Tag Archives: lobby

Tory crony contracts: MP gave paid roles to lobbyist

Karl McCartney.

Is this another example of jobs for the Tory boys?

And why was a lobbyist being given access to All-Party Parliamentary Groups?

There needs to be an investigation into this – and the other allegations against Karl McCartney (but there probably won’t be, in Boris Johnson’s unaccountable fascist dictatorship).

A Tory MP handed thousands of pounds worth of paid roles to a lobbyist, prompting calls for tighter rules on cash and influence in Parliamentary groups.

Karl McCartney, the Conservative MP for Lincoln, was until last month, chair or vice chair of seven sport-related All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) – bodies set up to allow MPs to discuss a particular subject or interest.

And on each group chaired by Mr McCartney, Three Lines Sport – a firm run by lobbyist Mark Ramsdale – is listed as Secretary.

According to records held by Parliament, Mr Ramsdale’s firm is paid through sponsorship by at least five of the seven groups, earning him or his firm at least £90,000.

Meanwhile, a Business Insider investigation alleged Mr McCartney had used public money to pay a donor, and had allegedly “concealed” his position as a shareholder of his brother’s firm, Moonlighting Systems.

Source: Tory MP handed paid roles on Parliamentary groups to lobbyist amid football team row – Mirror Online

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Minister attacks ‘deceitful’ and ‘despicable’ Priti Patel in his memoirs

Patel: if Alan Duncan’s claims are true, it’s no wonder she had that filthy smirk all over her face when she was told to resign from Theresa May’s cabinet.

“Compromised,” “deceitful,” “morally corrupt,” “contemptible” and “quite despicable” are the ways Priti Patel has been characterised – by her Tory colleague Alan Duncan in his new book.

Duncan takes Patel to task in the pages of In The Thick Of It, over her relationship with Israel – and her attempts to hide her ties to that country.

The former Foreign Office minister has suffered a radically different relationship with representatives of that country, as This Site (and TV news channel Al Jazeera) has recorded in the past.

He was targeted for removal from his post in a conspiracy run by former Israel Embassy official Shai Masot that was filmed by the Middle East news channel and broadcast in a series called The Lobby. Masot was later ordered to return to Israel in disgrace.

Indeed, it seems the Conservative Friends of Israel had tried to block his appointment to the Foreign Office post. How much influence did the Israeli government have in that?

Patel was subsequently involved in a scandal when she visited Israel under the pretence of taking a holiday there, when in fact she was trying to carry out her own foreign policy, independent of that of the government (run by Theresa May at the time).

She did not declare the meetings she held there in advance, so the discussions were not recorded, meaning we do not know whether she made any promises to a foreign government or what such promises could be.

Questioned, Patel tried to claim she had informed the Foreign Office about the meetings – by telling the then-Foreign Secretary. That would be Boris Johnson.

And she said there were only “a couple” of meetings.

Duncan wrote: “It is now clear that she lied. She had not told Boris, and in fact had a whole series of meetings.” They included one with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

He also wrote that she “spent a week there … without telling the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] or even her own department.”

As part of the meetings in Israel, Patel discussed handing UK aid money to the Israeli army to support operations in the Golan Heights – a part of Syria that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Or, as Duncan wrote, she “engaged offline with a foreign government over issues of policy. It is contemptible. She is quite despicable.”

When the scandal broke, Duncan wrote, Patel was “such a brassy monster” that she threatened to publicly challenge the prime minister’s version of events if she was not allowed to resign, rather than be sacked.

“It reeks; it stinks; it festers; it molders – all rotten to the core,” he wrote, calling it “exceptional pro-Israel infiltration into the very center of our public life” and “wickedness.”

And the woman of whom he wrote all of this is currently Home Secretary. Who knows what discussions she’s having now – and with whom?

Source: How “corrupt” British minister Priti Patel lied for Israel | The Electronic Intifada

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Tory corruption is here to stay, judging by the people involved in the Greensill scandal

Snout in the trough (all right – bucket): perhaps the Conservatives should rename themselves the Corruption Party?

A lobbyist is running the Tory government’s inquiry into the Greensill scandal.

A lobbyist is running Parliament’s watchdog on lobbying.

And more people in public life are being identified as employees of the collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital, meaning their loyalties were divided between working for the public good and making profits for this private company. And this is just one firm. How many other MPs, former MPs and people in charge of other public organisations are also enmired in this corruption?

Consider this:

For those who can’t read images well, it says the government review of lobbying is being headed by Nigel Boardman, a consultant with law firm Slaughter & May – which lobbied against tightening lobbying laws.

