Shaun Woodward Spoke at Fundraiser

The April 23, 2007, £1,300 Hain dinner paid for by Royal Mail director Huw Roberts had, Guido understands from a source at the dinner Shaun Woodward as the keynote speaker. That a supposedly left-wing campaign fundraiser was addressed by a multi-millionaire ex-Tory MP should surprise no-one. Hain’s campaign was always about furthering Hain, not “Progressive Policies”. Hain had no hesitation in accepting money from all sources, businessman and vested interests had no problem supporting his candidacy. His left-wing positioning was merely a transparently tactical necessity, which most Labour Party members fortunately saw through…

Hain Still Has Campaign Debts of £41,200

According to the Electoral Commission, Peter Hain registered a payment to the Labour Party of £11,550 on September 18. Under party rules he had to pay 15% of the funds raised to the party’s central funds.
Since he raised a total of £185,000, he should have actually paid the party £27,750. So he owes the Labour Party £16,200. He also owes Willie Nagel, a diamond broker and former Tory supporter repayment on an interest-free loan of £25,000.

Which means by Guido’s calculations he has unpaid campaign debts to the tune of £41,200.

Another £10,000 Hain Donor Got Endorsement

In February last year Peter Hain decided it was of great importance to be photographed presenting Mike Cuddy, Managing Director of Cuddy Group, with the NQA 18001 Award Occupational Health & Safety. As good a thing as it is, does it really merit the presentation by the Welsh Minister, glowing endorsement and photo-op? He was too busy to pay attention to his campaign finances because of his work in Northern Ireland he spins. Yet he had plenty of time for Cuddy Group. NQA 18001 is “awarded” for documenting your company’s approach to occupational health and safety. It is essentially for an office manual written by a junior in human resources.

Presenting the certificate Peter Hain said “With their accolade of awards continuing to grow I’m sure the Cuddy Group can look forward to a successful future.”

He also said thanks to Mike Cuddy for the £10,000 donation to his campaign… which he then forgot to declare.

Hat-tip : Joey Jones

As Guido suspected they would, Steve Morgan and Phil Taylor are blaming each other for the non-reporting of donations to Hain’s campaign. Guido has had run-ins with Hain’s ex-SpAd Phil Taylor before. The betting is that Phil is the one telling the truth, Morgan has a history with funding irregularities. Sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan claims that when he took over in the middle of Hain’s campaign it was “complete chaos”. Phil Taylor denies this emphatically, “Not on my watch” he says “by the time I left we’d received legally and had declared £37,000 of donations and we hadn’t received a single penny in donations that was not declared at the time I left, so there was no chaos of any kind.” So that leaves a lot of unaccounted for cash raised by Morgan.

“Morgan the Organ”, as he was know in his days as George Galloway’s membership secretary and henchmen at War on Want in the late 80s, has had brushes with campaign funding irregularities in the past. Gorgeous George’s tenure at the left-wing campaigning charity led to a subsequent investigation by the Charity Commission over funding irregularities that were a foretaste of scandals to come.

His expenses and parking tickets were paid for out of WoW charity fundraising sources rather than his own pocket – and he regularly parked on the double yellow lines outside WoW’s Great Guilldford Street offices. Lefties who gave money to combat poverty in the Third World would not have been pleased to know their donations were going to offset Morgan’s anti-social laziness.

Guido wonders if some of the donors to Hain’s campaign might be just a little bit too embarrassing for a campaign that was positioned on the left. If it turns out to be case that say, a private equity baron or a hedge fund trader were donors, people will wonder if it really was incompetence or political embarrassment that was the reason for non-declaration of donations.

Morgan is currently helping on Hillary’s campaign so Guido feels it to be his duty to warn young impressionable American interns. He was known as “Morgan the Organ” for obvious reasons and to this day has an eye for young ladies…

+++ Rumour of Arrests Over Donorgate +++

The London Evening Standard is reporting “imminent” arrests…

BBC Invade America, Taxpayers Only Casualties

As Speedbird pointed out in the comments earlier, the BBC has Jonathan Beale, Justin Webb, Kevin Connelly, Matt Frei, Jon Sopel and David Grossman covering the primaries.
All reporting on the same thing, all giving the same (incorrect) analysis. Actually to be fair, David Grossman for Newsnight was different, telling us how he’d accidentally put diesel in the car and even filming his own cameraman and producer. At any minute he seemed to be on the verge of saying “Hello mum, I’m in America, on the telly!”

