The Invitation Westminster Advisers Won't Comment About

As reported last night, the Guardian have added some important details to their Lynton Crosby/healthcare yarn, after Guido’s little fact checking yesterday. Lobbying firm Westminster Advisers “declined to comment” last night over Guido’s revelation that the firm “run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research.” They told the Guardian: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.” For the sake of clarity, here is the invitation to their event:

“That is all we are saying.”

Guardian Puts Record Straight

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The Guardian has done a follow up which largely corrects the record after Guido pointed out the factual errors in their healthcare lobbying story from this morning. Namely that they had got the target audience completely wrong and that the firm organising the event wasn’t Tory leaning CTF, it was in fact Labour leaning lobbyists Westminster Advisers. A statement issued by Mark Detre from Westminster Advisers confirms the accuracy of Guido’s version of events:

“Crosby Textor Fullbrook provided research and advice into public attitudes on healthcare to H5. H5 is a predecessor to the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations and they did that in 2010 and 2011. The arrangement between CTF and H5 ended in mid 2011. AIHO is a new organisation formed in March 2013 and has no relationship with CTF.”

Nicholas Watt at the Guardian reports that

Detre declined to comment on a report on the Guido Fawkes website that Westminster Advisers, run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research. Detre said: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.”

Judge for yourself…

"Crosby Presentation" Organised By Labour Lobbyist Labour MPs Attended Event Held in Commons

clippingThe Guardian, which likes to boast that they give “the whole picture”, are very excited this morning with the suggestion that “The lobbying firm founded by the Tories’ chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived “failings” in the NHS, according to a leaked document obtained by the Guardian. The presentation was made by Crosby Textor, known as CTF Partners in Britain, towards the end of 2010.” The timing is right, just who the presentation was actually made to has been conveniently left out of the story.

dominic-churchThe Guardian claims that the “leaked” presentation was made by CTF to private healthcare profiteers, it was actually organised by the lobbying firm Westminster Advisers for MPs – who were all given copies – making it more of a handout than a leak. Westminster Advisers is headed by Dominic Church, a wealthy Labour supporter and a former Hammersmith and Fulham councillor for the party. He is a Blairite private healthcare lobbyist

Church lobbies for the H5 Private Hospitals Alliance. The slideshow was shown at their parliamentary reception themed ‘Improving Britain’s healthcare’ on 29 November 2010 in the House of Commons. The invitation was open to all MPs and Guido understands that many Labour MPs enjoyed the hospitality served in Dining Room A. One attendee remembers seeing, for example, Gisela Stuart at the event. CTF merely providing polling data for the report. It was a briefing for MPs by private healthcare, not a briefing to private healthcare.

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Mysteriously there is plenty missing from slideshow the Guardian have published. They have run just 4 pages out of the 31 slide presentation, leaving out what does not fit the story. Take this page for example which is positive about the NHS, and inconveniently shows – for the Guardian’s preferred narrative – that the public back reforms:

Nowhere is this to be seen on the Guardian website. Despite cutting pages, they have re-numbered the 4 pages so you would never know. Guido senses a lengthy Corrections and Clarifications coming tomorrow…

Full presentation:

UPDATE:

Guardian Still Losing Half-a-Million a Week

Guardian News and Media made an annual loss of £30.4 million last year, as hard as they try to spin it that still means they are haemorrhaging half a million quid a week. Guardian Media Group made an operating loss of £54.8 million last year, reporting profits before tax of £22.7 million. Presumably meaning their profits after tax were £22.7 million. For three years Guido has been asking GMG where their 50.1% stake in TMG (Autotrader) is held. Guido has asked the GMG CEO Andrew Miller and Alan Rusbridger, who to be fair – despite sitting on the GMG board – admitted he had no idea. Also fortuitously Guido was sat at a lunch next to Dame Liz Forgan chair of the Scott Trust, asked her about GMG’s offshore secrets and she said Guido was the last person she would tell. So much for that famed commitment to openness and transparency.  Still no answer, we’re working on the theory that they have created an aggressive tax avoidance structure – solely to avoid UK tax – maintaining for 7 years an offshore Cayman’s holding corporation.*

