With a twist of the knife, the statutory underpinning of the Royal Charter will be put forward in the Lords this afternoon by former Gordon Brown Special Adviser Lord Wilf Stevenson. Loyal Guido readers will remember Stevenson’s role as the Director of Brown’s leadership slush fund the Smith Institute, a position he was forced to resign from after heavy criticism from the Charity Commission. Guido’s sustained campaign to make that happen can be found here.
The Prime Mentalist and his allies are having their revenge for exposure of their dodgy ways.
Eric Pickles has received plaudits from across the spectrum for being the first Secretary of State to publish his department’s spending over £500 for the last year. While much fun can be had today hounding the previous government’s cavalier disregard for the taxpayer, Pickles would be a fool to think the new wave of transparency won’t make his job tougher this time next year. Good.
Finally the public have the chance to hold all spending to account, and what a varied mix of wastage just one department has thrown up. Aside from hotel bills, corporate massage (happy-ending undisclosed) and clothing, this really caught Guido’s eye:
Why exactly was Gordon’s slush fund given £7,500 for strategic consultancy to the DCLG. If they were giving them cash, you can bet other departments were too…
Deborah Mattinson was Gordon Brown’s personal pollster and part of the bunker / Smith Institute inner circle around Brown. In her new book ”Talking To A Brick Wall‘ she has revealed something that gives Guido an immense amount of satisfaction. For over a year Guido ran a campaign against Gordon Brown’s Smith Institute, the charitable front for his political ambitions. The years of guerrilla warfare waged by this blog were not in vain, it drove him mad:
Guido Fawkes, launched a campaign attacking me personally for the public sector work that Opinion Leader did. He, and other Conservative bloggers picked up on the citizen engagement work that OLR had done. He accused Government Departments of hiring OLR solely because of my work with GB and implied that the work that I conducted for GB was a quid pro quo for the Government Citizen Engagement work.
As anyone who has bid for Civil Service contracts will verify, nowadays – quite rightly – everything is tendered to within an inch of its life. Knowing a Minister, let alone the Chancellor and PM heir apparent, would be a hindrance rather than a help and place the potential contract under closer scrutiny. It was true that much of the time that I put in for Labour was pro bono, as it had always been. Like most political activists, whether drafting leaflets or knocking on doors, I gave my time willingly out of support for the cause. Furthermore, many of the costs associated with my political work were paid by the Labour Party or by a sympathetic organisation such as the Fabian Society. Nonetheless, the story ran. This was a tense and difficult time and GB was impatient with anything that might adversely affect his forward march. On one occasion after a particularly nasty piece, claiming ludicrously that Opinion Leader had charged £153, 484.38 for a one day seminar, had run, GB burst into our weekly meeting and exploded, ‘You’re in the eye of the storm. What are you doing about it?’
I was hurt both, by the accusations themselves, and also by GB’s less than supportive response. I had seen him treat others harshly but, up till then, I had always been made to feel valued. After much agonising and, following discussions with Viki, my ever tolerant business partner I decided to step down from my role as CEO of Opinion Leader and stopped working on any public sector clients, to avoid making either GB or Opinion Leader Research vulnerable to further attack. Instead I focused on my corporate role as Joint Chair of Chime Research Division. Meanwhile, sadly, GB shelved the listening programme – it looked to be more trouble that it was worth. . . Citizens were not going to get their say after all.
It is good to know that Gordon was such an avid reader…
A co-conspirator points out that the Smith Institute, formerly Gordon Brown’s favourite think-tank/slush fund, hasn’t filed the legally required accounts to the Charity Commission due over three months ago. As regular readers will remember, the organisation was slammed by the Commission in 2008 for its political activity. Essentially it was a front group for Gordon’s leadership bid.
It seems that as the main beneficiary of the Sith’s work has now been consigned to history, the money and activities are drying up. Last year’s accounts showed that they were close to £120,000 in the red – a far cry from those heady days when they could afford to pay Ed Balls £89,000 for writing two pamphlets while in transit from being a Treasury SpAd to becoming an MP. It makes you wonder what devastation the missing accounts might possibly be hiding.
The Smith Institute says it is getting back to Guido… hopefully quicker than they file their accounts.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is taking longer than usual to indicate whether or not he intends to investigate allegations about a second secret slush fund used by Gordon Brown to pay his personal pollster and speech writer Bob Shrum, as revealed in former Labour general-secretary Peter Watt’s book “Inside Out“.
Usually John Lyon rejects complaints in 48 hours or so if he is not inclined to investigate. Why is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards taking longer than normal in this case?
Nevertheless there is prima facie a case to answer, Peter Watt is not some insignificant peripheral figure. The allegation that Gordon Brown kept track of donor’s funds for his own use in an exercise book is not transparent and above board, keeping the details hidden from the person responsible for compliance with the law is just not acceptable and possibly illegal. Gordon really needs to explain himself, during the last investigation he point-blank refused to answer any questions put to him by the Charity Commission. Where are the records? What is Gordon hiding about the Shrum slush fund? Something smells.
*Harry Cohen is to be fined £65,000 for his fiddles, the socialist fraudster claims it “smacks of class discrimination”. He should really face criminal charges.
It seems Gordon was not content with just the Smith Institute as his personal play thing and slush fund. Perhaps the most damaging allegation by Peter Watt yet, has been the emergence of Gordon’s secret “fund with no name“. Watt accuses Brown of siphoning donations to the tune of fifty grand a year to his own private polling fund, the only record of which was a tatty old exercise book. How very Gordon.
As regular readers will remember, when the Charity Commission reported that The Smith Institute, despite their many failings in terms of political neutrality were not paying the salary of Gordon’s private yank pollster Bob Shrum, Guido will admit to some confusion as to how Brown had managed to wriggle his way out of this. It now appears that Shrum could well have been paid out of this second, secret “fund with no name.” Whatever this fund was being used for it was breaking the rules for personal benefits that MPs must declare. The rules state that MPs must “provide information of any financial interest or other material benefit which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions.” Unsurprisingly a complaint has been put in to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:
Guido reckons there is a very strong case for an investigation into this murky secretive fund.