Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lobbyists Claim Fallon SpAd Retained Whilst at MoD

Back in September Michael Fallon hired defence lobbyist Bill Clare to spin for him as his special adviser. The right-winger worked for Michael Howard before joining Liam Fox’s abortive bid for the Tory leadership, ending up on the side of the angels at arms manufacturers General Dynamics, eventually going on to spin for the London First group. A job that he appears to have kept for longer than he strictly should…

An email has emerged that shows Clare’s old lobbying organisation claiming to have kept the newbie SpAd on their roster while he worked at the Ministry of Defence:

​From: Gavin Hayes
Sent: 02 October 2014 15:25
To: LondonFirst
Subject: Bill Clare

Hello

This it to let you all know that as of Monday 22 September Bill has started an exciting new role working as an adviser to Michael Fallen MP the Defence Secretary at the MOD.

Bill will continue to provide advice and support for the Let Britain Fly campaign over the next couple of weeks by phone and email but will no longer be coming into the office.

I would like to personally thank Bill for all his fantastic work on the Let Britain Fly campaign over the last year and for all the support he has given us.

We wish Bill all the very best of luck and success in his new job.

Gavin
Gavin Hayes
Campaign Director, Aviation
London First

At a time when the MoD were bombing ISIS, why was Clare apparently combining SpAd-ing with being a business lobbyist? Curiously, London First also “work with government and police organisations in helping their respective cyber units”.

Cyber Units like the one recently set up by the Ministry of Defence.

Guido does wonder if this unusual arrangement was cleared with the MoD permanent secretary and the Cabinet Office, and whether the conflict of interest was declared?

UPDATE: Statement from Bill Clare:

My last working day for Let Britain Fly was Monday 22nd September – as they have now confirmed – at which point I closed down my company in accordance with my agreement with the Cabinet Office. I began work with the MOD on Thursday 25th September. The email you’ve been “leaked” is not accurate – so your story isn’t either – a point I understand Let Britain Fly has been in touch to make and to confirm the dates above.

Guido has received no such communication from Let Britain Fly…

Monday, October 20, 2014

Craig Oliver Faces “Smear” Misconduct Hearing

Craig Oliver is facing a misconduct hearing as smears return to the heart of Downing Street. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun, Labour have reported him to the Cabinet Office for breaking the Special Advisers Code of Conduct after he accused Peter Oborne of being “tired and emotional” on Newsnight. The rules prohibit any adviser from the “preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks.” Labour MP Sheila Gilmore has written to Jeremy Heywood calling for an investigation:

“It is disgraceful that such a senior adviser to David Cameron has behaved in this way. This shows Craig Oliver to be as nasty as the rest of the Tory party. Jeremy Heywood should treat this incident with the utmost seriousness. The taxpayer should not be paying the wages of someone so unprofessional.”

When the spokesperson needs a spokesperson…

Friday, October 17, 2014

Delingpole Coy on Tory Return Rumour

As this video of Michael Gove wandering through James Delingpole’s garden went viral yesterday, Guido wondered if James, who joined UKIP but then failed to pass the party’s selection process, might be heading home to the Tories. He certainly seems to be enjoying Owen Paterson’s return to the limelight, and his tweets on UKIP have been very critical of late:

He tells Guido:

“It’s a great rumour. I think where UKIP and Conservatives are concerned I’m going to remain bisexual. Basically, I f**king hate politics.”

Having it both ways…

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ashcroft Poll Shows UKIP Turning Tory-Held Marginals Labour

Sobering polling for the Tories from Lord Ashcroft today, who has a snapshot of voting intentions in ten Tory-held marginals with Labour currently in second place (plus Corby, which went Labour mid-term). Nine of the eleven are Labour gains. Ashcroft concludes “swings to Labour appear to be related to the UKIP presence”, finding:

“UKIP could hamper Labour in Tory-held target seats by diverting voters who might otherwise switch straight from blue to red – though the evidence so far is that this effect is not yet strong enough in these seats to counteract the erosion of the Tory vote.”

28% of UKIP voters polled say they’d prefer a Labour government, 35% want a Tory win…

Mencap Called for Disabled to Be Exempt From Minimum Wage

This Guardian article from February 2000 reports calls for an “urgent revision” of the rules to enable “low output” disabled workers to be exempt from minimum wage legislation. The proposal said some disabled workers should be classified as “special provision” and as a result be exempt from statutory provision, thus allowing employers to pay them less than the minimum wage. This was not an off-the-cuff remark from a Tory peer, but a detailed proposal from Mencap, Britain’s leading charity for disabled people. 

