Luntz Looks at Leaders

Newsnight tonight will have another dose of Frank Luntz, the US pollster whose conference-time leadership poll gave Cameron the focus group mo’ that Tory activists realised Basher Davis lacked.

He will be doing all three party leaders (and grumpy Gordon). Will Ming have mo’?


Yates of the Yard’s Notebook

  • Des Smith
  • Nick Bowes
  • Sir Cyril Taylor
  • Lord Adonis (Andrew)
  • Amanda Delew
  • Jeff Shear
  • Ruth Turner
  • John McTernen
  • Peter Watt
  • Ian McCartney
  • Matt Carter
  • Lord Levy (Michael)
  • Jonathan Powell
  • Tony Blair

Will Blair’s Sleaze-Master General Be Next?

The Sleaze Master General himself will be worried that his former minion, Des Smith, is helping police with their inquiries.

Des Smith, a secondary headteacher who was also a council member of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) which was the camouflage operation under which peerages were doled out to the Labour party’s secret lenders.

The president of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust is, of course, Lord Levy.

That perp walk is getting nearer…

+++ FLASH +++ Arrested Man Not Lord Levy

Lord Levy’s Listening

Bet you a peerage Lord Levy is tuned to Radio 4 on Saturday at 4.30pm.

Elite Titles

Police Getting Closer, Run Levy, Run!

Following discussions with the Metropolitan Police, the Electoral Commission has decided to suspend temporarily its enquiries into past loans to political parties pending the outcome of the related police investigation. The Commission is therefore postponing further discussions with the parties on this matter.

The Commission will be liaising closely with the Metropolitan Police over the next few weeks.

Guido loves this graphic, but will cherish the real pictures even more.

“Whiter Than White” – How the Labour PartyWashes Money from the Taxpayer Via the Unions

No.2 in a series

The Abramoff Precedent Must Be Worrying Sleazy Levy

Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist at the centre of a Washington corruption scandal, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison yesterday.

Just goes to show that no matter how close to the powerful you are, no matter how well connected you are, the criminal justice system can’t be spun as easily as newspaper headlines.

How long before we see Levy do the “perp walk”?

Hoon Fiddles Expenses “In Accordance With The Rules”

On Sky on Sunday Geoff Hoon was droning on in that New Labour speak of his when he was challenged about claiming £72,000 in expenses while the outgoings on his Derbyshire home were around £35,000. He became very animated and basically told the interviewer to sod off and mind his own business. So it is clearly true.

Today he claims Britain has the most “aggressive, dismissive and intrusive” media. Not intrusive enough methinks. If the media were only more aggressive perhaps we would not have a system whereby a member of the government openly and insouciantly fiddles his expenses without being called a crook in the press.

Are there Six Dozen Good and True Labour MPs?

While the cat was away in Oz the mice did play last night at a meeting of the PLP. Jon Trickett, the MP for Hemsworth, urged that the NEC and the elected Parliamentary Committee to reflect on “the timing and process for the election of a new leader”. “The party has to come first” the meeting was told as Gordon Brown listened.

It has been widely reported that the Campaign Group is contemplating putting up a candidate. John Austin is also willing to stand as a stalking horse candidate, as is Glenda Jackson. But will they find 70 more MPs to back them? It all has to be done in time for party conference.So who are the likely signatories to any nomination papers? 52 dissidents rebelled on the education vote and 25 did not vote – those 77 can be assumed to be likely to want rid of Blair, add in the Brown backers on the government payroll and you have more than enough. The payroll Brownites are: Des Browne, Alistair Darling, Yvette Cooper, Nigel Griffiths, Harriet Harman, John Healey, Dawn Primarolo, Stephen Timms, Tom Watson. On the backbenches: Ian Austin, Ed Balls, Nick Brown, Tom Clarke, Frank Dobson, Doug Henderson, John McFall, Ed Milliband, Geoffrey Robinson, Clare Short, Andrew Smith, Michael Wills. But do they have the guts?

