Wonk Watch: Loss of Faith But It’s No Talent PX-odus

Nick Faith is leaving his role as comms chief at the shrinking Policy Exchange to set up a new wonk shop with former Cameron adviser turned PX propeller head Sean Worth. It isn’t another talent exodus however, Faith and Worth’s Westminster Policy Institute will still work closely with their previous employer.

Will the last Cameroon to leave please turn off the light?

Miliband Slammed for “Shameful”, “Disgraceful” Attack on Freud …But Welfare Minister Offers Grovelling Apology

Interesting that Labour’s Anne Begg admitted on Sky News that she had not been told the context of Lord Freud’s comments by party spinners, heavily caveating her criticism accordingly. The Adam Smith Institute have come out in support of Freud, condemning Labour for misrepresenting what he said:

“Lord Freud has been shamefully mistreated by Ed Miliband. His point was that the market value of some people’s wages is below the minimum wage. This is often true of the severely disabled and can have appalling consequences for their self-esteem and quality of life. Fixing this problem was the justification for Remploy, a government-funded firm that gave jobs to disabled people who could not find work elsewhere.

To point out that someone’s market value is less than minimum wage has nothing to do with their moral value as human beings. Freud’s point was that we should help people in this situation by allowing them to find jobs paying below the minimum wage and topping up their pay directly to make up the difference.

Even if you don’t agree with this method, it is motivated by compassion for the disabled and an understanding of the unpleasant side-effects of our minimum wage laws. Freud’s only crime was to speak bluntly: it is disgraceful to use his words against him in the way Miliband has.”

Not like a spinner to take something out of context…

UPDATE: Freud mea culpa:

“I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else.

I care passionately about disabled people…. I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.”

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…

Through the Roof

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Property prices and the soaring cost of living are never far from the headlines – and never far from politicians’ lips.

This conference season, all four main parties have discussed ways of cutting the UK’s cost of living. Tax cuts, price freezes and increasing the minimum wage have all been put forward.

But in this new short film from the Institute of Economic Affairs, Director General Mark Littlewood argues that suffocating planning restrictions have the most profound effect on housing costs in the UK.

Watch more videos from ieaTV.

I Don’t See Much Sin… Just Taxes

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Have you seen “Sin Taxes”? This stylish video short – from the Institute of Economic Affairs – shows how the poor are hit hardest by sin taxes. It puts forward proposals that would ease that burden – and boost the economy at the same time. It’s the most watched video of the year on ieaTV – the think tank’s online channel. Find out more here.

Sin Taxes Increase Inequality Disproportionately Harm the Poor

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You may have seen Sin City 2, but have you seen Sin Taxes – a stylish new video short from the Institute of Economic Affairs?  It’s the poor who continue to be hardest hit by sin taxes – and here the iea puts forward proposals that would ease that burden.

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…

Follow the JP Morgan Money

Ed Miliband has all but outsourced the writing of next year’s manifesto to ‘charity’ think-tank IPPR, the Labour wonkshop recently referred to the Charity Commission for breaching impartiality rules.  They don’t really like to shout about who funds their work, yet they’re nicely set up for the next few years with £780,000 this year and a further £1.6 million expected over the next two years from JP Morgan – the investment bankers Ed likes to demonise. As Guido noted earlier this month, IPPR is stuffed to the rafters with former officials from the last Labour government, not least Jack Straw’s son Will, Labour’s candidate in Rossendale and Darwen, who is their Associate Director. Guido will have more on this tomorrow.

IPPR used to be nicknamed Tony Blair’s favourite think tank. Completely coincidental to the £2.5 million bung, Blair is an official adviser to the board of JP Morgan…

IPPR Roll Call of Labour Cronies

Political Scrapbook tried their hardest to give the Policy Exchange think tank a slap earlier, finding only a pitiful number of connected people in comparison to Labour wonkshop IPPR. Safe to say the list of Labour-linked acolytes over there is considerably longer:

IPPR Trustees

Lord Andrew Adonis – Labour Peer; Shadow Infrastructure Minister

David Clayton – Economic Advisor to David Miliband, FCO , 2008 – 2010

Caroline Daniel – Worked as researcher to Gordon Brown for 18 months

John Eatwell – Labour Peer; Economic advisor to Neil Kinnock, 1985 – 1992

David Pitt-Watson – Management and Business Policy Adviser to Labour

Jane Roberts – Ex-Labour Councillor; Leader of Camden Council 2000 – 2005

 

IPPR Staff

Nick Pearce (Director) – Former Special Adviser to Gordon Brown

Lisa Perrin (Events Manager) – Former Special Adviser to Gordon Brown

Anthony Vigor (Former Fellow) – Former Special Adviser to Gordon Brown

Richard Darlington (Head of News) – Former Special Adviser in DfID

Graeme Cooke (Research Director) – Adviser to James Purnell 2008 – 2009

Ed Cox (Northern Director) – Policy Adviser to Hazel Blears

Tony Dolphin (Associate Director –  Economic Adviser in HM Treasury

Rick Muir (Associate Director ) –  Labour Councillor in the Hackney

Will Straw (Associate Director)  Labour PPC for Rossendale and Darwen.

Sarah Mulley (Associate Director ) – Senior Policy Analyst at HMT

Graeme Henderson (Senior Research Fellow, IPPR North) – Labour member

Kayte Lawton (Senior Research Fellow) – Labour supporter

Bill Davies (Research Fellow, IPPR North) – Labour Councillor

Mark Rowney (Research Fellow) – Labour member

Luke Raikes (Researcher, IPPR North) – Labour Councillo

 

Policy Advisory Council

Lord Kumar Bhattacharya: Labour Peer

Neil Kinnock: Leader of the Labour Party 1983-1992

Charles Leadbetter: Former Advisor to Tony Blair in No. 10 Policy Unit

 

Associate IPPR Fellows

Will Cook – Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, June 2005 – March 2009

Joe Farrington-Harris – Health Policy Adviser, Labour Party, 2011

Andy Hull – Labour Borough Councillor, Islington Borough Council;

Michael Jacobs – Special Adviser to Gordon Brown at Number 10

Sophie Moullin – , Prime Minister’s Strategy

Will Paxton –  spent two years in Number 10

Nigel Warner – Former Special Adviser to Tessa Jowell at DCMS

Marc Stears – Chief Speechwriter for Ed Miliband

Rob Allen – Executive Committee Member of ‘Labour in the City’,

Gabriel Scally – Aide to Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham

Guido awaits the Charity Commission’s decision on whether IPPR has breached their strict rules on political impartiality with great interest. As will the Centre for Social Justice and the PM’s favourite think tank…

LISTEN: Dead Hand Ed Candid Cruddas Concedes Central Cynicism to Compass

DEAD-HAND-ED

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Tories Troll Miliband IPPR Speech

Ed is at the IPPR this morning giving a speech to launch the Labour wonk-shop’s latest “independent” report on the ‘Condition of Britain’. The EU-funded think tank enjoys charitable status, so of course they would be very careful not to breach Charity Commission rules which specifically prohibit “any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party”, wouldn’t they? Apart from all that work done by IPPR that has been commissioned by the Shadow Cabinet. Tory MP Charlie Elphicke has this morning grassed them up to the Charity Commission and also written to the Electoral Commission over Labour’s failure to declare all the work done for them by IPPR as a donation-in-kind.

And now the television feed is down. Going well then.

Labour’s Westminster Bubble Bursts Half of Party’s Key Marginal Candidates are Political Insiders

Researched published in the Guardian today confirms Labour’s bubble problem: half of the party’s candidates selected to fight marginal seats come from jobs in politics. 54% of Labour candidates in marginal and inherited seats have previously worked in politics or wonk world, compared with 46% of LibDem candidates and 17% of Tories. Created in the image of their leader…

The research finds that former or current staff of Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper, Tessa Jowell, Ruth Kelly, Hazel Blears, Alistair Darling, Hilary Armstrong, Mary Creagh, Lord Foulkes, David Blunkett and Lord Sugar are all running, as are 15 ex-Labour MPs standing again, as readers will remember they include expenses piggies Joan Ryan and Andrew Dismore. They identified four Red Princes so far: Jack Straw’s son Will, Neil Kinnock’s son Stephen, former MP Colin Burgon’s son Richard and ex-MP Shona McIsaac’s husband Peter. They won’t be the last.

In 2012 Miliband championed a new Labour Party programme to find more working class MPs to try to address concerns that too many of the party’s candidates had backgrounds as researchers and SpAds, but as Bath University’s Dr Peter Allen says, “it is more a Labour problem” and it is not going away. An ICM poll finds 44% say they are fed up with careerist MPs who “look and sound the same“, indeed a Times/YouGov poll earlier this year found that not having had a “real” job outside of politics was the least attractive quality for candidates, with 55% saying it made them unsuitable for public office. Even Tony Blair said last year that there was a “problem” with MPs not working in normal jobs before entering politics. Might there possibly be a link between Ed Miliband spending his adult life in the bubble and the public’s perception of him as an out of touch weirdo?

BOURNE SUPREMACY: IEA Wonk Slaps Down Piketty

Woman-beating economist and Labour poster boy Thomas Piketty is factbombed by the IEA’s Ryan Bourne on Channel 4 News.

CPS: Let Her People Go

The CPS have released a jazzy video to mark their Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty that takes place tomorrow. The headline grabbing policy to slash corporation tax for small businesses is already getting the attention it deserves:

Guido will be there to celebrate Maggie’s favourite think-tank’s 40th anniversary – and he will stream it live here for those who cannot join.

Another PX Wonk to No. 10

James Forsyth reports that Policy Exchange wonk Max Chambers is to join the No. 10 policy unit to take on the home affairs brief. Yet another helicopter head from the finishing school for SpAds. Guess Patrick Rock ain’t coming back any time soon…

Winner From Manila

Last night’s much-coveted €100,000 IEA Brexit Prize went to Iain Mansfield, a 30 year old member of the diplomatic service based at the British Embassy in Manila. Which the FCO will love.

His winning pamphlet concluded that “in the event of an exit, there exists a scenario for an open, prosperous and globally engaged UK that is eminently achievable”. Also worth reading Lord Lawson, who presented the prize, tearing Clegg a new one in the Times today:

“Mr Clegg may have been trounced, and indeed humiliated, but his determination to strike fear in the minds of the public about the consequences of a British Exit – “Brexit” – was all too evident. In particular there was his absurd insistence that “three million jobs” depended on our membership of the EU, with the clear implication that they would disappear if we were to leave. This is complete nonsense.. The – in my view, beneficial – consequences of a Brexit need to be debated calmly and rationally. The IEA is to be congratulated for its initiative in launching this prize, as is Iain Mansfield for winning it.”

Even if – to the slight trepidation of the room – he doesn’t express an opinion on whether or not we should leave…

And how did David Cameron react to the pamphlet? He told the Commons he would be reading Nadine Dorries’ book instead.

UPDATE: To help Dave with that reading list the IEA have sent him a copy of both Mansfield’s pamphlet and Nads’ book:

Red Prince Will Straw: The New "Emperor of Blackburn"

Red Prince Will Straw doesn’t seem to be taking his bid to follow his father Jack into parliament that seriously. Despite fighting the ultra-marginal seat of Rossendale and Darwen, wonk Will has not yet to moved into the seat and continues to work in London. “Like father like son,” says a suspicious local resident, “his old man barely ever spends any time up here, sweeping in once a month like the Emperor of Blackburn.” Will claims he is staying with family and friends while he looks for somewhere to rent. Jake Berry, his sitting Tory opponent, is scathing: “publishing a picture* of yourself wearing a flat cap doesn’t mean you can pretend to live in Lancashire when you don’t! People round here aren’t daft.” 

*A photo of Will in a flat cap on his website has mysteriously disappeared from the interent. Above is an artist’s impression.

UPDATE: Will Straw has contacted us to say he has never worn a flat cap in Lancashire. He has only worn one in chi chi France…

How Charities Spend Taxpayer Millions on Political Lobbying

The Institute of Economic Affairs has done the leg work to expose how charities spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on political campaigns and lobbying. As Guido mentioned earlier in the week, several leading charities are now run by ex-Labour advisers. This is clearly reflected in their work:

  • Save the Children: Receives 16.3% of total income from taxpayer. Run by Justin Forsyth, former No. 10 spinner for Gordon Brown, who has ramped up attacks on domestic government “cuts” since 2010.
  • National Children’s Bureau: Receives more than 50% of income from taxpayer. Current campaigns include minimum pricing for alcohol, votes at 16 and a ban on smacking children.
  • Sustain: Receives 24.8% of income from taxpayer. Campaign for bans on junk food at supermarket checkouts and on children’s television.
  • Balance North East: Receives 100% of funding from taxpayer. Campaigns for minimum pricing of alcohol.
  • War on Want: Receives 8.7% of income from taxpayer. Opposed campaign to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, because if they joined they ‘couldn’t be critical of government.’

Worth reading some further work done on this by City AM this morning. A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend…

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.

Top Wonks Slam Osborne’s Minimum Wage Rise

Osborne ruining Ed’s big day by calling for a rise in the minimum wage is politically cunning, though it remains a fundamentally unsound economic idea. Here is a round up of how some of the more sensible think tanks responded to the idea of an increase to £7-an-hour:

Adam Smith Institute – “A minimum wage increase will hurt the poor, particularly young people and vulnerable groups like migrant workers.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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