Innocent Drinks

Last night at the House, on the terrace, a co-conspirator spied John McTernan, drinking with Bridget Prentice. They moved on to the Strangers bar later that night. She is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for legal services. John was, you will recall, very helpful to Yates of the Yard with his enquires. Clearly they had much to discuss…

Politicians are Feral Spinners

Blair must reap what he sowed. The culture of New Labour is a culture of rapid rebuttal, the set “line”, the vicious rubbishing of enemies, the off-the-record briefing all backed up by armies of government media handlers and Special Advisers. 24/7 rolling spin…

Remember, for example, what they told us about the Women’s Institute member who led the slow-hand-clapping of Blair – that she had a National Front past. That was feral spin, vicious and untrue. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s plan to “fuck” David Kelly? That was feral. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s foul mouthed tirades? They were feral. The old woman mistreated at an NHS hospital during an election campaign? “Racist” they smeared, without any evidence. The Brownite pack’s undermining of Blairite colleagues like Ruth Kelly and John Reid? Wasn’t that feral?

Blair’s treatment by the media got rough only after he was completely found out. It was the dodgy dossier, and the false prospectus for war that did for him, his spin was until then more than a match for the media pack.

UPDATE : The IPPR has just emailed out a piece (on the back of the Blair speech) by Sir Michael White where he blames everyone else for the “gross tabloidisation of national journalism” including of course the “unmediated internet”. He repeats his claim that the Loans for Lordships investigation is just political opportunism by the SNP and Blair’s political enemies. Michael White has spent 30 years covering politics close-up, he is no longer able to see that selling seats in the legislature is just plain wrong. He basically says “everybody did it”, why the fuss now?

The better question is, why only now has there been a fuss? Well if a young new MP had not stumbled upon the corruption legislation, if a less determined detective had not been given the case and the story wasn’t pushed relentlessly by “unmediated” voices, there would have been no fuss.

Just as well the likes of Sir Michael White and Nick Robinson were ignored and some kept on at the story in an unmediated and grossly tabloid way, eh?

Another £10,000 Taxpayer Subsidy Bung to the Smith Institute

When the Food Standards Agency wanted to find out about the Effects of Nutrition in School Attainment who should they have asked?

Well apart from Jamie Oliver and everyone’s mother, they could have gone to one of the various centres of excellence in the academic world; The Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University, the Nutrition Research Review team from the department of biochemistry at UCL, the Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research at the University of Dundee would have been particularly appropriate. Maybe the Medical Research Council’s Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research at Cambridge University. These are well known and authoritative centres.

What did the highly politicised Food Standards Agency quango do instead in the aftermath of the Turkey Twizzler scandal? They called those well known experts in child nutrition, Konrad Caulkett and Wilf Stevenson at the Smith Institute. The Sith got Jon Snow in to chair the event, with Dame Deidre Hutton from the Food Standards Agency presiding.

Other seminar contributors included New Labour’s favourite headmaster Gary Philips (Lillian Baylis Technology School), Dame Suzi Leather – who was at the time at the Schools Food Trust. Paul Kelly from the contract caterers Compass Group chipped in – Compass are the firm which shoves chips down the throats of kids.

Funnily enough one of the conclusions they came to was that Mum’s packed lunch was not nutritious and the kids would be better off scoffing Compass Group’s nosh. For this conclusion to the gathering the Smith Institute was paid £10,000 of the taxpayer’s money. The actual benefit to child nutrition was zero. Subsidy value to Gordon’s charitable think tank – £10,000. Isn’t it amazing that once again it costs the taxpayer £10,000 for the Smith Institute to organise one seminar for a government quango, yet costs the Sith nothing to hold nearly 200 hundred seminars on government property at No. 11? The discovery of this latest bung follows last week’s revelation of a last-minute cover-up of another £11,750 bung to the Smith Institute direct from the Treasury. The whole thing stinks.
Even more disturbing is that Dame Suzi Leather, who attended this seminar, is a long-time Labour Party activist who now heads up the Charity Commission, which is conducting the investigation into the Smith Institute for breaches of the Charities Act. No conclusion has been reached in that investigation yet, which is in itself very worrying…

Myners Infraction or Cover-Up?

Back in February this year Guido was pressing for explanations as to the Smith Institute’s use of No. 11 Downing Street. The fact that the charity seemed to have only one beneficiary – Gordon Brown – meant that it was not only breaking the rules against political activity by a charity, it was actually functioning as a factional powerbase for Brownites. The staff and trustees were all allies of the Chancellor.
Political opponents in parliament had tabled parliamentary question after parliamentary question, all were met with stonewalling by the Treasury. Freedom of Information requests were ignored and went unanswered. Then came a breakthrough, the revelation that at a private meeting of the Smith Institute, attended by long list of Brownite allies in the media and the Labour party, the U.S. pollster Bob Shrum had advised on a strategy to defeat David Cameron’s Conservatives based on his experience fighting the Republican party. The speech transcript was proof that the allegations were well founded.

