Twitter Bitch Fight of the Week: Oborne v Maguire

Today’s Mirror splashes on “heartless” George Osborne giving his SpAd Rupert Harrison, apparently “one of the chief architects” of the “cruel austerity drive”, a 19% pay rise.

The story very much upset Man of the People Mirror Associate Editor Kevin Maguire, who Peter Oborne has the temerity to speculate is on rather more than Rupert:

Kerching!

What the Helic? SpAd Bill Soars to £8.4 Million + + + No. 10 Stuffed with 27 Special Advisers to the PM + + +

£8.4 million of taxpayer cash was spent on 103 SpAds in the last year, a 17% rise on the year before.

Chasing headlines in 2010, Cameron made a big deal of cutting the number of SpAds from 82 to 61. He now personally has 27. Twenty-f**king-seven spin doctors, bag carriers and wonky strategists. No. 10 now has almost half the number of SpAds as served the entire government just five years ago.

Nick Clegg now has twenty special advisers. Nearly double the amount that Jesus got by with.

Why does Esther McVey need a Special Adviser beyond a reshuffle consolation prize, and why is she paid more than dozens of others on the list who report to real cabinet ministers?

Why does the Chief Whip have three advisers at a cost of around £150,000? What are they doing – because there’s no real legislation going through the House?

And finally, Guido cannot fathom why, in his new role as Leader of the House, William Hague still needs three SpAds costing us almost £200,000. Bizarrely Arminka Helic is retained as his adviser on £70,000-a-year, despite recently being ennobled and therefore allowed to claim a £300-a-day allowance in the House of Lords.

What a bloody racket.

UPDATE: Hard to disagree with Angela Eagle:

“Another day, another broken promise from David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

“David Cameron promised to get the cost of politics down but under him the number of Special Advisers spirals ever upwards – the public are now picking up bill of over £8m to pay for his appointees.

“This also shows how you can’t trust a word Nick Clegg says. The Lib Dems used to say that Special Advisers shouldn’t be paid for by the public but as soon as he got his feet under the Cabinet table he broke his word. The cost to the public of Lib Dem Special Advisers is over £1.7million – Nick Clegg alone has more advisers working for him than he has female MPs.”

UPDATE II:

Herr Llewellyn “Creates Bonds and Friendships” With Germany

konferenz_03_klein

Earlier this week a well versed government source whispered to Guido that Ed Llewellyn is holding out to secure the Ambassadorship to Berlin. Well, the latest No. 10 SpAd hospitality declarations suggest Herr Llewellyn has been busy making plans for the job. In only one of two publicly declared engagements, Dave’s Chief of Staff attended the Königswinter Conference, an annual meeting that has taken place since the Second World War “with the aim of improving the troubled relationship between Germany and Great Britain”. It sees “around 80 German and British politicians, diplomats, business managers, academics and journalists for a profound exchange of ideas”, promising to “create bonds and friendships”, and presumably future careers. For you, Eddie, ze coalition is almost over…

Lobbyists Claim Fallon SpAd Retained Whilst at MoD

Back in September Michael Fallon hired defence lobbyist Bill Clare to spin for him as his special adviser. The right-winger worked for Michael Howard before joining Liam Fox’s abortive bid for the Tory leadership, ending up on the side of the angels at arms manufacturers General Dynamics, eventually going on to spin for the London First group. A job that he appears to have kept for longer than he strictly should…

An email has emerged that shows Clare’s old lobbying organisation claiming to have kept the newbie SpAd on their roster while he worked at the Ministry of Defence:

​From: Gavin Hayes
Sent: 02 October 2014 15:25
To: LondonFirst
Subject: Bill Clare

Hello

This it to let you all know that as of Monday 22 September Bill has started an exciting new role working as an adviser to Michael Fallen MP the Defence Secretary at the MOD.

Bill will continue to provide advice and support for the Let Britain Fly campaign over the next couple of weeks by phone and email but will no longer be coming into the office.

I would like to personally thank Bill for all his fantastic work on the Let Britain Fly campaign over the last year and for all the support he has given us.

We wish Bill all the very best of luck and success in his new job.

Gavin
Gavin Hayes
Campaign Director, Aviation
London First

At a time when the MoD were bombing ISIS, why was Clare apparently combining SpAd-ing with being a business lobbyist? Curiously, London First also “work with government and police organisations in helping their respective cyber units”.

Cyber Units like the one recently set up by the Ministry of Defence.

Guido does wonder if this unusual arrangement was cleared with the MoD permanent secretary and the Cabinet Office, and whether the conflict of interest was declared?

