Lobbyists’ Umbrella Group Splits

We have in the past covered the lobbying world’s attempts at self-regulation. The most ardent opponent of a statutory register was Francis Ingham of the widely discredited PRCA trade body, he was instrumental in getting rival lobbying and spin trade bodies CIPR and APPC to join up under the UK Public Affairs Council banner to voluntarily produce a joint register of lobbyists. Guido suggested it might be simpler to just require lobbyists to wear leper’s bells.

Ingham has now performed a volteface and come down on the side of a statutory register.  His email to Elizabeth France, the first and probably last Chairman of the UK Public Affairs Council landed in Guido’s inbox this morning:

From: Francis Ingham

Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2011 10:44:04
To: Liz

Subject: RE:

As it happens Liz, I was about to email you the text below. Happy to talk if you’d like:

Dear Liz

It is with regret that I write to inform you that we are resigning with immediate effect from UKPAC.

I understand that this will be unwelcome news, and I apologize for that fact.

My Board has concluded that a statutory register is the correct public policy choice for the Government to make. It has also concluded that on the basis of UKPAC’s performance over the past year, UKPAC simply is not a credible body to hold that register.

We have come to this conclusion with regret and after considerable debate. The continued inability of UKPAC to deliver a timely, comprehensive and accurate register is an embarrassment to the whole industry. Having founded UKPAC alongside the CIPR and APPC, and having spent a considerable amount of time and money supporting it, we regret the fact that it has failed, but we are clear that this failure is manifest and irreversible.

We have today written to the Cabinet Office, making them aware of this decision, and urging them swiftly to introduce a statutory register, held by an independent body, to run in parallel with the Codes of Conduct that exist already within the industry. We will also this morning be notifying the press, and sending them a copy of this formal note of resignation.

I should like to thank you for the effort you have put into UKPAC over the past year, and personally wish you well in the future.

Yours sincerely

Francis Ingham

Francis Ingham
Chief Executive

Self-regulation looks dead. They brought it on themselves…

Breaking: Burnham Reported to Standards Commissioner

Details are sketchy and Guido is on the way to the pub, but he understands that Burnham, the loans and the ongoing mystery around the contracting of Lee Communications by the Labour Party has been reported by a Member to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyons tonight. These are the questions that Labour spinners have refused to answer all day:

1. Where was the job of Andy Burnham’s Political Adviser advertised and what are the exact specifications of the role?

2. How many people were interviewed for it?

3. Why was the job given to Mr Lee?

4. Was the somewhat awkward situation of the loans to the Burnham campaign discussed before he was employed?

5. What assurances were sought regarding Mr Lee’s private interests in the NHS? Is there anything in writing about him not lobbying while on the job?

6. How much is Mr Lee paid and is the job paid out of Short Money?

7. Why is Mr Lee’s company, Lee Communications Ltd, contracted by the Labour Party rather than Mr Lee being employed directly by the Party as is the norm with the other PAds?

The longer they don’t answer, the longer it looks like they cannot. C’mon Bob don’t make us angry…

Health Lobbyist Seconded To Spin For Burnham Political Adviser and Close Friend Not Paid Directly by the Party

While Bell Pottinger lick their wounds, there’s more to Guido’s scoop yesterday about the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, the health lobbyist and a mysterious £21,000 “loan” to his leadership election. Burnham has made the lobbyist his political adviser in murky circumstances. Guido had a wee chat this morning with Burnham’s people, who claim the loan from Kevin Lee to Andy Burnham was paid back in full in February. Nobody told the Electoral Commission this, but Guido is willing to take them at their word. For now…

You have to wonder what a former Labour Party staffer, who, as North West Coordinator, would not have been on more than £35-40,000, was doing lending Andy Burnham £20,000, when he had been until very recently a Minister of the Crown earning well over £120,000. Odd…

Labour told the Sun on the record: “Kevin Lee is not a health lobbyist”. Which is odd given that his website has quotes like:

“Kevin worked with NHS Southwark to design and deliver our biggest ever consultation. Developing a strategy for primary and community care for the next 10 years, we wanted to make sure we understood the priorities and concerns of a real cross section of the community. Kevin’s knowledge and understanding of both research and the NHS was invaluable and contributed significantly to very successful exercise.” – Jonathan McShane, Head of Communications, NHS Southwark”

Sounds like a health lobbyist to Guido…

Lee Communications apparently doesn’t have any health clients at the moment. But, again, we are asked to take Burnham’s staffer’s word on that. Who would dare suggest that a lobbyist would big themselves up to make them sound more important than they really are. Has anyone else seen any other examples of this sort of behaviour today? 

When Guido pointed out that unlike other Labour Senior Political Advisers, Kevin Lee has not declared in the Register of Members’ Staff Interests that he is employed by the Labour Party, the answer came that he is not. Instead of having him on the staff, his company, Lee Communications, are contracted by the Party to provide services for Burnham. This again seems unnecessarily muddy, especially given these advisers are paid for by taxpayer funded “Short Money”.

So to recap we now know that the Labour “NHS Not For Sale” Party have contracted a lobbying firm, with previous and possibly current financial interests in health to work for their Shadow Health team.  Burnham’s people are still looking into how Lee was appointed, where the job was advertised, what the due-process was and how many others were interviewed for the post. Guido’s given them pretty much all morning to answer…

Would something by the end of lunch be too much to ask?

Bell Pottinger Power Point Presentation

Bell Pottinger sources are emphasising that a pre-condition of the deal negotiations with the fictional “Azimov Group” set up by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism was evidence of a reform agenda in Uzbekistan. To be fair to the left-wing BIJ they do mention it tucked away in their report. But here is the introductory Power Point they gave in the now infamous meeting:

So they were telling the “Uzbeks” to reform…

UPDATE: This is what Bell Pottinger were offering to spin:

[vodpod id=Video.15784425&w=480&h=350&fv=configFilePath%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.rferl.org%2FGetFlashXml.aspx%3Fparam%3D24408254%7Cuser%7Cvideo%2526skin%3Dembeded]

The Dark Arts

A good hit for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which they have handed to the Indy on a plate. While pretending to be representatives of the Uzbek government, they have stung lobbyists Bell Pottinger something rotten. The video is fairly cringe-worthy, not least because when the words weren’t put in their mouths, the promises seemed either implausible, or hardly worth the fees. They were clearly in full BS-mode, especially former Tory MP Tim Collins, who boasts that he was once Ed Llewellyn and Steve Hilton’s boss. Guido isn’t sure he’ll be getting calls from his one time minions any time soon though…

The BIJ got them:

“* Claiming they have used their access to Downing Street to get David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their business clients within 24 hours of asking him to do so;

* Boasting about Bell Pottinger’s access to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, to Mr Cameron’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn and to Mr Cameron’s old friend and closest No 10 adviser Steve Hilton;

* Suggesting that the company could manipulate Google results to “drown” out negative coverage of human rights violations and child labour;

* Revealing that Bell Pottinger has a team which “sorts” negative Wikipedia coverage of clients;”

“Sorting” Wikipedia? Guido hadn’t realised they had hired Johann Hari…

You Can Let Your Daughters Out Again

Despite all the noise about Andy Porter being “promoted” from Political Editor and “up” to Policy Editor at the Telegraph, everyone knew that it was a humiliating side-lining. As one Telegraph insider said “we put him in charge of paper clips.” It seems he’s finally seen the light too and decided to turn to the dark side and go spin for Brunswick PR.

Not a bad career move given the lobby lothario was struggling for copy ever since McBride was fired…

League Against Cruel Sports Sack Thieving Spinner

What a strange coincidence that the unpopular parts of the blogosphere have made such an effort today to try to spin a “Toffs-in-Turmoil” story about the head of the Countryside Alliance leaving their job. This comes the very same day that one of their own is up the creek – The League Against Cruel Sports Head of Comms Steve Taylor has been busted with his hands in the till.

