ACE OF SPADS

In this post, we thought we would cheer you up by reminding you that after pestilence there are another three horsemen of the apocalypse galloping over the horizon. Once the disaster capitalists in Westminster have finished exploiting the Coronavirus we have Brexit to look forward to. All under the watchful eye of Vote Leave’s very own Varys.

In June, Rajeev Syal wrote in the Guardian about the increasing influence of Cummings and his cabal of handpicked “SPADS” or Special Advisors in Downing Street and Cumming’s plans to revolutionise the Civil Service. Syal states in the article that within months of Johnson taking power, “Cummings had helped transform the system governing ministers’ closest advisers so that he now had the power to control staff and move them from department to department with Johnson’s say-so – and, crucially, without needing a green light from ministers.”

Syal also quotes Cummings as being increasingly frustrated about the complacency he felt pervaded the Civil Service. Cummings states “almost no-one is ever fired” and “failure is normal, it is not something to be avoided.” This is ironic considering the fact that Cummings and other high-profile members of this government like Robert Jenrick appear to be “unsackable”, no matter how much the public despair over their behaviour and failures.

Various other sources, including this excellent article in The Canary, have already commented on the spectre of the Vote Leave team that has been haunting the corridors of No. 10 since Johnson’s election. What we want to focus on is how Cumming’s directives involving the Civil Service represent a further consolidation of influence, and how he is using his Vote Leave establishment connections to do it.

Boris Johnson was a prominent figure in the Vote Leave campaign. Cummings was the Campaign Director. As we will illustrate below, those directing and disseminating the government strategy are inextricably linked to Vote Leave. As Syal points out too, Cummings appears to have a strategy for his civil service shake-up. So, is he motivated by a desire to strengthen the Civil Service, or, does his hiring of Hanbury Strategy suggest an imperative to strengthen his control over the Civil Service?

VOTE LEAVE ALUMNI

Diagram illustrating Matthew Elliott’s and Vote Leave’s sphere of influence. Image courtesy of Desmog.co.uk.

Firstly, just a brief reminder of some of the key figures mentioned in The Canary article:

BEN GASCOIGNE

Currently Boris Johnson’s political secretary. Former posts as special advisor to Johnson and involved in Mayoral and 2015 elections for the Conservative Party.  Formerly a political consultant at Crosby Textor.

You may remember the name Lynton Crosby. This crypto- Cummings, along with associate Mark Textor, were behind numerous Conservative campaigns, including Johnson’s mayoral election and David Cameron’s general election victories. More recently The Guardian claimed in 2019 that multiple Facebook group accounts promoting a Hard Brexit were linked to CTF Partners, Crosby’s lobbying firm.

“Gazza” also worked for Grayling as a member of the senior advisory board and reported directly to Richard Jukes. Jukes is a former SPAD himself and worked for William Hague during his tenure as leader of the Conservative Party. Grayling was founded by the Lord Chadlington Peter Gummer. He is a businessman, Conservative donor and Life Peer, educated at the independent King’s School in Rochester and then Cambridge. His daughter, Naomi, currently a Public Policy Director for Uber was a political advisor to then Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

LEE CAIN

“Caino” is currently Downing Street Director of Communications under Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is a former journalist for The Daily Mirror. Worked for Johnson when Foreign Secretary and for his leadership campaign. Was employed in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove. Significantly he was also the Vote Leave Head of Broadcast. His most useful contribution to British politics to date is probably when he dressed up as a chicken to harass then Prime Minister David Cameron.

ROB OXLEY

Oxley is Downing Street Press Secretary under Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He has quite the C.V. of advisory roles, working for such Conservative luminaries as Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and Michael Fallon. He was also a colleague of Lee Cain in the PR wing of the Vote Leave campaign. “Roxstar” is also affiliated to the Taxpayer’s Alliance. As you’ll know from our previous articles, the Taxpayer’s Alliance was founded by none other than Matthew Elliott, who was also the Chief Executive of Vote Leave. The Taxpayer’s Alliance are based at 55 Tufton Street.

ANDREW SABISKY

An honourable mention must be made here of Cummings “Misfit and Weirdo” Andrew Sabisky. The man who “argued that forced long-term contraception might help tackle the problem of a ‘permanent underclass’”, is a former advisor to Boris Johnson. He has been an attendee of the invitation only London Conference on Intelligence; the reason it is invitation only is because of the borderline Phrenological theories up for discussion. Other attendees include Toby Young. Yes, THAT Toby Young.

