Monday, March 22, 2010

Liveblogging Dispatches: Politicians for Hire

"MPs offer political favours in return for thousands of pounds a day."

Tony Blair has made millions since leaving Downing Street.

Sir Alistair Graham: "The first principle for MPs is selflessness". Ho ho.

The programme approached more than 20 MPs. Ten agreed to meet the "company" -Anderson Perry.

Sir John Butterfill offered company his CV at the start of the meeting.

The programme quotes David Cameron saying lobbying is the next big scandal waiting to happen.

Butterfill: "I can organise a meeting in a minister's office or possibly ... he could come to you."

Said he could arrange a meeting with David Cameron.

Asks for more than £30,000 per year for sitting on the company's board.

Margaret Moran, for it is she. Keen to take paid work from "Anderson Perry".

Boasts of her contacts with special advisers.

Ready to start at once: "I'm free now."

She has not voted in Parliament in May and has not been seeing her constituents because of bad health. The programme was told by her office that she was too ill to see constituents.

So she is a liar.

Stephen Byers coming up. "I'm a bit like a cab for hire."

Since resigning from the cabinet he has developed a high-flying business career.

Already working as a consultant while an MP.

"I do a bit of work for Rio Tinto." Neither that interest nor the one with National Express is registered.

How much would he expect? "Between three and five thousand a day." "Sometimes I can charge more."

Tony Blair's earnings since leaving government have reached an estimated £20m.

Byers says he may be able to get Blair along for a drink.

Ooh look, it's Robert Maclennan.

Since the last election 46 minsters have been approved to work in private sector. Almost half work in areas they used to be responsible for.

Patricia Hewitt works for BT, Boots, Barclays and BUPA.

"I'm interested in taking on another major board position."

Robert Maclennan was against her being allowed to take up certain posts as a former minister. He is on the body that oversees such matters - The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

How easy is it to arrange meetings with ministers and civil servants? "It is very doable."

The ways:
  1. Hospitality
  2. Use a think tank - sponsor a seminar "and for your money you get to sit next to the minister".
  3. Sponsoring events at a party conference
  4. Straightforward invitation
  5. Meet them via your presence in the constituency.
Persuaded review of mental health in prisons to talk to the private sector. Got a private sector representative on the task force. "I've kind of got them into the system."

Back to Stephen Byers. The general election is a great time to see civil servants.

Boasts that he helped National Express get out of its East Coast Mainline franchise without high penalties or losing its other franchises. He spoke to Andrew Adonis ("you have to keep this very confidential") on their behalf.

They agreed Adonis would talk tough in public but National Express would get off lightly - i.e. the would not abide by the contract they signed.

Now Tesco. Hilary Benn wanted to chose food labelling. Tesco rang Byers to get it stopped. He rang Peter Mandelson to complain about it. Mandelson got it delayed then amended.

Byers later emailed to say he had not spoken to either Mandelson or Adonis. Tesco and the Department of Transport both also said no such exchanges had taken place.

It seems his defence was that he was lying.

Coming next: Byers on defence.

Looking forward to translating his contacts into a way of making money.

Now Baroness Sally Morgan.

Gets £135,000 for jobs outside politics.

The programme had hired offices where Tony Blair first hired them after leaving No, 10.

Sally Morgan asks £5,000 per day.

She knows lots of senior civil servants because they worked at No. 10 when they were younger.

She can have conversations with people and push the direction of policy travel without lobbying.

Offers to put the company in touch with ministers. "I do anything as long as I am reasonably transparent about it."

She has interested in diabetes treatment but did not declare them when asking a Lords question.
She helped an educational charity win a £50m government contract.

Back to Sir John Butterfill.

"It is quite likely that I will go to the Lords." Perhaps less likely now.

"It gives me another string to my bow, as far as you are concerned."

That got that wrong. Geoff Hoon does not have a constituency home. His seat is in Nottinghamshire and he lives in Derby. Southern journalists do not understand Midland geography.

"I do not want to be seen to leave politics and then go back as some sort of lobbyist."

Still has Ministry of Defence contacts that might prove useful to clients.

He is helping American firms take over European companies.

£3000 a day "seems about right". After parliament is dissolved, "I am yours." Offers to chair the board.

All very depressing. As far as what the MPs doing is unobjectionable, that should be part of the job they are paid to do.

Byers' only defence is that he lied to the TV people. And can't Margaret Moran be prosecuted for something?


dreamingspire said...

I'm watching it now on Ch4+1... Your blogging is rather kind to them...

wolfi said...

Well my opnion on politicians (especially British ones) - it probably would be considered libel or whatever ...

Almost as bad as those catholic bishops and cardinals, even "our German pope".

The only worse thing under the sun might be a catholic politician like Blair - and these guys talk about Values, Conscience, and so on ...