UPDATE: Statement from Bill Clare:

My last working day for Let Britain Fly was Monday 22nd September – as they have now confirmed – at which point I closed down my company in accordance with my agreement with the Cabinet Office. I began work with the MOD on Thursday 25th September. The email you’ve been “leaked” is not accurate – so your story isn’t either – a point I understand Let Britain Fly has been in touch to make and to confirm the dates above.

Guido has received no such communication from Let Britain Fly…

The SpAd List: Latest Movements in Full

Guido’s public service blogging brings you the ever-growing number of increasingly highly paid Special Advisers, policy wonks and spinners carrying the bags of ministers up and down Whitehall. Click below to see who they all are:

Click here to see the SpAd list.

Have any of these SpAds moved on? Has a minister made a hire not on the list? Send Guido any amendments here

Llewellyn Tells PM He Wants Out of No.10

David Cameron’s Chief of Staff Ed Llewellyn has signalled that he wants out. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday the exact timings are yet to be decided, though Llewellyn is holding out for a top ambassadorship with Dave reportedly promising his Old Etonian chum the plum job in Rome or Washington. A Downing Street source claims the PM is “indifferent” about Llewellyn going, telling Guido: “Like everyone, he hears the whispers about Evil Eddie.”

Meanwhile, Guido is told Dave’s hopes of poaching Osborne’s Chief of Staff Rupert Harrison to replace Llewellyn were short-lived. So far it appears Osborne’s “brain” is not keen on sticking around either and is also hoping to leave before the next election.

Will the last Chief of Staff to leave Downing Street please turn off the lights…

Finding NiMo Another Special Adviser

Nicky Morgan hid in her office while she had the three SpAds she inherited from Michael Gove sacked back in July. Now she has finished replacing them. Guido is told Morgan has hired up Holly-Lee Davis from the Centre for Social Justice – which is becoming the government holding pen once embodied by PX. The LSE-educated brainbox who also works with an “initiative aimed at promoting peace amongst school-aged children in the Middle East”. Davis joins gay rights activist Luke Tryl and Lynton Crosby’s former assistant Chris Wilkins at DfE. She should be able to spot a Trojan Horse plot a mile off…

If the Tories Lose in 2015, Blame Cooper Not Farage

andrew-cooper

Matthew D’Ancona once quoted a “Cameron ally” dismissing the long-term threat posed by UKIP. D’Ancona’s soothsaying source predicted Farage’s party “should reach its peak in the European elections on May 22”, leading the Telegraph columnist to urge Dave to “forget UKIP”, warn “too much time is still devoted to soothing those who might jump ship” and profess “UKIP will not be Cameron’s biggest problem”. 

The ill-fated “peak UKIP” analysis adopted by Downing Street up until recently was based on the fatally flawed insight of Cameron’s über-modernising gay-marriage architect and pollster Andrew Cooper, who told the Prime Minister two years ago that UKIP would just be a “flash in the pan”. He once argued via Powerpoint slides in a presentation to Tory MPs that UKIP’s rise was down to “mid-term grumbles” rather than anything more serious. Since then UKIP have stubbornly maintained their position in the polls, two Tory MPs have defected, thousands of true blue activists have joined the purple army and they have just taken a formerly safe Tory seat in a by-election. If the Tories lose in 2015, Cooper is the man most to blame – he may well go down in British political history as the worst adviser/pollster of the modern era…

SpAd Movements: Truss Takes PX’s Porter to Defra

Liz Truss has landed a big name from wonk world as her new media SpAd. Guido understands Policy Exchange brainbox Ruth Porter will be shopping for a new pair of wellies as she heads off to Defra. It’s a strong move all round, Ruth’s media handling experience will help boost the public profile of ambitious Liz, while another PX graduate moving into the heart of government bolsters their reputation as a feeder club for top Tory talent. Politically-ambitious Porter herself must be in line for a decent seat next time round. She will be replaced at PX by former Bank of England economist Steve Hughes. White Dee cruelly overlooked for the job…

