Des Browne’s Scottish SpAd Says Scots,”Narrow, Presbyterian, Racist”

John McTernan, the mastermind of the Labour Party’s historic defeat in Scotland wrote to a Labour MSP describing Scotland as “narrow, Presbyterian, racist”.

Seems largely accurate, but unwise a thing to say if you are a Catholic working for a narrow Presbyterian boss. Actually his immediate boss is Des Browne, not Gordon. Des is a Catholic as well. Guido finds the left / right, Catholic / proddie class dynamic beyond him in Scottish politics. Is there some kind of dissent brewing? Browne was said to be irritated with Gordon not so long. Are they plotting some kind of Catholic emancipation?

Opaque SpAds and Researchers

Classic example of pig ignorant behaviour from an uppity Hain staffer cited by Rosa Prince*. If SpAds and assistants only realised that even a hostile questioner deserves answers rather than evasions, they might actually serve their masters and their public paymasters better.

If Konrad Caulkett had not infuriated Guido with his patronising half-truths, the pursuit of the truth about the Smith Institute might not have been undertaken. (Konrad condescended to tell Guido that “more than six” meetings had been held by the Sith in Downing Street, it turned out to be nearly 200 meetings). Hain’s SpAd Joe Carberry similarly succeeded in incensing Guido. Months of hounding of his master later he might reflect that perhaps it was not the best way to handle a legitimate inquiry.

I wonder if in their minds they fantasise that they are mini-Alastair Campbell types. Yesterday when Guido was waiting to go into the Today studio, he was listening to a smug youth (who he surmised was School’s Minister Jim Knight’s SpAd) on the phone fending off journos. After Knight had finished his piece on air the SpAd smirkingly asked “What do you think?” “Knight? I think he is a c**t” Guido replied. Perplexed SpAd exits the green room.

After a decade in government even politician’s bag carriers get a little above themselves. Not wise to be so uppity now they are on their way down…

*Guido was right Rosa.

Official Complaint About Ministry for Incompetence’s SpAds

Peter Hain’s DWP employs numerous Special Advisers who are paid for by the taxpayer and barred from doing party political work. SpAds are Civil Servants and must abide by specific rules laid out in a code. Yesterday the SpAds sent out a press release headlined

TORIES AIM TO DESTROY FINAL SALARY PENSION SCHEMES

The press release includes the line “don’t ever vote Tory”. Guido is no expert, but he suspects that may breach the code’s requirement that They should act in a way which upholds the political impartiality of civil servants”.

The Taxpayers Alliance keeps a hawkish eye on government waste and has made an official complaint to Sir Leigh Lewis, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Work and Pensions about the behaviour of his department’s SpAds campaigning on the public payroll for the Labour Party. Are the DWP SpAds going to blame it like their boss does on incompetence or amnesia?

Hat-tip : Taxpayers Alliance

What No SpAd List? Cock-Up or Conspiracy?

Is there some reason why an up-to-date list of SpAds post-Blair has still to be produced?

Guido needs to have a handy list of targets, is this tardiness government incompetence, cover-up or what? What is Konrad Caulkett’s exact role?

Hain Loses Another SpAd

Hain can’t seem to hold a SpAd down since Phil Taylor’s departure. Robert Philpot has gone back to Progress. Who are Hain’s SpAds nowadays? Why did Philpot leave so soon? Hain could get a Basher Davis type reputation for staff turnover at this rate…

Sith’s Konrad Rewarded with Downing Street Job

Guido can reveal that Konrad Caulkett, the former Smith Institute “charity worker” who was responsible for organising the nearly two hundred events at 11 Downing Street which proved so controversial that the Charity Commissioners launched a statutory investigation into the affair, has become a Downing Street Special Adviser.

The Smith Institute, a charity widely seen as a front for Gordon Brown, who seemed to be the only beneficiary of the charity, acted as an integral part of his long campaign to become PM. By law it was supposedly a non-partisan, non-political organisation, yet it hosted a how to beat Cameron event to which the Conservatives formally objected.

