Sith Pollster Believed UnderProfessional Standards Investigation

As if Gordon’s Sith allies didn’t have enough problems with the Charity Commission investigation, it appears that the Market Research Standards Board is to investigate Opinion Leader Research, Gordon Brown’s pollster. Guido called the Standards Board to get confirmation, but they said they could not comment on individual cases. When Guido asked them to confirm they weren’t investigating OLR, they declined.

Guido has previously noted the cosy closeness of the relationship between OLR, HM Treasury, the Smith Institute, Deborah Mattinson and Gordon Brown. Whenever more objective polls are gloomy for Gordon, OLR can be relied on to produce “Gordon more popular than sliced bread” stories.Other pollsters are very sniffy about OLR’s methodology and the fact that despite not even having a field team they still manage to win juicy government contracts, most recently for the polling for the London Olympics. It obviously helps to have contacts at the highest levels of government when bidding for those contracts…

Hat-tip: Pendennis

Slippery as a Silverfish

Dizzy got a nice scoop* yesterday. Basically Silverfish TV have bought up gordonbrown4leader.com and similar sites. So what? Well Gordon doesn’t officially have a campaign and when he does he will be expected to list cash donations and donations in kind. The Electoral Commission is taking a tough line on this sort of stuff. Silverfish rushed out an explanation that they had bought the domain merely as a speculative punt to make money (something – as Dizzy points out this morning – is prohibited by the internet authorities). Guido frankly finds it unbelieveable that Silverfish really were going to try and make a quick profit out of Gordon Brown.

Silverfish.TV are Labour’s preferred new media / video producers, doing most recently Scottish and Welsh Labour’s Party Political Broadcasts. They also did the “Dave the Chameleon” video for Labour, for free. Obviously it costs quite a lot to do an expensive CGI animation, but they didn’t charge the Labour party a penny. They do however have a number of juicy contracts awarded by Labour cronies and paid for by the taxpayer.

Do you see a pattern here? The Smith Institute is paid thousands of pounds to organise seminars for HM Treasury at the taxpayers expense. The Smith Institute gets to use No. 11 Downing Street for seminars for free. Opinion Leader Research is paid huge amounts to do polling for HM Treasury. Opinion Leader Research does polling for the Smith Institute for free. Silverfish are paid by Downing Street at fat rates, subsidising them to do “Dave the Chameleon” attack videos and coincidentally buy campaign websites on Gordon’s behalf for free.

It is a corrupt practice, Gordon’s campaign bills are being picked up by the taxpayer indirectly. In a secretive, behind closed doors, third-world style, “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours way”. He is running an undeclared campaign, it is funded, and no declarations are being made to the Electoral Commission because the funding is covert. Donors get tax relief from HM Treasury on donations to the Smith Institute, which is a charity of which Gordon is the only identifiable beneficiary. His pollster gets HM Treasury contracts and produces positive push polling for him. Labour’s friendly new media production outfit similarly wins Whitehall contracts and does work for Labour and Gordon for free. It has come to something when Nigerian newspapers are running stories about political corruption in Britain which feature the Smith Institute.

*Notice how despite Channel 4 News and the Times running with it, no credit was given to Dizzy. They say bloggers are parasitical leeches on the Dead-Tree-Press etc.

Smith Institute : Polly Advised Sith on the “Legend for the Left” Against Tories the Month Before 2005 General Election

MPs like Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Liam Byrne, Martin Salter discussing with Polly Toynbee anti-Tory political strategies is nothing new, discussing them at a non-partisan, non-political charity event would be very interesting. That is exactly what they did at a seminar held on Tuesday 22nd March 2005 on the very eve of the General Election.Also attending were – surprise, surprise – Deborah Mattinson and Scarlett McGwire from Opinion Leader Research, pollsters for the Treasury.

Polly advised the Labour team about the Tory’s tactics; “Dog whistling is exactly what it is: hitting and running day after day, leaving Labour looking lame, wrong footed, unable to keep up. All the more important is to be able to produce the kind of moral vision that is envisaged here or is beginning to be described here.”

All the more important for who? Ed Balls tells her he was “very taken by Polly’s language in terms of a need for a legend for the left.” The seminar transcript goes on and on. So the question is – does the Charity Commission still believe that the Smith Institute is non-political?

Isn’t it just Gordon Brown’s strategic campaigning arm?

UPDATE : Christopher Hope in the Telegraph has discovered that Ed Balls advocated a new NHS tax at another closed meeting of the Sith.

