Lobbyist Sheerman’s Shameless Bercow Mansplaining

Guido knows it is well into rosé hour on a sunny Friday afternoon, but Labour dinosaur Barry Sheerman is being particularly incoherent over on Twitter. Sheerman began by launching a bold defence of the Speaker and calling for Leadsom to resign instead, only to be called out for mansplaining by Ruth Davidson:

Sheerman then got very confused about the basic facts, suggesting the Leadsom-Bercow row happened in a private meeting and not in the Commons:

He then made up a fake “inside source”:

Sheerman was the first serving MP to register as a lobbyist. He abuses his position to shill for products directly linked to his lobbying activities. This mad conflict of interest should obviously not be allowed to happen, Sheerman has got away with it because the Speaker has not cracked down on him. Now Sheerman is returning the favour, as pro-Bercow Labour MPs continue to make a mockery of parliament’s response to bullying. Step away from the keyboard, Barry.

Labour MP: “Better Educated” Voted Remain

Barry Sheerman reckons Labour leavers are thick…

Tory MP James Duddridge ‘Does a Sheerman’

A sitting Tory backbencher is working for a lobbying firm. James Duddridge is being paid £3,300 for just eight hours’ work a month in his role as a consultant for Brand Communications, according to reports. Duddridge says his second job is “not a public affairs role” but Brand Communications boasts of its “political communications and government relations” work in Africa. Duddridge is a former Africa Minister…

Lobbying regulator the PRCA prohibits its member firms from employing MPs, but Brand Communications is one of the small number of shops that have not signed up to the PRCA’s charter. PRCA Director General Francis Ingham said:

Brand Communications, which sits outside of the industry’s regulatory regime, is damaging all of our reputations in employing Duddridge. Politicians must now admit that the rules surrounding second jobs need to be reformed. Ethics is a two-way street. It is against our rules, but not against their own, and once again the biggest loser in all of this is the public. How can we expect people to have trust in politics when we let this sort of thing happen?”

The same loophole allowed Labour MP Barry Sheerman to register as a lobbyistGuido has no objection to MPs having a second income, just not from lobbyists trying to influence politics and potentially MPs’ votes…

Sheerman’s Shameless Smart Meter Shilling

Last month Guido told how Labour MP Barry Sheerman has become the first serving MP to register as a lobbyist. Sheerman’s activities, conducted through his firm Policy Connect, caused industry groups to write letters of complaint to Parliament’s Standards Commissioner over the perceived conflict of interest. How can you properly serve your constituents and simultaneously be a registered lobbyist?

Yesterday the Huddersfield MP tweeted a picture of himself alongside the quote:

“Smart meters are a great way of using technology to help save money and make an environmental impact. It is great to hear so many homes in Huddersfield embracing smart meters and I would like to encourage more people to learn about the benefits of this technology.”

It must be a coincidence that Sheerman’s Policy Connect has put out a report on energy policy which, you guessed it, promotes smart meters. Contributors to the research included British Gas, EDF and Agility ECO: all firms in the smart meter business. Sheerman advising his constituents to use products directly linked to his lobbying activities…

Sheerman Lobbying Prompts Calls for Ban

Earlier this month Guido told how Labour’s Barry Sheerman became the first serving MP to register as a lobbyist. The Huddersfield MP is chairman of Policy Connect, an organisation which charges firms between £175 and £20,000 to become members of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). Those firms are then able to attend APPG events held in parliament, potentially gaining access to MPs and ministers. Sheerman says the House authorities don’t consider him a lobbyist, even though the lobbying registrar found that Policy Connect does provide lobbying services…

Now the Public Relations and Communications Association and the Association of Professional Political Consultants have written to Parliament’s Standards Commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, to express concern over Sheerman’s activities. The letter reads:

“We are writing to you following the recent decision by the Lobbying Registrar, Alison White, that the work carried out by Barry Sheerman MP under the aegis of the not-for-profit organisation Policy Connect is classed as lobbying. As you will know Mr Sheerman has since submitted an entry onto the Statutory Lobbying Register. This is the first time that an elected policy-maker has also been classified as a lobbyist, which causes us some concern. It seems to be inconsistent that Mr Sheerman is classified as a lobbyist by the Register of Consultant Lobbying and yet the MPs’ Code has, hitherto, permitted this lobbying. It is our view that no MP should work as both a legislator and paid consultant lobbyist… The sort of conflict highlighted by Mr Sheerman’s involvement in Policy Connect serves to diminish confidence in the work of lobbyists and policy-makers.”