It seems clear that the ‘fix’ is in – anyone who works for a firm that wants more freedom to lobby the government won’t find any corruption in David Cameron’s activities for Greensill, right?

Now let’s look at how Parliament got into a position where a former prime minister was able to insinuate himself into the corridors of power on behalf of his new employer and influence current ministers to provide Greensill with huge amounts of public money. Why didn’t the lobbying watchdog spot it and put a stop to it?

Here‘s iNews:

A senior member of the Government’s own lobbying watchdog runs his own firm advertising his access to ministers at the highest echelons of power.

Andrew Cumpsty sits on the Government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), and boasts of his access to Cabinet ministers.

Do you think that might have something to do with how the rot has set in so far?

And then there’s this:

Hogan-Howe – now a Lord, and therefore well-placed to put in a good word for his employers – has only been discovered because of the focus on Greensill.

But how many other firms have their fingers in government pies via members of Parliament they just happen to have in their pockets?

And how much are our MPs and former MPs earning from second (or third, or fourth, or however many) jobs with these organisations?

Yes, there’s a Parliamentary inquiry happening, independently of Boris Johnson’s Slaughter & May-led whitewash, but that won’t go far enough either.

We need a full investigation into the current employment situations of all former MPs. Do they work for firms that have government contracts and, if so, how were those contracts secured?

Let’s find out how deep the rot has set in.

Because if we don’t – and if we don’t then clear it all out – then we may as well accept that Tory corruption is here to stay; it isn’t only part of the fabric of political life – it is the heart of the UK’s politics.

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Greensill controversy proves Cameron’s lobbying law was NOT about restricting lobbyists

Cameron: we used to joke about him often having spit dribbling down his chin – maybe he was salivating at the thought of all the money he was (allegedly) lining up for himself post-premiership.

Remember the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act that David Cameron forced on us, back in 2014?

Some of us called it the “Gagging Act” because we knew it was about preventing some organisations and individuals from having a voice in Westminster.

You see, the remit of the lobbying and non-party campaigning part of the act was extremely narrow.

Of course, this meant it also allowed others to carry on bending the ears of government ministers, and I seem to recall that concerns were raised about high-level MPs receiving payoffs from these people in return for privileged access…

…Or indeed, taking jobs for these people – as seems to be the case with former Prime Minister David Cameron.

We need to get our ducks in the right row here, though: Lex Greensill, of financial services firm Greensill Capital, is alleged to have been afforded privileged access to government departments in 2012, two years before the Lobbying Act became law. That would not have been illegal at the time – would it?

Apparently Greensill had been promoting a financial product for pharmacists – The Pharmacy Early Payment Scheme, announced in 2012, that saw banks swiftly reimburse pharmacists for providing NHS prescriptions, for a fee, before recovering the money from the government.

Greensill Capital went on to provide funds for the scheme.

It was later accredited to supply lending under the government’s Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), before Greensill went bust.

The dodgy part is Cameron’s role. He would have been responsible for giving Greensill privileged access in 2012.

He would have been able to ensure that the 2014 law did not affect that privileged position – by narrowing criteria to make sure that Greensill didn’t have to appear on the register of lobbyists, perhaps.

He definitely joined Greensill – as a lobbyist – in 2018 and lobbied on behalf of that firm. The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, investigating, has ruled that Cameron’s activities did not fall within the criteria that required him to be registered as one – according to rules laid out in Cameron’s 2014 Lobbying law.

It looks very much like Cameron rigged the law to make it possible for him to feather his own nest. That would be a serious case of corruption, of course.

He certainly seems to have blocked rules that would now apply to him.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Source: Lex Greensill: Labour questions ex-adviser’s No 10 business card – BBC News

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The influence of ‘big tobacco’ isn’t limited to think tanks: former minister Priti Patel was a lobbyist

Priti Patel: A former lobbyist for ‘big tobacco’.

Following the revelation that the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank is a lobbyist for British American Tobacco and for companies producing food that harms health – and also a major donor to the Conservative Party – does anybody remember this?

Priti Patel, the former International Development Secretary who was forced to resign after apparently conducting her own foreign policy in Israel, also lobbied for BAT, albeit in her former employment for a PR firm:

The employment minister, Priti Patel, was part of a team of spin doctors paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to help a tobacco giant counter negative publicity, including that surrounding its joint venture with one of the world’s most brutal military regimes.

Documents unearthed by the Observer shine new light on Patel’s work for Shandwick, a lobbying and PR firm that worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) in the early years of this century.

The documents, released by BAT following a legal action, show that Patel was one of seven employees used by Shandwick on the account. One of her jobs was to lobby MEPs against the introduction of the EU tobacco control directive, which was introduced shortly after the new millennium.