Guido made a formal complaint under Section 8 of the Charities Act. The Charity Commission indicated that it would consider taking action. It leaked out before the official announcement was made that they would commence a formal inquiry. This led to a flurry of activity at the Smith Institute and HM Treasury. Their response was transparently choreographed in the knowledge that a statutory inquiry under the Charities Act would bring previously suppressed documents and information into the public domain.

After months of pressure it was suddenly revealed that nearly two hundred meetings had been held by the Smith Institute (free of charge) at No. 11 Downing Street with the permission of the Chancellor. Guido had been alleging that the use of the building effectively amounted to a subsidy of the Smith Institute’s activities by HM Treasury. It was literally an abuse of office in all senses of the word.

In those circumstances if it were to be revealed that the Treasury had made direct payments to the Smith Institute, Gordon Brown’s political front group, it would have been extremely damaging. The charge against Brown that he was corruptly financing his political ambitions would be hard to defend.

Amazingly a letter dated February 1, 2007, and written by Paul Myners was produced to explain away just such a payment. Myners is a Smith Institute trustee, a Treasury appointed veteran of various Gordon created quangos, who is considered a safe pair of hands by Brownites. He is also a wealthy donor to Gordon’s leadership campaign.

It explained that two years previously the Treasury had paid the Smith Institute £11,750 to hold two seminars on behalf of the Myners Review into the financial sector for Gordon. It went on to claim (without explanation) that the Treasury had paid the money by mistake. That it was always Myners’ intention to pay the cost himself. That he had now, over two years later, paid the sum personally.

If the Charity Commission investigation was not going to bring knowledge of this payment into the public domain, there is no doubt that the Treasury payment to the Smith Institute would have been kept well hidden with no danger of it being discovered or repaid.

The Myners letter is here. The explanations given by Myners are frankly incredible. He is expecting us to believe that the Smith Institute accidentally invoiced HM Treasury and that HM Treasury accidentally paid the invoice. We are asked to believe that suddenly two years later he decided to pay the bill having told his “team that I would be happy to personally contribute some or all of the costs of the seminars”. But he didn’t actually do it at the time, did he?

Why the Two Year Interval?

Could it be that the imminent and inevitable exposure of the payment by HM Treasury to the Smith Institute during the course of the Charity Commission’s investigation was the real and only reason the payment was now refunded by Myners to the Treasury? It was a plain and simple cover up – long after the event – by Myners to help his friend Gordon Brown out of a politically difficult situation.

Editorial Advisory : 17:00 GMT Today

The whole Wonks-on-the-Taxpayer scam is much more widespread than this morning’s Times story reveals. Paul Myners is not only a donor to Brown’s coronation campaign, he was central to a less than credible cover-up of Treasury payments to the Smith Institute. Doubt he will be plain “Mr” Myners after Brown gets control of the honours list…

Full story this evening.

World Bank Sleaze Allegations Swamp Gordon’s Chief-of-Staff

Gordon Brown is expected to recall his former private secretary from Washington, where he serves as as an executive director at both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to become his chief-of-staff. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that Tom Scholar, like Paul Wolfowitz, is accused of abusing his position to assist a girlfriend get a promotion.
He is accused of violating the Bank’s Staff Rules and the Board’s Standards of Conduct, like Wolfowitz, Scholar is said to have a romantic relationship with a female employee at the World Bank. Scholar has never officially disclosed this relationship even though it clearly interferes with his oversight responsibilities as a Board member. He is accused of directly intervening to further the woman’s career. He is not taking calls and has gone to ground.

Looks like Jonathan Powell’s successor will follow in his high ethical standards…

Aussie Labor Party Doomed

At the swearing in ceremony at the Scottish Parliament a few days ago John McTernan, fresh from organising the Scottish Labour party election campaign, was overheard saying he was off to Australia to help the Australian Labor Party in the upcoming elections.

Considering his track record that should make Howard a sure thing to win a record fifth term. Consider John McTernan’s record as an adviser:

  • Special Advisor to Harriet Harman at DSS – Harman was sacked
  • Helped run Frank Dobson’s Mayoral Campaign – Dobson lost
  • Special Advisor to Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish – McLeish had to resign over an expenses “muddle”.
  • Helped run Labour’s Scottish Parliament Campaign in 2007 – Labour were
  • beaten in Scotland for the first time in 50 years

Considering the file currently at the CPS aren’t they meant to be convicted before going to Australia?