Smith Institute : Final Nail in the Non-Partisan Coffin

On Monday night Margaret Beckett made a speech that hammered the last nail in the non-partisan coffin for the Smith Institute. This is despite the Smith Institute currently being under investigation by the Charities Commission under Section 8 of the Charities Act for breaching their obligation to be politically impartial. It was insouciance to the point of hubris.

The speech would not have been out of place at a Labour party event, in fact it is clear that Beckett saw the 11 Downing Street gathering as a Labour party event, she talks about the “history of our Party”, what “we as a party did”, the virtue of being a “scourge of the Tory Party” – peppering her speech with criticisms of the contemporary Conservative party and David Cameron.

Gordon Brown attended as did most of the trustees, Lord Haskel brought knowing laughter from the audience when he said they would vigourously fight the Charity Commission’s investigation into their non-political status. Nevertheless Beckett went on to deliver a partisan speech with no regard to their charitable objective of education. She praised Gordon to the skies, lauding his record in office saying “..if, as I certainly hope we do, we have the architect of that amazing record, Gordon Brown, as our next Labour Prime Minister” and “Gordon – a man in whom the flame of social justice burns every bit as brightly as it did in John [Smith]” and so on.

It is hard to see how the Charities Commission can allow them to continue to have charitable status any longer. The only beneficiary of this charity is Gordon Brown. Judge for yourself by downloading the speech obtained by a co-conspirator here.

Guido has already passed this speech to the Charity Commission investigation team.

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.

Sith’s “Operation Bluewash” Infiltrated by Co-conspirators

Despite applying well in advance to the “public” event advertised in the Speccie as part of the Smith Institute’s Operation Bluewash “we’re not Gordon’s front-group, look we invite Tories via adverts in the Spectator” – Guido’s invitation never arrived. Guido called up Konrad to check on the invitation’s progress, but things got a little hysterical and they put the phone down. Nevertheless a number of co-conspirators (who applied after Guido) have a particular interest in Ms Beckett’s wisdom and are looking forward to visiting No. 11 tonight.
So even though Guido won’t be there in person, the Sith will sense a presence…

Has Bright Joined the Dark Side?

Guido has long respected the New Statesman’s Martin Bright as an investigative journalist, but his extended and continuing proximity to the Smith Institute seems to be compromising his objectivity. He wrote a very prissy and disingenuous defence of his employer, the New Statesman, when Guido pointed out that it is a Brownite fanzine which both cross-subsidises and houses the Sith HQ.
Now he is quoting discredited Sith propaganda in his article this week, claiming that Gordon Brown

is bolstered by a poll of 100 leading figures from the City, industry, media and politics carried out by Opinion Leader Research, which showed that 87 per cent believed what the Chancellor said, compared to 58 per cent for Cameron

That “poll of 100 leading figures from the City, industry, media and politics carried out by Opinion Leader Research” has zero credibility. The methodology is not one recognised by the rest of the polling industry. OLR is run by Brown’s personal pollster, Deborah Mattinson, she is always wheeled out with contrary “research” when Brown gets a bad press from negative polls from more objective organisations.

OLR also has a six-figure contract with HM Treasury. Martin Bright had the cheek to question Guido’s independence last month, how independent do you think that OLR poll might be?

Deborah Mattison also sits on the board of the Smith Institute and OLR does polling for them as well. The Sith’s office is all of six yards away from Martin Bright’s desk at the New Statesman. How independent is he?

The New Statesman publishes glossy corporate “sponsored supplements” for the Smith Institute, but not one single mention of the Smith Institute’s troubles has appeared on it’s pages…

Pollster’s Answers Lead to More Questions

Opinion Leader Research have got back to Guido and they say nobody paid for that research. They just asked questions slanted to favour Gordon for no particular reason. They also say they won their lucrative HM Treasury contract and the Bank of England contract in a competitive tendering process.

They won’t say why the Treasury needs pollsters, what they poll about, or how much they have been paid.

Guido could understand if the Treasury needed statisticians, but pollsters? Perhaps the Bank of England would be interested in measuring, say for example, people’s inflation expectations, but their opinions? If public money has been spent by the Treasury on pollsters who have asked questions that assist Gordon in his personal political ambitions, that would be a massive breach of the Ministerial Code bordering on corruption. If it were to be proved that the payments to do something innocuous were effectively a hidden subsidy covering the costs of doing polling on issues of interest to Gordon Brown for no particular reason it would be scandalous.

