The last article I just did was about the fairness of Alex Salmond and the SNP in General. https://shaunynews.com/2015/03/12/why-indyref2-isnt-just-a-pipe-dream-for-scotland/ This Westminster criminal behaviour I spoke about and here it right in our faces, Danny Alexander propping up the Tory Party, make no mistake, this is where the fake money was going. The Telegraph got him to believe they were donors and wanted to financially help the Lib Dems. Well you will see the video’s in the link after Via: at the top, you make your mind up what Scotland you want, what people you want living in it and running it because all I see here is Westminster at it’s best. Cheating and in the end the poor suffer
With the Budget only days away, Danny Alexander was locked in crucial talks with the Chancellor and the Prime Minister over the Coalition’s final package of tax and spending plans. But in a lavish restaurant, a respectable distance from Westminster, an even more important group of people were waiting to hear from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury earlier this week.
Gathered around the table, were eight of the country’s most influential people – who the Liberal Democrats hoped would financially support their forthcoming election campaign. Among those gathered in the private room – as Mr Alexander swept in 45 minutes late – were the man entrusted to run the Government’s shareholding in state-owned banks, the former chief executive of the world’s biggest hedge fund and a representative of a wealthy Dubai-based businessman.
Also present was an undercover reporter from The Telegraph – who had recently made an illicit donation to the Liberal Democrats – which, just days later, had led to him being ushered into the select dinner. It is thought to be the first time details of how a political party privately sets about trying to woo financial backers have been made public.
From the tone of the conversation, it appeared that several had already provided money to Nick Clegg’s team – and were passionate supporters of the Liberal Democrat cause – but their apparent support for the junior Coalition partner was not previously known to the public. The host for the evening was Lord Fox, the former chief executive of the party, who is now a director of a FTSE-100 engineering company.
His pitch was simple: “To win, we are going to need resources and we are going to ask you to help us,” he told the table. “Now some of you can stick your head over the parapet and have done in the past and for that we’re very grateful and will certainly be asking you again. Others I know because of your professional position and where you are find that much…much less easy to do. “And of course there is a way, in terms of anything under £7,500 [that] isn’t reported and doesn’t have to be reported to the Electoral Commission. There’s nothing shifty about that, nothing rare about that. It’s just the way the rule works, that’s the threshold for reporting.”
While he hoped his guests could feel able to “put your head over the parapet” the party “would really understand” if they would rather give discreetly.
There is no suggestion that any of the guests were involved in any wrongdoing. However, for the undercover reporter present, the advice on offer was familiar – ashe had already donated money to the party and been thoroughly advised on how to avoid the public limelight in the process. But, what sort of access to the highest echelons of Government could a donation to the Liberal Democrats buy?
The evening began much like any other private function that may have been held at Villandry in St James’s. Attentive staff took drinks orders as guests were led into the private room by the maître d. As a pianist played in the background the guests, some of whom had previously been generous backers of the Conservative Party, engaged in small talk on pub licensing and the election debates.
Lord Fox greeted the Telegraph’s undercover reporter as he approached the group. “I’m Lord Fox, but I never use it. I work with Emma in fundraising.” For Emma Cherniavsky, the Lib Dems’ chief fundraiser, the reporter was now a familiar face who she thought was a wealthy Indian businessman. Ms Cherniavsky, who is responsible for ensuring the party has as much money as possible to spend on reaching voters, told the reporter of her reservations about a recent political broadcast featuring Nick Clegg. “The hard thing about those broadcasts is, in a way you want to do something cheeky or funny or something that’s going to get people’s attention,” she said. “But when you’re the deputy prime minister you sort of have to be the statesman, so in a way, I think we’ll see more interaction on social media and voters getting mobilised.”