How Much Does Gordon’s Pollster Charge for a 1-Day Seminar?

Guido has said it before and he’ll say it again, the way Gordon Brown’s pollster, Deborah Mattinson at Opinion Leader Research, gets contracts is not right.

Hidden away in an announcement made quietly on May 4, when all our attention was on the local election results, was the news that OLR had won another government contract to organise a one-day seminar.

£153,484.38 was the price the taxpayer paid OLR for a one-day seminar on the “The Skills Challenge: A Public Debate” in February. That should subsidise a hell of a lot of free polling for Gordon.

Operation Ribble Closes :When Will Levy Be Charged?

The CPS got the final tranche of the Operation Ribble files on Friday.* The Met let the press know in no uncertain terms that they expected charges against the Sleaze Master General himself, Ruth Turner and Sir Chris Evans. If Powell faces charges too, it will be a devastating denouement to the Blair era. Blair himself is widely expected to escape without being charged, the documentary evidence being too weak.

The CPS could make a decision as soon as June, at a time when many expect the Blair-Brown handover to be in process. Guido has long believed that the police would not be fazed by dealing with powerful political figures, that Levy would inevitably face charges and is now convinced that senior figures at the CPS will not find it possible to sweep things under the carpet. Lord Goldsmith may not even be in office when the decision to prosecute is made, it could well be a Brown appointee. If Brown’s Attorney General were to block charges the prospect of a private prosecution being brought remains. Soundings have already been taken by interested parties at the Inner Temple about this possibility.

If the Attorney General were to then enter a plea of nolle prosequi, claiming it would not be in the public interest to put Blair’s lieutenants on trial, Brown’s administration would forever be tainted with covering up his predecessor’s corruption. Something Brown is unlikely to countenance.

One way or another, this is going to go all the way.

*Guido was at the time supping champagne at Pascal Aussignac’s Club Gascon.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View(Shoot That Golden Arrow Edition)

Gerry Sutcliffe, the prisons minister, and Stephen Ladyman, the transport minister, were named during a two-month investigation into “cash for access” by the Sunday Times.

Yates Writes to Public Administration Select Committee

Doesn’t really say a lot, does say he has enough staff and an “extremely secure environment” (just round the corner from Scotland Yard).

Download the letter here.

McTernan Documentation

The Law Report for Attorney-General v British Broadcasting Corporation contains a little nugget Guido hadn’t noticed before. The three categories of documentation identified were:

A Material relating to policy strategy in conducting their future investigations. As to that, the judge said that the real concern of the police was that they wished to put the document to several individuals who might be suspects. They considered that there was a risk that if information about the document was published, that would give potential interviewees the opportunity to frustrate the investigation.

B Material of a factual nature: The police regarded the document in question as a key document in the investigation into the perversion of the course of justice, whose deployment was a matter of real interest and concern and the police were for that reason concerned about it receiving advanced publicity in the media. The document was not an email, it ran to several pages and contained far more information. There was a real question mark as to whether Mr Powell, the addressee, ever received it and the investigating officers were very interested to discover whether he did so or not.

C Material related to Mr John McTernan, director of political operations at Downing Street.

Most of Westminster thinks he has grassed or cut a deal to save his skin. The whole Loans for Lordships affair has, at the very least, cost him his much desired safe seat.

No doubt John will take precious time out from overseeing the decimation of the Labour party in Scotland to post again in the comments telling us how he is in the clear and Guido gets it all wrong. We shall see…

Milan Fashion News

“Tricky corners” are out with fashionistas like David Mills and Silvio Berlusconi. On trial and facing up to twenty years in jail he isn’t worried. The trial will be dragged out beyond the statute of limitations and the former husband of Tessa Jowell will get off free, but not proved innocent.

Mills not only advised his ex-wife on back-to-back mortgages, he also advised Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss, at the time his wife, Tessa, was formulating legislation on banning tobacco advertising F1. Bernie bunged more than £1 million to the Labour Party and succeeded in blocking a ban.

They are said to be separated, but can still be found sleeping under the same roof. Guido suspects that sometime next year, after the trial is halted, they will be reunited.

May the Force* Be With You

To the Jedi going into Sith HQ tonight – do give Guido’s regards to Konrad.

Beckett is speaking about John Smith. Maybe the co-conspirators / Jedi should ask her about the secret political slush fund she operated during his period of leadership which was only closed down shortly before it became illegal.

