Exclusive: Ed Balls to Replace Political Adviser Alex Belardinelli


Alex Belardinelli, long-time Political Adviser to Ed Balls, ‏is moving to lobbyists Tetra Strategy – where his girlfriend Ellie Gellard already works on digital strategy. The move is scheduled to happen in the autumn after Labour Party conference.

Speculation is mounting that he could make way for a rehabilitated Damian McBride following party conference, when McBride is aiming to complete his public rehabilitation with the publication of his memoirs.

Labour sources say Balls has been unnerved by persistent speculation that he might be replaced by Alistair Darling in a re-shuffle by Ed Miliband ahead of the General Election. Bringing back heavy-weight Damian McBride would put rivals on notice that he would not go quietly and there would be consequences. An implicit threat they understand all too well…

Last year Belardinelli was humiliated when emails leaked in which he admitted a “screw up” meant Labour failed to vote against the reduction in the 50p rate of tax. The emails revealed he concocted a false line to spin to the media to cover up the screw up. Belardinelli worked for Tom Watson before Ed Balls and knows his way around Westminster and the media. In the event of Labour returning to government he will be able to cash in on his extensive contacts.

UPDATE: Important note.

Labour MP Allows Access For Lobbyist Friend

Back when they used to actually post stories, the Political Scrapbook team employed the services of Matt Zarb-Cousin, a lefty up-and-comer occasionally capable of scoring the odd point. Zarb-Cousin left Scrapbook to work as a researcher for Labour MPs Pamela Nash and Andy Slaughter, but sadly things didn’t quite work out. Now he seems to spend most of his time working as a lobbyist for the anti-bookies Campaign for Fairer Gambling. Why, then, does he still hold a parliamentary pass?

Guido contacted Nash’s office to ask for an explanation, but they had never heard of Zarb-Cousin. “He definitely, definitely doesn’t work in this office”, Guido was told, “he might be a friend of Pamela’s”. No wonder, it turns out Zarb-Cousin hasn’t worked for Nash since 2011, despite the fact that he still holds a parliamentary pass under her name, which he continues to use regularly in his job as an anti-gambling lobbyist. Naughty.

Zarb-Cousin has confirmed to Guido he has used the pass to access Parliament in his capacity at Fairer Gambling, and that he takes a wage from the organisation: “since it is not a commercially-motivated campaign I don’t consider myself a lobbyist, so I didn’t think I’d have to declare it. It’s my fault, I shouldn’t have kept hold of the pass”. Nash isn’t happy, she tells Guido: “I was not aware he was still using his parliamentary pass and have instructed the Pass Office to deactivate the pass immediately”. How many more lobbyists have access based on their interpretation of the rules around influencing MPs?

Hendry's Windfarm Windfall Former DECC Minister Cashes In

Sacked Energy Minister Charles Hendry has not wasted any time cashing in on his expertise; he has just been announced as the chairman of the wind energy giants Forewind. The consortium comprising of four international companies -Scottish and Southern, RWE, Statoil and Statkraf – was awarded the contract in 2010 to build the huge “Dogger Bank” windfarm 125 kilometres off the Yorkshire coast.

Though Hendry has waited for the appropriate cooling off period of three months since leaving government, a look through his declared meetings while a minister leaves an unfortunate taste in the mouth: between June 2010 and October 2011 Hendry hobnobbed six times with the representatives of the companies that make up Forewind, and now he is their boss. It seems the revolving doors spin far more than the windmills…

Lobbying Reform Minister's Cosy Supper

New lobbying reform minister Chloe Smith is certainly throwing herself into her new job. Paxo’s Newsnight victim is responsible for overseeing the government’s new statutory lobbying register as part of Dave’s promise to clean up “the next big scandal waiting to happen”.

Interesting that Chloe chose to dine last night in the glamorous surroundings of Strada in the Tory conference secure zone with Nicola Bates of lobbying industry recruitment consultancy Elwood and Atfield.

A lobbying lobbyists who places people in spin jobs. Guido wonders what she had to say about lobbying reform…

Laws Landlord Lundie Loses Out For Love

David Laws’ landlord/lover Jamie Lundie, who gained notoriety following the revelations over his partner’s expenses in 2010, has made an intriguing job move this week. Lundie has left his post as Edelman’s public affairs MD to a less conspicuous position at the spinmeisters’ new reputation and risk advisory division. Why could that be?

According to PRWeek the Cabinet Office had raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest arising from Law’s promotion to the Department for Education, with a government spokesman confirming: “Immediately on appointment to ministerial office and at Laws’ instigation, Laws had a meeting with the Cabinet Office director of propriety and ethics to discuss the handling of his interests”. Lundie is denying his job change has anything to do with any conflict of interest. But then he is a spinner…

VIP LibDems Live Conference Lobbyist High Life

The LibDem conference should by all accounts be an excuse for Clegg and co to distance themselves from their Tory counterparts, but it looks like they will be partying like the 1% next week. While Tories will remain under a strict champagne ban, Ashdown and Farron will be chugging kir, champagne and canapés thanks to spinmeisters Guide Consultancy. VIPs are being invited to drink with the grandees in an invite-only Brighton penthouse.

The lobbyists claim to have “stocked up on some great wine, not the usual conference fare” – presumably as a thank you to the LibDems for their abject failure to introduce lobbying reforms thus far, despite all the promises. Bottoms up.

PRCA Backtrack on Press Release Mocking Chloe Smith

You would think that the lobbying group representing lobbyists would know how to check a press release before it’s sent out. What with being PR experts and all…

Not so with the Public Relations Consultants Association. Compare and contrast these two versions of their release from this afternoon. The first version has been pulled from their website…

Now you see it:

PRCA – PRCA calls for Chloe Smith to engage with the lobbying industry
Tue, 11 September 2012 

The PRCA has called for Chloe Smith, who has been handed the ministerial brief for the proposed statutory register of lobbyists, to listen and engage with the industry. Smith has joined the Cabinet Office from the Treasury, where she was best known for her poor performance when interviewed by Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman. The minister takes over from Mark Harper, whose consultation proposals into a statutory register are still being considered following widespread criticism that it would not include in-house lobbyists.

Now you don’t:

PRCA – PRCA calls for Chloe Smith to engage with the lobbying industry
London, 11th September 

The PRCA has called for Chloe Smith, who has been handed the ministerial brief for the proposed statutory register of lobbyists, to listen and engage with the industry. Smith has joined the Cabinet Office from the Treasury to take over from Mark Harper, whose consultation proposals into a statutory register are still being considered following widespread criticism that it would not include in-house lobbyists.

Probably best not to take the mick out of the minister you will be trying to lobby…

Former Screws Political Editor Turns Lobbyist

Ex-Screws political editor Ian Kirby is off into the world of lobbying. Kirby has joined MHP Communications as a director to develop new campaigns and advise on media strategy. His experience of changing Gordon Brown’s kids nappies should set him up nicely. The move was announced with a lovely picture of a young looking Ian and an old friend…

Tim Yeo’s Heathrow to China Bonanza

Green lobbyist and part-time MP Tim Yeo has taken a break from the golf course to make some waves today by calling for an expansion of Heathrow airport. Writing in this morning’s Telegraph, his main gripe seems to be that he can’t fly directly to some parts of China:

What better way to kick-start Britain’s sluggish economy than by boosting trade with China? Perhaps with Chongqing, with 28 million consumers, many enjoying rising incomes. Or Chengdu, with 14 million. Or how about Wuhan, with 10 million? We could not only boost exports – we currently sell more to Ireland than to China, whose population is 250 times bigger – but might also tap into the bulging coffers of the Chinese for some job-creating investment in Britain. There’s just one problem: you can’t fly directly to those three cities. Getting to and from China is harder from Britain than from our competitors.

While he does broadly make a good point, Yeo is not one to intervene unless he has a dog in the fight. So imagine Guido’s surprise at some other news today from Biofuels International:

“Developer of second generation biofuels technology TMO Renewables has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the authorities of Heilongjiang, China. The MoU will see TMO provide long-term large volume biomass feedstock supply for future bio-fuel production facilities from Heilongjiang State Farm, the largest state owned farming corporation in China.”

And who is the well paid Chairman of TMO Renewables? Step forward one Mr. Tim Yeo. The day his company sign a new deal in China, Yeo uses his position as Chairman of the Energy Select Committee to lobby for more direct flights from London to China.

The man is shameless…

UPDATE: 

Sky’s Jon Craig is yet another satisfied reader…

By-Election Watch: Lobbyist Reunion in Corby

Labour’s Corby campaign might have posed problems for Tom Watson and his team over the last few weeks, but there were smiles all round yesterday as two former public sector lobbyists enjoyed a reunion in the sun. The highlight was Labour chief whip Rosie Winterton posing with party candidate Andy Sawford as she opened Labour’s new campaign bunker. Cosy.

Yorkshire mafia footsoldier Winterton is a former employee of Connect Public Affairs, a lobbying firm with close links to the Labour Party. Connect currently employs ex-Unite trade unionist Tom Denney, Yvette Cooper’s former adviser Caroline Gordon, David Blunkett’s ex-researcher Emily Wallace and Gill Morris, described as “the best connected Labour lobbyist in the business“. Another former employee of this merry band of lefty lobbyists? One Andy Sawford…

Why Tim Yeo is Really Upset About Green Cuts

Guido’s old adversary Tim Yeo has been flying the green flag once again this morning, laying into George Osborne for failing to back renewable energy. Yeo sided with Energy Secretary Ed Davey in his dispute with the Treasury: “They are working particularly to target some Conservative backbenchers, pursuing a policy designed to prove that they are not going to get into so-called costly green initiatives. It is extraordinary.”

Rather more extraordinary is the vast amount of money Tim rakes in from his personal investments in green companies. In the past twelve months Yeo has made over £60k as chairman of TMO Renewables, a company which develops and supplies technology for second generation biofuels. He is also chair of AFC Energy, an alkaline fuel cell technology that pays him over £50k per year. Guido has visited this before:

Given that Yeo makes over £100,000 each year from private green investments, using his role  to lobby on behalf of the industry for subsidies represents a serious conflict of interest. This is the Chairman of the Energy Select Committee.  Replace the words “green” with “oil”…

Portland Lobbyist Alastair Campbell Slags Off Firm's Star Client

Guido is not quite sure why Apple will bother to retain Portland for thousands per month when one of their big name fixers takes to Twitter to lambast the company to his 150,000 influential followers:

Maybe Campbell should have picked up the phone…

Michel Threatens Hunters

So the fightback begins, and not just from Hunt, who quite fairly wants his day in court. The statement he put out last night claimed some of the information was inaccurate and it later emerged the the Permanent Secretary at Culture had given permission for Hunt SpAd Adam Smith to hand hold BSkyB through the bid. Guido doubts that permission would have extended to accurate pre-parliament tip-offs though…

The other man kicking back is the spinmeister Fred Michel who has given a less than subtle threat via Iain Martin:

“If a diary of all Fred Michel’s meetings with senior government figures and MPs was to be published at some point, then a lot of well-placed people in the three main parties would feature. Oh, and he’s a neighbour and close friend of Nick Clegg. This could get even messier.”

By the end of Rupert Murdoch’s testimony today we could all be talking about much more than Hunt…

Exclusive: Sarah Southern’s Thatcher Business Card

Thanks to an anonymous reader who goes by the name Paw the Mutton. They liked it so much that they laminated it…

UPDATE: For maximum amusement Guido is after the much rumoured Southern and Fox card. And the rest. They are out there somewhere. Get in touch if you find one.

Ed Commits To Transparency, Yet Still No Rudd Dinner List

Ed just told ITV News: “I’m very happy to be open and transparent about what we’re doing.” A nice platitude. And another promise. Now for the action:

Time to cough up who was at this dinner and whether any “wonga” was involved…

Sarah Southern Had Other Tories on Her Business Cards Links to Transatlantic Lobbying Group Masked

The business card of former CCHQ staffer Sarah Southern, who was busted offering to retain undercover Sunday Times journalists for £15,000 per month in return for access to top Tories, will remain one of the more amusing yet important details of this scandal. Guido understands that the Cameron card was not the only one that Southern uses, and in fact she is said to have a range cards with different photos with various Ministers. Tory insiders suggest that they have been the source of amusement for some time, but not long enough for someone to say “hold on a moment here…”

After doing what is commonly known as “a Derek Draper”, an internet clean up job seems to have been done this afternoon, with various profiles being deleted, but not every trace of Southern’s connection to the British and American Project has been removed. She sits on the Executive Committee of the transatlantic networking group that puts rising stars in rooms so they can show off business cards. And the rest…

If you have been lucky enough to receive one of the sought after picture cards, then do drop us an email

Picture via Political Scrapbook

UPDATE: Southern is a Director of the British American Project. She also set up Sarah Southern Consulting on the 16th of last month.

