This Morning the Smith Institute Met in No. 11

The arrogance of the Sith is incredible. Despite being warned by the Charity Commission to hold events at politically neutral venues, they held yet another event this morning at No. 11.

A co-conspirator tells Guido

Alistair Darling was “looking very proprietorial ” telling the assembled business executives how it will be in future. Attending were some ministers, no politicians from other parties, but some Labour backbenchers.

With Gordon’s future chancellor and only Labour MPs present, seems to Guido to be a little bit political and far from neutral. If you have not yet watched Iain Dale’s ten minute documentary on the Smith Institute, click here.

UPDATE : Dizzy has picked-up on the Treasury’s John Healey avoiding answering questions about EMI. Wonder why?

Tories Pressing Hard on Smith Institute

Chris Grayling has today written to the Charity Commission’s Head of Compliance demanding a full investigation under Section 8 of the Charities Act.

Mark Francois last week tabled yet another Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ) which is still unanswered

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what remuneration was received for the use of 11 Downing Street from the Smith Institute or SI Events Ltd for its seminar on positional goods held on 21st September 2006.

Keith Simpson has been told to expect an answer to his questions “by the end of this week”.

A co-conspirator emails to say he has been told by Oliver Letwin that George Osborne “has been doing a good deal of work on this Smith Institute connection, and will be ensuring that it is brought fully to public attention.”* Hmm, the bandwagon went that way…

*Guido knows that Osborne’s researcher is boasting to journalists that he is behind the exposing of the Sith, perhaps he repeats to them what he reads here?

Dale on the Smith Institute

Iain Dale has been tracking the Smith Institute around Westminster and Whitehall for Doughty Street TV. The evidence that the Smith Institute is a Brownite front, rather than a non-political, non-partisan charity is patently clear. Watch the video here.

+ Smith Institute Exposé II + Doughty Street TV Tonight +

Just to add to the good news flow, Iain Dale has a piece on Doughty Street TV tonight about the Smith Institute which explains why they should lose their charitable status.

Michael Crick will no doubt be watching…

+++ 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 ++

Sith : Going In…

Quote of the Month, comes by kind permission of the left-wing broadcaster Michael Crick, from the dark side’s Wilf Stevenson, director of the Smith Institute. After the third phone call from Newsnight’s Crick last week Wilf yelled “This is disreputable journalism, you are following the agenda of Guido Fawkes” … before slamming down the phone.

Gordon and the Explosive Power of Bloggers

Speaking in Davos this morning, Gordon Brown, sitting next to Rupert Murdoch, said:

“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.”

The Smith Institute dossier requested by the Charity Commissioners is being delivered on Monday.

Growling Chris Grayling MP has also written to the Chancellor requesting answers to some pertinent questions:
  • 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?
Come Monday morning the Charity Commissioners will, Guido strongly suspects, be adding some of their own questions about his “non-political, independent charity”. Guido loves the smell of gunpowder in the morning…

Sith for Beginners

++ Smith Institute Exposé ++ Newsnight Tonight ++

Guido knew something was up when the Charity Commissioners contacted him this week asking for evidence regarding the Smith Institute. When Guido said he was still compiling his dossier they warned that they could “legally compel” Guido to provide evidence.

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 ++

Konrad Still Sulking

Guido called the Sith office today a few times, with no reply. So he decided to call Konrad Caulkett, (remember last time we spoke). Guido called him on his mobile directly with a simple question for the Smith Institute events organiser.

GF Hi Konrad, what is Ed speaking on tomorrow?
KC Err, who is this?
GF Guido.
KC I’m not talking to you.
GF But you are now aren’t you?
click… brrr…

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-donationswelcome “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.

Cover Up : The Sith’s Use of No. 11 Questioned Again

Iain Dale alerted Guido to this PQ a few days ago:

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…

Birds of a Feather

The Smith Institute, that non-political charitable think-tank which has nothing to do with Gordon Brown, is holding a seminar later this month on “economic opportunity”. Despite being currently under investigation (for the second time) by the Charity Commissioners over all-too-close links to Gordon Brown and allegations of blatant political activity, the event is being held at No. 11 Downing Street.

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…

Dave : Brown is the Dark Side

The Smith Institute exposés last month evoked from the co-conspirators an analogy with the evil Sith cult in Star Wars. It’s catching, Dave’s New Year statement too uses the imagery of the force;

“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.”

Surprise! Smith Institute Plans More Meetings at No. 11

On Friday Gordon complained about smears in a statement where he denied that the Smith Institute had any formal link to him. Sure he is not on the board, but the board is Brownite.

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. Nevertheless we discovered recently that Gordon pushed to have Wilf made a working peer.* That would have meant that Brown had made him a Labour working peer for his Smith Institute work. How in any sense therefore is he non-political and non-Brownite?