Back in May, greedy Steve Taylor tried to compare hunters to burglars in a spoof video, adding:

“The hunters are the only group of criminals in society who flirt with this idea that they are in some way victims of the law, rather than transgressers [sic] of it.”

Who’s laughing now Steve?

BBC Caught Selling News Slots to Climate Change Crusaders

An investigation by the Indy has caught the BBC red-handed selling airtime for millions of pounds. They are trying to spin it as “nominal fees”, but a look at the numbers and content involved is pretty shocking:

“FBC produced programmes for the BBC about Malaysia without declaring that it had been allocated £17m by the Malaysian government to carry out a global strategic communications campaign. The BBC also found that FBC had breached programme guidelines on a programme it made on the subject of Egypt this March during the Arab Spring uprisings. The Independent has established that FBC has worked for the regime of the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.”

Perhaps most damning is the fact that a BBC World documentary about climate change was sponsored by green crusaders Envirotrade. And of course “Envirotrade was featured in a positive light in the programme but viewers were unaware that there was a funding arrangement in place.” The BBC have ruled “that commercial, financial or other interests may have influenced the editorial judgments in these programmes.”

So remember that next time you swallow the Beeb’s “the debate is over” climate change line…

See also: Green FlatliningCRU Boss Stands Aside, Queens University Blocking Data FOITime to Defund CRU’s Global Cooling DeniersClimate Change Alarmism is Snow Joke

Exclusive: Balls Pulls Lobbyist Strings For Young Aide


Last week Guido reported that Ed Balls had tried desperately to get one of his Shadow Cabinet colleagues to employ the apple of his eye, Ellie Gellard, as their political adviser. They all refused based on her lack of non-Twitter related experience. Having written his cornier speeches and been his general bag-carrier, today Guido can exclusively reveal that Balls has sorted her out with an actual job, in the actual private sector. As a lobbyist with Tetra Strategy…

This change of employment may not mean an end to late night Soho drinking sessions for Ed and Ellie. James O’Keefe and Lee Petar who run Tetra Strategy were both mentioned by Balls in the leaked Telegraph documents that revealed the extent of Balls’ personal war against Blair. Their lobby shop came to attention when it employed the disgraced expenses cheat Julie Kirkbride, more recently they came under the full media glare when it emerged they had been the organisation behind the now infamous meeting between Adam Werritty, Liam Fox and defence industry businessman Harvey Boulter. Industry sources imply that Tetra “do dodgy” – representing Russian oligarchs, the Government of Dubai, NHS contractors and private equity firms. Guido has confirmed that Ellie will be starting there next week, thanks to Balls. As members of the APPC, no Tetra employee can be a holder of a parliamentary pass, and at this time of heightened scrutiny of links between lobbyists and politicians she will have to surrender her pass on Friday…

Guido did try to ask Tetra Strategy what was it about the sultry 21 year-old that first attracted the lobbyists to hire her, was it her intimate knowledge of union affairs gained from Charlie Whelan? Was it her Twitter campaigning know-how? No one was available for comment…

Labour Donor Paying For Amendments

This morning Guido blew open the extent of the GMB union’s influence over legislation, and how they achieve it with a financial gun to the Labour Party’s head. Not a word out of any of them yet, but it gets worse. The leaked Shadow Justice minutes show how Labour, at the behest of the unions, will vote on various amendments, but who first tabled these moves? A GMB sponsored Labour MP of course…