Since Gordon’s personal pollsters won’t give Guido answers, maybe Gordon will answer Stewart Jackson’s parliamentary questions?

  • To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the decision to engage Opinion Leader Research to undertake polling for HM Treasury was subject to a competitive tendering process and will he make a statement.
  • To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much has been spent in each year since 2001 by HM Treasury on polling services provided by Opinion Leader Research and will he make a statement.
A co-conspirator points out that they also had no identifiable paying client for their “What it means to be British” research in 2005. Shortly afterwards Gordon began loudly banging his Britishness drum. Opinion Leader Research has helped Gordon on “Britishness” issues before, their research was used extensively in “New Britain” a 1999 publication produced by the Smith Institute. The pamphlet was itself singled out and explicitly criticised by the Charity Commission as being party political in the first 2001 investigation into the Sith.

Guido sees a pattern here; the Treasury hosts over a hundred of the Smith Institute’s seminars – rent-free, simultaneously the Treasury pays the Smith Institute to hold seminars. The Treasury pays Deborah Mattinson’s Opinion Leader Research generously, Deborah Mattinson sits on the Smith Institute’s board and does “polling” that is helpful to Gordon – for free. She also writes hagiographical press articles about Gordon, based on her own polling research, whenever negative independent poll findings come out.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the taxpayer has been paying, via the Treasury, for Gordon’s polling and spin, all tightly coordinated via the Smith Institute to promote the Brownite political agenda. This is abuse of office.

Sith Launch “Operation Bluewash”

As the Charity Commission looks increasingly likely to deal with the Sith firmly they have launched a transparently obvious attempt to rope in Tories to provide cover for them. One problem – they don’t know any.

So they have taken to advertising in the Speccie in the hope of finding Tories interested in what Margaret Beckett has to say in a John Smith Memorial Lecture. Not that attractive a subject to Tories Guido thinks. No doubt when the Charity Commission rebukes them for their Brownite partisanship they will point at the Speccie ad and say “we tried”. Guido has magnanimously RSVP’d.

Now it is a public charity event being held on public property (No. 11 as usual). Since Guido is a member of the public they can’t have any reason to refuse to allow him to attend…

Hat-tip : Border Reiver

Smith Institute’s Mattinson Spins Poll for Brown

The Brownites are obviously getting increasingly desperate about his bad personal poll ratings versus Cameron. The Guardian/ICM survey last week showing Brown 13% adrift of Cameron (worse than Blair) shook Labour MPs at a vital time and led to renewed calls for Labour to skip a generation with Miliband.

A week later comes the Brownite response, today’s Guardian reports on a survey of a hundred “opinion leaders” which shows Gordon outperforming Dave on a whole range of indicators – scoring a modest 92% on integrity.

Who conducted this highly scientific “survey”? None other than Opinion Leader Research run by Deborah Mattinson, the long time Labour Party consultant who is now Gordon Brown’s unofficial pollster and sits on the advisory committee of the Smith Institute – alongside the veteran U.S. pollster Bob Shrum. It was Shrum’s anti-Cameron advice to the Sith that forced the Charity Commission’s official investigation. Guido wonders why a non-partisan, non-political, educational charity has so many pollsters involved?

Mattinson has plenty of previous, she was wheeled out by the dark forces of the Sith the last time Brown’s negative ratings caused rumblings. Popping up in the Times with an article claiming, ironically, that it was all spin and that Gordon is in fact a popular guy.

Of course surveying “opinion leaders” is completely subjective and easily manipulated to give the required answers. Mattinson’s clients know it, but since her clients include Defra, the Department of Education and Science, the Department for Work and Pensions and coincidentally HM Treasury, you can be sure she knows where her bread is buttered and what they want to hear.

Is Guido the only one who has noticed that in times of need, Gordon’s pollster conducts polls with dubious methodologies which she then writes up in hagiographical pro-Gordon articles? Is Guido the only one who thinks there might, in the circumstances, be a serious conflict of interest in her not only sitting on the board of the Smith Institute but also having HM Treasury as a paying client? Who commissioned and paid for this survey of “opinion leaders”? How did she get the HM Treasury contract? Was it by competitive tender?

Guido has asked them repeatedly this morning who commissioned the poll, but nobody at Opinion Leader Research seems to know…

UPDATE : Guido has just noticed that The Sun this morning headlines Deborah’s “survey” Brown is back in poll victory. Will that do Gordon?