This is all a “Mandelson smear” the Sunday papers were briefed. Guido has no formal link with Mandelson, but he has been digging into “the Sith” sleaze for months. When is a smear not a smear? When it is the truth.

Guido has obtained this list of events being held by the Smith Institute. You have just missed “Shaping Global Policy” – which seems an odd subject title for a non-political public charity. Isn’t policy formation a bit political?
Are these meetings open to the public in line with the charity’s charter? No. Are they anything to do with Brown’s current imperative to repaint himself as Green? They are all being held at No. 11, what do you think?

*So, yes, he would actually have become the Dark Emperor’s very own Sith Lord.

Ferret Watch : Brownites V Blairites

When Guido read the headline about the “Shambles” memo on Iain’s blog on Saturday his first thought was “Gould”. Gould tried to work with Brown some months ago as part of the perparation for an “orderly transition”, but the short-lived co-operation fell apart in mistrust.

On Friday the Brownites believed the weekend would see a smear operation on Brown, Gordon’s spin-meister Damian McBride put out an extraordinary statement dealing with three issues – Gordon’s knowledge about loans, his lobbying for peerage on behalf of his two cronies, Ronnie Cohen (whom he secured a knighthood) and Wilf Stevenson, director of the Smith Institute, which serves as Gordon’s private political secretariat.

The “McSnide” statement:

Rather than respond in piecemeal fashion to these unfounded allegations and smears, we wish to make the Chancellor’s position absolutely clear – on the public record:

Neither is there any formal position for the Chancellor in the system of nominations for Labour working peers. And the Chancellor has never made any such submissions nominating an individual or individuals in letters or statements.

When asked to give his opinions informally about potential working peers to be nominated by the party, the Chancellor has, of course, been happy to give them on the basis that eligibility should naturally be based on service to the community and country, present and in the future.

Mr Stevenson, former director of the BFI and now director of the Smith Institute, and Sir Ronald Cohen of the Portland Trust are known by the Chancellor and he respects their service to public life and has no hesitation in saying they would have made valuable working peers.

But the fact is that no nomination has been made for either individual to the political honours committee, nor has the Chancellor ever submitted any letter or statement of nomination. In Sir Ronald’s case, it is understood anyway that Sir Ronald has made it clear he would not wish to be considered.

We understand that neither Mr Stevenson nor Sir Ronald has ever made loans to the Labour party.

We also know that if any donations have been made they are anyway a matter of public record under the rules and neither individual has ever discussed any such donations with the Chancellor.

And, as the register of Members’ interests confirms, at no time in Opposition and, of course, never subsequently have either of them made any donations to Mr Brown’s political office.

And in respect of the Smith Institute, set up in memory of his friend, the late John Smith, Mr Brown welcomes and encourages the work they do and their contribution to the intellectual and policy debate of the country but Mr Brown has no financial nor any formal relationship with them.

Guido thinks Brown really wasn’t involved in the Loans for Lordships scam, but McSnide does not really deny that Gordon lobbied for Ronnie and Wilf to get peerages to become working peers. Odd because Wilf protests that he is non-political and has no relationship with Brown, who in turn claims no formal relationship with the Smith Institute. A patently false claim, since we all know that it is a Brownite operation and that if Gordon had his way his friend Wilf would now be a Sith Lord…

Friday Caption Contest (Sith Edition)

This is a picture taken at a closed meeting held by the “non-political”, tax subsidised, “public educational charity”, the Smith Institute. In the middle is Wilf Stevenson, the institute’s director, on the left of him is James Purnell, Minister for Creative Industries. On the right of Wilf is Eric Nicoli, Chairman of EMI group, a business regulated by the Minister. Around the table are industry lobbyists and vested interests.
At the meeting, according to a transcript obtained by Guido, Eric Nicoli told Wilf “We have the problem that the political agenda is, on average, about two years out in terms of the time horizon because of elections and so on, yet we are here trying to develop something for the longer term. So I agree, not least because prime ministers and chancellors seem to last a bit longer than the average minister, that we should go after them and be relentless in our pursuit of our objectives.

Wilf, who says the institute is non-political and “has no direct relationship with Gordon Brown”, told Eric at the meeting “What you are going to say will have a great impact on the government’s thinking”.

EMI then paid £29,375 to the New Statesman, owned by Geoffrey Robinson, the former paymaster general. The Gordon Brown backing New Statesman rents office space to the Smith Institue at below market rates. EMI has also made undisclosed*, but substantial donations to the The Smith Institute. Nor is this the only Smith Institute/New Statesman event organised by Konrad Caulkett and sponsored by EMI over the last two years.The Smith Institute held a seminar on copyright reform at No. 11 just before Gordon’s big PBR speech last week. It was a happy affair. Later, in his PBR speech Gordon went outside his usual brief to announce reform of copyright legislation.

