George Osborne – Man – Mouse or Tory Rat – The Man Who Would Be King

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October 1 2011; George Osborne: from the Bullingdon club to the heart of government

When George Osborne was 17, he took part in a school debate on nuclear disarmament. He was then an A-level politics student at St Paul’s in London, one of England’s leading public schools. On the day of the debate, a crowd of sixth-formers gathered to listen. Osborne, already perhaps displaying latent right-wing sympathies, was to argue in favour of the nuclear deterrent. On the opposing side, his classmate Sam Bain would put the case for the CND. But as Osborne rose to speak, a rugby teacher came into the classroom to say he was required to play in a match. Osborne rushed out, leaving the notes of his speech behind. “Some guy in the audience read it out and he won pretty unanimously,” recalls Bain now. “So basically, I failed to win a debate against him even though he wasn’t there.”

For Bain the humiliation was not entirely unexpected. Even as an adolescent, Osborne seemed preternaturally composed, somehow older than his contemporaries and with a clear idea of where he was heading and of the kind of person he wanted to become.

“We were 17, and at that point he was grown-up in a way that no one else was in our year,” recalls Bain, who went on to co-create Channel 4’s Peep Show and the new student comedy Fresh Meat. “He looked and behaved like a man who had already decided what he was going to do with his life.”

The story of how that teenager went on to become the youngest chancellor of the exchequer in 120 years is an intriguing one. It contains many surprising elements, including tales of riotous debauchery, allegations of electoral malpractice in student politics and, at one point, an intimate encounter with the pop star Geri Halliwell – more of which later. But in many ways Osborne at 40 still retains the essence of Osborne at 17. Those who work for him now remark on his exceptional political brain, on his ability to out-think his opponents with strokes of tactical genius, to present even the most dense economic argument with an eye to what will make the next day’s headlines and to know, deep down in his bones, what will win over a crowd.

“I remember many times when we were faced with a tricky political problem and there’d be a light bulb moment,” says Conservative MP Matthew Hancock, who was Osborne’s economic adviser and chief of staff until last year. “There’s nobody else I’ve ever met where that moment was so obvious – his entire face would light up and he’d say: ‘No, we’ll do it like this.’ And it was always a really brilliant idea. He’s very creative.”

Yet for all that he inspires loyalty among those who work for him, Osborne has enough self-knowledge to realise that his public persona is fatally lacking. On television he comes across as stilted, lacking David Cameron’s easy bonhomie and banter. In parliament his youthful features – a plump, pale face; foppish dark hair – only serve to underline the impression that he is an overgrown public schoolboy not quite up to the job of steering the country through a devastating financial crisis. His privileged upbringing – Osborne is the eldest son of Sir Peter Osborne, the 17th holder of a hereditary baronetcy and the co-founder of wallpaper designers Osborne & Little – adds to the tabloid caricature of a toff with a trust fund. His mouth, according to one commentator, “is curled into a permanent sneer so it looks as if he’s laughing when he announces yet more cuts to public services”.

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Unhelpfully, he is forever dogged by two infamous photographs from his past: the first, taken in 1992, depicts Osborne as a latter-day Sebastian Flyte, resplendent in tails and a blue bow tie as a member of Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club; the second, taken a few years later, shows him grinning inanely with his arm flung casually around the shoulders of escort Natalie Rowe, surrounded by empty bottles of wine and what might or might not be a line of cocaine on the table in front of him. Those two images have reinforced – unfairly or otherwise – an overriding public sense of Osborne as a dilettante possessed of a healthy sense of entitlement. At a time when he is championing a series of swingeing austerity measures, Osborne is only too aware that such a preconception is unfortunate.

As a consequence he carefully rations his public appearances – a tactic that has earned him the nickname of “the submarine” among Tory staffers. “He stays underwater for a long time and when he appears he prepares impeccably,” explains Janan Ganesh, the political correspondent for the Economist who is currently writing a biography of Osborne. “He’s very open in private that he will – in his words – ‘never be a man of the people’. It’s a combination of material privilege and more superficial stuff, like the way he looks and sounds… During the past election campaign, for instance, he was not visible. That was because he knew he was more of an asset behind the scenes.”

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Osborne at 17 could win a school debate without having to appear in person, but simply by having someone else read out his cleverly structured arguments. Twenty-three years later, as chancellor of the exchequer, that same strategy has been successfully refined and redeployed, albeit on a rather larger scale.

For Sam Bain, Osborne’s erstwhile debating partner, there is a feeling of inevitability about his classmate’s rise to power. “I certainly feel very old now looking at him as chancellor, but thinking about how he got there, it does make sense,” he says. “You probably have to be working at it for 20 years or more to achieve that. It does speak of someone who is very single-minded, and whether or not you agree with his politics, that’s a pretty extraordinary thing.”

To those who have observed his ascent from the outside, Osborne has always seemed to know exactly where he was going. Friends say that he is adamant that there was no steady teleological process – after graduating with a 2:1 in modern history from Magdalen College, Oxford, he toyed with the idea of becoming a journalist and pursued a number of dead-end jobs (at one point refolding towels in Selfridge’s) before a friend mentioned there was a vacancy in the research department of Conservative Central Office. From there he rose to become political secretary and speechwriter to William Hague before getting elected Conservative MP for Tatton in 2001 and then being appointed shadow chancellor by Michael Howard at the precocious age of 33.

Anyone looking at that inexorable rise would be forgiven for thinking Osborne had a masterplan. “Actually at every step [of his career], he had massive doubt,” says one friend. “It was: ‘What the hell am I going to do next?'”

george & francis osborne

Although there might have been doubt beneath the surface, superficially he seemed ambitious from the off. During the early days of Cameron’s opposition, employees at Conservative Central Office remember that Osborne’s professional style was markedly different from that of the leader’s. Whereas Cameron would come in each morning bluff and cheerful, greeting everyone by name, Osborne would walk straight to his office without a word and close the door.

“Osborne comes from this clever, entitled background; he’s got this ‘born to rule’ attitude,” says one peer. “He’s sharp, but he’s not as clever as Cameron.”

The Cameron-Osborne partnership has always been close – they are godfathers to each other’s children – in large part because of their differing strengths. Whereas Cameron is the public face of the party and the embodiment of a broad ideological vision, Osborne is the arch-tactician, the political chess player who delights in the game. He is in some ways the purest (and, some might say, the most terrifying) form of politician: driven not by any specific ideology but by the thrill of the chase, the exercise of statecraft and by ambition itself. “For him, politics is the biggest toy in the playground,” says one acquaintance.

“His first thought is: what is the politics of this, both internal and external?” says a former adviser. “It’s a great strength, but it can also be a weakness. There are plenty of times in politics where the right thing to do is not the politically correct thing to do. I think George is put on the spot in interviews when people say to him: ‘Why are you in politics? How do you want this country to be?’ That shines a telling light on him as a person and a thinker. His wiring is political and that means it is contextual, so his answer would depend on the prevailing political mood.”

Occasionally his obsession with day-to-day tactics rather than an overarching strategy has led to criticism within the Tory ranks. During the 2010 election campaign, which Osborne was masterminding, he produced a “Top Tory of the Day” T-shirt for any staffer who came up with the cleverest publicity coup. “He loves that kind of stuff,” says one political commentator. “He can put doing over your opponent ahead of the need for an underlying vision.”

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His Liberal Democrat colleagues in the coalition government talk darkly of Treasury briefings against them, always carried out by underlings rather than Osborne himself, who is careful to remain charming in person. “Of course it’s partly Treasury arrogance – the institutional inability to give any other department credit,” says Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott, who quit as a House of Lords Treasury spokesman earlier this year in protest at Osborne’s failure to take strong enough action on bank bonuses. “Osborne is a very, very clever operator. He’s got a real eye for the political main chance.”

And yet Cameron – who is five years older than his chancellor – has been canny enough to harness this to his own advantage: he already has the advice of Steve Hilton (Cameron’s director of strategy) for blue-sky thoughts about Big Societies and the like. Osborne, by contrast, provides the hard-headed calculation. He also has more liberal instincts than Cameron on issues such as abortion and gay adoption. A low-tax, small-state Conservative, he is said to find some of Cameron’s money-guzzling social and environmental initiatives baffling. And Osborne can be radical: as a new backbencher, he proposed that the royal family should pay rent for Kensington Palace. It is for these reasons, says Ganesh, that “Cameron absolutely counts on him”. They are a complementary partnership.

Unlike Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, whose alleged gentlemen’s agreement in 1994 over who would stand for the leadership became part of New Labour political mythology, Osborne insists he struck no such bargain. “There was no deal over the rabbit polenta,” he said in an interview six years ago with the Daily Telegraph. That, of course, does not mean he has no ambitions for the leadership – quite the contrary.

“To be a politician at that level, you have to take yourself very seriously and believe you can be leader,” says a former Conservative MP who used to work for Osborne. “But I think they learned a lesson from the Blair-Brown years. And that was: never, ever let it happen to us. They are genuinely brothers-in-arms. They’ve always both just put winning at the top of their list, even if their outlooks and priorities are different.”

The door between No 10 and the Treasury at No 11 is always open – in stark contrast to some previous regimes – and the prime minister trusts Osborne enough to allow him to chair the daily 4pm strategy meeting with Cameron’s inner team if he is away.

Mac Daily mail Osborne cartoon

“They were always very close,” says one former Conservative cabinet minister, “but David was always clearly the dominant figure in that partnership. When I first met George and David for discussions, George would be silent. He would occasionally chip in, but it was evident that there was a lack of assertiveness and self-confidence. I think that’s changed. He’s grown in stature very encouragingly, because he needed to if he was going to be effective.”

How would his lack of confidence manifest itself? “You’d notice it. There was a certain nervousness.”

Again, there is a disparity here between the public and private Osborne. In public he comes across as being almost too confident for his own good; smoothly assured that his deficit-reduction plan is the right course of action even though almost no other western nation has followed suit and some economists continue to predict fiscal measures will cause sluggish growth and high unemployment for decades.

According to one senior adviser: “That’s when his political instincts come straight through and he says: ‘OK, I’m going to take some flak for this; I’ll fight my corner.’ I’ve not seen any impression of any particular gloominess. He’s not often shy of political jousting.” He is also well-regarded on the international stage, counting Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and US Treasury secretary Tim Geithner among his admirers (not bad for someone who used to have a beginner’s guide to economics in his office).

In private, however, there are signs that his self-assurance in parliament is something of an act. At parties he often appears uncomfortable and guarded, as though constantly on the lookout for a potential conversational banana skin. People who meet him outside the House of Commons find him difficult to connect with. “There’s an emotional distance there,” says one. “Everyone who works with him says he’s so charming, but I must admit I’ve always found him rather charmless.”

And it is true that in the corridors of power it is difficult to find anyone with a bad word to say about him on a personal level. Even his most strident critics admit he is likeable, even if his policies aren’t.

Westminster London SW1 19/03/09

In coalition he has, according to one Liberal Democrat, been “a courteous colleague. He’s a very smooth operator”. After the election Osborne made a point of going to business secretary Vince Cable’s office to introduce himself, even though it is customary for the more junior minister to make the effort. “He is always polite, quick and very sharp,” says one Liberal Democrat. This in spite of the fact that, according to one Conservative peer, Osborne finds the constraints of coalition “extremely irksome”. His relationship with Cable is said to be good – at least on the surface – but, says the Lib Dem: “We have to warn Vince about Osborne, because when someone’s being nice to him he lets his guard drop.”

Within his close team of young advisers – chief of staff Rupert Harrison, special advisers Eleanor Shawcross and Ramesh Chhabra are all in their late 20s or early 30s – he inspires almost fanatical loyalty. They are keen to stress his quick wit and dark, acerbic humour (although the best Osborne joke I heard was his remark during a Christmas party attended by the rapper 50 Cent. He is said to have quipped to guests: “That’s Mr Cent to you”), his sympathetic attitude to mothers who need to knock off early if their child is ill and his willingness to give career advice to up-and-coming politicos.

Time and again I am told that “the worst thing you can do in a meeting with George is not to speak your mind”. No one I talk to has ever seen him get angry, which suggests a remarkable level of self-control. “No, I’ve never seen him lose it,” says Hancock. “He gets passionate about things, but that’s different.” There is certainly no phone throwing these days in No 11.

“The people who work for him say that Osborne is young enough to remember what it was like to have a boss,” says Ganesh. “People say he’s considerate, and as a result of this he engenders a lot of residual personal loyalty. He’s developed a parliamentary following – MPs like Greg Hands, Claire Perry, Matt Hancock – all of whom worked for Osborne at some stage and who have retained their former loyalty.”

If he ever did decide to stand for leader, an Osbornite cabal would already be in place.

Osborne was born in 1971, the eldest of four brothers in a liberal-leaning, bohemian family. His mother, Felicity Loxton-Peacock, was a former debutante turned anti-Vietnam protester who eventually switched to voting Conservative after Margaret Thatcher became leader. His father, also liberal-minded, set up the family wallpaper business around the kitchen table in Notting Hill. It was, Osborne has said in the past, “a metropolitan upbringing [rather] than a landed, shire-county upbringing” of the kind David Cameron enjoyed.

The fact that he turned out a Tory is a cause of some amusement among his extended family. His brothers – Adam, Benedict and Theo – have all followed less conventional paths. Adam Osborne is a doctor who was suspended from the General Medical Council for six months last year after improperly prescribing drugs to a cocaine-addicted escort. He converted to Islam to marry his wife Rahala in 2009. Benedict is a graphic designer, while Theo runs an online bookmaking company.

As a child Osborne was, by his own admission, “the most sensible out of all the kids. I was extremely well behaved.” His love of learning earned him the nickname “Knowledge” from his siblings.

In reality the name his parents gave him was Gideon, which he famously chose to drop at the age of 13 for the more straightforward George (his grandfather’s name) because “life was easier as a George”. Some of his classmates at St Paul’s believe Osborne made the change in order to sound less exotic and “more prime ministerial”. “It certainly falls in with my profile of someone who was already thinking about his image,” says one.

At school he was clearly bright, but not especially popular. His personal tutor Mike Seigel remembers him as “one of the most talented students I came across in a quarter of a century. He had a determination to do well.” Osborne went on to Oxford, where he edited the university magazine Isis in 1992 and produced a special edition partially printed on hemp paper to indicate the importance of “green issues”.

Unlike his future boss William Hague, who had graduated from Magdalen a decade before, Osborne did not get involved in the Oxford Union. But as a 19-year-old he did stand for the post of Entertainments Representative in his college junior common room (JCR) along with a friend. It was here, perhaps, amid the cut-price beer and freshers’ high jinks, that he got his first taste for politics. In fact his electioneering was so enthusiastic his rival for the position wrote a letter of complaint to the JCR vice president outlining Osborne’s underhand tactics.

The letter, dated 15 November 1990, reads: “I wish to lodge a complaint concerning electorate malpractice on the part of Messrs George Osborne and [the friend] on three counts, namely:

1 The dissemination of five different wordings of posters, instead of the mandatory two.

2 The posting of the above on places other than noticeboards, such as doors and walls.

3 The attempt on the part of Mr Osborne to pervert the democratic process by electioneering in the JCR.

I would urge that these matters be considered with a view to possible disqualification.”

The complaint is signed by RD Harding, who went on to win the election. Rupert Harding, who now works at a language school in Finland, is rather embarrassed by the strident tone of his letter. “I have little to no recollection of the campaign,” he says. “Perverting the democratic process I think meant going up to people after Neighbours and asking them to vote for him.” Osborne was, in any case, roundly defeated at the hustings.