Never Was Good at Deadlines

Whoops, have just noticed the Direction under Section 8(3) of the Charities Act 1993 sitting on the desk. Blah blah blah seven days blah blah blah liable to imprisonment blah blah. Have just had a very pleasant pissy lunch with Bryan Appleyard and now have to pick up Baby Ms Fawkes.
It will therefore have to wait until Monday. So Dame Suzi Leather, if you can just hang on and pop round for it then when Guido has found the tippex and got rid of all the fax numbers etc. But please, none of that “Kumbaya socialism” sing song thing you Christian socialists do. Coffee, dossier, on your way…

Is the New Statesman Compromised?

The old New Statesman historically was the discussion journal of the Labour party. Issues and personalities of the left were analysed within its pages and it still has serious journalists holed up at its offices. Yet compare the vitality of the Spectator to that of the Statesman, all shades of conservative and other strands of thought appear in the Speccie. But search for anything critical of Brown in the Statesman and you will find little.

Improved as it has been under Kampfner’s editing it still lacks something because the hand of Geoffrey Robinson is suffocating it. He is prone to wandering up to writers post publication and congratulating them with the line “Gordon liked your piece”. As if any self respecting serious writer on the left would care.

The whole issue of Robinson’s ownership and his total devotion to the Brown cause depresses staff. The embarrassment of being known as the Brownite house magazine with the symbiotic “independent charitable non-partisan think-tank” – which just so happens to have moved offices three times with them in the last ten years (can you guess who?) – makes staff blush.

Guido was filming outside their offices recently when Kampfner came out, “What are you up to?” he asked of us. “We’re doing a piece on the Smith Institute, care to comment?” “Oh no”, he said and walked off. What kind of state of affairs is it when the editor of the liberal left’s house journal won’t discuss the question of the independence and integrity of his magazine? It shares offices with a controversial think-tank under investigation by the Charity Commission for dubious practises involving the future leader of the Labour party. Every newspaper in the country is covering the story and the New Statesman ignores the elephant literally in the same room as it. Not a single story about the Smith Institute has appeared in the magazine with which it shares offices. Bizarre.

Nick Cohen, a New Statesman journalist, has a bestselling book out, What’s Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way. Guido can’t help but wonder if part of the answer can’t be found in the silence and timidity of the left’s leading journal when it comes to discussing what is going on under its own roof.

UPDATE : Guardian’s Greenslade challenges Kampfner, Martin Bright tries a Sith mind trick, these are not the stories you are looking for, you can go about your business…

Sith’s Allies Fightback

Will Hutton, failed ex-stockbroker, failed ex-editor, has been wheeled out to provide covering fire for the Smith Institute in the Guardian. According to Hutton, saying there is in fact something very sleazy about the cozy Gordon/Treasury/Sith nexus, is some kind of attack on democracy. (Incidentally, Will, we have previous).What is democratic about holding private meetings behind closed doors? What is democratic about the Treasury quietly paying £11,000 to the Smith Institute for arranging 2 meetings on it’s behalf, but not charging the self-same Smith Institute a single penny for holding 165 meetings on it’s premises? Isn’t that anti-democratic? Isn’t that something we should openly shine a light on? Gordon’s Treasury tax-kickback-subsidised charity paying Bob Shrum to devise an anti-Cameron strategy, is that something we should keep secret?

What is democratic about using Tom Watson MP to spread the most vile false smear campaign against Guido the week after he made an official complaint against the Smith Institute? Even by the shrill standards of the blogosphere it was a step too far that forced Guido to threaten immediate High Court action against Gordon’s failed putsch leader. When they are cornered they fight hard and dirty.

Now a statutory authority has issued a direction threatening Guido with contempt of court, imprisonment and fines unless Guido hands over documents obtained from whistleblowers. Guido will provide evidence of the Sith’s wrongdoing, but he intends to protect his sources as well. Now I’m off for a drink…

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…

Sith’s Wilf and Gordon’s New Policies

From: Guido Fawkes

To: FoI Unit HM Treasury

7 February, 2007

Dear Sirs,

This is an FoI request concerning an email sent by Wilf Stevenson, of the Smith Institute, last month to a number of persons based at at HM Treasury. The email was also addressed to staff at some leading think-tanks including the the Smith Institute, IPPR and Demos. In it I understand that Wilf Stevenson explained that Gordon Brown was interested in gathering in policy ideas for his administration and that he would like to co-ordinate this activity.

I believe that Ed Balls and John Healey were also recipients of the email.