Does the duplication of efforts produce anything of value? Well it gives us clear evidence that the BBC has no budgetary discipline, massive over-staffing and a lot of West Wing fans in News & Current Affairs.

The BBC is hardly likely to get a scoop unless it can track down Steve Morgan, Peter Hain’s fundraiser who is in hiding, hopefully doing for Hilary what he did for Hain…

UPDATE : Comment makers point out that Simon Mayo is a long way from the Radio 1 Roadshow, he is reporting the primaries for 5 Live. Radio 4’s Jim Naughtie is there as well. Kevin Connolly is padding out 5 Live’s coverage as is somebody called Rhod Sharpe. Jonathan Marcus and James Coomarasamy are covering for the World Service.

Any more Beeboids across the Atlantic?

Pundits Perverse Predictions Prove Piffle

How Did We All Get This So Wrong? in the Speccie sums up the pundits this morning. All the pundit talk of double digit leads for Obama have come to naught, there was even talk of Hillary pulling out of the race yesterday.

If you really want to have a good laugh, pick up a copy of the print edition of the Indy and compare it to the hastily re-written articles on their website. Slight change of tone and direction in their punditry.

Guido is sticking to sticking it to Westminster politicians…

Brown Gives Bollocking to Hain

Brown has “expressed anger and disappointment at Peter Hain’s failure to disclose the full extent of donations to his deputy leadership campaign” according to the Guardian.

Gordon gave Hain a telephonic bollocking for ruining Brown’s New Year re-launch and blunting the intended counter-attack to Cameron’s welfare reform plans as announced by Chris Grayling. Grayling stingingly responded to Hain’s “Tory sums don’t add up” line with “Someone in Peter Hain’s position should be very careful about accusing anyone else of getting their sums wrong.”

Hain’s prospects in any cabinet reshuffle now look bleak. His department is obviously suffering from having a distracted Minister, a press release put out by the Department for Work and Pensions today has the headline “Brits struggle to make ends meet in the New Year”. The release contains their own polling figures showing that more than half of people in the UK (55%) spend more than they can afford and are “struggling”. Hardly the official message Brown and Darling are spinning of national economic strength. Perhaps if more Britons took out a loan from Picture Financial Services plc, sponsors of Peter Hain…

Gordon Boredom

Gordon Brown’s press conference is going on now. The political press pack is coming to dread Gordon’s repetitious droning. Iain Martin in the Telegraph said Gordon Brown’s speech on the NHS yesterday “went on, and on, and on… The content is very much downtown Havana and the presentation style also has Cuban echoes, like one of those speeches by Castro it goes on, and on, and on.”

John Harris in this morning’s Guardian reckons it is hard to distinguish Brown from a crypto-Stalinist parody –

“We will strengthen the democracy and unity of our country. Our priority at all times, our guiding purpose: one Britain of security and opportunity … With unbending determination, we will steer a course of stability through global financial turbulence … with firm conviction and resolve, we will make the case for the United Kingdom … I pledge my resolution to continue the work of change.”

Simon Hoggart criticises his descent into into verb-free sentences. Most Lobby journalists are bored with Gordon already, his colourless technocratic rhetoric. The automatic repetition of phrases and keywords such as “change”, “long term”, “tough decisions”, “my vision” and “getting on with the job” seems to be orally excreted on an endlessly looping tape. It going to be a long time until the next election…

UPDATE : Ben Brogan seems to have become bored and disenchanted with the Brownies as well. He even calls Gordon dishonest.

More Steve Morgan Anecdotes Please

Peter Hain’s sleazy lobbyist fundraiser, Steve Morgan, told Radio Wales this morning that he had been brought in to the campaign to “bring order to chaos”. A source retorts “bollocks”. Every donation, they insist firmly, was properly accounted for up until the moment Phil Taylor walked out after falling out with Morgan. The documentation Guido got hold of in May seemed very precise and backs this up.

Hain’s allies are furious at Morgan’s audacity. Guido hears so many bad things about Mr Morgan. Do email more to Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com.

Credit Crunch Over Hain’s £5,000 from Loan Company CEOHe Gave Ringing Commercial Endorsement to Backer

Carol Vorderman charges a fortune to advertise debt consolidation company FirstPlus. Peter Hain got a donation of £5,000 from rival debt consolidaton company boss, Neville Allport, his Picture Financial Services plc offers easy credit – “You can even borrow up to 125% of the value of your home” says the website “something that traditional lenders won’t consider.” They won’t consider such gearing because it is financially reckless.