At Oxford, Osborne’s contemporaries remember him as one of a clique of “braying public schoolboys”. His friends saw a different side – “My recollection of George is that he was a nice bloke, quite approachable, shy and very bright,” says one – but his membership of the notorious Bullingdon Club did little to dampen the perception of elitism. Infamous for its riotous behaviour, the society is open only to sons of aristocratic families or the super-rich. The initiation process was to down a bottle of tequila while standing on a table. That immortal Bullingdon photo would come back to haunt him.

The goings-on of the Bullingdon are extremely secretive, but one of Osborne’s contemporaries, who has never spoken to the press, told me what happened after that photograph of Osborne, standing imperious in bow tie and tails, was taken. “We got on a double-decker bus and drove to Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire,” he says. “It started to get really out of control. I remember a guest being comatose on the lawn, being tended to by a butler who was applying cold towels to his forehead, trying to bring him round. One of the guys got into a fist fight because he was Italian and a football match was on and there’d been some racial taunting. Plates had been thrown. As usual, it escalated. It was a group of young, testosterone- and alcohol-fuelled men, many of whom don’t ever have to work. I think George was mildly alarmed. He was enjoying the food and wine, enjoying watching the football, and I just remember him looking at me with raised eyebrows at what was going on. I never saw him take drugs.”

On a different occasion with Osborne also present, he remembers one Bullingdon member “trying to snort lines of coke from the top of an open-top bus and the bus was speeding along so it kept blowing away. I said to him: ‘You’re stupid. It’s blowing away,’ and his response was: ‘I can afford it.'”

Another time Osborne and the other Bullingdon members went for a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Berkshire where, coincidentally, the comedian Lenny Henry was having dinner with his then-wife Dawn French. “We interrupted the whole evening,” the source says. “A couple of the boys started getting obnoxious and talking about their family wealth and Henry said: ‘Actually, sod off.’ Then there was a slight altercation when a member put a cigar out on someone else’s lapel and it turned into a fight and furniture was broken. It was horrible, horrible. We used to smash everything up and then pay a cheque, saying: ‘It’s OK; we can pay for it.’ It was pretty shocking.”

How did an undergraduate who supposedly smashed up furniture and downed tequila get from there to become chancellor of the exchequer? “In a sense there’s no difference between the Bullingdon George and the chancellor George: they both simply wanted to be the best,” explains one former colleague. “Being the best at Oxford, in his eyes, meant joining the Bullingdon.”

Natalie Rowe Hooker

Osborne has remained understandably tight-lipped about his youthful excesses, insisting, even when the photograph of him with vice-girl Natalie Rowe emerged in 2005, that MPs are entitled to have lived a life pre-politics. But it certainly appears from this account that Osborne liked to cut loose and have a good time. And it seems an element of that has stayed with him, despite the guardedness he is now careful to assume in public. When I ask a senior coalition colleague how Osborne made the transition from party animal to sober-minded politician, the reply comes: “I don’t think anyone’s ever believed he’s sober. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was trying to relive the youth he never had.”

A few years ago, at the wedding of his brother-in-law Toby Howell (Osborne’s author wife, Frances, is the daughter of Conservative peer Lord Howell and the couple have two children, Luke, 10, and Liberty, eight), Osborne was, according to onlookers, encouraged to play a game of “pass the ice cube” with fellow guests. Osborne gamely agreed and is said to have found himself mouth-to-mouth with the pop star Geri Halliwell, who was there as the girlfriend of Henry Beckwith, the son of a millionaire property developer. Posterity does not record the reaction of either party. By all accounts, Frances would have taken it in good part. “She’s very much her own woman,” says an acquaintance. “They both lead quite independent lives.”

More seriously, Osborne’s taste for the high life also led to one of the worst errors of his political career. In October 2008, it was claimed that Osborne had tried to solicit a £50,000 donation from the Russian aluminium magnate Oleg Deripaska while holidaying on the oligarch’s yacht with Peter Mandelson off the coast of Corfu. Such a move would have been a violation of the law against political donations by foreign citizens. A formal complaint was made to the Electoral Commission. Although the Commission rejected the claims and Osborne has always strongly denied the allegations, he was astute enough to know that it did not look good.

“He learned the lesson of his folly in Corfu,” says one former chancellor of the episode. “It was obviously very silly. But the important thing was not that he did it but that he learned his lesson and that will prevent him from doing something stupid in future.”

When Natalie Rowe gave an interview last month to the Australian news channel ABC in which she claimed Osborne had taken cocaine with her, the chancellor seemed unperturbed. He did not comment on the allegations, even when there was speculation that Osborne remained so indebted to the then News of the World editor Andy Coulson for not making too much of the Rowe story when it first broke six years ago that he recommended him to Cameron as his director of communications.

“He definitely thinks he’s silly to have done some of those things,” says one of Osborne’s close associates. “But it does speak to his deep self-confidence that he’s always assumed he’ll be running the country and none of this breaks his stride.”

From the school debating team to the Bullingdon and all the way to No 11, Osborne has always wanted to be the best. If this means the next logical step is to become prime minister, it would be foolish to underestimate his determination to get there. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/oct/01/george-osborne-bullingdon-club-government

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Cameron & Boris – The Early years Revisited

Bullingdon 1987 Cameron Johnson

September 26 2009; The Bullingdon Boys – When Boris met Dave

Two years ago, a photograph of the 1987 Bullingdon Club emerged. It showed a bunch of elegant, arrogant and carefully coiffured teenagers wearing tailcoats and bow ties; it seemed like a curious snapshot from Britain’s high Victorian era. So it was a shock to discover that this photo was in fact taken in the mid-Eighties, a time more synonymous with Wham!, Beverly Hills Cop and the miners’ strike. If you looked closely, you recognized the blond seated in the front row staring defiantly into the camera as Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. Look harder, you’d spot the man most likely to be leading the country next year: David Cameron, a handsome youth staring dreamily into the distance.

But what was the Bullingdon Club? What drove the generation that spawned today’s two most powerful Conservative politicians in the country? And how had they been shaped by a background of Eton, Oxford and secret societies?

In Washington we tracked down U.S. political consultant Frank Luntz, who helped Johnson gain the presidency of the Oxford Union and years later worked on Cameron’s Tory leadership bid. Luntz witnessed the extraordinary birth of Johnson the Machiavellian politician. Aware of how unfashionable it was to be a dyed-in-the-wool Tory, and having failed to win the presidency once, Johnson presented himself as an environmentalist and even let it be known that he was aligned with the then-popular Social Democrat Party. ‘I’d never seen anyone speak like him,’ said Luntz. ‘There was a candid quality to him. I initially thought it was an act, because I’d never seen it in anyone before.’ Johnson thrived at the Union but he also coveted the presidency of the Bullingdon, which would have given him the ultimate stamp of social approval.

The Bullingdon was founded in 1780, originally as a hunting and cricket club. From the beginning its name was synonymous with excessive drinking and a competitive destructiveness, and membership has always been by invitation only and known for being, for most, prohibitively expensive (costs include a bespoke set of tails, outrageously lavish dinners and a charge against expected damages). Past ‘Bullers’ include Edward VII, Edward VIII, John Profumo and Alan Clark. The club was also satirized by Evelyn Waugh as ‘the Bollinger’ in Decline And Fall. ‘I was awoken from a deep sleep by a dozen men in tailcoats, who smashed up my furniture, books, hi-fi., everything… I was completely dazed’

Three of the boys in the 1987 picture had titled parents, and Cameron is fifth cousin twice removed from the Queen. But in spite of his ‘poshest chap in the land’ schtick, Johnson is not so well connected. He’s a scholarship boy from a bohemian background, and while he was reportedly always at the heart of ‘the Buller’, he never won its presidency. Luckily he was a very bright boy and his father, Stanley, was always extremely zealous in seeking out scholarships and prizes for him, without which Eton, Oxford and the Bullingdon would have proved out of reach. At Eton he shone brightly but also gained a reputation for complacency and procrastination. Cameron, two years behind him, would have been aware of Johnson but this awareness is unlikely to have been reciprocated. At Oxford the two again crossed paths – and this time Johnson must have become familiar with the future Tory leader.

