Rich’s Monday Morning View

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Theresa May’s SpAd Fiona Cunningham Quits Over Gove Spat

You can buy the original artwork here.

Cabinet Fall Out Over SpAds Campaigning in Newark

Guido hears there was a bit of a barney at the political cabinet last Tuesday. The PM made it perfectly clear that he expects all of his colleagues to pull their weight in the Newark by-election and one claims that Dave “lost his rag” about taxpayer funded special advisers refusing to campaign. Guido understands there has been a bit of an email revolt to No. 10 by uppity SpAds who resent not getting a cheeky day off while their bosses tour the Nottinghamshire seat. When one Secretary of State gently pointed out to the PM that the civil service code of conduct bans SpAds from the stump, the PM’s ‘tiredness’ did not improve one little bit. Anyone would think he was encouraging them to ignore the rules…

UPDATE:

Gove Outrider Attacks Osborne’s Budget

Henry de Zoete, the former DfE SpAd who was Michael Gove’s media man, has founded and runs an energy switching campaign called The Big Deal. It’s pretty clever – essentially a mass lobby organisation for lower energy prices. Interestingly Osborne had barely sat down by the time The Big Deal had sent out a press release “respond[-ing] sceptically” to the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that he would freeze the Carbon Floor Price, saying it “won’t help consumers” because of the Big Six and their nefarious ways. Gove wasn’t on the frontbench today, but lurked behind the Speaker’s chair instead…

Gove v Clegg Proxy War Free School Meals a "Rubbish Gimmick", Part of Deal with Dave

Dominic Cummings, the ex-Gove adviser formerly known as @ToryEducation, has piled into Clegg’s unravelling free school meals policy on the World at One. He confirms it was part of a deal between Cameron and Clegg involving the Tory conference marriage tax break, that Gove told them it was “rubbish” and that DfE were only told about it an hour before it was announced:

“Clegg’s team tried to persuade us to do it in 2013. We refused. So Clegg said to Cameron in secret before party conferences, ‘you give me this and I’ll give you your marriage tax announcement for Tory conference, Gove refuses to do it so you’ll have to force him.’ The DfE wasn’t told until about an hour or so before the announcement. No policy work was done in advance. Officials in DfE were unanimous that it was a bad gimmick and introduced in a way that makes it hard to avoid implementation chaos. Officials were obviously right. 

It was a back of the fag packet number by Clegg’s spin doctors. We told them it was rubbish. It is based on a supposed DfE underspend that did not exist and they were told it did not exist. Because Clegg only thinks about politics – and starts every meeting saying ‘I haven’t been able to read the policy papers but let’s talk about the politics’ – he assumed that our opposition was because it was a Clegg idea but it wasn’t. Our opposition was because it is a dumb idea badly executed that shows why politicians should have less power over schools, and although I had many disagreements with Whitehall officials and the methods of the civil service, this is very firmly the fault of Clegg.”

Not like Dom to sit on the fence about something…

Workplace Bullying in Miliband’s Office

Readers will remember Torsten Henricson-Bell, the Miliband adviser who famously misdirected a revealing email about Ed Balls being anightmare to a Tory MP. Things haven’t gone much better for Torsten since fellow Miliband aides discovered a student dalliance he had with the Young Conservatives.

They have affectionately nicknamed him “Tory Bell-end”.

WATCH: Daily Politics on the Lesser Spotted SpAd

Everything you ever wanted to know about ever-growing number of increasingly highly paid advisers who have never had a career outside politics and will probably end up as the Cabinet ministers of tomorrow:

See who they all are here.

Don't Mention the Day Job

Talking of Downing Street aides… LibDem council candidate Matthew Hanney’s record is there for all to see on this leaflet he has been handing around in Lambeth. Lives locally, check. A LibDem for years, check. Customary slap for Lambeth Labour, check. Just the one thing is missing. For some reason Hanney makes no mention of the fact that he has been a Special Adviser to Nick Clegg since he became Deputy PM, and a close aide for years before. Does Hanney not want voters to know about his vital role at the heart of government?

Goldsworthy OUT of Treasury

After Guido revealed last week that Danny Alexander’s SpAd Julia ‘rocking chair’ Goldsworthy was seeking to become an MP again while still being paid by the taxpayer, she has parted ways with her boss over the weekend:

“After 4 years as a Special Adviser to Danny Alexander at HM Treasury I am moving on with immediate effect so that I can stand as a Parliamentary Candidate at the next General Election in 2015.”

Seems Julia is bullish about her chances, despite the cloud of controversy under which she was booted out in 2010.

Goldsworthy Campaigning on the Taxpayer

Former LibDem MP Julia ‘rocking chair’ Goldsworthy has been shortlisted in her old west country seat, which is selecting a candidate at the moment. The Treasury Special Adviser’s Twitter feed has suddenly remembered all sorts of local issues recently and she’s promising ‘a record of action, a promise of more’. That record included a ‘£999 television, £1,500 of furniture in House of Fraser, a £1,111 sofa bed and a £1,200 rocking chair’. According to Public Whip Julia Goldsworthy ‘voted moderately for a transparent Parliament.’ 