Prominently displayed all over the company website is Hain’s ringing commerical endorsement. Guido can’t recall a serving minister’s endorsement ever being used to advertise a company in this way. Guido is sure that Hain’s endorsements and the £5,000 donation are entirely coincidental.

The 10.9% APR charged to credit maxed out debtors is very profitable, which probably explains why Ronnie Cohen’s Apax Private Equity is the biggest investor in Picture Financial Services plc. Remind Guido again where Hain stood on the Private Equity issue during the deputy-leadership campaign…

UPDATE : Looks like Hencke and Wintour on the Guardian are joining the chase this morning, with a front-page splash on Hain’s missing declarations. They are (rightly) fingering sleazy lobbyist Steven Morgan, identified by Guido in May 2007 as responsible for raising the cash.

The story points vaguely to an undeclared circa £10,000 from “City or business people”. Hain is said to be personally auditing the figures. Don’t forget the benefits-in-kind Peter…

BBC Interviews Al Jazeera’s Bin Laden Tape Guy

Brown came in promising an end to spin yet six months later he is appointing Stephen Carter, head of the PR firm Brunswick, to be his “Principal Political Adviser”. So a spin doctor is now in charge of all SpAds including (the unpopular with the Lobby) Damian McBride. Carter will be in overall charge of political strategy and communications.

He had been at Brunswick for only a year after failing to get the job of ITV chief before leaving the media industry regulator Ofcom. Spinning for Brown will keep him very busy.

So looks like the Smith Institute’s Wilf Stevenson has missed out on the rumoured chief-fixer job. Matthew d’Ancona, the Daily Mail and the Indy seemed to think he was the front-runner. Or has he? Ah well…

UPDATE 17:22 : The Tories have just sent out a press release pointing out that Carter told the Guardian last year: ‘I’m not thinking of politics. I made that decision a long, long time ago’. A statement that is clearly untrue and inconsistent with reality, so he is perfect for Gordon. They also allege that Stephen Carter is being paid a salary of £137,000 to be “Gordon Brown’s spinner-in-chief”. Memorable phrase that…

Electoral Commission “Still in Contact with Mr Hain’s Office”

The new Register of Members Interests for Peter Hain shows a £5,000 donation belatedly registered on December 18 from Bill Bottriell. Hain registered it with the Electoral Commission as well on the December 12. However he still hasn’t registered Mendolsohn’s donation with the Electoral Commission but has put it on the Register. Incompetent or deceptive?

Guido has asked Hain’s office what is going on to no avail. The Electoral Commission says only that it is still in contact with Hain’s office, could that be because they are now being a little bit more rigorous? So the issue remains unresolved and incomplete to put it kindly. Is there a problem? Guido thinks so…

UPDATE 23:30 : The Pink ‘Un’s George Parker re-hashed Guido’s story and got a quote this evening from Hain’s office. Hain will provide the information “very shortly” but “aides have refused to explain why it was taking him so long, other than to say he wanted to be sure he got the facts straight. They said it was “ludicrous” to suggest he had something to hide.”

Outed

The Indy’s John Rentoul has got things a little mixed-up. There is a dark secret in Guido’s political past from his youth…

He was indeed a paid up member of the SDP, as was Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti (she was always a cutie). Guido was on the national-executive of the youth wing no less.

It was apparently an incubator of political talent, or maybe not…

Will Be Blogging Westminster, Not Washington

Does the British Commentariat really know what it is talking about? They seem awfully ready to provide analysis of the local psephology of states they have never even visited. Dale is off to Washington at least, almost every British hack seems to have a view on the U.S. elections. Guido doesn’t really have a view, sure he might want Ron Paul to win, but knows he won’t. In reality so long as Hillary loses it will be fine by Guido.

