"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. Firstly, lobbyists won’t have to disclose clients if they limit meetings to SpAds and civil servants. Unless they meet minsters or permanent secretaries, they can keep their clients secret. Secondly, if you are an in-house lobbyist or your company is not a lobbying firm first and foremost, as are many of those who actually lobby ministers in person, you are exempt. Which means a huge amount of the type of lobbying that needs most scrutiny has been let off entirely. 

If a lobbyist only meets a SpAd or permanent secretary, their clients can be kept secret. If an in-house lobbyist meets a minister, their clients can be kept secret. APPC surveyed 998 meetings between lobbyists and ministers, finding only two that would be covered by this Bill. These aren’t loopholes, they are chasms…

Lobbyists Moan About Lobbying Bill

For some reason today’s Lobbying Bill hasn’t gone down too well with one crowd in particular:

Anyone would think this lot spin for a living…

WATCH: Gobby Meets Aussie

For those readers unfamiliar with Gobby, the BBC have helpfully profiled their attack dog here.

Miliband's Marlboro Man

Tobacco was top of the agenda at  PMQs today, with Ed Miliband puffing away about the Prime Minister’s indirect connections to Phillip Morris International via Lynton Crosby. But what of his own Marlboro Man? When Ed’s Political Relations Manager left his desk in the Leader of the Opposition’s Office, where did he go? Phillip  Morris International, obviously. James Barge is now the tobacco giant’s Corporate Affairs Manager. When was was the Labour leader last lobbied by his former aide?

See also: Labour Ministers Opposed Plain Packaging

VICTORY: Lobbyists Have Passes Removed

Victory for Guido’s campaign against passholder lobbyists as 80 people who work for APPGs have their parliamentary passes taken away from them. Last year Guido revealed Patrick Mercer, then Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Security, received almost £10,000 from a private security firm, sponsoring their MD’s pass for his troubles.

Now the House of Commons Commission has decided that “APPG staff passes should be withdrawn with effect from July 18 and that this category of pass should not be used in future”Bad news for lobbyists…

H/T Jon Craig

WATCH: Boris Blows Crosby's Cover

Cornered about his old campaign manager, Boris recounted Lynton Crosby’s advice to stop talking about airports earlier:

In an interview about airports, naturally.

Labour's Lobbying Reform Proposals Do Not Go Far Enough

Guido welcomes Labour’s new tough stance on lobbying after thirteen years of prostituting in government. They have outlined amendments to be put down to this week’s lobbying bill, amendments which include a change to ensure all professional lobbyists working in the UK will be required to declare their full list of clients and an approximate value of their lobbying activity. In an obvious dig at Crosby they will also demand that “anyone doing a senior job for the government of the day – whether in-house or a contractor, formally for the party or directly by the government – who is a professional lobbyist must be declared.” New appointments to government would also be scrutinised in a similar way to how senior officials or ministers leaving to take up posts in related areas have new their jobs put before a Cabinet Office committee. Solid stuff, but does this go far enough? Not at all.

Labour’s back-of-a-fag-packet announcement today does not take into account successful lobbyists that pay money directly to government figures. Surely, government MPs should  for obvious conflicts of interest reasons have to resign from any union that financially supports them, and not accept money from them directly or indirectly to their constituency parties, whilst in government? Labour’s John Trickett said this morning:

“Labour is determined to stand up to vested interests and we will push amendments to the government’s lobbying bill that will once and for all clean up this aspect of politics.”

Except where their union paymasters are involved?

Labour Ministers Opposed Plain Packaging

plain-packsLabour are trying to make a big issue out of the government formally dropping plain packaging, as if this was all Lynton Crosby’s doing. The policy was not actually in the Queen’s Speech so this announcement was hardly a surprise. The fact is it is hard to find a major lobbying firm that is not, or was not retained by Big Tobacco at some point over the last 30 years.

It is not as if when Labour was in government ministers showed any more enthusiasm for the plain packaging idea:

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State Health, 16 December 2008:

alan-johnson

“I have to say, however, that despite the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right about the huge response in favour of plain packaging, there is no evidence base that it actually reduces the number of young children smoking. We want to keep that under review, and when there is an evidence base for it, it could well be another important measure to meet our goal, which is to reduce the number of young people smoking.

Gillian Merron, Public Health Minister, 25 June 2009:

gillian-merron

“No studies have been undertaken to show that plain packaging of tobacco would cut smoking uptake among young people or enable those who want to quit to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would undoubtedly need strong and convincing evidence of the benefits to health, as well as its workability, before this could be promoted and accepted at an international level – especially as no country in the world has introduced plain packaging.”

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State Health, November 2009:

sad-burnham

“No studies have shown that introducing plain packaging of tobacco products would cut the number of young people smoking, or enable people who want to quit, to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would need strong and convincing evidence showing the health benefits of this policy before it would be acceptable at an international level.”

Exactly the same lines spun by the current government yesterday…

Parliamentary Pass-Holders Face New Scrutiny

Rather than suspending them as reported by Sky last night, Bercow has merely ordered the 83 APPG parliamentary passes to be checked by MPs:

“There are currently 83 parliamentary passes that have been issued specifically to staff of APPGs (around 0.6% of the total number of passes).  The Speaker has instructed the Serjeant at Arms to ask Members who have sponsored these parliamentary passes to confirm that they have been properly requested and allocated, as required by the rules governing APPGs.  In the interim, no new passes in this category will be issued.  The Serjeant at Arms has also been asked, as a matter of urgency, to consider with the Administration Committee whether it is necessary or appropriate for this category of passes to exist at all. The Commission also intends that, more generally, applications for passes for Members’ staff should seek more information than at present about the purposes for which a pass is required.”

