Tories should check their own ranks before accusing Labour of infiltrating thinktanks

Double standards: Philippa Stroud, paid to advise Iain Duncan Smith on DWP policy issues, who was also paid by the right-wing thinktank the Centre for Social Justice to lobby him on the same policy issues.

Double standards: Philippa Stroud, paid to advise Iain Duncan Smith on DWP policy issues, who was also paid by the right-wing thinktank the Centre for Social Justice to lobby him on the same policy issues.

Department of Double Standards: According to the Telegraph, the left-wing Institute of Public Policy Research is being investigated by the Charity Commission because of its connections with the last Labour government.

The Torygraph reckons half of Gordon Brown’s special advisers now work for charities or “supposedly neutral” thinktanks, many of which now lobby the Coalition government.

“There is increasing concern among Conservatives that charities and thinktanks are being used as vehicles for a pro-Labour agenda,” the paper crowed.

On the face of it, it may seem reasonable for charities to be investigated for putting forward partisan opinions as they should remain politically neutral.

Thinktanks like the IPPR, on the other hand, are entirely free to put forward any political philosophy they choose; it’s part of their reason for existing.

But what about when a Conservative government minister actually employs, as his special adviser on policy, a person who is not only already an employee of a right-leaning government thinktank – set up by the minister himself – but actually co-founded it with him?

Step forward Philippa Stroud, who co-founded the Centre for Social Justice alongside Iain Duncan Smith in 2004, as a right-wing research and lobby group. When Mr… Smith became a government minister in 2010, he appointed her as his policy special adviser, even though she was still employed by the CSJ as co-chair of its ‘board of advisers’.

The special advisers’ code of conduct stipulates that they “should not receive benefits of any kind which others might reasonably see as compromising their personal judgment or integrity”.

An annex to the code, titled the Seven Principles of Public Life, adds: “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”

The code also makes clear that ministers making such appointments, in this case Mr… Smith himself, are held responsible for their advisers’ conduct.

So Philippa Stroud, a prominent member of the Conservative Party, took public money on top of her own salary and had a job as a senior member of a pressure group that tries to influence his department, when her role within that department was to give him advice on what to do.

That’s a conflict of interest, right there.

Oh, but the arrangement was cleared by the DWP and the Cabinet Office, both of which are currently headed by members of the Conservative Party, with no mention made of any conflict of interest they might have been enduring at the time.

Chris Grayling, writing in the Telegraph, claimed: “Britain’s professional campaigners are growing in number: sending emails around the country, flocking around Westminster, dominating BBC programmes, and usually articulating a Left-wing vision which is neither affordable nor deliverable – and wholly at odds with the long-term economic plan this Government has worked so hard to put in place.”

Sauce for the goose, Mr Grayling!

If it’s fine for a Conservative Party member and special adviser to Iain Duncan Smith to be employed by a thinktank that foists right-wing policy views on the government, then it should be perfectly acceptable for Labour Party members to be employed by thinktanks too.

In fact it is clear that the Labour members are committing the lesser of the two evils.

The moral: If you’re going to accuse your enemy of cheating, make sure you’re not doing it yourself.

Also: Chris Grayling is a fool.

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4 thoughts on “Tories should check their own ranks before accusing Labour of infiltrating thinktanks

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      General election turnout in 2010 was more than 65 per cent. So the amount of voters for all parties was in fact almost double the amount of non-voters.
      There were still too many non-voters but I would appreciate accurate facts.

  1. casalealex

    23rd October 2013 – 12.31pm PMQs –

    “Lynton Crosby’s responsibility is to destroy the Labour party.” Cameron thunders.

    Lynton Crosby, who has declared that his role is to destroy the Labour Party, rather than promote the Conservatives, based on any notion of merit, is all about such a targeted “divide and rule” strategy. This is a right wing tactic of cultivating and manipulating apostasy amongst support for the opposition. It’s a very evident ploy in the media, too, with articles about Labour screaming headlines that don’t match content, and the Sun and Telegraph blatantly lying about Labour’s policy intentions regularly. Propaganda isn’t obvious, and that’s how it works. We need to be mindful of this.

    Character assassination is something the Tories, in particular Lynton Crosby, have proved adept at.

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