Not only has Kate Green taken £6,550 off the GMB, the union even notched up another £5,000 as a donation-in-kind, in the shape of tele-canvassing. Trade union liaison officers have the kind of unfettered access to Labour MPs of which other lobbyists for other vested interests can only dream. MPs shower parliamentary passes on what are effectively lobbyists for the big unions. The GMB have 80 MPs in their pocket and their political officer Iain McNicol just happens to be the General Secretary of the Labour Party. The GMB’s 610,000 members represent less a sliver of the country, yet laws are being bought and sold in their name. This tyranny of the minority stinks, and remember that next time Ed mentions the 1%…

Oh Mann

Though he has his moments, few were surprised to see Labour MP John Mann contribute to the Westminster Hall debate on the lobbying on Tuesday. There was one particular target for his angst:

“Let us take the case of Bell Pottinger and the Werrity scandal. In that case, the question that arises is about the international role of lobbyists, because what has not come out is information about the role that Bell Pottinger was playing in Sri Lanka. People have been distracted from that issue, not least because Lord Bell is doing quite a lot of the public relations to try to cover his tracks and what was going on… Bell Pottinger is being paid to facilitate such things on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka … 

There must be absolute transparency in all the meetings that we have as politicians, and there is not. The lack of transparency is the fundamental weakness that exists, with people claiming that “private engagements” have happened. There should be no such thing as a “private engagement” for a Minister, and there should be very little of it for an MP. There should be transparency.”

Some good points, however Mann failed to declare his own “private engagement” with Bell Pottinger. Attendees at the 2005 Labour conference regaled to Guido the spectacle of a grossly inebriated Mann skulling £46-a-bottle Mumm Cordon Rouge 1996 at the expense of, you guessed it, Bell Pottinger. A proud rent-a-quoter such as Mann should remember the one about glass houses…

The Revolving Door at Health

“Asda has signed up former Department of Health comms chief Sian Jarvis to oversee its PR and lobbying” reports PR Week this morning. The former GMTV political hack spent twelve years spinning.

“Jarvis will already be familiar with the Asda comms team, as the supermarket has been a key funding partner in the DH’s Change4Life anti-obesity drive, which is promoted by Freud Communications. Coincidentally, Asda also uses Freuds for corporate PR advice. “

How convenient! No spell in the cooler?

Ask Pred-Ed About the Lobbyist Roland Rudd Right Now

Last week Ed promised to release a list of business clients he met at a dinner at the home of super-spinner Roland Rudd. So far he has not coughed the information. Lets ask him what he’s hiding…

Ed’s Twitter humiliation is becoming a near monthly occurrence. He’s doing yet another #AskEdM event at 15:00.

As ever Guido is making it easy for you to take part, all you have to do is click the box above and you are away.

Did you sup with a long spoon Ed, or were you the prey?

UPDATE: Are you listening Ed? Lots of people want a question answered:

Clegg's Other Lobbyist

With the LibDems trying to have their “told-you-so-moment” over a register of lobbyists, Guido drew your attention yesterday to the controversial spinmeister Clegg has brought into the heart of his operation – Olly Grender. Overnight many a co-conspirator also pointed out that Clegg’s Chief of Staff Jonny Oates is another flesh presser…

Starting at Westminster Strategy in the nineties, Oates worked his way up to become a director at Bell Pottinger in 2004. With a host of international and UK clients that would put any sandal-wearing LibDem member off their lentils, Bell Pottinger are the largest UK firm to refuse to take part in any of the voluntary regulation schemes that are around. Their chairman Peter Bingle has been at the forefront of defending the industry this week. Almost a lone public voice…

So two of Clegg’s closest advisers right now are former lobbyists. His promised clean up of the body politic clearly doesn’t start at home…

Miliband Voted Against Lobbyist Register in 2006

Ever the opportunist, Ed constantly tries to be the first out of the blocks in a crisis, so that he can harp on that the Prime Minister is following his example. It’s a useful tactic to mask the real weaknesses of his day-to-day leadership. Well today the tactic is being used with the state register of lobbyists. Except he is going to come unstuck, again…

Ed is expected to take to the airwaves this afternoon with the line tested by Shadow Cabinet Office minister Gareth Thomas, who told the BBC at the weekend:

“David Cameron has still not introduced the compulsory register of lobbyists he promised. The government should bring forward as a matter of urgency plans for a compulsory register of lobbyists with records being kept of meetings between lobbyists and ministers.”