Donors, Aides, Cronies: New Peers in Full

Conservative Party

  • Karren Brady CBE – Vice-Chairman of West Ham FC; Senior Non-Executive Director of the Syco and Arcadia Brands; Small Business Ambassador for the Conservative Party; and member of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Women in Sport Advisory Board
  • Martin Callanan – former Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England; former Leader of the Conservative MEPs and of the European Conservatives and Reformists group
  • Carlyn Chisholm – senior volunteer in the Conservative Party; Co-Chairman of the Conservative Candidates Committee; former nurse
  • Andrew Cooper – former Director of Political Operations to the Conservative Party; founder and Board Director of Populus
  • Natalie Evans – Director of New Schools Network, an independent educational charity established to provide free advice and support for groups wanting to set up free schools
  • Michael Farmer – Founding Partner of RK Mine Finance Group; Trustee of the Kingham Hill Trust; Treasurer of the Conservative Party
  • Dido Harding – Chief Executive of TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC
  • Arminka Helic – government special adviser to William Hague; leading adviser to government on preventing sexual violence in conflict
  • Nosheena Mobarik CBE – businesswoman; former Chairman of CBI Scotland; founder and convener of the Scotland Pakistan Network; Chairman of the Pakistan Britain Trade and Investment Forum
  • Sir Stuart Rose – former Chief Executive and Chairman of Marks and Spencer PLC
  • Joanna Shields OBE – leading technology industry executive and entrepreneur; the Prime Minister’s Digital Adviser; Chair of Tech City UK; and Non-Executive Director of the London Stock Exchange
  • Ranbir Suri – businessman; former General Secretary of the Board of British Sikhs

Labour Party

  • Michael Cashman CBE – Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands constituency; equality rights campaigner; former actor
  • Chris Lennie – political strategist; former Deputy Secretary General of the Labour Party
  • Dame Gail Rebuck – businesswoman, publisher, chairman of Penguin Random House UK

Liberal Democrat Party

  • Chris Fox – Director of Group Communications for GKN; former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
  • Cllr David Goddard – elected Member of Stockport Metropolitan Council; former Leader of Stockport Council; former Member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority; former Non-Executive Director of Manchester International Airport
  • Cllr Barbara Janke – elected Member and former Leader of Bristol City Council; former teacher
  • Cllr Kath Pinnock – elected Member and former Leader of Kirklees Council
  • Paul Scriven – managing partner for Scriven Consulting; former elected Member and Leader of Sheffield City Council; former senior NHS manager
  • Cllr Dr Julie Smith – elected Member of Newnham City Council; Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at Cambridge University; Fellow of Robinson College

There are now over 850 peers in the House of Lords…

From Cummings to Cupcakes at the DfE

image

Right now over at the Department for Education members of the civil service blob are eating cupcakes with the new Secretary of State Nicky Morgan’s SpAds in her office. Quite a change from when Dominic Cummings took a flame thrower to the educational establishment’s blob under Gove…

Former Crosby Deputy Lands SpAd Role

Former lobbyist Chris Wilkins has been hired as Nicky Morgan’s SpAd, after she hid in her office as Gove’s old spinners were booted out. According to Wilkins’ old employers, Populus:

“Chris started life as policy adviser and speech writer at Conservative Central Office for successive Conservative Leaders (2000-05) and other senior Conservatives including David Davis, Andrew Lansley and Theresa May. During the 2005 election campaign he served as Head of Brand and Advertising”

He was also claims – though no one seems to remember him – to have been the Assistant Campaign Director to one Lynton Crosby in the 2005 election. Whatever happened to that guy?

Ex-May SpAd Cunningham Joins Centre For Social Justice

Ousted Theresa May SpAd Fiona Cunningham has joined the Centre for Social Justice – the think tank set up by IDS:

“The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) is delighted to announce the appointment of Fiona Cunningham. Fiona is joining the CSJ’s senior team as Associate Director for Modern Slavery.  Fiona worked at the Home Office as a Special Adviser to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, for over four years. During her time at the Home Office, she was heavily involved in police reform, immigration reform and bringing forward a Modern Slavery Bill, the first of its kind in Europe.”

When Cunningham was forced out post-terror row, Labour’s Frank Field told the Commons that Cunningham was an ‘immediate hero’ for her work on getting the the Modern Slavery Bill on the Home Office agenda. A cynic would say it’s a useful resting post for a SpAd whose work with their boss is not yet done…

 

Year of Code’s Lottie Dexter is Matt Hancock’s New SpAd

Lots of people were very mean about the Year of Code when its director Lottie Dexter admitted that she was unable to code on Newsnight, but was learning. Well it turns out that the campaign’s mantra – that learning to code is a ticket to higher places – really is true. Just 4 months ago Lottie told Paxman:

“Over this year I’m going to see exactly what I can achieve, so who knows I might be the next Zuckerberg in 12 months time.”

Not quite, but Guido hears she is off to fill the newly appointed position of Matthew Hancock’s special adviser…

Former Miliband Insider Defects to the Government

In yesterday’s Sun on Sunday column Guido exclusively revealed that Ed Miliband’s former speechwriter Phil Taylor has sensationally defected to the government, becoming a political adviser to LibDem justice minister Simon Hughes. Taylor, who worked at the heart of Miliband’s leadership campaign in 2010, tells Guido he believes it would be “a disaster” if his old boss Ed wins a majority in 2015, because Labour’s economic policy is “nonsense”. Lifting the lid on the divisions at the top of the party, Taylor says Labour is still blighted by “Gordon Brown type leadership”, warning that “Miliband­-Balls is just as bad as the Blair-­Brown era, everything has to be agreed by both of them and signed off by both of them. Miliband is too weak to stand up for himself.” Taylor is an experienced Westminster operator having advised ministers in the last Labour government and serving in opposition as a spin­doctor for shadow cabinet minister Maria Eagle until earlier this year. He blames the Shadow Chancellor for Labour’s woes: “I fell out with Ed Balls because Labour’s economic policy is nonsense. I tried to push through policies on cuts but Balls blocked them.

20140623-092932-34172565.jpg

Elsewhere, it’s a Code Red Save Ed situation in the rest of the weekend papers. The Sunday Times is particularly brutal, quoting one of Miliband’s inner circle, when asked what they would do if he became PM, as replying: “I’d get the hell out of there as fast as I could“. A Labour frontbencher twists the knife: “We communicate in a language most people neither speak nor understand“. Meanwhile in the Express a Labour MP reports “It is back to the Michael Foot era, if not worse, in terms of capability and the ability to lead” while in the Guardian a frontbencher warns “We are at the mercy of Brown people who lost it for us last time“. Labour spinners like John McTernan are insisting in a panglossian way that Miliband is the victim of “bullying” from his enemies in the press, despite the most damaging quotes coming from Labour insiders…

Daily Mail Offer Cummings £5,000 For Gove Tell-All

Guido understands that Andrew Pierce has let it be known that the Mail is offering Dominic Cummings £5,000 for a tell-all op-ed for the Saturday paper.

They want 2,000 words from Gove’s former SpAd, who the PM last night attacked as a “career psychopath”.

Could the Daily Mail be attempting to make mischief at the expense of their leading columnist’s husband?

Ex-Cameron SpAd: Cummings is Right

20140617-084713-31633236.jpg

Following Dominic Cummings’ latest grenade/intervention yesterday, a former Special Adviser to the Prime Minister has added his voice to criticism of the No. 10 operation. Sean Worth, who spent two years advising Dave, writes this morning that “Downing Street lacks grip, direction and calibre” and that “beneath the theatre” of Cummings’ attack “is a kernel of truth”.

“It’s certainly the case that Number 10 hasn’t given the machinery of government anything like the political steer of either the Blair or Thatcher administrations, for example.”

Dr. Worth adds that the current model of coalition is to blame, arguing it has been “tested to absolute bankruptcy“. He concludes:

“Forming a coalition in 2010 that would share power on every front of decision-making will, I believe, come to be viewed as a serious mistake – one not to be repeated if we end up with another coalition next May.”

This is becoming a theme…

Is Dom Cummings #Winning?

The last tweet from the once prolific parody @SteveHiltonGuru account, four days ago, was a generous response to former Gove SpAd and social media connoisseur Dom Cummings:

An appointment made even more unlikely by Cummings piling into No.10 in the Times this morning, not least calling the PM’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn “a classic third-rate suck-up-kick-down sycophant presiding over a shambolic court”. Who else has been the author of some similarly colourful criticism of Llewellyn over the years?

What a remarkable coincidence. Hashtag winning…

Quote of the Day

Former Gove SpAd Dom Cummings, on David Cameron:

“As Bismarck said about Napoleon III, Cameron is a sphinx without a riddle. Everyone is trying to find the secret of David Cameron but he is exactly what he appears to be. There’s no mystery to him. He had a picture of Macmillan on his wall — that’s all you need to know.”

On Dave’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn:

“a classic third-rate suck-up-kick-down sycophant presiding over a shambolic court”

On the No.10 comms chief Craig Oliver:

“He’s just clueless.”

May SpAd Drove Dre Mad

may

It’s increasingly rare that Craig Oliver has anything to smile about, but he’ll be happy with the exit of Fi Cunningham, who vocalised what most of the SpAds think about the Downing Street Director of Comms. One ‘pal’ told this morning’s Sun: “She thought he was an idiot.” Another described Mr Oliver as “a Grade A ****”.’ As someone with all the authority of a boy scout, who struggles to command respect at the best of times, Cunningham’s attitude drove poor Craig round the bend.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, says….

“The UKIP vote is going to the Tories. That’s the story of the first week of the campaign.”

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