HANBURY STRATEGY

As Syal points out in his article, the new system for interviewing, and thus selecting SPAD candidates will now, in a break from tradition, be outsourced to a third party. This third party is Hanbury Strategy. As Syal also mentions, Hanbury was founded by another Vote Leave communications department alumni, Paul Stephenson.

Paul Stephenson has a long and intimate relationship with the Tories. Another former SPAD, he has worked with Andrew Lansley and Philip Hammond. He was also involved in the 2019 election campaign.

Stephenson is also a former researcher at the Open Europe Think-Tank. Open Europe was a pro-Brexit organisation with links to former advisors from David Cameron’s government and supporters include “Gazza’s” former boss Lord Chadlington and Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin. One former Chairman is Conservative donor Simon Wolfson and speakers at events include Jacob Rees-Mogg, Dominic Raab, Nick Boles and George Osborne. Part of the Stockholm Network, Open Europe was based at 55 Tufton Street and amalgamated with the Policy Exchange Think-Tank in 2020.

Stephenson’s colleague and co-founder at Hanbury is Ameet Gill. He is a former Strategy Director for David Cameron and researcher for historian Niall Ferguson. Gill also has advisory connections to Vote Leave’s very own Skynet, AggregateIQ, a company linked to in our previous article.

Oliver Lewis is currently Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy advisor at No.10. Prior to this he was a director at Hanbury Strategy. He was also a research director for the Vote Leave campaign and Business for Britain. Business for Britain is another Pro-Brexit organisation, whose chief executive was Matthew Elliott. Lewis has contributed to the Spectator and Standpoint.

Jonathan Suart is currently a Hanbury director. He is a former communications manager for Vote Leave.

Some other Hanbury figures with notable connections to the Conservatives and conservative circles are:

James Kanagasooriam, partner at Hanbury and former election campaign manager for Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. Advisory board member to think-tank Onward and Spectator contributor. Onward was founded by Neil O’Brien MP. He is a former director of Policy exchange and Open Europe.

Hanbury director Joe Moor is a former Director of Legislative Affairs for the government under Theresa May’s premiership.

Joseph Slater is a director at Hanbury. He was a research intern at the Bright Blue think-tank. Bright Blue was founded by Ryan Shorthouse. Shorthouse was a research fellow at the Social Market Foundation. Others affiliated to Bright Blue are journalists Mathew D’Ancona, Mathew Parris and Rafael Behr. Political members include Nick Boles, Frances Maude and David Willetts.

Associate Director of Hanbury Russell Newton is a former advisor to Dominic Raab MP.

It should be noted that there are Hanbury employees drawn from both Labour and Liberal Democrat circles but this article is concerned only with illustrating the Conservative matrix of connections!

If you refer back to our article about Director of No. 10 Policy Unit Munira Mirza, we discuss how former members of Living Marxism have used entryist methods to infiltrate the UK establishment.  Entryism, a tactic favoured by Trotsky, “is a political strategy in which an organisation or state encourages its members or supporters to join another, usually larger, organisation in an attempt to expand influence and expand their ideas and program”. Leave.EU campaigned in the wake of Brexit to deselect Conservative MP’s who would not endorse a Hard Brexit. 

****UPDATE: 04/09/2020*****

The Guardian published this article detailing a further, untendered, Covid contract awarded to Hanbury Strategy by the Johnson and Cummings administration after they had already received the work outlined above.

CONCLUSION

They can remove the disingenuous comma now!

So, can we consider the mainstream media a critical voice in this matter, truly holding those in power to account? Do you think articles like Syal’s are enough, acknowledging what is happening but not questioning, challenging, digging? What we are observing here is nothing less than a entryist coup led by Cummings and his Brexiteer ideologues. The media is rarely reticent about “extremist” cabals infiltrating and subverting the democracy of governments the UK is opposed to, such as “Far-Left” Maduro in Venezuela or the religious Ayatollahs of Iran. Why do right-wing cabals, closely associated to British capital, get a far easier ride from the British corporate media?

The UK media is, of course, part of the same establishment as the politicians, corporate leaders and the think-tank advisors we have mentioned above. They form a matrix of complex associations and affiliations that instinctively protect and perpetuate a system of power and privilege. This attack on the civil service is another overt example of how the establishment subverts democracy by selecting and promoting those within their own ranks.

Viewed in this light, Cumming’s assault on the Civil Service is not an aberration but the continuation of a long-term strategy. By using his establishment connections to gain control of the vetting process Cummings can install those that have the same principles and private interests as his own, at the expense of the rest of us.

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