Debate Tonight: “Lobbyists Are Paid to Thwart the Democratic Will.”

Tonight Guido and Tamasin Cave from Spinwatch are proposing the motion for debate that “Lobbyists Are Paid to Thwart the Democratic Will”. Mark Adams from Stand Up 4 Lobbying and Justin Fisher from the The Magna Carta Institute are opposing.

The event is taking place in Smith Square, Westminster and the audience will probably be riddled with lobbyists. So if you want to attend tonight and bolster the forces of democracy, email debate@StandUp4Lobbying.org, There is free booze courtesy of Ellwood and Atfield.  Full details here. See you later…

Wives, Girlfriends, Predecessors

Carina Trimingham turned heads on Thursday when she sat casually having lunch in Portcullis House. Whilst the speculation today is whether or not she was wearing an engagement ring, Guido is more concerned about what a lobbyist is doing having unmitigated access to Parliament.

She apparently has a spouses pass…

And it’s not just wives and girlfriends that get this perk. After two terms in the House, former MPs are entitled to a pass, meaning they can get access to the bars and restaurants and continue to live their subsidised life. So they can retire back to the countryside and have exclusive use of riverside restaurants and bars to entertain in whilst in town, without paying London prices. A nice perk, especially if you are seeking to influence decision makers…

It’s bad enough that we subsidise the public sector workers inside the Palace of Westminster, but can anyone really try to justify feeding and watering their spouses and predecessors?

A Job for Jacqui

Though no longer an MP, Jacqui Smith is still lingering around. Today she’s gone violently off message in her weekly column for Lord Sainsbury’s Continuity-Tony faction, Progress:

“We need a ‘prawn cocktail’ offensive for the 21st century – a ‘scallops and celeriac purée’ offensive, a ‘baked figs and goats cheese’ offensive – anyway, you get my point. In the 1980s and 1990s, energetic Labour spokespeople led by then City minister Tony Blair toured the private dining rooms of the City trying to decontaminate the Labour brand with leading business people.”

She criticises Ed’s banker bashing and echoes David Miliband’s warnings of business desertion, before finally concluding:

“I want to see Ed, Ed, Chuka and Rachel on the telly, but I also want them to be in private dining rooms across the City and beyond – making the contacts, generating the policy ideas and building the consensus which will translate into a serious new business and industrial policy for the next Labour government.”

But Ed is doing that Jacqui. He’s using shady spinmeister Roland Rudd to set up all sorts of secret meetings with these types.

He refuses to release who was at the dinners though, because he is embarrassed.

Maybe you could ask him yourself, and let us know?

READ: The Full Lobbyist Register Consultation Document

Could be tougher all round…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
Local Labour Members Want Jared Deselected Local Labour Members Want Jared Deselected
Last Days at BuzzFeed Last Days at BuzzFeed
Bolton: She Came Round But I Didn’t Sleep With Her Bolton: She Came Round But I Didn’t Sleep With Her
Jared Victim: He Shouldn’t Be Back in Westminster Jared Victim: He Shouldn’t Be Back in Westminster
Sick Jared Back to Work Sick Jared Back to Work
Ann Black Purged by Red Terror Ann Black Purged by Red Terror
Parole Board Admit Processes Breached Parole Board Admit Processes Breached
Paul Mason: Aggressive and Intimidating Paul Mason: Aggressive and Intimidating
James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral
O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months
Credit Where Credit’s Due Credit Where Credit’s Due
Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now
Paul Mason’s Column Axed Paul Mason’s Column Axed
Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review
“Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle” “Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle”
Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council
Dover Traffic at Record Levels Dover Traffic at Record Levels
10 Times Chris Williamson Wasn’t Sacked 10 Times Chris Williamson Wasn’t Sacked
Watch: Baroness Jenkin Drops C-Bomb in Lords Watch: Baroness Jenkin Drops C-Bomb in Lords
Worboys Victims Formally Ask CPS to Reassess 93 Unprosecuted Cases Worboys Victims Formally Ask CPS to Reassess 93 Unprosecuted Cases