In 2001, Shandwick drew up plans to invoice BAT for 279 hours of its work a month, of which Patel’s contribution amounted to 100 hours. BAT was charged £165 an hour for Patel’s services. The entire team was on a monthly retainer of nearly £40,000 – a total of almost £500,000 a year.

Firms like BAT are major donors to the Conservative Party, while people like the IEA and Ms Patel were instrumental in pushing their agendas onto politicians – and onto the public through political discussion shows like the BBC’s Question Time.

These people betray the public trust because they present the desires of corporate bosses as the needs of the nation. And then you wonder why the environment is going to ruin…

Source: Minister worked as spin doctor for tobacco giant that paid workers £15 a month | Business | The Guardian

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‘First do no harm’: Public to lobby Parliament over DWP assessments

Activists are to lobby Parliament next month in a bid to persuade MPs to impose stricter rules on the assessors hired by private firms to judge whether people claiming sickness and/or disability benefits are faking it.

The First Do No Harm lobby on February 13 aims to expose the continued harm caused to disabled people by the Tory government’s work capability assessments (WCAs), concentrating on the repeated failure of assessors hired by the Department for Work and Pensions to collect and pay proper regard to further medical evidence, as needed to judge a claimant’s eligibility for sickness and disability benefits.

It has been organised by Labour’s Treasury and work and pensions teams, through shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood, after campaigning by the disabled people’s grassroots group Black Triangle and other disabled activists.

The aim is to push for the principle of “First Do No Harm” – a concept that should be at the heart of any true medical professional’s moral code – to be included in the benefits assessment process, through a framework that “treats disabled people with dignity and respect”.

This would introduce new “safety protocols” to ensure that the health and lives of disabled people are not put at risk by unfair decisions on eligibility following a WCA.

The lobby also aims to push the Conservative government to bow to years of pressure to carry out a cumulative assessment of the impact of its social security cuts and reforms on disabled people.

And it will call for an end to the government’s sanctions and conditionality regime.

The lobby is due to take place on Wednesday 13 February between 1pm and 6pm, with the briefing from 2-3.30pm, in the Palace of Westminster’s committee room 15. The committee room can be used for one-to-one meetings with MPs or further discussions on the issue from 1-2pm and then from 3.30-6pm

You can read more details in this Disability News Service article – and then you are invited to help out.

While the lobby has been organised by Labour, it is hoped that MPs from all parties will attend – especially Conservatives. And they’re only likely to do so if their constituents demand it.

It doesn’t matter if you are sick, disabled or able-bodied – if you want your MP to attend the lobby, get in touch – for example, by using the website WriteToThem, saying you wish to seek an appointment on the day of the lobby.

One more thing: Spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, and any other social network you use.

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A taxpayer-funded lobby group is a breach of government rules – but only an INDEPENDENT inquiry will prove that

Chummy: Brexiters Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

This Site has reported on this story before.

The funding of a lobby group with taxpayers’ money is a clear conflict of interest, no matter what the Tory government says.

But it’ll take an independent inquiry to establish that.

A number of Cabinet members appear to have breached the rules of government through their membership of a secretive hard-Brexit lobby group, now chaired by the outspoken government critic Jacob-Rees Mogg.

Senior Conservative ministers including Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and David Gauke have used taxpayers’ cash to fund the hard-Brexit European Research Group (ERG), which is now led by Rees-Mogg MP, who has been accused in recent days of trying to undermine Prime Minister Theresa May and oust her Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

The ministers have funded this lobby group (through their expense claims) whilst holding posts in government – despite the ministerial code prohibiting ministers from becoming “associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy”.

New evidence shows that a number of other key figures in government – including Brexit ministers Steve Baker and Suella Fernandes – have remained active in the ERG after taking on government posts, and that the senior whip Chris Heaton-Harris has hosted meetings for them inside parliament.

A government spokesperson has denied that there has been any breach of the rules. But a number of Labour and SNP MPs have now called on the parliamentary authorities to “urgently investigate” the matter, with former Foreign office minister Chris Bryant calling it a “clear conflict of interest”; Caroline Lucas labelling the findings “deeply concerning” and the SNP’s Deirdre Brock asking, “What kind of shameless opportunist would be supporting their colleagues in public while betraying them in private?”

Source: MPs demand ‘urgent investigation’ into Cabinet ministers’ support for hard-Brexit lobby group | openDemocracy


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Prince William receives confidential cabinet papers


As with Prince Charles, it is arguable that Prince William is entirely entitled to receive confidential cabinet papers, because he is the son of the heir to the Throne and needs to understand the issues facing the UK before becoming monarch and being asked to sign acts of Parliament concerning those issues.