But has Ed and his top team always been in favour of such a register? If so, why did he, along with Balls, Cooper and Gareth Thomas vote against a LibDem bill that would have brought in the register in 2006? Woops…

Via @JasonJHunter. The full list of who voted against the bill is here

Pred-Ed: Miliband's Shady Dinner with Lobbyists and Predators

Given that this is the week that shady chats and hand shakes in private rooms will be coming under extra scrutiny, Guido thought he would give Ed a gentle reminder of his promise to publish a list of attendees at a suspiciously “private and off the record” dinner held for him at the home of lobbyist-spinmeister Roland Rudd last week:

Ed has turned to the corporate lobbyist to boost his severely dented, if ever existent, reputation in the business world. Roland’s known clients include Murdoch, the Daily Mail, not so environmentally sensitive miners like Rio Tinto and African Barrick Gold. Rudd’s client list includes Boots and easyJet, owned by predatory asset stripping private equity companies, the most aggressive takeover group in the world KKR – the original “Barbarians at the Gate” – investment banks like Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered, UK taxpayer bailed out banks like Royal Bank of Scotland and Greece’s bankrupt Alpha Bank. Glencore the rogue commodities trading operation run out of Switzerland retains Rudd.

Labour’s current favourite targets the big energy companies like ENI, Shell, EON and Centrica could have been sat round the table with Ed. Embarrassingly UK Uncut favourites Vodafone may have passed the port to Ed and given Rudd represents Wonga, which the Labour Party’s Stella Creasey campaigns against, there will be extortionate interest if they were there. Rudd represents hedge fund operators DE Shaw and the London Stock Exchange, currently home to the unwashed 0.99% in occupation. With all these “predators” at his fingertips, which ones did Rudd choose to give Ed “some straight advice”?  No wonder Ed is reluctant to admit who he had dinner with…

Bi-Comms Disaster

After his story earlier in the week about pro-Israel lobby group BICOM, Guido was tipped that their CEO Lorna Fitzsimons, the former Labour MP, was in some serious trouble. He was tracking down an email that was accidentally sent out on Monday to some of BICOM’s media list instead of the intended recipients – the donors. Annoyingly Ephraim Hardcastle beat him to it this morning and reveals how Lorna blurted to the world that she has been:

“…liaising with BBC and Sky to ensure ‘the most objectively favourable line was taken…I briefed Jonathan Ford, the Financial Times leader writer for his upcoming leading article… BICOM had regular contact with the Editor at Large of Prospect magazine, David Goodhart, helping to inform him about the forthcoming UN vote on Palestinian statehood…”

We have put the whole email online here. It’s standard lobbyist boasting, but Guido imagines the FT editors will take a dim view of any sign of them being influenced by a PR operation. A BICOM source tried to play down the story as “mildly embarrassing”, but it was the comment given to the Mail that really tickled Guido: “A BICOM spokesman denies that Ms Fitzsimons is to lose her job.” If you have to say it…

It is clear that all is not well at BICOM. The cock-up has apparently gone down rather badly, with some wondering how long Fitzsimmons can cling on. Two respected spinners have recently moved on after very short stays at the organisation – the LibDem Ed Fordham lasted just a month as their public affairs chief, and soon to be Head of Press at the Department of Education, Gabriel Milland, just six weeks. What can you spot in such a short space of time to make you run for the hills like that?

Scandal is Back

From behind the pay-wall, the seasoned Sunday Times stingers have blown the doors off three cases of old-fashioned bribery in the European Parliament. Despite scalping one MEP from Austria, there has been very little follow-up. The ease at which these Members were willing to table amendments for cash and the channels by which they were paid, point to systematic and wide-spread corruption. As Dan Hannan said, Labour’s own Cash for Amendments scandal pales in comparison and this blows the duck house out of the water. However there is the inevitable “it’s just Europe” dearth of coverage.