Wilf Stevenson, the director of the institute claimed, somewhat implausibly, that there was no direct link to Gordon Brown. Guido revealed that Sarah Brown got Konrad Caulkett the job at the Smith Institute. Despite Konrad being at the centre of allegations that the Smith Institute broke the law, Sarah Brown has once again stepped in to help him get a job, this time as her SpAd. So despite him being suspected of various breaches of the Charity laws, despite denials of links to Gordon, he has been brought onto the No. 10 payroll. Downing Street sleaze clearly didn’t end with Blair.

See also Sith attempt to cover-up use of No. 11, Mrs Brown recruits Konrad as the Sith apprentice, The back story to the Sith’s Konrad, The public charity which refuses to talk to the public, Non-political charity does policy at No. 11, Sith’s Konrad paid by charity to campaign for Balls’ election, The Charity Commission announcement, The Sith and the Statesman.

Shop-a-SpAd : Gus O’Donnell Warns “No Ifs, No Buts”

Guido has been in touch with the Cabinet Office, and a few cocky SpAds should watch their step – you know who you are – the boss of the civil service seems to agree:

Gus O’Donnell has reiterated the ground rules for civil servants, including special advisers, on their conduct during the subsequent election campaign.

This note also provides guidance to ministers in relation to the requirements of the Ministerial Code.

Ministers
During the leadership/deputy leadership election campaign, ministers remain in charge of their departments. Government business continues as normal.

All costs associated with the leadership/deputy leadership campaign – travel, accommodation, printing and so on – should be met by the individuals or the Party not the taxpayer.

Under the terms of the Ministerial Code, ministers must not use government resources for party political purposes. They must uphold the political impartiality of the civil service and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code.

So off the office computer, desist from using the taxpayers’ Blackberry and take your leave. Guido is being sent more and more examples day-after-day that show SpAds breaking the rules.

Ethics and Propriety for Beginners

Howls of outrage and denial from some on the public payroll about Guido’s denunciation of those who want to fight the internal political battles of the Labour party at the taxpayers’ expense. The anonymous blog that is produced out of Tom Watson’s office even tried a bit of mockery mixed in with a quote from the Special Advisors’ Code of Conduct. The clause that cheating SpAds (when caught) hope to use to get them off the hook states that “if, with the approval of their Minister, they wish to assist with other party political matters such as a leadership campaign, they may do so while on paid or unpaid leave or at times which do not interfere with their normal duties, for example, out of office hours.”

On leave or out of office hours with their minister’s approval. That excludes, by definition, being sat at your desk all day toiling endlessly to get the candidate elected, shooting off emails to all and sundry and running up the national debt on the phone for hours. The whole purpose of the restriction was to prevent the situation we have now. Dozens, and Guido means dozens, of SpAds doing little else but plot and conspire to further the private interests of party candidates in an internal party election. They are not acting to further the political interests of the government minister, the job the taxpayer pays them to do, they are acting to further the interests of the private individual climbing the greasy pole.

That is not appropriate activity for civil servants, which is what SpAds are, and that is the reason why the Code of Conduct exists. Clause 7 in the model contract for Special Advisers states bluntly:

Special Advisers should not use official resources for Party political activity. They are employed to serve the objectives of the Government and the Department in which they work. It is this which justifies their being paid from public funds and being able to use public resources, and explains why their participation in party politics is carefully limited.

So when Blair McDougall emails all and sundry from his FCO email account on behalf of the Benn4Labour campaign he is doing precisely what the Code was established to prevent. He is not paid to run party political campaigns using official resources, he is a paid public servant who is supposed to advise the government on relevant political matters.
Everyone in Westminster knows that all the SpAds of ministers campaigning for the Number 2 position are doing little else but organise their minister’s campaign. Just as everyone in Westminster knew that peerages were for sale. Guido could be accused of being naïve, but he is appalled by sleazy SpAds who think nothing of diverting public money to private ends. If a single-mum did a bit of cleaning-work on the side and claimed benefits at the same time, the government advertises warnings that it will bring criminal charges, “no if, no buts”. Likewise, if a Special Adviser does a bit of work on the side for a minister while claiming public money, they should be fired and the expenses repaid, no if, no buts.

