McBride’s Procurement Card Hypocrisy Explained

This morning Guido published his own hypocrisy dossier on Damian McBride, the author of Labour’s ‘GPC Files’. Guido combed through Damian’s 2014 book and unsurprisingly found countless examples of government waste under Gordon Brown during Damian’s time in government. Editor Paul Staines popped up on GB News this morning to run through the charges…

mdi-timer 16 February 2023 @ 10:14 16 Feb 2023 @ 10:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
The GPC Files: Damian McBride’s Boozy Private Jet Flights, Thousand Dollar Bar Bills and Thousand Pound Dinners

This week was scheduled on the Labour Party’s media grid to be “Government Procurement Card” week – exposing the “GPC files” of the Tories and their big spending ways. The Labour Press team even mocked up a fake Rishi Sunak GPC:

The reputed author of the dossier is the reformed former attack dog Damian McBride. After a time away from politics following Smeargate, McBride returned to SW1 as Emily Thornberry’s political advisor in March 2016. Thornberry being the Shadow Cabinet MP in whose name all the written questions were asked to create the GPC Files…

Damian was around for the birth of Government Procurement Cards in 1997, climbing government ranks as Labour’s GPC spending soared. His “Power Trip” book provides an explicit account of the sort of taxpayer “put it on the card” spending in the Treasury and No. 10 during his years there, for which he’s now attacking the government…


  • ‘We were going to hold a proper end-of-trip party on board, and would happily serve our own drinks so they could have a break’ 
  • ‘… if the galleys were still full of unopened bottles of champagne, wine and beer when we were on our return flight from Japan, Santiago or Cape Town, that was all booze already paid for by the hacks just waiting to be drunk’ – this last point is a fiction, the ticket charges for hacks barely covered their own flight costs.
  • ‘We were going to hold a proper end-of-trip party on board and would happily serve our own drinks… [after Gordon went to bed] the hard drinking would ensue. I’d kick things off with a quiz then there’d be hours of standing around swapping war stories and jokes, a bit of singing, and … all-night sessions of poker… all while steadily draining what was left of the booze’

Private jets

  • ‘If we chartered a flight from BA, Virgin or one of the occasional private airlines we used, then all the food and booze we’d normally consume on a flight was obviously thrown in as well’
  • ‘Chartering a plane or, less preferably, block-booking dozens of seats on a scheduled flight was always the most expensive aspect of any overseas visit, and the way we paid for it was by inflating the fares charges to the press to subsidise the travel of Gordon and his team’ – in truth it “didn’t pay for it”, it slightly reduced the overall cost to taxpayers.

Luxury meals

  • ‘Gordon did a briefing at the G8 summit in Japan about the need to tackle the world’s waste of food, and then found himself at a luxurious thirteen-course banquet laid on by the hosts that same evening’


  • ‘When Gordon finally came down, Balls said: “Damian’s got a theory about this hotel to tell you.’ Before I could say anything, Gordon said: “I know, we’ve got to get out of here, this place is full of hookers’
  • ‘We’d drive out to Summers restaurant and Sports Bar in Arlington on Saturday mornings, Sunday lunchtimes and weekday afternoons to catch any live Premiership or Champions League games. Gordon wouldn’t drink…’

It is clear that Damian and the Brownites particularly enjoyed their times in America. Guido has come across an old Freedom of Information release from the days when his inseparable pal Ed Balls was Education Minister and he with Damian McBride would let the government procurement card be their flexible friend when it came to drinking and dining. Remember that civil servants not ministers are the ones issued with cards. Note the thousand dollar American bar bills and the thousand pound plus dinners in two of Guido’s favourite Westminster restaurants; Osteria Dell Angelo and the Cinnamon Club:

Apart from the Freedom of Information release above, all the quotes are taken from Damian’s 2014 confessional book “Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin”. Guido asked the Labour press office to confirm or deny McBride ever had a GPC of his own, or whether Labour commits to ending these practices in government. They haven’t answered…

mdi-timer 16 February 2023 @ 07:30 16 Feb 2023 @ 07:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
No Need to Wait For Labour’s Procurement Card Spending Story

Yesterday the Lobby was intrigued to receive a mock up credit card bearing the name ‘Conservative Government Rishi Sunak’. It was handed out by Labour Press, who have since rebranded their Twitter account to “The GPC Files”. The card featured a QR code, which takes hacks to a site counting down to Monday morning…

GPC stands for Government Procurement Card – hence the Lobby merch. GPCs are used by government departments for visa-based purchasing to speed up the process of obtaining goods and services. Some departments have been pretty shoddy in publishing their transactions.

Guido initially presumed Labour’s campaign was going to be about this lack of transparency. The Ministry of Justice, for example, haven’t published GPC spending since March 2015. 

It seems Labour were less subtle than this, however. During his search, Guido stumbled upon Emily Thornberry’s written questions to ministers this year. It turns out the Shadow Attorney General has submitted over 350 questions on departmental GPC spending over the last few months.

  • Of the Department for Transport, she’s learned about the purchase of 350 gift bags given to participants at the UN breakfast reception
  • Of the Cabinet Office she learnt of a fraudulent transaction in February 2022
  • Of the Foreign Office she learnt that £3,000 was spent on catering for a Queens Birthday Party at the British Embassy in The Hague
  • Of DWP, she learnt that the then Secretary of State flew Business Class to the Paralympics
  • That the Cabinet Office claims items purchased from Go Outdoors Retail and Decathalon UK were purchased by COBR “for national resilience and emergency planning purposes”
  • Of Natural England, she forced DEFRA to reveal the quango gave out 170 mugs featuring a photo of an Anglesey church as part of a post-Covid “morale boost” exercise after lockdown

Having flicked through quite a few of Labour’s questions and the answers they received, almost every answer reveals that the government spends money on wining and dining foreign dignitaries, or putting up ministers and civil servants in hotels abroad during international conferences. Maybe there is a story buried in there somewhere – Guido hasn’t yet been able to go through the 350 written government answers. Hopefully Monday morning’s news is more than ‘government has diplomatic service that host cocktail parties’…

If readers fancy combing through the expenditure answers and finding any evidence of caviar munching and champagne swilling by civil servants, please email any egregious examples to We will be more than happy to highlight them…

mdi-timer 10 February 2023 @ 11:42 10 Feb 2023 @ 11:42 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments