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. At which point poor old Craig Oliver – who has been at the sharp end of plenty of leaks and briefings recently – turned around and gave each of them an individual “death stare”That worked well…

Jon Ashworth: the Self-Loathing SpAd

Labour MP Jon Ashworth is all right on over at the Staggers today:

“When David Miliband announced his resignation as MP for South Shields, there was some suspicion that another so-called ‘London special advisor’ would be parachuted into this supposed rock solid northern Labour bastion. Ed Miliband’s One Nation Labour has genuinely made an effort to widen the pool of figures joining the PLP…”

Yes, shame on all these “London special advisers” parachuted into northern seats. Well said that man. That man being a former “London special adviser” (No.10 Deputy Political Secretary) “parachuted into the supposed rock solid northern Labour bastion” of Leicester for the 2011 by-election. Spun like a true Brown SpAd.

Bad SpAd Memory

Labour peer George Foulkes’ FOI revelation that Clegg has 15 SpAds beggars belief when you look at his media management this week. The eagle-eyed among Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidates never miss a chance to bash the Deputy PM, however. Step forward Redcar hopeful Anna Turley:

Anna seems to have forgotten that she herself was a SpAd not once, but twice. Not just any SpAd either, but a super important one. She specialised in “social exclusion” while working for Hilary Armstrong, and child poverty and equality under David Blunkett. Guido wonders how many community groups her wage could have gone to support…

Toby Helm's Twitter Spat With Gove SpAds

Huge handbags on Twitter this week between the Observer’s Toby Helm and the CCHQ @ToryEducation Twitter account. The Tory tweeter told Helm “You’re like Baldwin and Campbell – an activist, not a professional hack”, provoking paroxysms of rage from the Labour Party press office’s favourite broadsheet channel. Particularly after they called Helm a Labour stooge. This will apparently spill over into the paper this weekend when The Observer is going to allege that it is part of a scandalous McBride/Draper style dirty tricks operation. Guido understands that Helm reckons it could bring down Michael Gove…

Judge the robust exchange for yourself:

https://twitter.com/toryeducation/status/295633641202126849

https://twitter.com/toryeducation/status/295647362519539712

It is unclear to Guido whether or not the account is run officially or unofficially from CCHQ or by Gove’s SpAds, or what the exact rules about this would be. As is so often the way with Twitter, exchanges are strongly worded. SpAds are supposed to operate within civil service limitations.  A strongly worded written letter of admonishment to a SpAd from the permanent secretary may result. Not exactly enough to bring down the Secretary of State…

UPDATE: Looks like Toby has been down the bookies:

Patrick Rock – Dave's Quiet Bat Person

Another direct hit for Downing Street snapper Steve Back of Political Pictures. You will remember his handiwork involving Oliver Letwin, government papers and a park bin. His photos have let the Telegraph put a nice spanner into the Coalition Review, with Cameron’s fixer Patrick Rock getting snapped flashing embarrassing documents showing just how stage managed the whole relaunch is. The news getting out that “problematic areas” will lead to “unfavourable copy” for “broken pledges” is an unusual public cock up for the most powerful Cameron adviser most people have never heard of…

Rock and Dave go back to the Home Office under the progressive days of Michael Howard. The story goes that on the day John Smith died they went drinking in the Two Chairmen, where they “both agreed that Blair coming meant that we [Conservatives] would be f**ked.” Guido understands that Rock was behind the vetoing of  former Policy Exchange Director Neil O’Brien joining the No.10 team, resulting in O’Brien going to No.11 to work for Osborne instead. Rock has been working under the public radar in Downing Street since spring 2011 and after this nightmare, he will likely keep an even lower profile… 

SpAd Put Through the Mill-er

Accusations from the Tories that the Telegraph coordinated their Maria Miller expenses story to coincide with the gay marriage announcement yesterday went down very badly over at Buckingham Palace Road. Still smarting, they have thrown the ‘rules’ out of the window and published rather embarrassing communications between Miller’s people and the paper in the run up to the story coming out:

“The Telegraph has decided to disclose details of the private conversations amid widespread concern about the potential dangers of politicians being given a role in overseeing the regulation of the press.

[…] Read the rest

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