Shop-a-SpAd : Gotcha! Team Benn SpAd Bang to Rights

Guido has got his hands on a private campaign briefing prepared a few days ago for supporters of Hilary Benn’s campaign for the deputy leadership. It details how popular Benn is polling with activists (pdf version here) and how they should use this information to pressurise their MPs to nominate Benn. The Benn campaign desperately needs 44 nominations to get him beyond the hat-in-ring stage.

The author of this document is Blair McDougall, he is Ian McCartney’s Special Adviser (SpAds). Ian is Hilary Benn’s campaign manager and a minister at the FCO. SpAds are not allowed to campaign under the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers at the taxpayers expense for their masters in internal party matters. In fact they are supposed to take unpaid leave – see the recent example of Peter Hain’s ex-SpAd Phil Taylor.

Since Guido has started on his mission to catch SpAds cheating the taxpayer and breaking the ministerial code, some have quite properly taken leave. Guido has just spoken with McDougall about the briefing. He didn’t claim, nor can he retrospectively pretend, that he was working on his own time. The document was prepared on his desk computer at the FCO, sent from his email address at the FCO, during office hours. Pressed by Guido that this was a breach of the Code he refused to answer, invited to deny that he had produced the document at the taxpayer’s expense, he declined to deny it. How does this differ from benefit fraud?

Looks like a job for the Cabinet Secretary…

Call the national Shop-a-SpAd hotline on 0709 284 0531.

Shop-a-SpAd : Maguire Grasses Blears’ SpAd

Hazel Blears’ taxpayer-funded aide is working a little too hard on the motorbiker’s campaign says the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire.

Fresh from flogging campaign T-shirts from a sweatshop, her SpAd Paul Richards is working on her leadership campaign on the taxpayer’s time.

Maguire suggested he improperly emailed him about a political issue on his government computer, Richards replied: “I will check with the Propriety and Ethics Team of the Cabinet Office. But I’m sure this is legitimate activity for a special adviser.”

No if, no buts, it isn’t.

H4L : SpAd Split Looks Permanent

Hain was recently overheard saying “Phil needs to grow up”…

Looks like the decline and fall of Phil Taylor is permanent.

Meantime Hain is scaremongering on the campaign trail that the Tories could be back in government in Wales. Now this Thursday is going to be bad for Labour, but not that bad…

Where’s Batesy?

Has anyone seen John Reid’s attack dog, Steve Bates, lately? He wasn’t seen in the Westminster Arms today. Maybe he is deep in discussion with Simon Wren?
Wonder why?

Reid “Deplores Leaks”

Guido wonders how John Reid’s media advisers managed to keep a straight face issuing that statement yesterday. Perhaps the police looking into the source of the leak should start here?

Hain SpAd’s Unpaid Leave Becomes Unemployment

Peter Hain’s former Special Adviser, Phil Taylor, who resigned or took unpaid leave from Hain’s office (the story changes) to ‘run’ the perma-tanned boy-racer’s deputy leadership campaign has quit the campaign.

Taylor and Hain parted company last week due ‘irreconcilable differences’. Hain didn’t agree with Taylor’s advice which contradicted the advice of the individual actually employed to run the campaign, Steve Morgan. Taylor had a tantrum, threatened to leave, Hain suggested he do so forthwith. Hain showed little loyalty or gratitude – given that presumably Phil Taylor sacrificed any pay-off as a SpAd when he volunteered to work on Hain’s campaign for free?

Taylor is currently looking for work, although without any success.

New SpAds Please

Robert Philpot, director of Progress and editor of their magazine has just been appointed as the new SpAd to Peter Hain, replacing the departed cheating Phil Taylor.

All his hard work turning an admirably Blairite organisation into a Hain journal has clearly paid off. It was the articles like this from Peter Hain – which Guido would not be surprised to discover was ghosted by or had some input from Philpot himself, that got him the job

Shame he won’t be able to play any part in the boss’s campaign now he’s in a politically restricted, taxpayer-paid post…

Oh What a Tangled SpAd

Cheating Phil Taylor, Peter Hain’s SpAd, campaigned for his boss at the taxpayer’s expense and against the rules. He told Guido last Thursday that he had already told the permanent secretary he was resigning*, he even had the audacity to explain that this noble sacrifice would cost him his SpAd termination payment. On Friday he changed his mind and was telling people he was only taking unpaid leave.

