Baroness McDonagh

The opening address at Labour’s conference in 1999, by then General Secretary, Margaret McDonagh is stirring stuff:

But although many of the developments of the 20th century, would shock and surprise them, I am certain that the founding fathers of our party would be proud of how we have translated their values into action. All Labour governments this century have changed Britain for the better. They have legislated in favour of, the many not the few. Since 1997 we have built on that record. Delivering the political dreams of our founders.

Some old-timers might well argue that if the founders of the Labour movement had lived to see a QC in charge of the party they would have strangled him with their bare hands.  But that is to ignore McDonagh’s encouraging certainty that those who died for the cause would be proud to see how New Labour had “translated their values into action…” Possibly it might have been better for her to simply say that she had individually done rather well out of it, but the simple fact is that to talk like that would mean she was being honest, and there is more chance of her giving the money back than that happening. Let us bring a bit of critical uncertainty into the picture by examining the person now under the robes and unelected monarchical title provided by her friends in high places. As described in Hansard this person is now to be called:

“Baroness McDonagh—Margaret Josephine McDonagh, having been created Baroness McDonagh, of Mitcham and Morden in the London Borough of Merton, for life by Letters Patent dated in the afternoon of 24th June 2004, was introduced between the Lord Alli and the Lord Sawyer, the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod and Garter King of Arms preceding; and took and subscribed the oath pursuant to statute.”

Thank you the Tolpuddle martyrs, the fruits of socialism, the political dreams of the founders ”delivered” and all those dead ermine.  It would seem that apart from business lobbyists (if its worth making the distinction) now a new cadre of unelected Lords are rivaling the numbers of hereditary peerages  “ex-general secretaries of the Labour Party now form the largest grouping.” Why is that?

Another indication of literally how far you can go honestly representing the people as opposed to private interests, is that McDonagh is on the board of TBI, the operator of Luton airport, as a non-executive director. Until it sold itself to Abertis Infraestructuras, the company operated eight airports in which it held controlling interests: Belfast International (UK), Cardiff International (UK), London Luton (UK), Orlando Sanford International (US), Skavsta Airport (Sweden), and three airports in Bolivia—yes Bolivia. The company has sold nearly all of its property portfolio, but it still operates the luxury hotel Hilton Cardiff.   TBI’s board included Saatchi & Saatchi’s CFO Charles Scott, Gareth Jones former Managing Director Wholesale Banking of Abbey National plc, Caroline Price and Keith Brooks both formerly with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

But this is not the only financial interests that McDonagh has: ‘shock and surprise’ will turn into ‘shock and awe,’ yes McDonagh is in the war business.  But first: how do you get a peerage? This is a real mystery: is it because you donate to the Labour party or are good at collecting the money?

The ‘Garter King’ meets Baroness ‘McDonor’

McDonagh’s sister Siobhan got annoyed when called a ‘Blair Babe,’ apparently the term is sexist and obviously the Labour party have nothing to do with questionable representations of women. The sisters share a home in Colliers Wood, south London, presumably paid for by the taxpayer. McDonagh herself did not like ‘Tony’s Crony’ either, because again it is an offensive phrase with questionable representations of her reputation. With that in mind, and rebranded as a ‘management consultant,’ it was natural that McDonagh (to ‘changed Britain for the better’) became general manager of ‘Porn Baron’ Richard Desmond‘s Express Newspapers between 2001 and 2002. According to PR Newswire:

Labour party officials insisted at a private lunch that Express newspaper owner Richard Desmond write out a cheque for £100,000 there and then, so that it could be cashed by the party before the deadline for publicly declaring political donations cut in. According to Labour party sources, the lunch took place on 15 February 2001 shortly after Desmond, who also owns a string of pornographic, top-shelf publications as well as the Fantasy Channel, was given government clearance to buy Express Newspapers. It was attended by Margaret McDonagh, then general secretary of the Labour party, and Lord Alli, a Labour fundraiser with close links to Tony Blair.

The same Lord Alli that McDonagh sat beside when both were being ennobled — ‘hey fancy meeting you here, wanna read my porn mag!’ The Newswire report tells us that McDonagh went straight from the lunch with Desmond to the bank. One can almost hear a ghostly murmur of approval from the ‘founding fathers of our party’ at her selfless dedication to the cause.  PR Newswire continued:

McDonagh got her own reward for banking the money so quickly. After the election, she went to work as general manager of Express Newspapers. She held the post for six months and is now studying for an MBA at Harvard. Downing Street was anxious to ease her out of her party job as soon as the election was over. Desmond was happy to oblige with a six-month posting until she left for Harvard.

