Tag Archives: vince cable

Vince Cable registered polling on same day Scrapbook complained

Vince Cable and Tessa Munt

With the Standards Commissioner now investigating Vince Cable and his PPS Tessa Munt for failing to declare private polling conducted in their constituencies by their ally Lord Oakeshott, it now emerges that Cable actually declared his — on the very same day that Scrapbook published the complaint we’d submitted.

Name of donor: Lord Oakeshott
Address of donor: private
Amount of donation or nature and value if donation in kind: conducting a local opinion poll, value £6,000
Donor status: individual
(Registered 5 June 2014)

Another happy reader.

Standards Commissioner to investigate Cable on Oakeshott polls

Vince Cable and Tessa Munt

The parliamentary standards commissioner is to open an investigation into Vince Cable and his aide Tessa Munt following evidence submitted by Scrapbook (FULL LETTER).

With expensive private polling of their constituencies linked to Lord Oakeshott’s botched coup against Nick Clegg, the pair failed to declare any donation-in-kind on the Register of Members’ Intersts — despite such surveys costing more than £4,000 a pop.

Giving the scandal fresh legs, the investigation threatens to further weaken Cable’s moral authority within the Liberal Democrats.


Scrapbook refers Cable to Standards watchdog over ‘Clegg coup’ poll

Vince Cable and Tessa Munt

In light of Vince Cable and his parliamentary aide Tessa Munt failing to declare expensive private polling conducted in their constituencies by ally Lord Oakeshott, Scrapbook has referred them to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Letter in full below.


Vince Cable and aide have failed to declare £8,000+ in private polling

Vince Cable in black tie

Vince Cable has failed to declare expensive polling of his constituency provided privately by his friend Lord Oakeshott. Surveys carried out by ICM and funded by the wealthy peer were a cornerstone of an abortive coup attempt against Nick Clegg — but haven’t yet appeared on the relevant parliamentary register.

Along with a survey of his PPS Tessa Munt’s constituency in Somerset, the financial value of the 500-person polls would come to at least £8,000 and is well above the threshold for declaration on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Fighting suggestions he was looking to unseat the Lib Dem leader, Cable admitted last week that Munt had been shown the figures ‘in detail’:

“I was aware that [Oakeshott] was conducting other polls around the country and I was certainly told in general terms what the trends were, and in one particular case concerning … Tessa Munt from Wells, we sat down and discussed the details with her.”

But a new version of the register (PDF), including entries up to and including this Monday (2 June) has no mention of the donations-in-kind:

Vince Cable and Tessa Munt: no Oakeshott poll declarations

The constituencies of Lib Dem MPs Ian Swales (Redcar) and Julian Huppert (Cambridge) were also polled by Oakeshott but it is not known whether they were shown the results before the details were released into the public domain.

Parliamentary rules state:

“it is the responsibility of Members to notify changes in their registrable interests within four weeks of each change occurring”

It may still be possible that Cable registered the polling after Monday, in which case he may advance the defence that he was only shown the breakdown in the last four weeks.

This version of events would rely on Oakeshott, one of the business secretary’s closest political allies, keeping private polling of Twickenham a secret from him for at least two weeks.

Vince Cable’s PPS invents imaginary holiday to avoid coup questions

Tessa Munt in Barbados

With several MP pals of coup plotter Lord Oakeshott — including Vince Cable — the beneficiaries of expensive private polling conducted in their constituencies, the next edition of the Register of Members’ Interests will be of interest when it drops on Thursday.

With such research from ICM coming in at no less than £4,000 a pop, the donations-in-kind should not only have been declared (FULL REPORT) but threatens to make life uncomfortable for the various MPs concerned — given polling by the former Lib Dem peer was the cornerstone of his botched attempt to dislodge Nick Clegg.

Cable’s PPS Tessa Munt was among the MPs called by Scrapbook this morning to ask whether she had declared a 500-person survey of her Somerset constituency. With the self-styled “switchboard” of her tiny Wells office referring us to a number in Liberal Democrat HQ, Scrapbook tested whether Munt and her office could keep their story straight:

Scrapbook: “Was Tessa Munt on holiday last week?”
Tessa Munt’s office: “No. [pause] Errrrr … she might have been.”

When called by Guardian hack Rowena Mason last Thursday, Munt claimed she was on holiday and “didn’t know what’s going on” vis-a-vis the polling:

Tessa Munt holiday tweets

Which was strange, because she had attended a business networking breakfast in her constituency that morning, before apparently departing for Westminster:

Tessa Munt holiday tweets

Working during her holiday. How selfless(!)