Ms Cherniavsky’s observations were the first in a series of insights that the businessmen would gain during the evening from a party clearly wishing to capture their interest – and their money. The conversation over drinks was peppered by Ms Cherniavsky and Lord Fox with references to their as-yet absent guest of honour. “You can ask Danny how that’s going tonight,” Ms Cherniavsky said when she was asked about the disagreement between the Lib Dems and Conservatives over the Budget. In a discussion about the location of the restaurant, Lord Fox noted that with “Danny coming up from the Treasury – it’s very useful for him as well”. “Syed” – the undercover reporter – was one of nine people chosen to attend the private dinner with Mr Alexander – the second most senior figure in the Liberal Democrats and the minister, along with George Osborne, responsible for the nation’s finances.
Another guest, Mark Petterson, the director of a large wind farm developer, who said he had been invited on a number of government trade missions, explained he was a “card carrying member” of the Lib Dems, who he believed were “a good bunch”.
When the guests were invited to sit down for dinner, another attendee, Daniel Shakhani, the chief executive of a private investment firm, pointed out that Syed had been placed at the head of the table. “That shows the respect they have for you,” he said. Lord Fox then politely invited everyone seated at the table to introduce themselves to the group before the arrival of their first course. First was Jitesh Gadhia, senior managing director of the Blackstone Group, a US private equity giant. Last summer Mr Gadhia was appointed to the board of UK Financial Investments (UKFI), a limited company set up in 2008 to manage the Government’s investments in banks bailed out during the credit crunch.
Opposite him was Robin Budenberg, one of the architects of Gordon Brown’s bailout plan, who was chairman of UKFI until January. Following Mr Budenberg came an introduction from a bespectacled man in his 50s, who introduced himself as Peter Clarke. “I used to run what was then the largest hedge fund in the world, Man Group,” he said. “I am now retired but I keep involved in investment management.”
Then came introductions by Heather de Haes, an Australian-born businesswoman involved in a series of arts and property ventures, and Martin Read, the chairman of Laird PLC, a technology firm, and a former director of British Airways, Boots and Asda. Another guest explained that he managed the London interests of Mohammed Galadari, a Dubai-based businessman who owns the Crowne Plaza hotel in the City, but was unable to attend the dinner himself. Mr Galdari was, though, “a very keen supporter of the party”.
When he finally arrived, Mr Alexander made his apologies in a way that only one of the most senior figures in government could. “Unfortunately this dinner is taking place on the day in which we have to finalise the Budget, and I’ve just come from an important meeting that went on for 45 minutes longer than planned so we haven’t quite managed to do that yet,” he said. “So I apologise profusely.” Then came the moment that apparently many of the guests had been looking forward to – an opportunity to put questions to Mr Alexander and raise points of concern. Dr Read, complained about the number of procedures that anyone setting up a small business needed to follow. Mr Alexander expressed sympathy with Dr Read’s points, revealing that he had “a very personal perspective” because his wife had been setting up a business over the past three years.
“She was working and then she took time out to have kids and then she wanted to go back to work and then the route she chose was to set up her own business. And actually, it’s been very interesting for me as someone who’s trying to take some of these decisions to see the trials and tribulations. And she’s not even yet trying to employ anybody. She’s just setting up on her own and delivering services and interacting with the revenue and – all the different things that.” He added: “It is bloody hard work and it is stressful and people who do that are making a big contribution to our society, not just to themselves and yet we still I don’t think make it as easy as we should for people to do that.”
A number of the guests congratulated Mr Alexander on the work of the Coalition, and the role played by the Lib Dems, while others questioned the minister on topics ranging from welfare to the result of the referendum on Scottish independence, and the general election. Ms de Haes, who now lives in Switzerland, suggested Mr Alexander should be looking at creating an “incentive” in the tax system “for people to come back to England”. “It’s not about avoiding tax, it’s about a fair tax system,” she said. Much of Mr Alexander’s pitch to those present was the danger faced by the EU referendum – and how businesses needed to speak up to avoid the alleged “danger” of a British exit.