Who says there are problems with unemployment? Desmond’s purchase of the Express group was subject to an investigation by the re-branded Monopolies Commission, now called the Competition Commission, which reported that there was no reason why his company, Northern and Shell, should not complete the purchase, a move endorsed by then-trade secretary not-too-squeaky-clean Stephen Byers, who had something to say about McDonagh (or is it McDonor):

“There was quite a lot of jealousy in all this — the real rivalry was between Margaret [McDonagh] and Michael [Lord Levy, another Labour party fund-raiser close to Blair]. There was so much kudos associated with bringing in boatloads of money, between Margaret and [Lord] Waheed Alli on the one hand and Michael on the other.”

There seems to be more than kudos associated with the Lord Levy procedure. John Reid is given the last word defending the party’s moral judgement.

If you are asking if we are going to sit in moral judgement, in political judgement, on those who wish to contribute to the Labour party, then the answer to that is no.

OK defending the party’s complete absence of moral judgement — whatever. Now that we can do without morality: what else is dispensable? John Kampfner writing in the New Statesman states that the arrangements for even knowing about this money were secret:

The figures were stored away in a computer database. According to former Millbank insiders, only three people had access to the password — Lord Levy, Amanda Delew and McDonagh herself…It is claimed now that not even Levy or Delew knew about the Desmond money.

Before we look at McDonagh’s other interests a brief word about Amanda Delew. Said to be a protégé of Lord Levy and nicknamed, “Mandy the Loot,” she may be remembered for her efforts to raise £500,000 from Bernie Ecclestone just as Tony Blair was promising to be squeaky clean in front of the cameras and rolling in shit behind them. The ghosts of Labour’s founding fathers should turn away now because there’s another delivery of their political dreams — and how weird dreams can be.  The Mail 22 April 2007, told us that on entering No. 10:

Tony Blair’s determination to weaken the unions’ grip on policymaking had forced the party to rely increasingly on wealthy donors for support. Within days, Amanda Delew had developed a strategy to bring in the cash.

Yes to hell with founding fathers and all that morality crap— and bear in mind this is New Labour entering office, not after years of scamming.  Delew’s “get-out clause” ensured that Blair could continue to claim he was not involved in the fundraising process “and see off any conflict-of-interest accusations.”  So we can bear in mind for later that Delew’s and McDonagh’s craft devises ways to (a) squirm out of conflict-of-interest allegations and (b) devise clever ways of getting money to the party by circuitous and devious routes. Her infamous internal document ‘Post Election Strategy for High Value Donors, ‘obtained by The Sunday Telegraph (in the context of Scotland Yard’s 13-month cash-for-honours criminal investigation) gave an indication of the policy formation process which can be summed up as make-as-much-money-as-possible-before-the-scam-is-rumbled:

…it should be recognised that some donors were initially brought on board by being asked to play a role in the business strategy — thus flattering their desire to offer policy advice. Once they were involved it was possible to suggest other ways that they could help the party. Tony Blair needs to attend a small number of big events (to be agreed) and must continue to have private meetings with some of the more interesting supporters where possible. These meetings should never address the subject of money and wherever possible Michael Levy should be in attendance.

Levy and Delew are reported to have raised £12m before the 1997 election and according to David Osler she “transferred from Blair’s staff to the head office payroll, running the high-value donor unit until her departure in 2001.” Having sorted out the political system she then did-a-lot-of-work-for-charity and became Director of the Giving Campaign, which, according to the Citizen Foundation’s website biography of Delew, was “established by the government to raise awareness of tax-effective giving and to stimulate more giving in the UK.”  Giving to who? Slippery Amanda Delew.  This adds that in 2004, one of its lead projects was “handed over to the Citizenship Foundation” a Cabinet Office-funded group — how charitable. It is part of the Charities Aid Foundation network ( I have put some details on this in the profile of Standard Life).

The Citizen Foundation (ironically) say they try to produce “informed and responsible citizens,” and develop a “moral awareness among school children,” despite the views of John Reid. The organisation provides educational packages (which are now compulsory up to the age of 16 according to the Guardian, January 7, 2005) including the, now withdrawn, “Things Do Change” educational package which included “A brief presentation on the 7/7 bombings from the perspective of the bombers.” This, according to Khalid Mahmood MP risked “encouraging the sort of belief we’re trying to work against.”