Matt Withers in Wales on Sunday followed it up:

WELSH Secretary Peter Hain’s top advisor has quit amid political gossip that he had been campaigning for his boss to become Labour’s Deputy Leader.

Phil Taylor, who advises Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Hain on devolution issues across the water, is to step down from his position to concentrate on his boss’ race for the number two position.

Mr Taylor asked for unpaid leave on Thursday, the same day a political gossip website claimed Mr Taylor had already been involved in the campaign.

As a taxpayer-funded civil servant, this would have broken Cabinet Office rules. Special advisors are not allowed to get involved in leadership battles.

The Northern Ireland Office has confirmed Mr Taylor’s departure.

Mr Taylor said: “It is true that I intend to leave at the end of the month which is when we hope to have a devolved government in place at Stormont. I have been asked to help out in the campaign and that is what I will do.”

Guido has been calling Phil for clarification to no avail so just in case he isn’t picking up his email either, here are the questions:
  1. On Thursday you told Guido you had already informed the permanent secretary that you intended to resign and that this sacrifice would cost you your termination payment, how did this on Friday become you were taking unpaid leave at the end-of-the-month?
  2. According to reports, you only told the permanent secretary of your intention last Thursday, when you knew Guido was trying to contact you – when did you formally tell the permanent secretary?
  3. Guido has been given a number of Hain4Labour campaign documents that place you at various locations at various times. Guido is confident that it will be found through FoI requests that you were not on leave. Do you have any explanation?

Incidentally, to Guido’s new fans in the Welsh Labour Party, it was a pleasure.

*PA and the Belfast Telegraph also reported he was resigning.

Phil Taylor Has Overnight Change of Plan

Yesterday he told Guido that he was resigning, that he had told the permanent secretary he was intending to resign and that he had already emailed his NIO colleagues telling them of his intentions. His trembling voice told Guido that as a result he’d be sacrificing his termination pay-off. Today he is telling people he is only taking unpaid leave at the end of the month.

Watch this space SpAd…

Shop-a-SpAd : Peter Hain’s SpAd Has Resigned

When Guido finally tracked down the elusive cheating Phil Taylor, he told Guido that it was already his intention to resign, that he had informed the permanent secretary that he was intending to resign and that it didn’t therefore matter. He was going to work on his boss’ campaign and had emailed the rest of the NIO that he was going already. Yeah right, still not quite sure that is good enough.

This of course means he will miss out on a fat termination pay-off. So he won’t be able to bleed the taxpayer another drop.

Just as well he has resigned because Guido has masses of evidence that he has been campaigning for Peter Hain. He would have had to go anyway.

No ifs, no buts, we’re targeting SpAd cheats. Call the national Shop-a-SpAd hotline on 0709 284 0531 or fax evidence to 0709 201 2337.

UPDATE : The SpAdless perma-tanned one is on Question Time tonight. What has happened to your SpAd Peter?

Shop-a-SpAd : First Cheat Identified

Guido asked readers this morning to watch out for breaches of the Ministerial Code by SpAds working for Labour deputy leadership candidates. A few tips have come in and a co-conspirator has even sent Guido documentary evidence of blatant SpAd cheating. In fact a SpAd fiddle plan. So be warned SpAd cheat, have your lunch and expect Guido to call for an explanation soon…

No ifs, no buts, we’re targeting SpAd cheats. Call the national Shop-a-SpAd hotline on 0709 284 0531 or fax evidence to 0709 201 2337.

UPDATE 16:00 : We have a SpAd missing-in-action and presumably on the run. Seems unable to answer his mobile all afternoon, do you think he knows Guido is on to him?

Guido is Out to Catch SpAd Cheats

As the Labour party’s leadership campaign gets underway it is important to remind the bag carrying, greasy pole climbers about the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

It can be found on the Propriety and Ethics section of the Cabinet Office website – not something that most of them will be familiar with.

[…] Read the rest

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