So co-conspirators, what was Eric Nicoli really saying to the Smith Institute meeting?

*Neither EMI or the Smith Institute were willing to make a comment.

C4 Tonight : Gordon “Cash for Honours”

Guido has just been tipped that C4 News is going to do a “Gordon in Cash for Honours” story tonight.

Co-conspirators and readers of this blog will have heard about Ronnie Cohen months ago.

Tomorrow :

Guido will be exposing evidence of how the Brownite Smith Institute’s “Cash for Access” machine became a “Payments for Policy” racket – with Gordon Brown delivering the policy.

Guido will name the the donor the institute’s director, Wilf Stevenson, told at a Smith Institute meeting “what you are going to say will have a great impact on the government’s thinking” – two months before Gordon announced the policy change wanted.

Konrad is Not Speaking to Guido…

… and no-one else at the Smith Institute is answering questions, so Guido will just pass this one straight to the Charity Commissioners for their investigation into if the Smith Institute has crossed over into “politics”.

Konrad:

  • 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?
  • Was it in your capacity as “events coordinator” for the Smith Institute that you blew up balloons for Balls?
  • Who does actually pay your salary? The salary sums don’t add up.

Isn’t it odd that a public charity, subsidised by the taxpayers through the treasury, refuses to answer questions about funding?

What has Gordon’s little helper got to hide?

Comrade Konrad, the Sith Apprentice

Eagle-eyed co-conspirators will notice the line-up on this regular feature’s Smith Institute banner has changed, out goes Gordon’s pollster Shrum, in comes curly haired Konrad, the man who could not remember how he got his job. Guido had no idea how widely disliked Gordon’s little helper is until he mentioned him earlier this week.

Now bear in mind that according to Wilf Stevenson, the director of the institute “it has never had and does not currently have a direct relationship with Gordon Brown.” (Incidentally, how does Wilf, never in the office, run a Westminster focussed think-tank from the Lake District?)


Some of the comments about Konrad were just unprintable so Guido has stored them in his files. Essentially Konrad is said to revel in the cloak and dagger aspects of running Gordon’s slush fund and the proximity to power it provides. He enjoys being the secret Sith apprentice to Gordon’s Emperor Palpatine.

To understand how Konrad joined the independent, we-are-not-political, never-heard-of-him-gov-honest-institute, we need to go back to 1999 when New Labour was just starting to look less whiter-than-white. Sarah Macaulay was part of Hobsbawm Macaulay, the PR operation that was the spin-shop of choice for New Labour, and as such had as its client the then struggling New Statesman. Struggling to some extent because the owner (Gordon’s paymaster general at the time) Geoffrey Robinson was paying £100,000 to the future Mrs Brown’s firm. This caused some outrage at the time. As PR to the magazine she became friends with the lowly marketing and promotions employee – Konrad Caulkett. He was forever complaining to Sarah about his low pay and she supported his demands to the managment for a raise. Alas, the till was empty explained the management. Sarah suggested to him that he come work for the Smith Institute for more money, she would have a word and arrange it.

Konrad moved his desk from one side of the New Statesman’s office to the other side. This is the bit they call the independent Smith Institute.* Not so independent that it doesn’t still share the tea kettle with the New Statesman.

Hopefully this will jog Konrad’s memory as to how Sarah Macaulay got Konrad his job. Hobsbawm Macaulay went bust and Sarah became Mrs Brown. Guido wonders if she has a “direct relationship” with whomever she “had a word” with?

UPDATE : The press interest is on Ed Balls’ £100,000 bung for 8 months “work” in 2005. However a co-conspirator points out that if in 2004 the Smith Institute’s 100% owned S.I. Events Limited paid no remuneration to employees, and the S.I. charity only had a wage bill of £48,278 they must have been getting below minimum wage. Four staff; Wilf Stevenson, Konrad Caulkett, Ben Shimshon and assorted £7-per-hour interns presumably had to be paid. So where did the money come from? Over to you Konrad…

More next week.

*Guido’s co-conspirators have renamed the institute “the Sith” after the evil cult devoted to the dark side of the Force. In Star Wars they attempt to overthrow the legitimate elected political leader and replace him with an unelected dictatorial emperor Gordon Brown Palpatine. It is a fantasy.

Sarah Who?

Guido called up the Smith Institute this afternoon to get an invite to go to a Bob Shrum talk he had heard they were hosting. The S.I.’s Konrad Caulkett was a bit evasive.

KC “No.”
GF “Why?” ,
KC “You’ve missed it” he said gleefully, “we had it this morning”.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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