The letter asks the Standards Commissioner to change the MP’s Code of Conduct, which is due for review, so as to ban members from carrying out such work:

“Changes to the MPs’ Code of Conduct preventing members carrying out any work which would necessitate compliance with the Register of Consultant Lobbyists seem to us fundamental to any changes to the Code and we hope that the case of Mr Sheerman and Policy Connect and its implications will be considered as part of this review work by the new Committee and any further work undertaken by yourself.”

The sooner the better…

Serving Labour MP Registers as Lobbyist

Barry Sheerman this week became the first serving MP to register as a lobbyist (yes, you read that right). The Huddersfield Labour MP is also Chairman of an organisation called Policy Connect, which charges firms between £175 and £20,000 to become members of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs can have external ‘secretariats‘ to help them organise their activities). By dint of their APPG connections, those firms are then able to visit Parliament and attend networking events: the wine flows, ministers sometimes drop by. Policy Connect is listed as the public face of nine APPGs, covering areas from manufacturing to health…

Lobbying Tsar Alison White ruled Sheerman should register after she found that Policy Connect is paid money by its clients who are then given access to ministers. But here’s the rub: MPs are already governed by a separate Code of Conduct that prohibits serving members from acting as “paid advocates”. Sheerman told The Guardian that Parliament’s Standards Commissioner has informed him that he is not in breach of the Code. So the House authorities don’t think Sheerman is a lobbyist, but simultaneously the lobbying registrar says his organisation does provide lobbying services…

Nicholas Dunn-McAfee, Head of Public Affairs, Policy, and Research at the Public Relations and Communications Association, said:

“Barry Sheerman has become the first MP to feature on the Register. On one hand, we have the Standards Commissioner and MPs’ Code of Conduct which prohibits paid advocacy and does not consider Sheerman to be a lobbyist. On the other hand, we have the Register of Consultant Lobbyists which clearly considers Sheerman’s company to be offering lobbying services.

“How are the public meant to have trust in our democracy when the right hand and the left hand disagree on the fundamental point of who is and is not a lobbyist? The cracks are clear for all to see: it is time to look again at lobbying regulation in the UK and strengthen the definition to include all those who influence government or advise others how to influence government.”

The Sheer mess of it all…

UPDATE 16.30: The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) says the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life should rule on Sheerman’s case. CIPR’s Paul Beckford said:

“It is hard to see how an MP can fall within the remit of the statutory lobbying register and at the same time comply with the MP’s Code of Conduct which says ‘No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House’. The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life should now decide if registering as a Lobbyist is compatible with the rules of the House of Commons and the MPs Code of Conduct.”

Canary’s “Batsh*t” Conspiracy Theory About Sun’s Front Page

Here’s the pro-Corbyn Canary claiming that “This was what The Sun chose to put on its front page in the aftermath” of the Manchester Arena attack. As Dominic Ponsford, the editor of the Press Gazette, put it, this is “Batsh*t reporting”.

Anyone who had the slightest understanding would realise that this was put out before the tragic news from Manchester broke. The actual front page splash in The Sun’s second edition was

At best the Canary is batsh*t crazy or more likely deliberately misleading readers out of left-wing malice towards The Sun. One reader is the Labour MP Barry Sheerman:

In reality News UK gave £100,000 to a fund for Manchester victims and Sun readers have so far donated £60,000 to the fund. Barry Sheerman is an idiot.

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