Paterson Doth Protest Mystery of Minister, MP, Lobbyists and Empty Wine Glass

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson is rather cross with Guido over the suggestion he was drinking with lobbyists late into the night on Wednesday in the Intercontinental Hotel bar while large swathes of the country were still underwater. His people claim that although he was with the lobbyists on Wednesday and that it was late at night and that it was the posh Westminster Intercontinental Hotel bar, what Guido said was greatly defamatory. Apparently he wasn’t drinking. As you can see from the pictures, Guido must have been confused…


So who were Owen’s companions? Well Hanover Comm’s Charles Lewington was there and former Tory Energy Minister Charles Hendry, the current Tory MP for Wealden, was loitering in the background (to the left in the picture) in a manner which is surely entirely unrelated to the £5,000 plus-a-month he is paid by various energy companies. Hanover represent those mother-frackers Cuadrilla as well as Shell UK, amongst others. Coincidentally Lewington and Hendry chatted at length the very second that Paterson left the room after 25 minutes of, apparently, not drinking in the bar. Guido is sure that the floodplains of Somerset were high up on their late night, cosy and totally dry agenda.

Yeo Could Face Legal Challenge for Overt Campaigning

Despite party rules stating that he is not meant to be overtly campaigning, Tim Yeo is fighting hard for his political survival in Suffolk. The trougher even sent members Christmas cards for the first time in a decade and has become uncharacteristically active in his previously neglected seat. Neighbouring MP Dan Poulter is helping to boost support locally, “they’re golf buddies” notes another MP dryly.

If Yeo should win the crunch vote, a legal challenge has been prepared by local Tories desperate to be rid of him. In 1983 Yeo comfortably survived an attempt to oust him as the candidate after a company he chaired was investigated by the London Stock Exchange over a share scandal, this time it might be time to sell shares in Tim Yeo. Local party elders suggest the fall out, division, and defections will be greater if the great greedy green survives the vote.

Steve Richards Takes Lobbyists’ Money

steve-richards-lobbyist

Guido can reveal that Steve Richards, the Indy’s political pundit and sometime TV talking head, has taken up a role with the public affairs lobbying firm Hanover Communications. When Guido spoke to Steve he was a little sheepish and seemed unsure of his role, he said he would be providing political advice to the firm. According to Charles Lewington, the former spinner for John Major who founded Hanover, Richards will be a “strategic advisor”. Hanover’s clients include fracking pioneers Cuadrilla, assorted investment banks like Goldman Sachs, various arms dealers, big oil corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Richards says he has cleared it with the Indy and “it won’t affect his writing”.

WATCH: Lobbyist Lunches with Politicians

lobbyist-corruption

Just as in D.C., if you go to the more expensive Westminster restaurants any day of the week you will see this same ritual being played out. The taxpayers usually end up paying the bill…

Downing Street Revolving Doors LibDem Joanne Foster Out and Cooper on His Way

As Guido revealed in the Sun on Sunday Downing Street pollster Andrew Cooper is to leave No.10 shortly. It will be spun that he is going to continue helping out on a part-time basis when he goes back to his old firm Populus. Now the PM has Lynton Crosby on his team does he really need two pollsters? Especially since Cooper was the one who told Dave not to worry about UKIP because they would only be a flash in the pan…

Talking of  flashes in the pan, Joanne Foster, who has only been Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s gatekeeper for 2 years is also leaving to go to the lucrative world of lobbying with her now expanded list of government contacts. Ker-ching.

Hennessy’s Telegraph Deputy Becomes Banker Lobbyist

All change on the Sunday Telegraph political team. With Paddy Hennessy off to spin for Ed, his former deputy Rob Watts has taken a slightly different path. Watts has been snapped up as a lobbyist for the British Bankers’ Association, where he will help to make them “a less defensive and more proactive organisation”. Another Telegraph hack moving over to the dark side…

Wonks Demolish Lobbying Bill IEA, TFA, CPS, TPA, BBW and ASI Slam Proposals

We wish to highlight our grave concern about the Government’s Lobbying Bill, a piece of legislation that poses a significant threat to legitimate campaigning freedom of speech, political activism and informed public debate.