UPDATE: The proof that Munt is lying »

Has Cable breached rules on declaring £4,000+ Oakeshott poll?

Vince Cable as Yoda

As Michael Crick observed earlier this week, a private constituency poll is a substantial donation-in-kind which should be declared as an interest by any MP lucky enough to receive one:

It’s not just Cable who was given details of Oakeshott’s ICM polling either. Cable’s PPS Tessa Munt was briefed and Oakeshott is also close to Ian Swales, whose Redcar constituency was surveyed. Cable admitted this week:

“in one particular case concerning … Tessa Munt from Wells, we sat down and discussed the details with her”

Scrapbook understands a 500-person constituency poll with 12 questions would come to an absolute minimum of £4,000 a popwell above the £1,500 threshold for declaration under Section 4 of the rules for the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Section 4(a):

“This category deals with sponsorship or other forms of support by companies, trade unions, professional bodies, trade associations and individuals.”

The support must be “linked to a Member’s candidacy” — which localised general election opinion polling unquestionably is:

“For the purposes of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, support should be regarded as “linked” directly to a Member’s candidacy or membership of the House if it is expressly tied to the Member by name, eg if it is a contribution to the Member’s fighting fund …”

With the register published every two weeks, MPs’ disclosures up to Monday 26 May — one day before the scandal broke — are due for publication. When it drops we’ll know what interests were declared by Oakeshott’s pals and exactly when they were registered — this needs to be within four weeks of receiving the support.

Calculations on the timings aren’t straightforward but could result in apologies from multiple MPs — including Saint Vince …

  • Commons authorities would presumably take the view that the date on which sponsorship was ‘received’ was the day on which an MP was shown the polling by Oakeshot — but we don’t know these dates.
  • We do know when the fieldwork for the polling was completed, however, and Oakeshott is likely to have received the tabulated figures from ICM within 2-3 working days.
  • The Twickenham fieldwork, for example, was completed on Wednesday 16 April, so let’s assume Oakeshott had the details by Monday 21 April at the latest.
  • The scandal of the provenance of the damaging polling — and the prospect of disclosure of details under article 2.6 of the British Polling Council rules — developed this week on Tuesday 27 May.
  • If Cable registered his interest in the poll after the scandal broke on Tuesday, then in order to be ‘in the clear’ with the rule on registering interests within four weeks, he’d need to have been shown the poll by Oakeshott on or after 29 April (four weeks prior).

If a declaration of Oakeshott’s Twickenham polling doesn’t appear in Cable’s entry in the next published update of the Register of Members’ Interests, then a defence against a rule breach would rely on the claim that Oakeshott received the results on an expensive poll of his friend’s seat — and then kept the details secret from Cable for more than a week.

There are a number of working assumptions, but the table below breaks these down for the different MPs involved (Sheffield and Inverness were ‘attack polls’ but included for completeness):

Oakeshott polling and Register of Members' Interests update 1

Curiously, Tessa Munt has decided to pretend she’s on holiday:

We’ll know more next week.


Quote of the day (great clunking ham fists edition)

Senior Lib Dem source on Cable/Oakeshott moves against Nick Clegg:

“The most ham-fisted attempt at a coup since Mark Thatcher”

Ironically enough, Cable was one of the only MPs to pursue the case of Equatorial Guinea coup plotter Simon Mann with parliamentary written questions.

Did Oakeshott hatch polling plot at ‘secret ski summit’ with Cable?

Lord Oakeshott in sunglasses

As widely noted, a key section of Lord Oakeshott’s resignation statement drops Vince Cable in it by revealing that he had known about a secret poll of Clegg’s constituency for “several weeks” — despite describing such practices as “utterly reprehensible”:

“Several months ago a close colleague, concerned about voting intentions in Twickenham, asked me if I would arrange and pay for a poll to show us Vince’s current position and how best to get him re-elected. I was happy to help, and Vince amended and approved the questionnaire”

“That poll worried me so much that I commissioned four more in different types of constituency all over the country …  Several weeks ago, I told Vince the results of those four polls too.”

At the end of the February recess the Mail on Sunday reported on a ‘secret ski summit’ attended by the pair and other political friends — a conspicuous overlap with the timing of “several months ago” referenced in the resignation statement:

“Mr Cable was spotted at the exclusive resort of Courchevel enjoying a £3,000 break with Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott, who is widely regarded in Westminster as the unofficial ‘campaign chief’ for the 70-year-old Cabinet Minister.

The Alpine get-together is bound to reignite speculation about the Business Secretary’s undimmed ambition to succeed Mr Clegg as leader if the party performs poorly in next year’s Election.”

Skiing trips to Savoie rarely end well for coalition politicians.

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