“A few years ago the debate was about whether the media controlled politicians or whether politicians controlled the media. Now it is about how we are all responding to the explosive power of citizens, consumers and bloggers.”
- Will you publish a full list of all events held at Number 11 Downing Street by the Smith Institute?
- Have any costs for Smith Institute events held at Number 11 been subsidised by you or the Treasury in any way? If so, what has been the total cost to the taxpayer of hosting these events?
- What are the criteria by which applications to hold events at Number 11 are judged?
- What is the number of applications you have received to hold events at Number 11; the number accepted and the number declined?
- Will you list those charities that have been refused permission to hold events at Number 11?
- Have any other Treasury facilities been provided for the purpose of hosting Smith Institute events?
- On how many occasions have you personally attended Smith Institute events?
- Has the Smith Institute ever provided you with any personal benefits? If so, have you declared such benefits (a) to the Register of Members Interest and (b) to the Electoral Commission
- Have you ever solicited donations for the Smith Institute?
- Can you provide assurances that there is no conflict of interest between anyone who has donated to the Smith Institute and your actions as Chancellor of the Exchequer?
Cameron : Brown is the dark side. [Sith Death Star graphic]
Guido retorted that they should fufil an outstanding Freedom of Information request. This evening out-of-the-blue at 5pm the Charity Commission’s Senior Manager for Compliance personally handed Guido a revealing two inch dossier. In an enclosed written request he asked Guido to provide all relevant information “by the close of business Thursday 25 January 2007”. All the bits of the puzzle have yet to be assembled.
Guido understands that tonight Newsnight’s Michael Crick intends to run an exposé of the Smith Institute, which is already under investigation by the charities regulator (for a second time) over allegations of political activities in breach of the Charities Act. The Charity Commission was due to issue a report shortly, they may soon have to revise their findings. The Sith are unavailable for comment.
++ More to follow ++
GF Hi Konrad, what is Ed speaking on tomorrow?
KC Err, who is this?
KC I’m not talking to you.
GF But you are now aren’t you?
Using only the power of the good side of the force, Guido has divined that the Sith are holding a meeting with Ed Balls, the master’s apprentice, as the speaker.
This is the non-political, non-partisan, Treasury hosted and rebated, tax-deductible-donations–welcome “public educational charity” holding a meeting it wants to keep secret. Maybe one of the co-conspirators knows the details. Is it at No. 11 again? What is the topic? Most think-tanks want to publicise their events openly, the Sith acts like a secretive cabal. Which in many ways it is…
More about the Smith Institute.
Mr Keith Simpson (Con, Mid Norfolk): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which charities have held meetings at 11 Downing Street since December 2005.
Mr Keith Simpson (Con, Mid Norfolk): On how many occasions since December 2005 the Smith Institute has held meetings at 11 Downing Street and who attended each.
John Healey (Financial Secretary to the Treasury): I will let the Honourable Member have a reply in due course.
Perhaps Guido, as always, can be helpful here. Previously when a similar question to this was last asked, the Sith and No. 11 went into a minor panic. Konrad Caulkett, events coordinator for the Sith, compiled a comprehensive list of all meetings and events held at No. 11. When the Sith realised that confirmation of over a hundred events being held by a “non-political” charity on Gordon’s premises at the taxpayers expense would look bad, they decided on an outrageous cover-up. The official response made was that the information was not available – despite the Sith having already compiled the now readily available answer. Guido presumes that the civil servants were kept in the dark, no civil servant would lie, would they? So if any of Gordon’s civil servants really want the to obtain the answer this time, Konrad is only a call away. He won’t talk to Guido, maybe he will talk to you…
Incidentally as any political lobbyist or campaigner will tell you, hiring a prestigous address in Westminster for a seminar, providing coffee and croissants for the attendees is no cheap affair. It can easily work out at £50 per head per day. Smith Institute events at No. 11, like the one Guido infiltrated, can have in the region of a hundred attendees. How much do the Sith pay for holding events at No. 11?
I feel a few Freedom of Information requests coming on…
Guido has in the past suggested that the Sith is basically a platform for the greater glorification of Gordon, which allows him to rub shoulders with plutocrats and corporate CEO titans whilst simultaneously providing photo opportunities leading to donations.
True to form, the keynote speaker will be a CEO of a U.S. multi-national, Lewis Booth, the Chairman of Ford Europe. He will tell the iron chancellor how to “shape global policy for economic opportunity”.
Globally Ford lost $8.5 billion last year and has announced that it aims to close 12 plants and cut 40,000 jobs. Like the UK public sector it has massive “legacy costs” of pensions and lifetime healthcare, expensive deals with unions and ever-increasing debts.
Its share price has dived from $18 to a low of $6 just as Labour has recently polled the lowest since 1992. So he is obviously the best person to guide Gordon, they have so much in common…
“2007 will be the year that Labour’s dark side comes to the fore. With Blair going and Brown coming, we need to prepare ourselves for an onslaught of negative campaigning and the politics of fear and division.
The real battle for Britain’s future begins: Labour’s state control versus Conservative social responsibility.”
Remember Wilf Stevenson, the institute’s director, both denies it is political (which would put it in breach of charity law) and that it is a Brownite front.
Co-conspirators and readers of this blog will have heard about Ronnie Cohen months ago.
- During the 2005 election campaign when you went up to the Normanton constituency to help Ed Balls’ election campaign, were you still being paid by the Smith Institute?