Left Eagle Doesn’t Know What the Right Eagle is Doing

Readers will be well aware of Labour’s hypocrisy when it comes to gambling – last year alone two-faced Chuka bashed bookies before taking their cash, Tristram Hunt did exactly the same thing and Stephen Timms also went each way. Now one of the Eagles is going all in, hiring a gambling lobbyist as her new Political Adviser.

Ex-Blair press secretary Michael Stephenson previously worked for Miliband’s bargain basement strategist Bruce Hawker‘s lobbying firm, where he used his connections to lobby the Labour government on plans for 16 super-casinos across Britain. A former Co-op general secretary, his sound judgement and experience at keeping on top of the finances no doubt made him the stand out candidate to be Maria Eagle’s new political adviser. In other news Maria’s sister Angela is laying it on thick attacking the government’s Lobbying Act for “letting vested interests off the hook”…

Clegg Brings Yet Another Lobbyist into the Heart of Government

Ssssh no one mention lobbying reform! Clegg has replaced his not-up-to-the-job Comms Director with Edelman’s public affairs managing director Stephen Lotinga. It’s a bit of a slap to Edelman considering the spin-merchant had only been there for a few weeks after signing from those paragons of virtue Bell Pottinger.

Fresh from spinning for the likes of ATOS, Russian banks and Kazak private equity firms, Lotinga’s only other job recorded on his CV seems to be working for the LibDems. Hiring a communications director who has never had a job outside politics or PR is sure to help the party connect to voters. Clegg will be hoping this one lasts more than two months…

Government Trade Envoy’s £60,000 Conflict of Interest Charles Hendry’s Oil Job Linked to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan

Tory MP Charles Hendry has been a busy coining it since he was sacked as Energy minister, landing a £48,000 windfall from wind energy giants Forewind and hobnobbing with Hanover lobbyists and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. On top of that, Hendry has now bagged another outside job as a consultant at oil giants Vitol. He will be paid £60,000-a-year for eighteen days’ work, taking his outside earnings over £100,000.

Vitol is a $300 billion energy trading company which runs oil exploration projects in corrupt, authoritarian countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Guido is sure it is nothing more than coincidence, but Hendry is also the president of the advisory board of the Russo-British chamber of commerce and is the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Hendry is standing down in 2015, but not before he trousers one last big payday…

London Lobbyists Landed Millions in Filthy Ukrainian Lucre

Lobbyists and spinmeisters who coined it on the back of Viktor Yanukovych’s authoritarian Ukrainian regime are getting jumpy. Meet James Wilson, a leading light at city spin shop FIPRA (Finsbury International Policy & Regulatory Advisers) who looks after firm’s Ukrainian clients. Oddly enough Wilson’s work at FIPRA Ukraine is not declared on the EU Transparency register. That despite FIPRA’s own website confirming that he is in charge of spinning for the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, who are backed by Yanukovych ally Serhiy Kurchenko, one of only 18 Ukranian kleptocrats to be hit with an EU asset freeze and travel ban. Possibly to do with him defrauding the Ukraine’s coffers of more than $1 billion…

Wilson is listed as a representative of the innocuous sounding “EU Ukraine Business Council” set up to “promote trade, economic and business links between Ukraine and the EU and initiate projects that contribute to the development of Ukraine”. The Chamber, whose offices are located in Viktor Yanukovych’s powerbase of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, holds regular conferences in the European Parliament, where it euphemistically claims to “help to solve market access difficulties”. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

Also among Wilson’s clients is shady pharma firm Alcon, who have been embroiled in several bribery scandals, to top it all, he also spins for the State Administration of Sevastopol – who have just declared independence from Kiev, backed up by Russian troops. Presumably they’re going to start paying him in roubles… 

Stop Ex-MPs Turned Lobbyists Prostituting Access to Parliament

As regular readers will remember, disgraced former Labour Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has resurfaced as a lobbyist. Given that he was found guilty of electoral fraud after attempting to stir up racial tensions in his constituency, Guido would advise any potential clients of Wellington Street Partners to hold on to their money. The lobbying firm is the sleazy brainchild of three ex-MPs (Woolas, Tory Sydney Chapman and LibDem
love cheat Paul Keetch), and was set up to “provide our clients” services “based on our combined sixty years of Parliamentary and Government experience”.

Crucially, all three of the MPs have been given courtesy passes to Parliament as former MPs despite strict rules that ban lobbyists having unchecked access to the Commons. Time to remove this perk which allows ex-MPs to openly prostitute their easy access to parliament.

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”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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

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