From the beginning, the Club’s name was synonymous with excessive drinking and a competitive destructiveness, and membership has always been by invitation only By getting elected into the Buller, Johnson pulled off another feat of social climbing and, once in, he threw himself into the ritualized drinking with gusto. Drunken destruction was a trademark of the Buller and trashing bedrooms was the standard form of initiation. Radek Sikorski, now Poland’s Foreign Minister, recounted an extraordinary story of Johnson leading a troop of Bullers into his room in the dead of night. ‘I was awoken from a deep sleep by a dozen men in tailcoats, who smashed up my furniture, books, hi-fi, everything,’ he said. ‘I was completely dazed. Then Boris shook my hand and said, “Congratulations, you’ve been elected!”‘ Johnson (whose nickname at Eton had been ‘the Berserker’) was the quintessential Buller.

But Cameron was harder to pin down – more likely to shirk than ‘berserk’. Photos from the time show him to be an elegant man, and a touch aloof. We tracked down one of his Oxford girlfriends, Francesca Ferguson, to her home in Switzerland. ‘He was a tall, intelligent, fit guy,’ she remembers. ‘I fancied him!’ She said that one time she brought him home to meet her father and her German mother. Cameron gave them a Monty Python record, which, unbeknown to him, included a famously bad-taste Hitler and Goebbels sketch in which the two Nazi leaders have taken over a B&B in Minehead after the war. When Francesca’s family insisted on immediately playing the record, Cameron apparently doubled over in embarrassment. Yet somehow he was able to charm his way back into the family’s affections so nimbly that Francesca’s mother predicted his political rise. ‘My mother said to me, “He’ll be Prime Minister one day…” In fact she thought the episode was hysterical, and still does.’ No one else suspected Cameron might one day be PM.

According to his best friend at the time Giles Andreae, better known as creator of the best-selling ‘Purple Ronnie’ cartoon character, Cameron was hard-working but showed no interest in politics. They spent most of their time on the sofa watching daytime TV. ‘We’d watch Neighbours and Going For Gold, and then go for a pint and a game of darts once we’d finished our work,’ he said.

Johnson and Cameron’s political rivalry is every bit as defining of the next ten years as was the Brown-Blair one of the past decade Cameron had almost been thrown out of Eton for smoking cannabis. Perhaps it was this drug-related scrape that meant he kept his head down at Oxford. Or perhaps he just had a blood-borne assurance that he belonged to a grander narrative. As he prepared to leave Oxford with his First in PPE he applied for jobs in banking and management consultancy..and the Conservative Research Department.

On the day of his interview Tory Central Office received a phone call from Buckingham Palace saying that they were about to meet an exceptional young man. It’s unclear who made the call but among the suspects is Captain Sir Alastair Aird, then Equerry to the Queen Mother and husband of Fiona Aird, Cameron’s godmother. Cameron believes it was Aird who made the call; Aird himself denies it. Whatever the truth, it seems that Cameron’s blue-blood connections did him no harm. Perhaps the most revealing snapshot of Cameron at Oxford is not, ultimately, the photograph of him in his Bullingdon finery but the image of him kicking back on the sofa watching daytime TV. He didn’t need to try too hard, and his lack of obvious ambition may be his biggest weapon. Oxford alumnus Toby Young says, ‘Cameron very consciously didn’t just hang out with other old Etonians but mixed a lot with other people. That’s probably what makes him such an effective leader today.’

Johnson always wore his ambition to be prime minister on his sleeve. Yet he’s likely to be pipped to the top job by someone he’s known most of his life but probably didn’t suspect was a contender until quite recently. This is a political rivalry every bit as defining of the next ten years as was the Brown-Blair one of the past decade. And it all started more than 20 years ago with the photo, when Boris met Dave. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1215635/Our-Boys-Bullingdon-The-early-years-David-Cameron-Boris-Johnson.html

London Olympics Opening Ceremony

Know Thine Enemy – Nat Rothschild, Jo Johnson & Osborne – Closing in on Downing Street

Nat Rothschild and best mate Jo Johnson Getting a grip on things. A general election throws up many opportunities.
MoS2 Template MasterThe Spectator Summer Party

April 26 2013; Boris and Jo: A sibling rivalry to eclipse the Milibands

Ever since one certain flamboyant blond became London Mayor, speculation has been incessant (and, of course, regularly fuelled by the man himself) that it wouldn’t be long before a Johnson moves into No 10 Downing Street. But few people expected that rather than Boris Johnson himself, his little-known younger brother, Jo, would get there first. Indeed, the 41-year-old’s appointment as the head of David Cameron’s policy unit took most people in Westminster by surprise.

The promotion of the old Etonian (‘Johnson Minimus’ in the posh school’s parlance), an MP for only three years, was the idea of Chancellor George Osborne. Apart from harnessing Jo’s strategic skills in a bid to make the Tories more popular, the move is seen as a mischievous ruse to rein in Boris, who makes no secret of the fact he wants to succeed Cameron as Tory leader. The thinking is that if his brother is part of Team Cameron, Boris won’t want to be seen as a critic.

This is a classic piece of Osborne devilry. As a colleague says: ‘He hopes that although Jo’s presence in Downing Street will wind up Boris, it will make it more difficult for him to criticize the Government.’ But it is a huge gamble that could easily backfire – not merely for political reasons but also because of the fact that family loyalty is a double-edged sword when it comes to the Johnson clan. For not only are they fiercely competitive with the rest of the world, they are fiercely competitive with each other. Indeed, cradle-reared competitiveness has been a hallmark of Johnson family life. So a great danger for Cameron and Osborne is that little Jo’s appointment will consume big brother Boris with jealousy and propel him to even more Machiavellian tactics to muscle his way in to No 10.

As Boris’s biographer Andrew Gimson says, the childhood of the two Johnson boys (and their sister Rachel and other brother Leo) was one of ‘cut-throat meal-time quizzes, fearsome ping-pong matches, height, weight and blondeness contests’. But equally, the family has a formidable clan loyalty – so some fear there is the risk that Jo might even help Boris achieve his once self-proclaimed ambition to be ‘world king’. As one friend of Jo’s says: ‘Cameron and Osborne may think his first loyalty will be to them but they may find to their cost that it is to the Johnson clan.’

Indeed, many Tory MPs believe that Jo is more likely than Boris to become Prime Minister. One backbencher says: ‘He’s is brighter than Boris, he’s nicer than Boris, he’s got less personal baggage than Boris. It could be David and Ed all over again.’ Although politically inexperienced, Jo is undoubtedly very clever, with a first-class degree in Modern History from Oxford as well as two further degrees from European universities. His friends love to point out that the fluent French speaker has more qualifications than Boris. Of course, as the youngest of the Johnson clan, he had a great deal of catching up to do in the wake of Boris, now 48, journalist Rachel, 47, and entrepreneur Leo, 45.

After three lucrative years as an investment banker with Deutsche Bank, he joined the Financial Times – working in Paris and South East Asia before editing the influential finance column, Lex (a previous incumbent being Nigel Lawson). He eventually turned to politics and was selected by the Tories to fight the seat of Orpington, which he won in 2010. His parliamentary career has been unremarkable, as he has risen from being an effective member of the Public Accounts Committee to junior whip.

Diffident to the point of shy, the only things he appears to have in common with Boris are his genes and blonde hair. No showman, he’ll never appear on TV’s Have I Got News For You or get himself stuck on a zipwire. He’s sanguine about living in the shadow of his celebrity brother, who has 685,000 followers on Twitter to his own 3,500.

Although Jo, like Boris, was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club (a drinking society known for its wanton acts of drunken vandalism, and numbering Oxford’s wealthiest undergraduates among its members), he has strong links with the Left through his marriage.

His wife is Amelia Gentleman, the Guardian’s trenchantly left-wing social affairs correspondent. Her father is the brilliant artist David Gentleman, best known for being the most prolific designer of stamps in the Post Office’s history and for his platform-length mural at the Charing Cross Tube station in London.

Amelia (who went to St Paul’s, one of Britain’s leading private schools) and Jo have two children and a conventionally happy marriage that is the antidote to Boris’s scandal-strewn love life. As one of Cameron’s so-called ‘modernisers’, Jo will use his role in the No 10 policy unit to give the PM’s image a sharper political edge and develop radical ideas for a government widely thought to have run out of intellectual steam.

Among his key interests are the benefits of Britain forging stronger economic and strategic links with India. Unlike Cameron, though, he believes that the Government should cancel its controversial £250million annual aid package to the country. Such views will clearly infuriate Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems, who believe that the policy unit should serve the interests of the Coalition rather than just the Conservative Party.

Labour will undoubtedly try to exploit Jo Johnson’s links with Boris, as well as depicting him as utterly out of touch with the struggles and aspirations of ordinary voters. Only the eagle-eyed will have spotted Jo in embarrassing published photos of ‘The Buller’, wearing the members’ uniform of Georgian tailcoats.

He is standing proudly in a group which includes a young George Osborne. Labour will surely also highlight the fact that Cameron’s revamped policy unit team includes two more Old Etonians: Hereford MP Jesse Norman, who is also the former director of an investment bank, and bungling Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin.

For the non-partisan observer, however, the most intriguing tensions are not political but familial. The father of the Johnson clan, Stanley, is unrepentant about having created a competitive atmosphere among the four siblings and has described Boris as ‘the great prodigious tree in the rainforest, in the shade of which the smaller trees must either perish or struggle to find their own place in the sun’.

With typical self-promotion, sister Rachel reacted to Jo’s appointment with a tweet, saying that she’s waiting for ‘her telephone call from 10 Downing Street’. For his part, an irritated Boris (who is now not an MP, remember) is already being ribbed that his ‘little brother’ got to Downing Street first. The risk for him is that Jo will become accustomed to being in No 10.

If David Cameron loses the next election he will surely step down as Tory leader. Any ensuing battle between Johnson Maximus and Johnson Minimus would make the act of fratricide between the Milibands seem by comparison like an exercise in brotherly love. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2314934/BoJo-JoJo-How-Boris-younger-brother-Jo-Johnson-Minimus-sibling-rivalry-eclipse-Milibands.html

Bullingdon Boy Jo

April 27 2013; Jo Johnson almost got thrown out of Oxford for leaking riot to Boris’s paper

When Boris Johnson’s younger brother Jo was given a plum 10 Downing Street job by David Cameron, the political commentators were agreed, Jo is a much more strait-laced figure than the London Mayor. But new revelations from his Oxford University days have shown a more risk-taking side to ‘Johnson Minimus’ – including a claim that he was threatened with expulsion from his college for selling a story to the national newspaper where Boris worked. He also showed flashes of his brother’s rakishness in a review of the university’s party scene which included a picture of amphetamine powder, complete with the caption: ‘The solution?’

Mr Cameron shocked Westminster last week by appointing 41-year-old Jo as head of his policy unit. The promotion prompted headlines about Jo becoming the ‘first Johnson into No 10’, with profile writers noting that although both men attended Eton and Oxford, only Jo – the more ‘sensible’ of the two – won a first-class degree. But according to a 1992 edition of the student newspaper Cherwell, Jo had more of a buccaneering image at the time.

In a piece written to mark Jo’s appointment as editor of Isis, a rival publication, Cherwell described Jo as a ‘Nat-ite’, a reference to his friendship with banker Nat Rothschild: Jo was famously pictured with Rothschild and George Osborne in a 1993 Bullingdon Club photograph unearthed by The Mail on Sunday.

The Cherwell article, written at the start of Jo’s second year as a Balliol history student, describes him as a ‘Rothschild crony’. It says: ‘His crowning glory was an article he penned for the Daily Torygraph over the summer about the New College Ball … a 100-word piece shuffled into the corner of the Peterborough column.’ According to Cherwell, Jo told the Telegraph that ‘class war loonies’ who had disrupted the rival ball were Balliol students, triggering a furious reaction.

British Prime Minister David Cameron (R)

April 27 2013; A contest between my two boys? That sounds like tremendous fun! Says Father Stanley Johnson

Stanley Johnson got the news late because he spilled wine on his phone. Now a proud father celebrates his son Jo’s new job in No10. A Johnson in No 10! I did a sudden double-take when I saw the front-page headlines. Jo had telephoned me a couple of days earlier to say that some kind of move was under discussion, but I certainly hadn’t been expecting front-page news. The BBC had the story too.

My son’s appointment to head the Downing Street Policy Unit didn’t lead the news, but it was not far off. My mobile phone didn’t ring much that morning but that was only because I had spilt a glass of wine over it the night before. As the youngest of the Johnson clan, Jo had a great deal of catching up to do in the wake of Boris, now 48, journalist Rachel, 47, and entrepreneur Leo, 45.

At 11am when I had finally got a substitute from the helpful O2 shop in Camden Town (thank you Nigel Izuchi from Nigeria!), I had a stack of missed calls and voice mails. My first reaction was a purely personal one. I split up with my first wife, Charlotte – Jo’s mother – at the end of 1978 when he was seven. I have never sought to minimise the impact divorce has on a young family and I do not do so now.

It would be absurd to pretend that young children do not feel a cataclysmic shock when their parents go their separate ways. As a father, one has obviously a sense of pride when a child shines in his or her chosen career. In the case of my children, I say to myself: ‘I jolly well did let them down. But they seem to have come through anyway, thank God.’ I particularly feel that in the case of Jo, the youngest of my first four children.

Charlotte, a brilliant painter, had not been particularly well during Jo’s early years. I had perhaps done more ‘parenting’ in Jo’s case, than I had in the case of his older siblings Boris, Rachel and Leo. I can certainly remember quite often reading Jo to sleep in those early years in Brussels when I was working for the European Commission. (And I discovered the Fisher-Price tape-player. You could switch it on and leave it by the bed, while you answered the phone or poured yourself a drink!) When did Jo first begin to surprise me? When did I say to myself: ‘Wow, this kid has really got something’?

I can remember the moment very clearly. It was in July 1994 when he had just finished his last year at Oxford. I was living in Oxford at the time but Jo had already left, so he asked me if I would go to look at the exam results which would be posted on a certain day. I duly looked at the list of third class degrees first. Jo’s name didn’t appear. ‘That’s a relief,’ I said to myself, ‘at least he’s got a second.’ I looked at the seconds. No Jo. ‘Oh dear!’ I said to myself, ‘has he got a fourth?’ When finally I discovered Jo’s name among the firsts, I have to admit I did an Osborne. Not a total Osborne. But a definite puckering-up.

I never really knew Jo was seriously interested in politics until one night I got a text message saying he had been selected as the Conservative candidate for Orpington by one vote on the sixth ballot. And when, on Election night on May 6, 2010, the brilliant electors of Orpington tripled the Conservative majority to over 17,000, and Jo stepped forward on to the rostrum to thank them, I have to admit that I had another of those Osborne moments. I felt much the same this week when I saw those headlines.

It may be a bit odd for a father to take to the pages of a Sunday newspaper to congratulate his son on a spectacular achievement but what the hell! I raise my glass. Jo may have started late in the political stakes, but he has certainly come on fast. Jo Johnson worked for the Financial Times – once the europhiles’ favourite paper and attended a school for the children of eurocrats. As one of Cameron’s so-called ‘modernisers’, Jo Johnson, will use his role in the No 10 policy unit to give the PM’s image a sharper political edge.

The PM and Mr Johnson met today at Downing Street, but Jo’s appointment as the head of David Cameron’s policy unit took most people in Westminster by surprise. Over the last few days, some more fanciful commentators have been speculating about a possible Bo-jo v Jo-jo contest. Is that going to happen in some distant future? Frankly, I haven’t the faintest idea. But if it did, I am sure that – from a spectator point of view at least – it would be tremendous fun.

We Johnsons, as I keep on reading nowadays, are ‘famously competitive’. In my view, Jo, as an MP head of the policy unit with ministerial rank, has a chance to contribute to the major regeneration of Conservative fortunes which could, I believe, now be in prospect. Yes, we will lose seats in next week’s local elections but that was always on the cards, given how well we did last time.

More to the point is the fact the Conservatives, at this point in the electoral cycle, could be much further behind than they are. But what will it take to bring the party together into a coherent, unstoppable force between now and May 2015? The key thing will be actually to listen to the voice of the traditional Conservative voters.

I spent almost 20 years on European issues. It’s time to lance the boil one way or another. Bill Cash’s call for a referendum now – that is, before the next Election – makes a lot of sense. At the very least there is surely a strong case for getting the legislation providing for a referendum through Parliament before the next Election.

Jo may be a ‘European’. He grew up in Brussels, went to school there, and holds degrees from two European universities, as well as Oxford. But that doesn’t mean he’s a fanatic European. Jo, obtained a First from Oxford, is a fluent French speaker has more qualifications than Boris. I’ve canvassed with him in Orpington. I’ve spoken at the Orpington Ladies Lunch Club! It’s quite clear to me that traditional Conservative loyalists in Orpington and around the country are troubled, to put it mildly, at the current state of the relationships between Britain and Europe.

Jo is astute enough to see that finally making good on David Cameron’s ‘cast-iron guarantee’ of a referendum is politically wise as well as intellectually coherent. There are other things the new policy team might want to take another long, hard look at. Have we really got immigration under control? How many Conservative voters does planning Minister Nick Boles lose each day in his mad rush to concrete over the green fields? Why do we need all those new houses, if not because the previous government simply let immigration run riot?

Why, for that matter, do we need the HS2? Aren’t there other, far better things to spend £30 billion on … and counting? And, while I’m about it, what about the mad EU biofuel directive which is leading to the destruction of rain-forests all over the world? And Jo’s wife, Amelia Gentleman, is an award-winning reporter for The Guardian, so I doubt if she shares my opinion. But Jo has a cool head and a logical mind. He is trained to see beyond the breakfast table.

Much has been made of the Conservatives’ need to ‘reconnect’ with their roots. That, as far as I can understand, is one of the things Jo will have to promote in his new role. Does this all sound pretty serious? Does it sound too serious? In politics, as in real life, a good sense of humour can go a long way. So is Jo going to be funny enough? If you have any doubts, just click on to YouTube and watch Jo’s maiden speech in the House of Commons on June 27, 2010, a few weeks after the General Election and the formation of the Coalition Government.

Jo begins by saying: ‘Anyone hoping that I will enliven proceedings in the manner of one of my elder brothers is likely to be sadly disappointed.’ He goes on to read out a quote from Private Eye. ‘He could not be more different to Boris. It is as though the humour gene by-passed Jo altogether and he inherited only the ambition gene!’ I was in the chamber that day and I heard the loud laughs that greeted that remark.

But Jo turned the joke into a serious point, saying: ‘It is absolutely fair comment, but I don’t really apologise for the humourectomy, nor indeed for any hint of ambition that you might detect. ‘For these are serious times and politicians need to be ambitious when the country is in such a mess. ‘History will not forgive us if we flannel around in this house for the next five years and fail to pick the economy up off the floor where it is at the present.’ Watch this space!
Book launch party for Diary of The Lady

The John Smith Centre is Designed to Undermine the Integrity and Authority of What is Left of the Impartiality of the UK Civil Service Through the Expansion and Influence of Political Special Advisors

 

 

 

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The John Smith Centre at Glasgow University

The Insidious Glasgow University supported John Smith Centre is designed to undermine the integrity and authority and what is left of the impartiality policies of the UK civil service through the expansion and influence of political special advisors (Spads).

This article provides a look-back at the unfettered growth of the political Spad, many of whom go on to  become career politicians.

By result the austerity punished taxpayer is lumbered with an additional massive and ever expanding expense in the £billions supporting many hundreds of privileged party animals who, from the time they leave university until retirement age sponge of the state.

The Spad monstrosity should be discontinued and the Civil Service reinstated.

 

 

 

 

The Look-back

In his final months as Prime Minister,  Blair accepted that his government had:  “paid inordinate attention to courting, assuaging, and persuading the media” (Blair: 2007).

The admission, made ten years after he had led the Labour Party to a landslide general election victory in 1997, was confirmation of one of the defining characteristics of his government.

In July 2009: there were 74 SPADS in post at Labour controlled Westminster providing advice to government ministers at a cost to the taxpayer of £6million.

In December 2015: under the Tory coalition government the number of SPAD’s increased to 97. Costing £11million.

 

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Spin doctors

In addition to the political SPAD’s the government employs “spin doctors” whose role is to put a positive face to anything the government might do regardless of truth or probity.

The most infamous “Spin Doctor” in recent times was Blair’s, Alistair Campbell who, less than a week from forming the first “New Labour” Government signalled his intentions to reform the government communications system,  telling a meeting of information officers that he:
“wanted them to be able to predict what would be on the front page of the Sun the next day-and help write it.”
The message was clear: Campbell wanted a civil service press machine which was more assertive, more proactive, and one which was able to respond at speed.
Paul Waugh, a political journalist since the 1990s, recalled that Labour spinners found the civil service:  “an interference at worse, and an obstruction at best.”  (http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/74743/)
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Mundell -The Scottish Office and his abuse of Scottish finance

The Scotland Office has been branded a “marketing campaign for the Union” after figures showed its budget for press officers had increased fivefold in little over 5 years.

In 2010/11 the Scottish Office employed 2 communications staff at a cost of £108,439.  By 2015/16 staff had increased to 9 at a cost of nearly £500,000.

An analysis of Scottish Office press briefings indicated each release had cost the Scottish taxpayer nearly £7,000.

Further examination of the content of the releases revealed that all of it was aimed at marketing the benefits of the “Union”

 

Ed Milliband & his SPAD Katie

 

 

 

Roles and responsibilities of the SPAD

SPAD’s are paid employees of the State and are – subject to specified exceptions – required to conduct themselves in accordance with the Civil Service Code.”  which states that the highest standards of conduct are expected of special advisers.

i. “Specifically, the preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks has no part to play in the job of being a special adviser as it has no part to play in the conduct of public life.

ii. “Any special adviser ever found to be disseminating inappropriate material will automatically be dismissed by their appointing minister.

iii. “Special advisers…must observe discretion and express comment with moderation, avoiding personal attacks.”

iv  “All contacts with news media should be authorized, in advance by the appointing minister.”

But the world of the SPAD is murky. They are accountable only to the Minister that appointed them.

There is no formal recruitment process or interview. How does it work?

Nepotism.

A minster decides he needs a SpAd. He gets in touch with the Downing Street office and obtains permission to appoint one.

Approval granted the minister contacts an old friend from University who might be between jobs and offers him the post.

The person accepts.

The following Monday the new SPAD reports for duty on a salary of between £60,000 -£155,000.

Nice if you know the right people.

 

Norman Lamont and his SPAD

 

 

The (late) Sir Jeremy (Cover-up) The Law? I am the law!!!

Heywood, then Cabinet Office Supremo and Head of the Civil Service, nicknamed Sir Cover Up after preventing the Chilcott Iraq War inquiry from seeing letters and records of phone calls between Blair and was caught up in a row over bending the rules of the Civil Service by illegally permitting Cabinet Office, SPAD’s  to campaign for the Tory Party in a bye-election.

Sir Jeremy was a powerful force at No10. Cameron once joked: “Remind me, Jeremy, do you work for me or do I work for you?” Critics alleged he was complicit in the culture of “sofa government” when Blair was PM.

