POLITICAL & COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE

We help companies affected by political change. To access our political and commercial intelligence service, email GUIDE’s Chief Executive on greig@theguideconsultancy.com


Government steps up in tech

Liam Maxwell has just been appointed HMG’s first National Technology Adviser. The move represents the increasing influence of the Cabinet Office across all Government Departments, while the “Council of Experts” that will be drawn from businesses that work with Government will have an impact on different firms’ ability to win major Government contracts.

DfT Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce (STAT)

STAT meets for the first time today and the new body has some ambitious goals: 30,000 new transport apprenticeships; 20% of new apprentices to be women; and a 20% increase in BME apprentices. The new body also reflects the growing trend where Whitehall instructs businesses to pay, collect, and deploy taxes to meet social policy objectives. In the short term, suppliers who can help meet the new targets will be at a significant commercial advantage.

The GUIDE to the week, 14th April

It was a pleasure to welcome BIS Select Committee Chair Iain Wright to the GUIDE steak night yesterday. Thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable evening. Away from the wine and food, here’s our take on the rest of the week…

FU-kip

“Grassroots Out” and “Leave.EU” took the news of Vote Leave being the official Brexit campaign with as much good grace as expected – none. Politically, Leavers will be disappointed (and disadvantaged) by their reluctance to support Vote Leave. Practically, it was also pretty stupid for a major Leave.EU donor and two Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to meet in a Westminster bar and moan about how “they were stitched up”. One of my colleagues (and everyone else in the bar), heard the trio explain that “UKIP is f***ed”, predict that “Nigel Farage will set up a new online party the day after polling day”, and weigh a legal challenge to Vote Leave. Bonkers.

Holier than thou

The Church commissioners manage a £6.7bn pension fund, so they have some serious political clout. Their latest move has focused on ExxonMobil and climate change. More widely, it points to the growing political activism of large scale investors from both the public and private sector. This trend will grow…

Levy levees

Everyone knows the Apprenticeship Levy raises big questions for business. Working closely with Civil Servants on this over the past six months, we have seen it raise a few in Whitehall, too. A major obstacle for BIS officials is the way other Departments have responded, with some seeing the programme as a turf grab intruding onto skills policy in “their” sector. As a result, some bureaucratic walls have gone up, even as the launch date gets closer.

Cabinet Committees hint at policy changes

The all-powerful Cabinet Committees (groups of Ministers charged with pushing issues that affect multiple Departments) have been shaken up. Among those changed is the health and social care taskforce, with Priti Patel's removal reflecting a different approach. Whatever changes though, Oliver Letwin remains ubiquitous - showing where real political power lies in Whitehall. Full details of the new line up are here: http://bit.ly/23y3ZDH

Don’t shoot the messenger: MPs vote for best journalists

We asked Populus to survey more than 120 MPs to find out which journalists give the best analysis of what’s really happening in Westminster.

To find out about the Government’s back benches, Tory MPs say turn to Isabel Hardman and Matthew Parris, with fellow Spectator journalists James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson also listed. Tim Montgomerie gets a mention, too – showing he has kept his finger on the Tory pulse even while he’s Stateside…

Labour MPs nominated Owen Jones, Jon Snow and Andrew Rawnsley to help explain the secrets of their side of the House, giving a thumbs up to some of the Guardian’s leading columnists. However, Labour Party members might be less thrilled that the Mail’s Dan Hodges paints an accurate, if rarely pretty, picture of what’s happening under Jeremy Corbyn.

Meanwhile, Iain Macwhirter of The Herald is the runaway favourite of SNP MPs.

Perhaps most importantly, we asked all MPs who gives the best overall analysis of politics – and the BBC scored a hat-trick. The Today Programme’s Nick Robinson won third place, the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg was second, and Andrew Neil from the Daily Politics was comfortably voted the best overall political journalist by Members of Parliament. Maybe a few Ministers will let him interview them now…

Here’s a summary of the final results:

 

 

Best overall

Best on Conservatives

Best on Labour

Winner

Neil (17%)

Hardman/Parris (16%)

Jones (11%)

Second

Kuenssberg (12%)

Montgomerie (14%)

Snow/ Rawnsley (7%)

Third

Robinson (6%)

Neil/ Forsyth/ Nelson (10%)

Robinson/ Hodges (4%)

 

For media comment and full data tables, please contact Greig Baker, GUIDE’s Chief Executive, on greig@theguideconsultancy.com

GUIDE is a political intelligence company based in Westminster. We commissioned Populus to interview 122 Members of Parliament between March-April 2016.

In the EU campaign, it turns out tax DOES have to be taxing…

Financial issues could become the weakest card for Remainers, where previously it was their strongest.

Most obviously, as well as being politically embarrassing, the PM’s tax arrangements could give a kick in the shins to the Remain team’s EU referendum campaign. For the next few weeks, anything that further undermines trust in the political establishment is going to make it harder for that establishment to win the plebiscite.

More subtly, a number of negative economic stories started to gain traction over the weekend – with notable examples including fears for Germany’s industrial base and reports of a new bail-out fund being needed to shore up Italian banks.

If people doubt the economic case for voting to stay in the EU, the Remainers may end up wishing they had pushed the emotional case earlier and harder…

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister

Many of our clients ask what a Johnson administration would be like. Three things stand out: its success or failure would depend on his staff appointments, as he is not a details man; it would probably include some form of “compulsory philanthropy” for big companies and the wealthy; and MPs like Andrea Leadsom would enjoy rapid promotion.

Please email us for more details.

A testimonial from Care England

Care England is the leading representative of independent care services in England. They have this to say about GUIDE:

"GUIDE presented Care England with a clear strategy on how to deliver a policy change, which would be very advantageous to our membership.   

This objective was reached ahead of time, and on budget. GUIDE were professional, did all the work associated with the proposal, but kept Care England fully informed throughout the process.

The GUIDE consultancy is professional, reliable, cost-effective and above all, they deliver on the objectives which have been set."

Civil Service school

The Cabinet Office will be working with Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government to promote Social Impact Bonds and train Civil Servants in commissioning techniques. The “Government Outcomes Lab” will focus support on local commissioners, as part of Whitehall’s attempt to coordinate approaches by Local Authorities, the private sector and charities (paradoxically, within the Government’s devolution agenda).

Blurred lines

Budget pressures are blurring the line between central Government and large corporations, with Whitehall asking companies to deliver more and more of its policy agenda. The National Living Wage and Apprenticeship Levy are obvious examples and another step is taken today with the Cabinet Office’s creation of ‘national standards’ for private firms, designed to increase social mobility by tracking employees’ socio-economic background from childhood. For more details, see the announcement here: http://bit.ly/1Uc9xlA


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