With nearly a hundred MPs for a stalking horse to appeal to, Guido has a fair few quid on Betfair’s Blair Switch bet backing the change happening July/September. In this scenario the Brownites get a smooth transition by convincing Blair they have the required numbers. At the last moment before this year’s party conference (to prevent any other candidates coming forward) Brown’s name is put forward with Blair as his first nominator. Brown becomes leader of the Labour party at the conference, Blair remains as PM to serve out his term as promised, vanity satisfied by out-distancing Thatcher. Brown gets on with the Labour party campaign against Cameron, Blair leads the country in a presidential style. This is the “Aznar solution”.

Levy Asked for Credit Knowing Refusal Often Offends

Seems to Guido that the wrong questions are being asked, Prescott in all likelihood did not know about the loans to the property developers. Lord Levy on the other hand mixes in the same social circles as Sir David Garrard and Andrew Rosenfeld, the property millionaires behind Minerva.

Sleazy Levy would know that they were risking millions on getting government approval, they would therefore be vulnerable to an approach from the Labour party’s fundraiser – well, if you have a £600 million property development resting on government approval what is a £3 million “loan”? It represents less than 1/2% of the development cost.

Capita with billions in government contracts would also be vulnerable, we all know you “do not to ask for credit because refusal often offends”. What businessman would want to offend their biggest customer, even if as Labour claims it was unlikely to make any real difference, would you as CEO want to risk offending the source of more than half your revenues? Rod Aldridge didn’t approach Labour with an offer to help, they approached him – “The Labour Party came to me last year in need of financial support following the costs incurred at the last general election”, he said.

Businessman are cynical about politicians, most would view such an approach as a shakedown, but what real choice would they have?

Zopa

Sleaze Buster Cop Asks Select Committee to Halt Inquiry

Scotland Yard’s John Yates, who is leading the Loans for Lordships investigation, has asked for the Public Affairs Select Committee hearings to be postponed. The sleaze busting cop wants the police investigation to have precedence and the hearings scheduled for next week stopped because they risk prejudicing the criminal investigation. Lord Levy had agreed to answer the committee’s questions.

Tory TV : Cameron on the NHS

The campaign message in this week’s video is “Brown’s NHS cuts”.

Cameron comes over as very personable, he could have had a career as a TV presenter – where did it all go wrong?

Not a mention of Loans for Lordships – an indication that the Tories feel a little exposed here?

Cameron should come clean – since it is all before his time and he won’t suffer from it – Blair however is balls deep in with Levy.

Trusts and Convictions

To secure a conviction the detectives will need to find hard evidence that honours were an inducement for donations to the city academies or to the making of loans to the Labour party. Not an incredibly difficult thing to do since we have the evidence of Des Smith, a former council member of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSA Trust), which helps the government to recruit sponsors for Blair’s academies. He told an undercover Sunday Times reporter that big financial donations to help set up the schools would guarantee a gong. He put it plainly “the prime minister’s office would recommend someone like [the donor] for an OBE, a CBE or a knighthood”.
Asked if this would be just for getting involved in the academies, he responded: “Yes … they call them services to education. I would say to [the SSA Trust] office that we’ve got to start writing to the prime minister’s office… you could go to the House of Lords”. It is a fact that donors to the Labour party who also supported Blair’s flagship policy, through the SSA Trust, got honours. Blair got a double whammy, he got cash for the party as well as financial support for a controversial policy. By disguising the donation to the party as a loan the honour could be respectably awarded for “services to education” without anyone knowing about the bung to the party made through Downing Street. The SSA Trust provided camouflage. When exposed by the Sunday Times Des Smith recanted everything, “confessed” his naive errors, then disappeared back to teaching.

Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Section 1 (1)
If any person accepts, obtains or agrees to accept or obtain from any person, for himself or for any other person, or for any purpose, any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.