“I agree with you about the European Union question. It’s a massive one,” he said. “If I think about the number of businesses who came to talk about Scottish independence and the risk that that posed. EU exit is the same thing multiplied tenfold because it applies to every exporting, investing business in the UK and then there’s the knock-on effect in terms of unemployment and so on. “And, look – I wish the issue of a referendum on Europe in the next parliament was not on the table, but it is. It’s probably no comfort to you whatsoever but I think that we would win that referendum handsomely.”
As the guests prepared to leave, Ms de Haes told Syed how she had “tried to push the tax issue” with Mr Alexander, “but you know he doesn’t go very far with that”. However, during the dinner, the Chief Secretary did boast about cutting the top rate of tax to 45 percent – a Conservative policy initially blocked by the Liberal Democrats. With the evening drawing to a close, Syed was ushered to one side for a private conversation with Mr Alexander and the Liberal Democrat fundraisers.
Mr Alexander appeared to have been briefed on our undercover reporter’s fictional background – striking up conversations about Syed’s business ventures in the Midlands and London and discussing Indian politics. He discussed with Mr Alexander his enthusiasm for investing in social housing, referring to previous discussions about how he and the party might “complement each other”.
Mr Alexander reassured him that the Government had been trying to make the planning system “more friendly with people who want to get on and develop”, believing it is a “really important” issue. “We’ve been trying to make, in general, the planning system and so on more friendly with people who want to get on and develop. We think it’s really important. Actually with social housing there is also a very good return because there is demand for it, there is remuneration for it from the government. So it offers … it’s secure in that respect as well as serving a good social purpose.” The discussion then turned to the fictitious Indian businessman’s potential support for the party. Ibrahim Taguri thanked him for his support, but hinted that he was “running out of time” to make a significant donation in time for the bulk of the election campaign.
Mr Alexander said: “We are the movers and shakers, and we are the people who are just making it happen differently. But we also need people to get behind us. And I know you’ve got behind Ibrahim, which is brilliant, wonderful, amazing. Please keep doing that. But if you felt able to get behind the party more generally it would really, really make a difference to us.” He later added: “I just want you to know that I personally am very, very grateful for what you are doing and for what you are offering to do, and to reassure you, it genuinely will make a difference to the results of the election,” he said. In the context of what we were talking about tonight – I mean really it will make a difference, so I won’t intrude on the details, but genuinely it would make a difference.”
And, with the pitch complete, the evening was over.
WHO ARE THE VILLANDRY EIGHT?
Daniel Shakhani (Paul Grover /The Telegraph)
Daniel Shakhani, chief executive of RDS Capital
Formerly at Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland, Mr Shakhani, 37, is now chief executive of a private investment firm handling the portfolio of David Reichmann, a property developer. The firm also advises clients including Michael Milken, the billionaire American former financier. Mr Shakhani is chairman of the London branch of the Young Leaders Circle run by Mr Milken’s think tank. Mr Shakhani is on the board of Hand in Hand, a charity set up to fight child poverty.
Jitesh Gadhia (Bloomberg)
Jitesh Gadhia, senior managing director at the Blackstone Group
Mr Gadhia, 44, has worked in investment banking for more than 20 years, holding senior positions at Barclays Capital, ABN AMRO, a Dutch bank, and Baring Brothers, where he witnessed the collapse of Britain’s oldest merchant bank. He joined the advisory business of Blackstone, a US private equity giant, in 2010.
Mr Gadhia, a Cambridge graduate, has previously donated £190,000 to the Conservative Party and another £18,000 to the Conservative Friends of India – with the most recent donation in November 2014. In September he made his first donation to the Lib Dems, of £25,000.
Robin Budenberg, former chief executive and chairman of UKFI
A former senior banker at UBS, Mr Budenberg , 55, took a significant pay cut in 2010 to become chief executive of UK Financial Investments, the body in charge of the taxpayers’ stakes in bailed out British banks.
While at UKFI he played a significant role in negotiating the departure of Stephen Hester as chief executive of RBS and oversaw the sale of Northern Rock. In 2012 he was replaced as chief executive and became chairman. He joined Centerview Partners, an investment banking and advisory firm, last year.
Peter Clarke (Bloomberg)
Peter Clarke, former chief executive of Man Group
Mr Clarke, 55, was chief executive of the Man Group, the world’s biggest listed hedge fund, for six years until 2013, having previously served as company secretary and finance director. He left the firm following a slump in its share price which led to pressure for him to stand down.
He joined Man Group in 1993 having worked in investment banking. He is a qualified solicitor and practised at Slaughter and May, the City firm. He has now retired.
Mark Petterson, director of Warwick Energy
A chartered engineer and former employee of BP, Mr Petterson has worked in the electricity, gas and oil sectors for more than three decades.
He co-founded Warwick Energy in 2000 after the collapse of Independent Energy, where he previously worked. He set up the new firm with the men who ran Independent Energy, after the firm became overcome by billing problems. The men denied any wrongdoing. Mr Petterson, 54, is responsible for Warwick Energy’s offshore wind projects.
The company built the 30-turbine Barrow wind farm off the Cumbrian coast, as well as the Thanet offshore wind farm , comprising 100 turbines around four miles off the Kent coast. It also helped develop a 67-turbine wind farm off the Norfolk coast.
Heather de Haes(Sven Klinge)
Heather de Haes, founder of Arts Global
Ms de Haes, 60, is an Australian-born former flautist with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra who set up a series of arts-related businesses in London during her 20 years living in Britain.
In 1999 she set up Arts Global, a charity working to “empower” emerging artists across the world.Ms de Haes, who now lives in Switzerland, has also worked in property, with a biography on the Arts Global website stating that she has used “her artistic skills to add value to prime properties in London, western Switzerland and Manhattan.”
Martin Read, chairman of Laird PLC
Dr Read, 65, was chief executive of Logica, an IT and management consultancy firm, from 1993 and 2007. In 2001 it was reported that he cashed in shares and options worth £27million, awarded for delivering big profits.
He has previously served on the boards of Invensys, Aegis Group, British Airways, Siemens Holdings, Boots and Asda. Last year he became chairman of Laird, a technology firm. He is also a director of Lloyd’s of London and the Government’s Efficiency and Reform Board. He has served on the Conservative Party’s advisory board on public sector productivity.
Representative of Mohammed Galadari
Mr Galadari, 49, is a Dubai-based businessman who has previously given £255,250 to the Conservative Party. His last donation to the Tories was £25,000 to the constituency party of Mark Field, the MP for Cities of London and Westminster, in 2011. At the dinner a representative of Mr Galadari, who manages his hotel interests in London, said that he is a keen supporter of the Liberal Democrats. In 2008 he was reported to have bought the Crowne Plaza hotel in Blackfriars, which falls within Mr Field’s constituency, for £80 million.
Lord Fox Lib Dem peer and former chief executive
Lord Fox, 57, is communications director at GKN, a motoring and aerospace components firm based in Redditch, Worcs. He has held the role since January 2012, before which he was chief executive of the Lib Dems for almost three years, a period spanning the 2010 general election.
He was previously communications director at Smiths Group, an engineering company, and director of corporate relations at Tate & Lyle, the sugar firm.
He was made a life peer by Nick Clegg, joining the House of Lords in September 2014.
Emma Cherniavsky, chief fundraiser for the Liberal Democrats
Ms Cherniavsky replaced Ibrahim Taguri as the Liberal Democrats’ chief fundraiser in July 2014, joining the party from International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organisation working to prevent or resolve conflict.
She had previously worked at Human Rights Watch, another NGO, for more than a decade initially working at its Southern California branch, before serving as founding director of a network of the group’s committee members across the world.
She studied international relations at Brown University in the US, before obtaining a masters in international law at The John Hopkins University.
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