Some good news though: the Guardian annual report says their hedge fund investments and investments exploiting third world emerging markets are performing well. Alan Rusbridger meanwhile took home total remuneration of £491,000, with chief executive Andrew Miller pocketing £769,000, including a £100,000 bonus fat-cat bonus putting him on some 72 times the earnings of the Guardian’s lowest paid staff. Austerity is only for the staff…

*If any bean counters have any ideas as to why Trader Media Group’s financing costs are so high when it is so profitable, please share in the comments, could it be that they loaded the onshore part of the group up with debt that is serviced by paying the interest, presumably tax-free, offshore to the GMG Caymans holding company? They then can use the tax free profits to support the loss making journalism? Does that theory make sense? How exactly does the money flow from TMG to GMG?

See also Guardian’s Offshore Secrets

First New Snowden Photo

Wearing the same shirt as the last time he was pictured, he certainly has the look of a man who has slept in an airport for the last two weeks…

Via Guardian.

Grande Floppuccino

By Guido’s calculations the Guardian coffee shop is costing them £240,062-a-year, that’s around £20,000 blown already since it opened at the end of May. They were clearly having a slow start when Guido paid them a visit, though perhaps things have picked up? One co-conspirator decided to find out yesterday lunchtime:

The numbers don’t look good either. At prime time they had only sold 94 cups, well short of the 270-a-day they need to stay afloat.

Maybe Guido is being unfair and it’s not just Guardian Coffee that is struggling. How might the other cafes and restaurants in the Shoreditch box park be getting on by comparison?

Oh dear…

H/T @libdemlife

Telegraph's Rowena Mason Off to Guardian

Congratulations are in order for the Telegraph’s political correspondent Rowena Mason, who has landed a move to the Guardian. She is off in the next few weeks. Perhaps a more natural home.

Rowena isn’t taking Guido’s calls, this time…

Seumas Milne Despairs at Fall of Berlin Wall

Given the incredible footage of the mass protests coming out of Egypt against an Islamist leader who has betrayed his country’s transition to democracy, you might have thought our metropolitan liberal elite would come down on the right side for once. As ever, the strongest defence of a terrible regime comes from the Guardian’s former Stalinist Seumas Milne. In Milne’s warped world, apparently tearing down the Berlin Wall was a bad thing:

“The tumultuous Paris upheaval of May 1968 was followed by the electoral victory of the French right. Those who marched for democratic socialism in east Berlin in 1989 ended up with mass privatisation and unemployment. The western-sponsored colour revolutions of the last decade used protesters as a stage army for the transfer of power to favoured oligarchs and elites. The indignados movement against austerity in Spain was powerless to prevent the return of the right and a plunge into even deeper austerity.

In the era of neoliberalism, when the ruling elite has hollowed out democracy and ensured that whoever you vote for you get the same, politically inchoate protest movements are bound to flourish. They have crucial strengths: they can change moods, ditch policies and topple governments. But without socially rooted organisation and clear political agendas, they can flare and fizzle, or be vulnerable to hijacking or diversion by more entrenched and powerful forces.”

Bonkers…

Observer Pulls Splash After Source Turns Out to Be 9/11 TrutherRead Pulled Story in Full Here

Today’s Observer first and second editions look very different:

A quick Google of Wayne Madsen, their source for a series of serious allegations made against the National Security Agency, would have told them he is a conspiracy theorist who believes Mossad were involved in 9/11 and that President Obama is gay. Here is the Observer story that was humiliatingly pulled late last night:

“At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data, according to a former contractor to America’s National Security Agency, who said the public should not be “kept in the dark”.

Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985 and over the next 12 years held several sensitive positions within the agency, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US.

Madsen said the countries had “formal second and third party status” under signal intelligence (sigint) agreements that compels them to hand over data, including mobile phone and internet information to the NSA if requested.”