When she lost in 2010 to George Eustice, Julia actually got a taxpayer funded payrise as a £74,000pa SpAd –  a job she has not resigned from despite now seeking selection. It seems she’s trying to string out her dependency on the public teat for as long as she possibly can.

Bright Blue Director’s SpAd Blocking Temper Tantrum

Over Christmas dripping wet Tory pressure group Bright Blue launched a blistering attack on the Conservative Party’s messaging. The group’s director Ryan Shorthouse slammed the Dave for “pandering to prejudice, uncertainty and anger”. Though now it appears it was Shorthouse who was the angry one – he was blocked by Downing Street in December from becoming a SpAd to David Willets at BIS. Revenge is a dish best served on a slow news day.

SpAd Average Pay Now £73,470 SpAds Paid More Than MPs

spad

Matt Chorley has been crunching the numbers in an effort to overcome the lack of political news. To no-one’s surprise he has discovered that in two decades the official number of SpAds has tripled to 98. Despite Cameron’s promise to reduce the number of SpAds their numbers have increased. Their pay is on average at £73,470 now higher than it is for MPs. This will only further fuel the venality of politicians.

Twigg Adviser to Spin for Free Schools

Labour’s education policy has been a mess since 2010, not least because of union puppets like Lisa Nandy constantly undermining Stephen Twigg. In the clearest signal yet of what the old Shadow Education Secretary really thought about academies and free schools, we must look to the career of his spinner Alex Bigham.

Instead of sticking around to work for Tristram Hunt for another eighteen months of writing dreary press releases about the perils of free schools, Blairite Bigham is off to education charity ARK Schools. And what do they do? 

Only help to set up and run free schools across the country, of course. They even proudly display a glowing testimonial from Bigham’s old enemy Michael Gove on their website. Another one sees the light…

That Clegg SpAd Hypocrisy in Full

SpAd turned politician Nick Clegg’s pre-election promise to stop advisers being paid for by the taxpayer looks even emptier than ever today. Fun-loving Emma Gilpin-Jacobs becomes his 20th taxpayer-funded SpAd, appointed Clegg’s director of communications. The LibDems now have an average of five SpAds per cabinet minister, double the average of the Tories. At a total cost to the taxpayer of well over a million pounds a year. Government of the SpAds, by the SpAds, for the SpAds…

Updated SpAd List

Yet more Special Advisers announced today. You can read Guido’s updated list here.

The SpAd pay bill for 2012/13: a cool £7.2 million.

UPDATE:

SpAd Movements: Osborne Aide on Maternity Leave

Guido hears Treasury SpAd Eleanor Wolfson, better half of former Osborne adviser and Tory donor Lord Wolfson, is off on maternity leave. Jennifer Donnellan is being drafted in as cover. Walking the well-trodden path from the Conservative Research Department to Special Adviser…

New Downing Street SpAd Smashes Chumocracy

Those who claim you have to be friends with the Prime Minister for twenty years to get a job in Downing Street should note the arrival of  former Cathy Ashton spokesman Daniel Korski. Dave’s new Special Advisor focussing on “the global race” has smashed the chumocracy. He was only best man to Downing Street Chief of Staff Ed Llewellyn.

Friends Reunited Labour SpAd Reunion Tonight

If you are up Islington way this evening why not pop into Charlie Falconer’s £3 million home, where he is hosting a Labour “former Special Advisor’s reunion”.  Labour sources say that a mooted plan from party General Secretary Iain McNicol to have the old guard SpAds mentor current party flacks was shelved as Blairite SpAds are not too keen on taking the time out from money making to help their Milibandite successors. The fundraiser will see the former spinners mingle and share precious memories of wars and wins with Labour’s “Thousand Club” donors.

Guido would pay a £1,000 not to spend an evening with that lot…

Ex-Centrica Lobbyist Becomes Number Ten SpAd

Brainbox Tara Singh is Dave’s new Energy adviser. A former Centrica public affairs manager, Tara is another Policy Exchange graduate who has made it to Downing Street. Makes a change from the PM’s Eton clique.

A welcome hire from outside the “chumocracy”, she only went to Malvern…

Hunt Fires SpAd After Just Six Months

Guido understands that Jeremy Hunt has given his SpAd Sam Talbot-Rice, who only joined him in October 2012, the  heave-ho. Movements were afoot on Friday and now an Ed Jones is being drafted in to fill the gap. Guido believes he is a financial PR with a non-health background.

Sue Beeby will be on maternity leave again soon, but Guido is assured there will not be a return for Adam Smith…

Craig Insists on SpAd Radio Silence

Star guest at this morning’s 10:00 meeting for Tory special advisers at CCHQ was Lynton Crosby. It opened with a warning from party chairman Grant Shapps that they would be “fired by the Prime Minister” if any SpAd was caught leaking the details of the meeting. […] Read the rest

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