that is what their clients by-and-large pay them to do.   Sometimes the hired-help (politicians) get embarrassingly caught out, but most of the time they get away with a more subtle form of corruption.

By happy coincidence Guido has been invited to give a speech to the Chartered Institute of Public Relation’s Government Affairs Group this Tuesday. The subject is the influence of lobbying and blogging, CIPR invited Guido to explicitly express his view that “lobbyists are scum”. Such is their masochistic impulse they have had to get a bigger venue. They are, very sportingly, paying Guido for the talk…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

That Social Care Retraction

In the run up to the pitched battle over social care at yesterday’s PMQs, Labour councillors had firstly criticised the Government’s policy and then mysteriously withdrew their names from the letter in very mysterious circumstances.  The Times reports:

Iain Malcolm, of South Tyneside, was the only council leader to return calls from The Times, which approached all councils and individuals involved. He said the decision to remove his councillor’s name was entirely his own after she had told him of the situation. He was unable to explain why his e-mail was identical in wording and style to other retractions.”

He also failed to mention that he spins for controversial lobbying firm Sovereign Strategy and is David Miliband’s election agent…

Disgraced Cameron Crony Becomes Lobbyist

In times gone by honourable men when disgraced would enjoy a last brandy before reaching for their revolver.  Now “right honourable” men when disgraced become lobbyists.  Andrew MacKay was the “senior political parliamentary adviser to David Cameron” (according to a statement he made to the police).

Having with his MP wife Julie Kirkbride double-claimed for mortgage expenses for years he is lucky not to be facing charges.  He tried to spin his way out when he was caught but an enraged local Conservative Party membership ousted him acrimoniously.  So much for MacKay’s crisis management spin skills.

On Monday Dave told us that about

“… the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.  I’m talking about lobbying – and we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisors for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way… It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest…  if we win the election, we will take a lead on this issue by making sure that ex-ministers are not allowed to use their contacts and knowledge – gained while being paid by the public to serve the public – for their own private gain.

rsz_andrew_mackay

Andrew MacKay is Cameron’s ex-adviser, his dubious ethics are now a matter of public record.  Why wait until he is Prime Minister, Dave can demonstrate the truth of his words by signalling that MacKay is no longer part of the “cosy club at the top”, that he will take a lead and not let MacKay use his contacts for his private gain.  MacKay should be shown the cold shoulder by the shadow cabinet.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Will Dave Really Crack Down on Lobbyists?

Yesterday Dave had a go at the hidden hand in our democracy:

Now we all know that expenses has dominated politics for the last year. But if anyone thinks that cleaning up politics means dealing with this alone and then forgetting about it, they are wrong. Because there is another big issue that we can no longer ignore.  It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.  I’m talking about lobbying – and we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisors for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way…

We don’t know who is meeting whom. We don’t know whether any favours are being exchanged. We don’t know which outside interests are wielding unhealthy influence. This isn’t a minor issue with minor consequences. Commercial interests – not to mention government contracts – worth hundreds of billions of pounds are potentially at stake.  I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest.

We can’t go on like this. I believe it’s time we shone the light of transparency on lobbying in our country and forced our politics to come clean about who is buying power and influence.  Politics should belong to people, not big business or big unions, and we need to sort this out. So if we win the election, we will take a lead on this issue by making sure that ex-ministers are not allowed to use their contacts and knowledge – gained while being paid by the public to serve the public – for their own private gain.

Anyone involved in politics knows that lobbyists infest politics, lobbyists become politicians, politicians become lobbyists.  It is a sordid underhand, undemocratic trade practised out of sight of the voters and taxpayers.  Ex-ministers having to wait an extra year before profiting from their inside contacts is a minor improvement.  In the interests of having a transparent democracy we need to move towards a system where all contact between those who are seeking to modify, hinder or help the passage of any legislation have to declare and register their contacts with politicians and civil servants.  Lobbyists are covertly subverting democracy, it should be a criminal offence.

Is Dave really up for taking on the lobbyists?  Guido so wants to believe he would.  However look at the new Tory benches and the new intake of PPCs. Lobbyists and former lobbyists easily outnumber all other trades.  Obama said much the same thing, before he appointed lobbyists to his administration…

How many times has Dave met power lobbyists like Matthew Freud, Alan Parker and Roland Rudd? We know he socialises with them, parties with them, holidays with them and even hops on their private jets. Is that a bit too cosy?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bullying and Irony

Bad Al Campbell is decrying Andy Coulson for “bullying”. Where does one start?

Campbell drove a man to his grave.  He is the model for Malcolm Tucker, he lied and bullied all his days in Downing Street.  Damian McBride was just a cut price version of his predecessor.  Watch his face in this classic encounter when Michael Howard goes all j’ accuse…

Coulson now spends his days bullying tabloid editors.  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…


Seen Elsewhere

Small State Keynesians, Anti-Corporate Hayekians? | Chris Dillow
Ruffley Shows Why We Need a Proper Recall Bill Now | Alex Wickham
How is Miliband’s ‘New Politics’ Working Out? | Speccie
State Should Send More Poor Children Private | Sam Bowman
£1 Million Cost of Ed Balls’ Ego | Laura Perrins
William Hague’s Sausage Fest | Rochdale Online
Public Doesn’t Prioritise Housing | Mark Pack
Mysterious Case of Ruffley’s Missing Letter | Speccie
All the Single Ladies (And Lords) | Bloomberg
How Ruffley’s Resignation Became Inevitable | ConservativeHome
We Need a Recall Bill Now | Speccie


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Damian McBride writes in the epilogue to his memoir…

“At the time of writing, nine months from the election, I’ve concluded that Labour currently has no positive messages to communicate to anyone about why they should vote for the party, no policies which will persuade them, and is being run in a totally dysfunctional way.”



Rob Wilson says:

Without Predujice

Darling

What time will dinner be ready this evening?

Yours

Rob Wilson MP

In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.


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