But the revelation that he receives these documents – which was not included in the response to a Freedom of Information request by the campaigning group Republic – creates a huge amount of concern over who has access to this information, and who does not.

The Duke of Cambridge occasionally receives copies of confidential cabinet documents, the BBC has learned.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said that, as a future heir to the throne, it was “appropriate that he is regularly briefed on government business”.

It was revealed on Tuesday that Prince Charles receives such material routinely – as does the Queen.

Campaign group Republic said there was “no good reason” why Prince William also received the information.

Earlier this week, Republic received four chapters of the Cabinet Office’s “precedent book” – released after a three-year freedom of information battle.

The book shows Prince Charles, the Queen, ministers and a handful of others get papers from cabinet and ministerial committees.

Junior government ministers do not receive such access to the documents.

Source: Prince William receives confidential cabinet papers – BBC News

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Controversy over Prince Charles should reopen debate on the government and lobbyists


Some might say that Prince Charles is entirely entitled to receive confidential cabinet papers, because he is heir to the Throne and has the right to understand the issues facing the UK before becoming monarch and being asked to sign acts of Parliament concerning those issues.

However, he has made no secret of the fact that he has concerns of his own – and the revelation that he does receive these documents means he is in an excellent position to push his own agenda, ahead of any other lobbyist or the national interest.

If critics of the policy that allows him to see these papers want him to stop, though, they should also consider the fact that the Conservative Government, more than any other, is accessed by lobbyists representing other paid interests on a regular basis.

There was some discussion of this when the Transparency of Lobbying Act was being pushed through Parliament by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, but of course the national interest always comes a distant second to personal interest when ministers have a chance to make a little extra money.

Consider Esther McVey’s latest job – not the one we fund in which she chairs the British Transport Police; This Writer means her new job with lobbyists Hume Brophy.

Or what about Nadhim Zahawi, who works as chief strategy officer for oil explorer Gulf Keystone which has interests in Kurdistan, has had shares in Genel Energy, which also works in Kurdistan, and also chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan, is on the UK Prime Minister’s Policy Board with special responsibility for business and the economy, and was appointed to the Commons Foreign Affairs select committee in June 2014, where he played a key role in its inquiry into government policy on Kurdistan?

The magazine Private Eye has a section entitled ‘Revolving Doors’, reporting on the huge number of MPs and civil servants who take jobs with private sector employers.

Strangely enough – unless huge numbers of the public rally to fight over any single issue, these individuals and the relatively small number of private interests they represent appear to have a monopoly on the Conservative Government’s ear.

So why single out Prince Charles?

“The disclosure of cabinet papers to Prince Charles is quite extraordinary,” said Graham Smith, Republic’s chief executive. “Not only because they would contain highly classified information, but because it gives him considerable advantage in pressing his own agenda when lobbying ministers. He is essentially a minister not attending cabinet. He gets the paperwork and has private meetings with ministers about policy.”

A senior MP called for a parliamentary inquiry into the arrangement, which he said made Charles Britain’s “best informed lobbyist”. It also prompted speculation that the prince uses the flow of information to help him intervene with ministers on new policy proposals before parliament or the public are aware of their existence.

Paul Flynn, a member of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, said Charles’s access to cabinet papers was “a considerable surprise” and called for a parliamentary investigation.

“He is not just a figurehead, he has become a participant in national debate and there is no control over his lobbying,” Flynn said. “This means that he is not only the most influential lobbyist, but the best informed and he is lobbying for his own interests, which are not always benign or sensible.”

Source: Revealed: Prince Charles has received confidential cabinet papers for decades | UK news | The Guardian

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Lobbying: Cameron’s deleted speech and his jaw dropping hypocrisy – Pride’s Purge

David Cameron has been caught red-handed wining and dining corporate lobbyists, writes Tom Pride.

Tycoons mix with top Tories at fundraising ball in London

This is particularly awkward for Cameron because in the run up to the last election, he gave a speech in which he promised to bring transparency to lobbying:

It is the next big scandal waiting to happen, the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money. We all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, helping big business find the right way to get its way. We must be the party that sorts all this out.

Stirring stuff.

Which is probably why the Tories have now deleted* the speech from their website.

Never mind. Because you can still read Cameron’s full speech here and decide for yourself whether this could win first prize for the best example of jaw dropping hypocrisy from Cameron yet.

*Permanently deleting stuff from the internet is not as easy as you might think. The Tories went to some trouble to do it. For the more technically minded, here is how they did it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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