 

Blair and his Spin doctor Alistair Campbell

 

 

 

The SPAD’s and Spin Doctors wield the Power in the murky sewers of Westminster

Disparagingly dubbed the: “people who live in the dark”. They are often spotted darting through the television studios of Westminster with their minister, briefing papers under arm and Blackberry in hand. Young, sharp and driven, they are politicians-in-waiting.

Among former SPAD’s are Cameron, Osborne and the Miliband brothers,

Employed as temporary civil servants, they do not have to be politically impartial like their civil service colleagues.

They link together the minister, the party and the department.

They are also the bridge between the neutral civil service and politicians.

They help write speeches, some are policy wonks, while others focus on the media.

If a journalist wants to know what a cabinet minister thinks or understand what a policy is about, a call to the special adviser is one of the first ones to make. But they are sometimes sneered at by some journalists.

Michael Jacobs, former special adviser to Gordon Brown, told the BBC that: “while ministers needed civil servants for impartial advice, they needed SPAD’s to help them to make political judgments and consider different options: “They are the lubricant in the machine.”

Spad’s first became a permanent fixture in Whitehall in the 1970s.

Their number ballooned under Labour.

In 1996 there were 38 working in government, costing the taxpayer £2m.

In 2004 the number peaked at 84 and in 2008/9 there were 74, at a cost of £6m.

But their expanded ranks prompted concern about their role.

Critics voiced concern that a more American, politically driven civil service was sneaking in via the special advisers and lines of accountability were being blurred.

Just after the terror attacks in the US on 11 September 2001  SPAD Jo Moore sent an e-mail to a colleague saying it would be a good time “to bury” bad news. He behaviour triggered a number of reviews into the role and power of SPAD’s.

Another spad-related scandal was the revelation that Gordon Brown’s Spin Doctor, Damian McBride had been guilty of smearing senior Tory’s in e-mails. This prompted Brown to ask the cabinet secretary to review the rules governing their behaviour.

 

William Hauge and his SpAd enjoy a walk in the sun

 

 

 

Agreed limits to be applied to the number of SPAD’s at Westminster and beyond

The Conservative opposition committed to a reduction in the number of SPAD’s. A democracy task force, headed by Ken Clarke MP, recommended they be halved.

Number of SPAD’s employed at Westminster:

1996/7: 38

1997/8: 70

2004/5: 84

2006/7: 68

2008/9: 74

2009/10: 71

2010/2011: 74

2011/2012: 85

2012/2013: 98

2013/14: 103

2015/2016: 97

2016/2017: 88

2017/2018: 99

2019/2020:  Expected to be significantly higher due to Brexit

Under the Tory government, special advisers to roam the corridors of Whitehall in ever increasing numbers.

Their close relationships to cabinet ministers and lobby correspondents give them influence – a power that can hatch into a political career later on.

A successful stint as a SPAD is a significant crucial political apprenticeship – as many of the current crop of professional politicians can testify – so long as they stay in the dark.

 

Brown and his SPAD Damian McBride

 

 

 

SPAD’s are over protected and should be accountable

They are among the most shadowy figures in government.

They sit at the right hand of Cabinet ministers and in some cases wield more influence than even the most senior civil servants, yet their names are rarely known to the public.

They are unelected and unaccountable to either the public or Parliament.

They are the chosen few, though how they come to be chosen is something of a mystery.

Their privileged positions are never advertised, but increasingly the posts they hold lead to the very top of politics.

 

Osborne and his SPAD Rupert Harrison

 

 

 

Pay and Other Forms of Remuneration

Cameron and Clegg broke their promise to curb the numbers of highly-paid SPAD’s.

In opposition Cameron promised to ‘cut the cost of politics’ and the coalition agreement said there would be a ‘limit’ on the number of special advisers.

In opposition Clegg said, “special advisers shouldn’t be paid for by the public”.

But as soon as he got his feet under the Cabinet table, he broke his word.

Osborne froze the wages of six million public sector workers at the time the Coalition came to power, plunging many into poverty under his cruel austerity drive.

Yet the heartless Chancellor handed one of the chief architects of the public sector pay freeze, fellow Old Etonian, friend and SPAD, Rupert Harrison, a 19% inflation-busting increase boosting his £80,000 salary by £15,000.

Not to be outdone, Treasury minister, Danny Alexander bumped up the pay of his own adviser, Will de Peyer by 16 per cent to £75,000 then employed an additional SPAD on a £95,000 salary.

A Tory government Cabinet Office list registered the employment of 26 special advisers in Downing Street of which six were paid £100,000 or more.

To the foregoing was added Cameron’s:

Chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn £140,000.

Director of Communications, Craig Oliver £140,000.

Deputy Head of the No 10 Policy Unit, Christopher Lockwood £ 134,000.

Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Graeme Wilson £110,000.

Deputy Chief of Staff, Kate Fall £100,000.

Director of Communications (Mr Clegg), Steve Lotinga £105,000

Plus another 3 SPAD’s and another 16 SPAD’s to support the Lib/Dem ministers.

 

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Is there a way out of this mess?

Asked to comment a senior (retired) civil servant said:

“When I was a civil servant I was expected to keep my political opinions to myself. It was also expected, having signed the Official Secrets Act, that I would not reveal information to which I was privy because of my job.

It seems to me that there is a basic conflict of interest here. Should SPAD,s be paid for put of the public purse?

If so, is it compatible with public interest for them to stand for a political interest anyway?

The employment of SPAD’ at the expense of the taxpayer should be discontinued and replaced with civil servants entrants with specialist expertise.”

 

If you want to get to the top in politics regardless of talent !! Get a job as a SPAD to a minister.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Cameron & Jewish Zionists – What’s Not to Like?

David Cameron Levita – His Jewish Lineage

David Cameron’s Jewish family name, Levita is the Latin form of the name Levite, a Jew descended from the Tribe of Levi, the son of Jacob and one of the original twelve tribes of Israel. The leader of the Levites at the time of the exodus from Egypt was Moses, who was married with two sons. It is entirely possible therefore that he is a direct descendent of the Prophet. If affirmed he would be more royal than the queen.

Emile Levita, who came to Britain as a German immigrant in the 1850’s is Cameron’s great great grandfather. Granted citizenship in 1871, he enjoyed considerable financial success, becoming a director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, which had offices in Threadneedle Street in the City of London. He took on all the trappings of an English gentleman – he hunted, owned a grouse moor in Wales, and started an educational tradition which has continued through to today’s Tory leader, by sending his four sons to Eton. Emile’s eldest son, Arthur, a stockbroker, married Steffie Cooper, a cousin of the Royal Family providing Cameron with a link to King George III, an ancestor he shares with the Queen – his fifth cousin once removed.

Team Cameron’s big Jewish backers 12/10/2006

Having been selected to lead the Tory party, by prominent members of the Jewish community, Cameron’s bid was championed and fully financed by his backers in his successful bid for power. The biggest Jewish donor to the party, while Mr Cameron has been leader is gaming magnate Lord Steinberg, who has donated £530,000, plus a loan of £250,000. Hedge-fund owner Stanley Fink has donated £103,000, even though he was a declared supporter of Mr Cameron’s leadership rival, Liam Fox. A further £250,000 has been loaned by philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield.

During Mr Cameron’s campaign to lead the Tory Party, Jewish figures gave his team (as opposed to the Party) additional donations of more than £60,000. Direct donations to, “Team Cameron” in the leadership battle came from philanthropist Trevor Pears (around £20,000), Bicom chair Poju Zabludowicz (£15,000 plus £25,000 to the party), Next chief executive Simon Wolfson (£10,000 plus £50,000 to the party), former Carlton TV boss Michael Green (£10,000) and Tory deputy treasurer and key Cameron fundraiser Andrew Feldman (£10,000 through his family firm, Jayroma).