Des Smith’s admission is prima facie evidence of what we all know. If you wanted a peerage, a seven-figure loan to the Labour party and the same again donated to a city academy obtained it. Levy induced it. He covertly procured the money for the Labour party. The public donations were the cover story. Take the case of Sir David Garrard, a city academy backer whose £2 million loan to the party was followed by the Prime Minister nominating him as a working peer. Was it really a coincidence? If it was nothing to be ashamed of, why did they tell donors not to openly donate the cash as they intended, but to lend it secretly? If it was honest, why did they mislead the Lord’s Appointment Commission about the true nature of the financial relationship between Blair’s nominees and the Labour Party?

Levy loves trusts, he did a lot of his music business through tax efficient offshore trusts. In 1995 he set up the Labour Leader’s Office Fund “blind” trust to finance Blair’s private office. Theoretically it was a blind trust, but we now know that it was not so blind that donors did not get peerages. Such unaccountable and unblind trusts were rightly banned in 2000 under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act. David Osler in Labour Party Plc: New Labour as a Party of Business estimates that before the law tightened things up £2.5 million was raised for Blair’s office through the trust – outside the Labour party’s structures. We know that at least two donors to the “blind” trust subsequently got peerages – Bob Gavron and Alex Bernstein. Other peers are suspected of having made donations to Blair’s blind trust. A pattern for the future was set, Levy lands the donors to a trust, Blair makes coincidental recommendations, peerages arrive in the post.

A pattern of behaviour is not proof, nor will circumstantial evidence be enough. What the police investigators will need is documentary evidence, they will need, forinstance, to look at the papers provided to the Lord’s Appointments Commission, do they contain falsehoods? Who assisted in that and in doing so attempted to procure the grant of an honour. Did those people have any dealings with donors? Downing Street advisers’ appointments diaries should make interesting reading. Who did Des Smith mean when he referred to the “the prime minister’s office”?

Guido understands that the Specialist Crime Directorate’s* Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur is treading very carefully with the investigation. Officers led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates need to seize the diaries of key people quickly before they get “mislaid”. If the diaries show that a donor met anyone involved in the process of procuring honours, than clearly both the donor and the procuror will have to be questioned. Merely writing letters to those concerned requesting to talk to them next month is not good enoughthe police need to go in to Downing Street and get the evidence now.

*Formerly known as the “Fraud Squad”.

Levy to Give Evidence

The Sleaze Master General himself is to give evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee. That is not enough for Guido, when will we see him do the “Perp Walk” like they do in America?

The Serious Crime Inspectorate’s investigators should cuff him and bring him in for questioning immediately – New Labour is getting desperate – who knows who he might be asking for protection money right now? The police should round up a posse and head up to the North London Hacienda, don’t let him get away. Maundy Gregory was whisked off to France by worried peers who gave him a pension for his silence.

Hell with this lot Levy could be taken for a “walk in the woods“, for his own sake, take him into protective custody.

Hello New Readers

Guido has just checked this blog’s server scrolls. A surge in readership can reveal intelligence (just like when al Qaeda are plannning something, pay-as-you-go mobiles call Peshawar a lot) and the blog is getting lots of hits from the servers in Downing Street, various other .gov.uk servers and Capita’s spinners at Financial Dynamics, as well as from Capita itself of course.
Are they worried about something? Time to put that Crisis Management plan into operation methinks.
Incidentally, dodgy spinners LLM are, coincidentally, part owned by Financial Dynamics with whom they share a building. They are obviously all waiting for the next instalment.

Capita and Ruth Turner (Part I) “Network Links”

Ruth Turner was personally appointed by Tony Blair as his Special Adviser for Government Relations working out of Downing Street. An odd job title you might think, a SpAd liaison officer? Liaising with whom?
Well if you go back into the dark New Labour past of Ms Turner (and in places it is a little murky) you will see she was a leading light on the commission of the New Local Government Network the vanguard Blairite New Labour front organisation for “innovation and modernisation in local government”, trans. privatisation and outsourcing.