Part II of the bill threatens the ability of charities, research and campaigning organisations to inform the public debate, fulfil their missions and raise awareness of important issues. The current drafting would capture a huge number of organisations who would not presently be considered as relevant to electoral law and who do not receive any state funding. It also threatens to dramatically expand the range of activity regulated far beyond any common sense understanding of commercial lobbying. 

We do not regard the Cabinet Office’s assurances as sufficient given the widespread legal doubts expressed from across the political spectrum. It cannot be a prudent approach to legislate on the basis of assurances that enforcement will not be to the full extent of the law. The exceptions offered are unclear and unconvincing.

The lack of clarity in the legislation further exacerbates its complexity, while granting a remarkably broad discretion to the Electoral Commission. The potential tidal wave of bureaucracy could cripple even well-established organisations, while forcing groups to reconsider activity if there is a perceived risk of falling foul of the law. This self-censorship is an inevitable consequence of the bill as it stands. 

We urge the Government to reconsider its approach and to urgently address the fundamental failings in this legislation.

Yours Sincerely,

Mark Littlewood, Director General, Institute for Economic Affairs
Simon Richards, Director, The Freedom Association
Tim Knox, Director, Centre for Policy Studies
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive, Taxpayers’ Alliance
Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN
Emma Carr, Deputy Director, Big Brother Watch
Eamonn Butler, Director, the Adam Smith Institute

Well that’s pretty comprehensive…

Another Happy Reader

One of the Eagles knows her blogs, name-checking the best in her speech opposing the Lobbying Bill:

No mention of that Scrapbook site. Whatever happened to them?

Lansley: I Will Stand Up For Lobbyists

Andrew Lansley has been sent out by the government to defend the already badly wounded Lobbying Bill this morning. He seemed to admit some flaws on Today, though insisted “we are the most transparent government you have ever seen”. In the interests of transparency, Guido thought he would publish a particularly honest extract from Lansley’s letter to Tory MPs last night:

“I will stand up for the role of lobbyists; they do an important job, representing wide views to Government to assist informed and considered policy making… it is not my job, nor the job of Government, to control the lobbying industry; nor to create a burdensome and bureaucratic monster.”

When people are accusing your bill of not actually doing anything to tackle lobbyists, saying you are going to stand up for them probably isn’t the best idea. Lansley also provided colleagues with a helpful “myth-buster”, which seems to serve only to confirm the large number of lobbyists exempt from the bill. It’s going to be yet another awkward debate for the government…

Emma Reynolds Lobbyist Merry-Go-Round

Labour Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds doesn’t tend to shout from the rooftops about her previous career. Reynolds gave up her job spinning for lobbyists Cogitamus when she won her seat, just as her old firm were lobbying on behalf of the Campaign for Better Transport. As Guido reported in yesterday’s Sun column, the campaign focussed on lobbying for:

“co-operatives and mutuals to play a pivotal role in providing transport services.”

Guido is sure it was pure coincidence when Reynolds then stood up in Parliament and asked:

“will the Government consider changing it in their review to allow mutuals and co-operatives to bid for future franchises?”

Almost word-for-word identical…

Select Committee Recess Date to Slam Lobbying Bill

Dave’s Lobbying Bill covering just 1% of lobbyists was never going to get through smoothly. Now Graham Allen MP, chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, has got all shouty about the government “mishandling the bill and treating Parliament with disrespect”. He says they have been “slothful” and “there is no legislative scrutiny”, calling the MPs on his committee to meet during recess to take further evidence so they can “fill the gap”.

It is obviously a party political hijacking of the select committee by Labour but to be fair they do have a point. Under Dave’s legislation lobbyists won’t have to disclose clients if they limit meetings to SpAds and civil servants and in-house lobbyists are exempt too. Which means a huge amount of the type of lobbying that needs most scrutiny has been let off entirely. Cue amendments when Parliament is back in September…

Two Years Since Ed Promised Lobbying Dinner Details

While we are talking about lobbyists,  it is time for Ed to come clean about his own dealings. Back in October 2011, getting on for two years ago now, Guido asked Miliband to name the predator lobbyists he had dined with at the home of Roland Rudd. He promised to reveal all:

“I will definitely release the names of the people who were at the dinner.”