Beyond the donors, a small but influential group of Jewish Conservative officials and politicians were also key players in Mr Cameron’s campaign for the leadership. Among them was party treasurer and managing director of Cavendish Corporate Finance, Howard Leigh, who worked closely with Mr Feldman running the so-called “Team Cameron,” both were charged with broadening the party’s donor base. Mr Feldman is a close friend of Mr Cameron, whom he met as an undergraduate at Oxford University. Other senior figures around the leader included Oliver Letwin, head of policy. A former shadow Home Secretary and shadow Chancellor, Mr Letwin, like Mr Cameron, is an Old Etonian.

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who seconded Mr Cameron’s bid to become Tory leader, decided early on that he was the man “of the future.” He backed his campaign because, “I saw that he had great leadership qualities.”
The Key Players

Andrew Feldman – met Cameron at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is a close friend and tennis partner of the leader. A member of the Tories’ so-called Notting Hill set, he lives in West London with his wife and two children. Mr Feldman attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s school, and, after qualifying as a lawyer, entered the family’s ladieswear firm, Jayroma. Having acted as fundraiser for Mr Cameron’s leadership campaign, he is now deputy treasurer of the party and is in Mr Cameron’s economic-policy group.

Michael Green – former chairman of Carlton Television, gave financial support to David Cameron’s leadership campaign. He said, “I am a big supporter of David Cameron but I want to make it clear that I have not supported the Tory Party. I have supported David Cameron’s quest to become leader,” he said.

Lord Steinberg — formerly Leonard Steinberg — became a life peer in 2004 and is a major donor to the Conservatives. Raised in Belfast and educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the 70-year-old Baron Steinberg of Belfast was a founder of Stanley Leisure plc, the gaming company, serving as executive chairman from 1957 to 2002 and non-executive chairman since then. He is a former deputy treasurer of the Tory party and is a founder and chairman of his family charitable trust. His political interests are listed in Dod’s, the parliamentary guide, as Northern Ireland, tax and gambling, and Israel.

Simon Wolfson – A donor to David Cameron’s leadership campaign and to the Conservative Party, Simon Wolfson, 38, continued a family tradition when he became an adviser to Mr Cameron on improving economic competition and wealth creation. The son of Lord Wolfson, who was chief of staff to Margaret Thatcher, Mr Wolfson, chief executive of the Next clothing chain, was one of the youngest advisors to be appointed by Mr Cameron. Along with MP John Redwood, Mr Wolfson jointly chaired the advisory group that sought to reduce red tape and improve education and skills in the workplace. It also examined the country’s transport infrastructure.

Grant Shapps MP – As vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and seconder to David Cameron’s campaign, backbencher Grant Shapps persuaded parliamentary and constituency Tories of the virtues of Cameron.

David Cameron Spoke to the Movement for Reform Judaism 12 April 2010

Thank you for inviting me to write a few words for your newsletter. I have many friends on this mailing list, so as we’re now about to launch into a General Election campaign, this might be the last they hear from me for a few weeks. I would also like to send you my best wishes as you celebrate the festival of the Passover.

I am a great admirer of the Jewish people and your extraordinary achievements. I’ve long seen your community as a shining light in our society. To me, one of the biggest contributions of Judaism is its understanding of what makes a responsible society. Last summer, I gave a speech to Jewish Care where I talked about this idea. I quoted a phrase of Rabbi Hillel’s which I think captures it beautifully: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I?” That urgent, selfless moral compulsion to change the world for the better is right at the heart of the Jewish way of life. If I become Prime Minister, I want to see that idea of responsibility extend right across our society. A key part of that will be about building a stronger, more cohesive society – and that means doing much more to tackle the rise of anti-Semitism. I was appalled when the Community Security Trust told me that there were more anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2009 than in the whole of any previous year. We need big changes to root out this extremism – stopping preachers of hate from entering this country, banning those extremist groups who are already here, and doing much more to tackle radicalisation in our universities.

But I don’t just want to make our society stronger. I also want to build a bigger society. And we can’t do that without backing faith-based organisations in the good work that they do. Take faith schools, for example. They are a really important part of our education system and often have a culture and ethos which helps to drive up standards. Through our school reform plans, there will be a real growth in new good school places, and I’m sure some of these will be in faith schools.

So there is a lot I admire about your community, and a lot more that I think it can offer if given the chance. At this General Election, I’m asking the British people to have faith in me and the Conservative Party to bring change to this country. The truth is that we can’t afford five more years of this tired Labour government making this worse. A Conservative government will do much more to protect and empower the Jewish community in our society. Voting Conservative gives us a chance to make these changes and together, we can put this great country back on her feet.

Cameron declared himself a Zionist 2010

“I am a Zionist,” Conservative Party leader David Cameron told an audience of party supporters of Israel in London on Tuesday. “If what you mean by Zionist, is someone who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country then, yes, I am a Zionist and I’m proud of the fact that Conservative politicians down the ages have played a huge role in helping to bring this about,” Cameron declared. The Conservative leader was guest of honor at the Conservative Friends of Israel annual business lunch, which was attended by some 500 people – including half the parliamentary party, 30 Conservative parliamentary candidates, former leaders, lords and Israel’s ambassador.

Channel 4 In Depth Investigative Report on Zionist Lobbying Groups

Shown on Channel 4 in 2011 the content sought to bring the matter to the attention of the public to the excessive political influence of the Zionists in the UK. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfw5aLYiq5k

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=4868
http://website.thejc.com/home.aspx?AId=46698&ATypeId=1&search=true2&srchstr=++%22big+jewish+backers+%22&srchtxt=0&srchhead=1&srchauthor=0&srchsandp=0&scsrch=0
http://empirestrikesblack.com/2014/01/all-in-the-family-david-camerons-jewish-roots-and-the-coreligionists-who-brought-him-to-power/
http://news.reformjudaism.org.uk/press-releases/david-cameron-speaks-to-the-movement-for-reform-judaism.html
http://www.jpost.com/International/Cameron-declares-himself-a-Zionist
http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/David_Cameron-Levita
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_of_David_Cameron

So Where is the Money Coming From George? Don’t Be Silly From the British Taxpayers of Course.

So Where is the Money Coming From George? Don’t Be Silly From the British Taxpayers of Course.

1. More problems, (other than the £4 billion annual cost of the war in the Middle East) for George to deal with in the next few weeks. All of which will be passed on to the taxpayer whether they agree with it or not.

2. George Osborne, (Chancellor of the Exchequer) in his autumn statement, for delivery to the country in November will announce an increase and extension of existing austerity measures. This will include a number of new cuts in welfare spending and public sector pay restraints, to last for the duration of the parliament and beyond.

3. But MP.s will take up their 11 per cent pay & expenses rise at the start of the new government in 2015.

4. Another bombshell, landing on the desk of the Chancellor is the report, (commissioned by the Speaker of the House, Mr Berkow) from an eminent group of building surveyors giving warning that the entire building is suffering from chronic and continuing deterioration due to subsistence.

5. Corrective measures will need to be put in place so that the Grade 1 listed building can be protected from any further deterioration. These will address;

a. Big Ben is off the vertical by around 18 inches.

b. Significant stress fracture cracks in the walls of the building.

c. Boilers and piping systems are in very bad condition due to their age.

d. Electrical wiring is badly in need of replacement due to fire risks and multiple safety hazards.

e. Internally the Commons chamber itself also needs extensive work and at some point during the next Parliament will have to be shut for 18 months. MPs are expected to relocate to the Lords, with peers probably meeting in the QE2 conference centre opposite Westminster Abbey.

6. The entire programme of works will take between 10 and 20 years to complete and will be tackled in stages so as to reduce disruption. Projected costs vary but conservative estimates are between £4 and £6 Billion over 10 years. Note: Forward planning costs for such a large project is an art not yet perfected and the eventual total cost to the nation may well be in excess of £10Billion.

7. Both Houses agreed that doing nothing is not an option and an independent appraisal of a range of options is under way. The priority will be to ensure value for money for the taxpayer while safeguarding the heritage of the Palace. The final decision will be taken in the next Parliament.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2644902/Osborne-fury-MPs-demand-4billion-save-Houses-Parliament-Chancellor-warns-better-think-again.html