*The Metropolitan Police Force.

UPDATE : 20:00 You have to laugh, she anointed the attending Gordon Brown as the heir to John Smith, peppering her speech shamelessly with favourable comparisons. Like Guido has always said, the only benficiary of this charity is G. Brown. Yours truly got a name-check by the warm-up comedian.

++ SKY : RUTH TURNER WAS QUESTIONED AGAIN ++

UPDATE : She reported to the police yesterday under the terms of her bail. She was re-interviewed, which technically is re-arrest methinks.

Smith Institute : Gordon’s Slip is Clearly ShowingBelow the Hem

“Britain is a better country because of the choices that voters made in 1997, 2001 and 2005….”*

Is that a quote from the draft 2009 Labour party manifesto to be signed by Gordon Brown? In a sense it is, in that it comes from an invitation sent out by what is effectively Gordon’s preparatory campaign committee. The Smith Institute is, even Brownite allies admit, now in its final days as a charity. One Brownite sneered to Guido that “even if it does lose it’s charitable status, it won’t matter, Gordon will be PM by then.”

That may be, but we will know that he is just as slippery as Blair when it comes to covert funding. We’ll know that his big business friends with interests in government contracts, government preferment and personal advancement, backed his campaign with cold cash given behind closed doors. Gordon glad-handed them at events at No. 11 organised by the Smith Institute, subsidised the Sith’s events by allowing them to use No. 11 rent free, the Treasury paid tax kick-backs on donations to the “educational charity” and even went so far as to pay thousands directly to the Smith Institute’s private company to organise events.

Gordon then tried to get a peerage for his allies Wilf Stevenson, the director of the Smith Institute and Ronnie “PFI” Cohen, the financier and Gordon backer. When Blair goes will anything really change when it comes to New Labour sleaze?

*Hat-tip to Hencke

Blinky Balls Blushes at PMQs

 edblink
Although his master was absent (presumably washing his hair) Ed Balls was in the chamber during PMQs.
Benedict Brogan’s blog captures the moment

Colin Challen was called to ask the Prime Minister a question, and the minute his name left the Speaker’s lips the cat-calls began. “My Lord!” and “Where’s Ed?” came from the across the floor. Labour MPs writhed with embarrassment. And Ed Balls stood at the Bar of the House looking distinctly sheepish.

Of course if Blinky Balls isn’t going to be dropped into Challen’s seat, he really has nothing to be sheepish about. It is not like Gordon would have done something as sleazy as secure Challen a comfy sinecure on the Treasury’s Stern Commission and a peerage to follow. Gordon is above that sort of thing, he wouldn’t line up a peerage for the Sith’s Wilf Stevenson or his generous moneyman backer and PFI profiteer Ronnie Cohen either.

Da Fink thinks a bit of cronyism is just dandy anyway, because all parties do it. That’s alright then…

+++ Gordon’s Non-Partisan, Non-Political Charity Paid forU.S. Pollster to Formulate Anti-Cameron Strategy +++

Bloomberg News is reporting that Bob Shrum, the veteran U.S. pollster and campaign adviser, was paid by the Smith Institute to formulate an anti-Cameron campaign strategy for Gordon Brown.

They have obtained a transcript of a speech given to a private Smith Institute invited audience, which included Brown acolytes Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander, as well as other media allies. Shrum advised the Brownites to brand Cameron as “an empty opportunist who will do anything to win”.

The event was held to review Cameron’s first 100 days in March 2006.

Guido understands that a formal complaint to the Charity Commissioners requesting a full-scale investigation of the Smith Institute under Section 8 of the Charity Act will be considered by the Charity Commission today.

++ more follows ++

Women’s Choices

Health minister Ivan Lewis told the Today programme on Friday “that we have to trust and respect women. Give them the information and then allow them to make the best choice for themselves.”

Guido wonders how much he trusts and respects Maggie Gibb, a councillor in his constituency who has been reported to the Standards Board for England after allegedly giving the finger to a teacher at a local school due to be closed.

According to a pupil’s mother who witnessed the incident “after Maggie Gibb said something [to the teacher] and he had turned around, she stuck her finger up and smirked at Ivan Lewis” the Bury South MP.

Is that really why she was smirking at Ivan Lewis?


Jane Hogarth Departs the Labour Party

Guido wrote back in March that Jane Hogarth was being set-up to take blame for some of Levy’s Loans for Lordships shenanigans. Much safer if she takes the flack because she worked for the Labour party not Downing Street. At all costs the blame must be kept well away from Tony, although as we all know in reality it was his fund-raising operation run out of Downing Street.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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