21 months on, Miliband is still refusing to say who was present. Just because Rudd’s known clients include investment banks, not so environmentally sensitive mining companies and firms owned by asset stripping private equity companies, there is no reason for Ed to be shy. Of course there definitely wouldn’t have been any other dodgy lobbyists present at the dinner who lobbied him about anything unsavoury. With Miliband repeatedly saying Cameron “can’t keep evading questions”, he wouldn’t want to be accused of hypocrisy. Guido is sure he has as convincing and full-proof an answer as Crosby’s, so now would be as good a time as ever for him to stay true to his word. Over to you, Ed…

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

wholepicture

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…

Lording it Up, Azerbaijani Style

With lobbying top of the agenda and  Nick Clegg on his high horse, last week Guido brought you news of a LibDem with an unusual parliamentary pass that they denied was ever used inappropriately. This morning Edward Lord has accused Guido of an “unfortunate and highly inaccurate attack”, writing to colleagues at the City of London claiming that the piece had been given a “full rebuttal”. Not quite – the word Rwanda was replaced with Uzbekistan.

Lord denies that his parliamentary pass was anything to do with his work for the  European Azerbaijan Society. On his own website he claims to have stood down from the society in November 2011, which does little to help his case given the fact that his pass sponsor, Lord Kilclooney, was flown all expenses paid to Azerbaijan in May of that year. Kilcloony even went again the following year. As the above picture shows, Edward Lord remains a strong advocate for the republic. The Mail have more on Kilcloony and other sinister connections to the country. Passes and free holidays. A coincidence, no doubt.

"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.

wholepicture

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:

Tory MP Reports Mandy's Logging Lobbying to Lords

Priti Patel has written to the Lords Commissioner for Standards asking him to investigate whether Mandy’s failure to declare his work for Asia Pulp and Paper broke lobbying rules.

It’s going to be a tough one to explain…

Mandy's Paper Thin Excuses

House of Lords rules were recently updated to make sure peers registered any interests they may have from “personal clients” rather than simply hiding behind a declaration that they work for a firm. So odd then that in his register of interests, Lord Mandelson does not mention controversial Asia Pulp and Paper, who have a lovely progressive record of  illegally logging endangered rainforests. Mandy is claiming that his declarations are in all in order and they are not a personal client,  yet in an interview last year he claimed:

“We are helping the top management at the company to realize their sustainability ambitions. To do this they have to comply with exacting standards and in a sense we are providing a bridge between what they are doing in Indonesia and what the EU and their European customers expect of them”.

He goes onto boast about what his experience in the European Commission brings to the client:

“When I was at the European Commission, I encouraged dialogue and a progressive trade policy, one that harnessed development and in which I encouraged sustainable and progressive practices wherever I could… So working with APP and helping the senior management understand the implications of the tough new European standards, and how they can use them to drive further improvement within the company is a big opportunity for us, and is in a sense continuing the work we did at the Commission.”

That sounds a lot like personal work to Guido… 

How Lords Help Lobbyists Flout Rules

Cameron’s Lobbying Bill certainly leaves a lot to be desired, not least with its failure to address the clear abuse of parliamentary passes by lobbyists working for Lords. Take the case of Lord Kilclooney. The Ulster Unionist peer sponsors a pass for the confusingly-named Edward Lord, a LibDem City of London Corporation figure. Lord was done over by the Indy back in 2011 for his involvement in a deal to lobby for alleged Rwandan war criminals. Yet he is wandering round Parliament…

Lord was the Deputy Chairman of the European Azerbaijan Society, which according to its website specialises in public affairs. In his City of London register of interests he also confirms he lobbies on behalf of four other organisations, indeed Lord declares no less than thirteen links to “bodies whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy”. A lobbyist pure and simple, given access to the corridors of power by a peer. This is a scandal the Bill needs to deal with…

UPDATE: Lord responds on his own blog. It was Uzbekistan, not Rwanda and he no longer works with Azerbaijan. He does not deny he is a lobbyist with a parliamentary pass though.

Lobbyist Bill "Covers Just 1% of Lobbyists"

The spinmeisters were out in force yesterday trashing Dave’s Lobbying Bill. While it is obviously a case of well-they-would-say-that-wouldn’t-they, there is a pretty big hole in the Bill. Guido isn’t sure how Cameron can be claiming to clean up lobbying when his Bill, according to the Association of Professional Political Consultants, only covers 1% of lobbyists.[…] Read the rest

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