During Christmas Guido’s Tongan-American brother-in-law (a Republican) said he was going to vote for Obama. Barack’s book The Audacity of Hope comes highly recommended. Time to read up methinks…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Finishing the Project : Making 2008 Dangerous for Brown

In the early days of the Cameron regime change, the Tory party’s recidivist right charged Dave with being policy-lite, all mood music and photo-opportunity. Privately the Cameroons explicitly agreed that they were about “changing the aroma”. Many of the recidivist activists, (hold-outs for Hague, Davis or Fox) charged that Cameron was Blair-lite and without substantial policies. On ConservativeHome the impatience this time last year was still manifestly clear. Guido argued at the time that the policy detail was irrelevant, what mattered was character, because Gordon Brown is a deeply flawed personality. Those flaws inform his tactics and political outlook. To defeat Gordon Brown his opponents should focus on him personally, something that Steve Hilton and CCHQ (prior to the arrival of Andy Coulson) were reluctant to do. Now, with the election put off for two years, 2008 should be about irreversibly breaking Brown’s reputation once and for all.

However much Brown smiles manically in front of the cameras, the public believe he is a grumpy, defensive, brooding control freak – because after ten years we know the truth. You can’t fool all of the people for such a long time. Recognition of his mincing, finger-chewing, snot-eating, greasy haired, foul tempered nature and weird dark ways has broken out of the confines of the Westminster Village and is seeping into a wider popular consciousness. His personal standing is polling at the lowest ever, lower than Blair ever reached.

Brown still clings to his supposed economic competence, although polls post Northern Rock’s collapse show that he has, after 15 years, lost Labour’s advantage over the Tories on this issue. As the economy slows the imbalances in the economy will become clear to see. Vince Cable and George Osborne need to ensure that the man responsible for those imbalances takes the blame. In good times a prudent finance minister pays down the national debt. Ken Clarke left Gordon Brown an economy in fine fettle, so much so that when Treasury mandarins breathlessly briefed the incoming Gordon Brown on the admirable state of the government’s finances in 1997 the charmless Chancellor retorted, “What do we want me to do, write them a f***ing thank you letter?”

Gordon didn’t strengthen the economy, he just taxed it and spent like a sailor in port. Taxed it to pay for an increase of 500,000 bureaucrats on the government payroll and an unreformed welfare system which now has millions more solely dependent on the state. A New Deal that failed to cut youth unemployment, a Sure Start system which has done nothing for social mobility and actually weakened families. Brown recklessly mortgaged our children’s future taxes to front load a capital spending programme (off the PSBR books) using an Enron-style PFI debt model that will be being paid down for decades. A strong growing economy can carry these policy mistakes, once the public finances weaken they become a heavy burden. Every bankruptcy and every home repossessed this year will be laid at his door. Every over-taxed young couple struggling to save for their first home, every retiree who has seen their pension plundered, every small businessman burdened by red tape should have their anger directed to the ultimate author of their woes, Gordon Brown.

The BBC has produced (for internal use only) an analysis of the Cameron Project, unpublished, it has been carefully kept away from the eyes of the License Fee payers. It is a good analysis of the 4 year Team Cameron plan, as originally envisaged and as actually implemented. It covers the anti-Brown strategy, policy development and party modernisation.

You can download a summary of the report here, courtesy of Guido.

UPDATE : The internal BBC analysis in full is here, it was written by Marc Williams in late October 2006.

Gordon Plans to Water the Workers’ Beer

As sterling plummets against all currencies (apart from the Pakistani Rupee) Guido’s thoughts turn nostalgically to Jim Callaghan, a former Chancellor who became Prime Minister in 1976 and presided over a sterling crisis (what crisis?). He once sung a little ditty to the Labour Party conference that seems appropriate this morning –

I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers’ beer
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers’ beer
And what do I care if it makes them ill,
If it makes them terribly queer
I’ve a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
And I waters the workers’ beer

The relevance of this is that the government is briefing that Gordon Brown will take personal charge of a package of measures to create a “cultural shift” away from the epidemic of binge drinking. Does the PM think this the priority issue facing the country or is it just Stalinist control-freakery?

There is to be a Downing Street summit. According to the Indy “Ministers are also contemplating moves to raise the tax on the most potent beers and mixers associated with binge drinking by putting duty on units of alcohol. Mr Brown is also being urged by Labour MPs to force supermarkets to raise the minimum price of drink to reduce the attraction of cheap alcohol.” Yes, Gordon’s the man, the tax man, that taxes the workers’ beer…

Kenya Travel Advice

About ten or so years ago there was an attempted coup in Kenya. Guido and his girlfriend were looking for a cheap holiday and the travel agent offered us an impossible to shift £2,000 a head safari holiday leaving the next day for £299.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Diane Abbott on Amber Rudd:

Who can have confidence in Amber Rudd to make far-reaching changes to the Home Office if she doesn’t seem able to get basic facts right?”

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