You can read the full pulled story here. Guardian journalists are this morning frantically distancing their paper from the Observer, despite them sharing a website and a boss. Google is your friend…

Wake Up and Smell the Losses

Guido has done his best to provide free advertising for the Guardian’s ill-fated coffee shop, yet it all seems to have been in vain. This is the scene in Shoreditch sent in by a reader this afternoon:

At the time of going to pixel just 41 cups have been sold today, well short of the 270-a-day they need to flog to break even. Perhaps they are being put out of business by all those fake GCHQ coffee shops they’ve been telling us about…

Glenn Greenwald: In His Readers’ (Predictably Unkind) Words

The award for the stupidest idea of the week goes to the Guardian, who are encouraging readers to fill out a template offering their opinions on Glenn Greenwald and publishing the results without moderation. Cue the predictable:

Fair to say there are lot in a similar vein. Read them and share your own thoughts here. Why do they do it?

Guardian Will Give Your Data to Intelligence Agencies

Google, Microsoft, Apple et al denying Glenn Greenwald’s claim that they allowed the National Security Agency “direct access” to their servers was pretty awkward for the Guardian. Obviously the last brave freedom fighters defending us against an omnipotent surveillance would never do that, right? Here is the Guardian’s own privacy policy:

“Please note that we reserve the right to access and disclose personal data to comply with applicable laws and lawful government requests, to operate our systems properly and to protect both ourselves and our users.”

The same rule the software giants say they play by. Is this “direct access”?

H/T @guywalters

Another Guardian “Deleted Voicemail” Moment

As Putin winds up Obama by offering whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in Russia, the wheels are beginning to come off of the Glenn Greenwald global gloating tour. Yesterday, in his usual tetchy style, he let slip that he had been working with Snowden in February, before he started working for private NSA contractors Booz Allen in March. As Guy Walters notes it could look like Greenwald and Snowden planned to look for abuses, quite plausibly to serve their own agenda.

David Allen Green notes that no evidence has yet been produced that anyone working for the NSA or GCHQ breached any law whatsoever, or that any information was obtained without a court order. Anyone except Snowden; who likes to type under a hood so satellites cannot see his screen.

Bob Cesca raises real questions over the veracity of Greenwald’s journalism. First, his assertion – repeated four times in his original article – that the NSA has “direct access” to the Google, Apple, Microsoft etc servers, is contested by the companies themselves. They insist the NSA had to pass the safeguard of agreeing consent. Unless they are not telling the truth, the phrase “direct access” is an exaggeration. Guido is still sceptical of their denials, but the Guardian accused them of “direct access” without evidence.

Secondly, the Washington Post has amended its own original story, now saying that PRISM was used to “track foreign targets” and not US citizens. Greenwald has not changed his own story that US citizens were targeted. Why the change from WaPo; why the sudden, unexplained discrepancy?

Once again the Guardian have lit the touch-paper only for it to emerge that the most damning part of the story is evidence free. Maybe it was the NSA that deleted those Milly Dowler text messages? Guido understands that Alan Rusbridger is in New York at the moment. He should be mopping up not boasting…

See also: More Questions for Glenn Greenwald.

UPDATE: This, according to the Mail, is the girlfriend Snowden left in Hawaii:

How Political Journalism Works Puff Piece Pulled

pulled-lab-article

Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor for the Guardian, appears to have prematurely ejaculated over Miliband’s welfare speech.

It began:

The Labour leader’s speech has implanted into the public’s mind that his party ‘gets it’ on the economy and welfare…

Blah, blah, blah… odd that it was pulled… wonder why?

Guardian’s Hugh Muir Falls For Nick Boles Twitter Spoof

A classic Hugh Muir diary piece in today’s Guardian, recounting a speech by Nick Boles to the Institute for Government. All well and good, until blundering Muir went on to talk about Boles’ alleged extra-curricular activities:

“But there is a waspish side to Boles, who, when ministerial duties allow, likes to create mocking photoshopped pictures of Labour politicians.”

