Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Monday 22 July 2013

Cameron’s Crosby Sleaze Problem

[Update at end of post]

Young Dave does seem to have a problem with selecting his close advisors: first, despite all the warnings he was given, including from the editor of the deeply subversive Guardian, he gave Andy Coulson a berth as chief spinmeister, and now he has retained the services of the singularly unpleasant Lynton Crosby, just to advise the party, you understand.
Yes you, ya bladdy drongo

Lynt also works for Philip Morris, the company that owns the Marlboro brand, and by sheer coincidence, plans for cigarettes to be sold only in plain packets were left out of the last Queen’s Speech, and have now – at least for this parliament – been abandoned. In 2009, over 100,000 died from smoking related diseases. Plain packaging contributes to smokers kicking the habit.

Yet Cameron has no problem with having Crosby advise both him and Big Tobacco, although he once again failed to answer a direct question from Andrew Marr yesterday on whether or not his advisor has had a conversation with him about the plain packaging issue. And Marr didn’t ask him about Crosby’s connection to the shale gas industry, the one that just scored favourable tax breaks.

As if this were not enough to set alarm bells ringing, now has come the news that Crosby’s firm has been giving assistance to the H5 Private Healthcare Alliance on exploiting perceived “failings” within the NHS. If that were not a sufficiently serious conflict of interest, Crosby’s fingerprints, as I pointed out the other day, were all over the crude and vicious briefings around the Keogh Review report.

So Crosby sets in train the stories that were carried in the Telegraph, Mail and Sun on July 14, pushing the “13,000 deaths” figure, describing NHS hospitals as “death traps”, and talking of “squalor”, knowing that not only did none of that feature in Keogh’s report, but also that if he frightened enough of the public, it would mean more business for his private sector clients.

Then Keogh’s report was published, and demonstrated that the briefing had been a pack of lies. What to do? Brief the same story over again, that’s what. What has clearly been a political operation to spin Keogh’s findings has apparently left him furious at the Tories and resulted in him personally apologising to Andy Burnham, the target selected by Downing Street for the most vicious abuse.

But the H5 Private Healthcare Alliance will be more than happy, as they and other like-minded organisations seek to reverse the recent decline in the percentage of the population going private (from 12.8% to just 10.8% over the past decade). Meanwhile, the questions will continue to be asked about what influence Crosby wields, and the potential for corruption of Government.

And just imagine the furore if he’d been advising a Labour Government.

[UPDATE 1610 hours: the counter spin has already started, with the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog pretending that the private healthcare presentation featured by the Guardian earlier was no big deal, because someone who supports Labour was there (the Guardian did not say otherwise). The Fawkes folks also have the whole of the presentation, which begs the question as to who passed it to them (we don't get to hear that, of course).

The Guardian is accused of being selective in its presentation, and The Great Guido illustrates this with a slide asserted not to feature anywhere in the Guardian article.
Sadly, someone at the Fawkes blog has not read the article they are slagging off: the very first point on the slide, "The British people are proud of the NHS, but also supportive of a role for private hospitals in Britain's overall healthcare system" is reproduced word for word in paragraph 10 of the currently available Guardian piece.
So when The Great Guido talks of "a lengthy Corrections and Clarifications coming tomorrow", you know that, as usual, it won't be the Fawkes rabble doing them. They don't say sorry, just amend and cut in the hope that no-one notices. Another fine mess]

No comments: