Gordon’s pollster Deborah Mattinson sits on the board of Gordon’s think-tank, the Smith Institute. Her relationship with Gordon has been very profitable for her firm, OLR. According to today’s Sunday Telegraph, government contracts totalling some £3 milllion have come her way.
By coincidence OLR does a bit of polling for the Smith Institute for no charge. In February Guido queried who paid for their latest “92% favour Gordon” poll. OLR came back and said they had no paying client for the research. Nor did they have an identifiable paying client for their “What it means to be British” research in 2005. Shortly afterwards Gordon began loudly banging his Britishness drum. Opinion Leader Research has helped Gordon on “Britishness” issues before, their research was also used extensively in “New Britain” a 1999 publication produced by the Smith Institute. The pamphlet was itself singled out and explicitly criticised by the Charity Commission as being party political in the first 2001 investigation into the Sith.When the taxpayer is paying OLR £153,484.38 for one-day seminars it can’t be hard for OLR to do a bit of off-the-books work for the Smith Institute. The taxpayer is subsidising Gordon’s private polling, just as it subsidised the event hosting of Gordon’s Smith Institute at Downing Street.
Chris Grayling has written to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, asking him to investigate how OLR comes to win so many government contracts. Many market research industry competitors agree with Guido:- it is cronyism plain and simple.
“This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust,” he told the PM, concluding: “I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election… I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit…”