New rules would be bad news for a few interesting names on this list

How Lobbyists Buy Legislation

Labour hand-wringers protest that unions cannot be seen in the same light as lobbyists as they don’t have a comparable capacity to influence changes the law. This is patently untrue. Wind back to 2011 and Guido revealed how the GMB union flagrantly bought votes from Sadiq Khan’s Shadow Justice team. Minutes from a Shadow Justice meeting at the time note that Labour MPs let the GMB decide which way they voted:

The leaked minutes also showed how GMB sponsored Labour MPs tabled amendments at the behest of the union. If the Tories did the same with, say, Goldman Sachs, there would rightly be uproar.

Several Labour MPs employ trade union lobbyists, subsidised with taxpayer money, sponsoring them for parliamentary passes and having them work on party business. Ian Mearns has Lisa Johnson, Tom Greatrex employs Catherine Godsell and Natascha Engel employs Heidi Benzing, all Political Officers at the GMB. For Unite, Jon Cruddas employs Nick Parrott, Mark Tami has Hannah Blythyn, Ronnie Campbell employs Stephen Turner and Jim Sheridan employs Stephen Hart. David Hamilton employs James McGowan, a ‘parliamentary consultant’ at the ASLEF trade union.

Taxpayer-subsidised trade union lobbyists employed by Labour MPs wear union lanyards around their necks as they enjoy unfettered access to the corridors of power. It is no wonder Ed Miliband voted against a lobbyist register in 2006Labour have sold their votes, their amendments and their staff to trade union lobbyists pure and simple…

Bell Tolls for Lobbyists

Guido made a modest proposal to lightly regulate lobbyists back in 2011. Here is the outline of Guido’s policy reform:

Guido is no fan of government regulation of the private sector however the political lobbying industry thwarts democracy and pollutes the body politic to such an extent something has to be done. Guido’s policy idea is that all politicians and civil servants should be required to transparently publish all details of meetings with lobbyists – government ministers and Downing Street SpAds already have to do this. The idea should be rolled out as a requirement for all those paid by taxpayers and involved in influencing legislation. Obviously this means the question of identifying political lobbyists will have to be addressed.

To avoid any confusion by ministers or civil servants when unknowingly or inadvertently meeting lobbyists socially, taking up tickets to the opera or lunching at Michelin-starred restaurants and the like, registered lobbyists should make themselves easily identifiable.  The historically tried and tested solution for just this problem springs to mind. They should be made to wear bells around their necks, like lepers…

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

Shamed MacShane Becomes Lobbyist

In Guido’s Sun column yesterday we revealed that the disgraced former MP Denis MacShane has become a lobbyist despite still under police investigation for expenses fiddles. The laptop grabber is currently hawking around his CV in which he describes himself as a self-employed consultant based in “London, Paris and Washington”, “advising Asian, US and UK based firms on government policy problems and media strategy”. For some reason the would-be lobbyist’s CV doesn’t mention why he was kicked out of Parliament and remains to this day under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

His alleged new offices in “London, Paris and Washington” will be a big step up from his old office – the garage of his semi-detached house in Rotherham – for which over 8 years he pocketed £125,000 in office rent expenses from the taxpayer

Lobbyists Warned of Undercover Sting Last Week

Spinmeisters were already trying to get ahead of a sting by “two undercover journalists” last week. This from PRWeek last Thursday makes very interesting reading:

“PRWeek has learned that what appear to be undercover reporters have contacted a number of public affairs consultancies and met with at least one to investigate the role of lobbying firms in the establishment of all-party parliamentary groups. Insight Communications MD John Lehal alerted PRWeek to what he described as a ‘clumsy attempt at investigative journalism’ following a meeting last week. He met with two individuals purporting to be from an international management consultancy working on behalf of an energy investment fund.”

Obviously not that clumsy…

Balls Denies Gambling Lobbyist’s ‘Adviser’ Claim

In Sunday’s Sun column Guido revealed how a controversial gambling lobbyist was claiming to be a “Business Adviser” to Ed Balls, despite the Shadow Chancellor denying ever having appointed him. Neil Goulden is the chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, boss of Gala Bingo and the man in charge of the Coral high-street betting shop. He claims to be a “Business Adviser to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls”, yet that is the first Team Balls have heard of it.

Balls’ spokesman insists to Guido that “Neil has not been appointed as a business adviser to Ed Balls”. Interesting that Balls told industry insiders he wanted to curb his party’s anti-bookies rhetoric at a private dinner organised by Goulden earlier this year. And that Goulden also donated £15,000 to Labour in the run up to the last election. Odds on that we haven’t heard the last of this one…

Chloe Smith Forgets Cosy Lobbyist Supper

Here is what the minister responsible for lobbying reform said when asked how she was getting on with tackling the “next big scandal waiting to happen” last week:

Miss Chloe Smith: Cabinet Office Ministers have had no meetings with interested parties on the Government’s plans for a proposed statutory register of lobbyists since September 2012.

[…] Read the rest

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