The activities of the Smith Institute with regard to policy formulation at HM Treasury are of great public interest. Please could you, in the first instance, provide me with a copy of this email and any other emails sent by Wilf Stevenson to persons based at HM Treasury.

Regards,

Guido Fawkes Esq.

The Times’ Phil Webster to Gordon :”Will this do?”

The Times has a big two-page spread today and a leader on the growing influence of right-of-centre think tanks. Fascinating as it is, why choose today to concentrate on these think-tanks? Phil Webster, political editor, is a friend of Ed Balls and a fellow supporter of Norwich. They even travel to matches together.

Tucked away elsewhere in the paper is a tiny PA piece on a Charity Commission investigation of another think-tank where Ed Balls once worked. Times readers will have to look hard to find it. All the other papers give it prominence Telegraph – page 4, FT – page 3, Independent – page 24, Mail – page 4, Guardian – page 16, Express – page 4, not forgetting the BBC. Even News International stablemate The Sun has a piece on it.

Fact : The Times had the Smith Institute / Gordon Brown story last year.

No. 11 Downing Street, the Rent-Free Home ofGordon Brown’s Smith Institute

It will, Guido predicts, emerge in the Charity regulator’s investigation, that despite having over the years held 165 meetings there, not one single penny has ever been paid by the Smith Institute to the Treasury for the use of No. 11 Downing Street. Absorb that stunning fact.

Wilf Stevenson bleats that they paid for their own tea and biscuits. Despite all of Westminster knowing that the operation is a Brownite organising front, Wilf Stevenson now denies it. The following quotations (after the first) are from less guarded times…

“The Smith Institute has never had and does not currently have a direct relationship with Gordon Brown.”
Wilf Stevenson, Director of the Smith Institute, November 30, 2006.

“This is a series of three seminars dealing with social, cultural and knowledge entrepreneurship. There has been a building interest in this area and it needs to be further investigated in the think-tank world and also within government. This series is under the patronage of the Chancellor of the Exchequer”
Wilf Stevenson, Director of the Smith Institute, July 1999 at 11 Downing Street.

“We were in at the beginning and are still here, still innovating. We look forward to hearing what he has to say. But to get us started: Gordon Brown.”
Wilf Stevenson, Director of the Smith Institute, October, 2004 at 11 Downing Street.

“Can I welcome you all, first of all, to No 11 Downing Street for the first in a series of Smith Institute seminars..”
Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, October, 2004 at 11 Downing Street.

“I am a last-minute substitute for Gordon Brown, so I would like, on his behalf, to welcome you all to Number 11 Downing Street. I know, looking around, some of you are quite regular attenders of Smith Institute seminars, and you will know you get a letter from Wilf Stevenson before each one explaining that you are invited to Number 11 by kind permission of the Chancellor. I have to say, this series of seminars in particular is being held not so much by the kind permission of the Chancellor, but by his absolute insistence that they take place. He is unable to be with us now, but he will want to know exactly what has been said in the discussion when I see him later this morning. Many of you, including and perhaps especially the panel here, have known Gordon for a long time.”

John Healey MP, Economic Secretary, HM Treasury, December 2004 at 11 Downing Street.

Credits to co-conspirators : Saxon Times & Theo Spark for the picture montage. “Welcome to No. 11” for the quotes.

++ Statement from the Charity Commission ++

The Charity Commission for England and Wales has opened a formal inquiry into the charity The Smith Institute today.

Feb 1, 2007 14:19:09

The decision to open an inquiry was taken in the light of new information we have received which raises concerns about some of the charity’s work.

The scope of the inquiry is to determine whether The Smith Institute is both established and operating as a charity advancing the education of the public in the field of study and research into the economy of the United Kingdom.

The Commission has informed the charity of this decision. The Commission has been and continues to engage with the charity in relation to the issues raised.

On being warned of the approach of the Spanish fleet, Drake is said to have remarked that there was plenty of time to finish the game and still beat the Spaniards. On receiving endless journalist’s phone calls at lunchtime, Guido finished another bottle of Chablis with Katy Taylor-Richards, and will still defeat the Sith.

PFI Lawyers Love the Sith

Guido knows just how many loafing City lawyers and bored City brokers follow this blog. Sometimes they can be useful in coming up with little gems. This note, about yesterday’s meeting of the Sith in No. 11, is from the Clifford Chance private internal intranet this morning:

Number 1 law firm at Number 11

On the podium yesterday morning was Stuart Popham, who was invited to speak at a Smith Institute event at Number 11 Downing Street.
[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

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