The ‘General Boles’ twitter account he references is, of course, a spoof. Oops.

SMOG* of the year.

*Social Media Own Goal

When Rawnsley Was Wrapped in the Tentacles of Lobbyists

Andrew Rawnsley really went for the lobbying industry in his Observer column yesterday. “Too many MPs are wrapped in the tentacles of the lobbyists” he warned, laying into “the murky world of lobbying”, describing it as an “industry that too often distorts and subverts democratic decision-making” and gagging at “the pungent smell given off by the whole business”.

He must have held his nose when he picked up the Public Affairs News award for Political Journalist of the Year from Warwick Smith of Citigate Public Affairs back in 2006

Check Your Privilege: True Costa #GuardianCoffee

Those free iPads, progressive decor and fair trade coffee don’t come cheap you know. Step outside from the plush white interior of hipster heaven however and you will find yourself on the mean streets of Bethnal Green, which the Guardian themselves ranked as the worst parliamentary constituency for child poverty. Isn’t that just the place to site an expensive coffee shop?  Perfect for the poverty tourism expresso… 

They even did some data led graphics:

Perhaps it could be used as a research centre to discover what life is like in the real world…

Too Easy to Mocha: WiFi is Latte for #GuardianCoffee Launch

neo+guidoThe Guy Newsroom relocated to trendy Shoreditch this morning to sample Guardianista barista’d coffee in the heart of hipsterdom, where the burn rate is high and IPOs are nowhere to be seen. We planned to write our Sun column in what is effectively the Guardian’s embassy in Tech-City. One fundamental teething problem – there is no WiFi. This is doubly embarrassing given the whole venture is sponsored by EE, the 4g-mobile network formerly known as T-Mobile and Orange, slogan “Everything Everywhere”. Only the Guardian could open a coffee-shop in the digital heart of Tech-City with no WiFi…

Lonely Guardianista

The famed free iPads are locked exclusively to the Guardian app in much the same way that Winston Smith’s television only had one channel. We spotted more Guardian staff than customers while we were there, filming a publicity video. As you can see from the pictures, customers are not queuing round the block yet.  There are 150 coffee shops in the area already, most with WiFi…

Another lonely Guardinista

To be fair, the coffee was pretty good…

See also: We Grind the Numbers

We Grind the Numbers #GuardianCoffee Needs to Sell 270 Coffees a Day to Break Even

Using figures from landlords We Are Pop Up, Guido has ground the numbers and calculated how many coffees the Guardian has to sell a day to break even:

  • Rent for one unit at BoxPark Shoreditch is £5,000 for every three months. Guardian Coffee has knocked three units together, making the cost for a year plus VAT £72,000.
  • There is a one off service charge for each box of £1,250, and electricity for each box is £150 a month. That makes £9,150 for the year.
  • Fitting the shop itself is valued at £25,000.
  • Business rates for Hackney Council are calculated as 47.1% of the annual rent, totalling £33,912.
  • A shop manager and four staff (based on witness reports of staff numbers) would together cost a minimum of around £100,000.
  • That is an estimated total cost per year of £240,062.
  • Each coffee is sold for £2.50.
  • At an estimated whosesale price of £10 per kilo from Nude Espresso, at 7 grams a cup that makes a fair trade gross profit of £2.43 per coffee.

Meaning they have to sell 98,791 coffees to break even. That’s 8,233 coffees a month, 1,900 a week, or 270 a day – basically one every 2 minutes...

At the time of going to pixel, before Guardian Coffee sadly removed their data infographic from the internet, on their big opening day they had sold just 60 coffees. Another Guardian financial success…

Guardian in the Black

In their latest wheeze to make money, the Guardian have opened a coffee shop. The “new venture #guardiancoffee” is “a single site operation which is both a coffee shop and a space for journalists to work in, based in Shoreditch, London.” As one visitor said: “infographics everywhere, iPads built into tables, not a newspaper in sight.” Presumably the coffee will be over heated and bitter and given away for free.[…] Read the rest

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