Closer to home we learn that MPs here are to have IPSA’s rules relaxed. Claiming for second homes again if you a London MP? Why not! Also Illsley could be out in eight weeks and guess what, government plans to freeze MPs pay is facing a backbench rebellion. All very new politics.

Lobbying Register Warning Bells

Guido has to laugh at the audacity that some of the more brazen members of the lobbying community have shown in defending the new voluntary register of “political consultants”. As Spinwatch said, this is no more than a “PR stunt from PR experts”.

As the new UK PAC site with public registers went live this week just 251, out of an estimated 14,000 spinners, had  voluntarily signed up. A further 1,362 were put on the list automatically by their companies, but where are the big hitters? Search the register for power-lobbyists like Roland Rudd, Tim Bell, Alan Parker or Matthew Freud and you get “Your search did not return any results.” Francis Ingham, spinmeister for the widely discredited PRCA trade body, makes hyperbolic claims for the nascent self-regulator: “It provides a foundation on which to grow self-regulation. It is – though doubtless our detractors will dispute this – a good thing.” It is an abject failure, with an estimated 90% of lobbyists ignoring the register.

Guido is no fan of government regulation of the private sector but the political lobbying industry thwarts democracy and pollutes the body politic to such an extent something has to be done. Guido’s idea is that all politicians and civil servants should be required to transparently publish all details of meetings with lobbyists – Cameron’s 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…

Lovers Lobbying Loophole


Guido has been trying to get to the bottom of yesterday’s story about the Liberal Democrat MP who is letting her lobbyist husband roam free around parliament. Lorely Burt denied that her husband Richard, of BTP Advisers, had a researchers pass, despite him being on her list of staff, and said he did not have to declare his dodgy international lobbying interests to Parliament as he was on a spouse pass.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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

Quote of the Day

Jeremy Corbyn:

“I’m not a defender or supporter of ISIS.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

Updates: Who’s Standing? Who’s Standing Down? Updates: Who’s Standing? Who’s Standing Down?
Banks Bottles It Banks Bottles It
Corbynista Unfurls “Farron Hates Gays” Placard Corbynista Unfurls “Farron Hates Gays” Placard
Esther McVey for Tatton Esther McVey for Tatton
Zac Back? Zac Back?
UKIP’s Islamo-Banifesto UKIP’s Islamo-Banifesto
Karen Danczuk Seeks Selection in Bury Karen Danczuk Seeks Selection in Bury
Corbyn and Sturgeon At Same Event Corbyn and Sturgeon At Same Event
Sunday Shows Sunday Shows
Tories Mistakenly Share Private Conference Call PIN with Opposition Tories Mistakenly Share Private Conference Call PIN with Opposition
Len and Seamus’s Champaign Celebration Len and Seamus’s Champaign Celebration
Campaign Report: 48 Days To Go Campaign Report: 48 Days To Go
Campaign Report: 49 Days to Go Campaign Report: 49 Days to Go
Listen: Dawn Butler Car Crash Interview Listen: Dawn Butler Car Crash Interview
Manifesto Lookahead: Six Tory Policies in Peril Manifesto Lookahead: Six Tory Policies in Peril
McVey for Upminster? McVey for Upminster?
Watch: Corbyn Crowd Boos and Shouts Down ITV Question Watch: Corbyn Crowd Boos and Shouts Down ITV Question
Coalition of the Others Still Behind Tories Coalition of the Others Still Behind Tories
NEC Swerves Corbyn Loyalty Pledge NEC Swerves Corbyn Loyalty Pledge
Watch: Barry Gardiner Loses It on Sky News Watch: Barry Gardiner Loses It on Sky News