No fringe ginger group this, endorsed by Blair himself, it is a slick well funded operation backed by generous corporate supporters of local democracy – who just happen to coincidentally depend for their profits on local government contracts.
The NLGN’s outsourcing contractor sponsors:

Ben Lucas of dodgy spin merchants LLM Communications (remember in 1998 they notoriously got an advance copy of one of Gordon Brown’s speeches for a client) is another leading light and trustee of the Network. Coincidentally his top clients include Capita. Through Jon Mendlesohn LLM also has a close association with with the Sleaze-Master General himself, Lord Levy. Mendlesohn is a former Blair adviser on business relations who handled Blair’s business links in the early New Labour days. He boasts that LLM is the conduit between business and New Labour and retains links with Jonathon Powell, the chief-of-staff at 10 Downing Street.
to be continued…

The Blame Game as Labour Party Goes Broke

Charles Clarke reckons the Labour party treasurer Jack Dromey is useless; “you have to wonder how well he was doing his work”. The National Executive Committee chairman, Sir Jeremy Beecham, said “I don’t know how closely Charles has been involved in all this. He’s not been on the National Executive for a number of years.” Trans. “Sod off and keep your nose out of it.”
Now the whispered briefings begin, and as with everything nowadays in the Labour party it has to be seen through the prism of the Blair/Brown struggle. The Guardian’s Diary has a planted story from the Blairites putting the blame on the Labour party’s former General Secretary, Matt Carter and Jane Hogarth, Head of Labour’s Corporate Relations and Fundraising. Complete bollocks which tries to spin the blame as far away from Number 10 as possible. Downing Street’s David Levy and Tony Blair are ultimately responsible. Ruth Turner and John McTernan have supporting roles. The police will no doubt want to talk, with good reason, to Number 10 chief of staff Jonathan Powell as well.

It gets better, donors deprived of any real prospect of gongs are now planning to call in their loans. Labour will be some £6m short of cash without the ability to tap into any obvious vein of venality going forward. The union brothers are not going to bail Blair out, nor Brown as he needs to stand tough on public sector pay so as not to scare the voters. So selling the old HQ is a real prospect unless Lord Sainsbury wants to step in again.

UPDATE : Just noticed a dreadful piece by the Guardian’s political editor – it gives a new meaning to the term “whitewash”. The covert funding programme is because of what that pantomime villain the Daily Mail might say about those nice respectable and generous multi-millionaires. Sir Michael White anyone?

Met’s Serious Crime InspectorateLooking into Loans for Lordships

One party seems keen to pursue the issue of Loans for Lordships – the Scottish Nationalists. Obviously they must be clean, canny Connery is too tight to loan ’em cash.

In any event young Angus MacNeil MP wrote to Commissioner Ian Blair last week, and Scotland Yard has now confirmed to him that it will investigate the matter further. 1933 was the last time someone was convicted of selling peerages. The law is the law Mr Levy.

Sir Ian Blair
Commissioner
Metropolitian Police
New Scotland Yard
London
SW1H 0BG

Thursday 16th March 2006

Dear Sir Ian,

I am writing to you regarding the growing circumstantial evidence surrounding the alleged selling of peerages. I am sure you will be aware of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Section 1 (1) states that:

“If any person accepts, obtains or agrees to accept or obtain from any person, for himself or for any other person, or for any purpose, any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”

The body of evidence in the Sunday Times dossier is incredibly damning. With 80 pence in every £1 going donated to the Labour party by individuals comes from people who have been honoured. Every donor who has given the party more than £1 million has been given a knighthood or a peerage.

There is also the refusal of the House of Lords Appointments Commission to accept recent nominations from the Labour Party to consider. This would appear to be a case for investigation under this Act to see if any criminality has taken place.

Three quarters of those individuals who have given more than £50 000 to the Labour Party since 2001 have received an honour.

I urge you to open an investigation into this very serious matter.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Angus MacNeil MP
Na h-Eileanan an Iar

Zopa

“Worse than Halliburton”Capita Boss Secretly Gave Labour £1 Million

If your firm’s turnover was up 11%, profits up 18% and dividends up 20%, you would be feeling pretty good about things. Wouldn’t you just be feeling so very good if you owned £50 million worth of shares in Capita, the government’s favourite outsourcer?[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Angela Rayner on Labour’s economic policy (via Speccie):

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