Mencap said at the time that while they otherwise support the minimum wage, an exemption should be allowed because “Most people with a learning disability want to work and we urge the government to give them that chance.” Which is almost exactly the point Lord Freud was making. On the News at Ten last night the only mention that the entire Freud row was contrived at best came in the last line, so regardless of the rights and wrongs it’s a Labour win…

UPDATE: Sentiment below speaks for itself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Who Wrote O-Patz’s Big Speech Tonight?

Miliband Slammed for “Shameful”, “Disgraceful” Attack on Freud …But Welfare Minister Offers Grovelling Apology

Interesting that Labour’s Anne Begg admitted on Sky News that she had not been told the context of Lord Freud’s comments by party spinners, heavily caveating her criticism accordingly. The Adam Smith Institute have come out in support of Freud, condemning Labour for misrepresenting what he said:

“Lord Freud has been shamefully mistreated by Ed Miliband. His point was that the market value of some people’s wages is below the minimum wage. This is often true of the severely disabled and can have appalling consequences for their self-esteem and quality of life. Fixing this problem was the justification for Remploy, a government-funded firm that gave jobs to disabled people who could not find work elsewhere.

To point out that someone’s market value is less than minimum wage has nothing to do with their moral value as human beings. Freud’s point was that we should help people in this situation by allowing them to find jobs paying below the minimum wage and topping up their pay directly to make up the difference.

Even if you don’t agree with this method, it is motivated by compassion for the disabled and an understanding of the unpleasant side-effects of our minimum wage laws. Freud’s only crime was to speak bluntly: it is disgraceful to use his words against him in the way Miliband has.”

Not like a spinner to take something out of context…

UPDATE: Freud mea culpa:

“I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else.

I care passionately about disabled people…. I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.”

Classic Labour Ambush: Welcome to Election Season

Notable that Labour have got their press operation in gear on this one. DWP minister Lord Freud’s comments about disabled people have been sat on for two weeks then released five minutes before PMQs. No coincidence that Esther McVey was on the Daily Politics and forced to give an off-the-cuff response. No leak, tape ready to go, solid ambush…

Cameron told the House “these are not the views of anyone in the government”, perhaps forgetting Lord Freud remains a minister. McVey said afterwards “Those words will haunt him”. Apology in 5,4,3,2…

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Finding NiMo Another Special Adviser

Nicky Morgan hid in her office while she had the three SpAds she inherited from Michael Gove sacked back in July. Now she has finished replacing them. Guido is told Morgan has hired up Holly-Lee Davis from the Centre for Social Justice – which is becoming the government holding pen once embodied by PX. The LSE-educated brainbox who also works with an “initiative aimed at promoting peace amongst school-aged children in the Middle East”. Davis joins gay rights activist Luke Tryl and Lynton Crosby’s former assistant Chris Wilkins at DfE. She should be able to spot a Trojan Horse plot a mile off…

Long Old Rochester Slog Begins

Incoming kitchen sink. The Tories are offering a massive choice to the people of Rochester: which Kent(ish) female councillor would you like to be their candidate?

“Kelly Tolhurst is a life-long resident of Medway and was elected to the council in 2011. She is the cabinet member for school improvement. She now runs her own marine survey business in Rochester and has served as a local councillor for over three years. In a statement, the Conservative association said she had “seen the strain that excessive immigration has put on housing and our local services.” Anna Firth lives in Sevenoaks with her husband and three children and was brought up in Essex. Formerly a barrister, she now serves on the Sevenoaks council. She was shortlisted for the Thanet South constituency but lost out to Craig Mackinlay. She is a governor of Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls.”

While every voter in the seat will be invited to take part, the pool is somewhat limited. Labour already have a female candidate in place and knocking on doors.

Dates for your diary:

October 23 – candidate announced.

November 20 – polling day.

November 21 – panic stations for someone.

UKIP remain bookies’ favourite but plenty of time for the wheels to come off…


Seen Elsewhere

PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian
Drug Laws Don’t Work | Times
Our Moral Duty to Cut Taxes | David Cameron
Greens Ahead of LibDems | Guardian
Channel 4 to Spoof UKIP Election Win | Guardian
The Threat to Press Freedom | Paul Dacre
White House Scoop Strategy | Post
Labour Council Retweets BNP Endorsement | HandF Forum


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David Cameron drug policy reformer and leadership contender in 2005…

“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”



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Is it just me, or is Nigel Farage just a top hat and a monocle away from being a Batman villain?


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