Their trustees include: Cherie Booth QC, who we can fairly safely assume, uses it unflinchingly to promote herself. The notion that it is some sort of cat’s-paw for intelligence gathering and/or hanging around the pot of money allocated to fight terrorism is encouraged by the inclusion of Michael Maclay of the ‘strategic consultancy’ Montrose Associates and a member of the Advisory Board of the British American Project which was born out of President Reagan’s public diplomacy moves to create a generation of elitists within the Labour party in favour of US foreign policy (BAP’s Lord Holme was also a Citizenship Foundation member). Maclay was also involved in Hakluyt: the strategic intelligence firm, many of whose directors were formerly senior figures in MI6 and which BP used to spy on and attack against Greenpeace. Hakluyt also involved Baroness Elizabeth Smith, the wife of former Labour leader John Smith. It is advised by a corporate lobbyist for the chemical industry (also a function of the Foundation) and Chatam House Council member, Claudia Hamill.  So it is not just the dreams of the founding fathers of the Labour movement which have been fucked up beyond recognition, but we are not finished yet.

Catz Club

Like nostalgia, charity isn’t what it used to be. According to The Sunday Times, January 4, 2009 a ‘charity’ made illegal donations to the Labour party. Catz Club, the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of childcare, was said to have made a £7,500 donation to the Labour Party and cleverly recycled (magically written-off) government loans and lottery funding into the coffers of the Labour party. McDonagh was a trustee and Amanda Delew, worked as a fundraising consultant. Other Labour links included trustee John Rafferty who also works with Catzclub. Rafferty is a disgraced ex-spin doctor who was put in charge of UnLtd, another huge (£100m) fund designed to privatise the poor.  UnLtd shared its office with the Mezzanine group of think tanks, spin doctors (including Lord Levy and Peter Mandelson) and lobbyists pretending to be otherwise such as Adele Blakebrough’s ‘Community Action Network’,  and oddly enough Adele Blakebrough of the Charities Aid Foundation is a founding partner and trustee of UnLtd. On the 19th September, 2005, McDonagh hosted a highly successful UnLtd Ventures networking evenings using the House of Lords.

The loans that were written off were from Futurebuilders, a government fund which was overseen by the Cabinet Office whose ‘oversight’ extended into removing references to it funding Catzclub from its website. Futurebuilders, launched in 2004, had an even bigger £215m fund which seems to have been used  to encourage the privatisation of charities and use them in a process of “delivering effective public services,” by providing grants and mainly loans to third sector groups to win and deliver public sector contracts. A bit like the much-loved, honest guv’ its value for money, Private Finance Initiative.

In December 2003 a consortium comprising Charity Bank, Unity Trust Bank, National Council for Voluntary Organisations and (oh yes) the Northern Rock Foundation set up Futurebuilders and their trustees and staff do rather well out of it. Such as the man who had to smooth over the mess, Futurebuilders’ chairman, Stephen Bubb, the well-paid (£85k) head of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), credited with organising the ‘VFI’, a voluntary sector version of PFI, which has involved ACEVO, UnLtd, the (up for hire) Institute for Public Policy Research and the Big Issue. The whole operation (well the £215m) was taken over by Bubb’s Adventure Capital Fund, according to Third Sector, 30 January 2008.  Surely, again, with Bubb — described as the ‘Bollinger Bolshevik’ and as someone  who argues  “What we need is a New Labour movement for the charity sector” — this is that convoluted process whereby the dreams of the founding fathers of the socialist movement are realised in some sort of rip-off nightmare surrealist manner.  Bubbs also manages to juggle between twin appointments as an Independent Assessor for government appointments and a member of the Honours Advisory Committee.  No kidding.

Jonathan Lewis, Chief Executive of Futurebuilders explains how the application process works; its a kind of John Reid approach: no application forms— organisations “just contact them to discuss their needs,” interest free loans are provided, “encouraging applications from smaller organisations,” and “swifter decisions” within a week of application. McDonagh, Delew and Rafferty all emerged knowing nothing of this novel and innovative way of channeling money to the Labour party — but they will carry the shame that such an clever opportunity slipped their grasp, probably for the rest of their extremely wealthy lives.

To (possibly inadvertantly) help kids who are confused with all the immorality and amorality stemming from politicians The Citizen Foundation define theft thus:

A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.

My how old fashioned — how did that slip in.  In 2002 McDonagh joined the board of the interactive media group Yoo Media as chairman to help youngsters even further. This:

…provides Local Authorities, Health Service Organisations, Central Government Departments and Government Agencies with innovative and engaging iTV service delivery solutions.

Her appointment as Chairwoman of YooMedia Public Sector came at the same time as Waheed Alli (Lord Alli — yes him again) became a non-executive director. Yoo media also run the naughty chat-line Dateline, part of an ‘integrated dating experience. ‘YooMedia Gambling & Games — in partnership with William Hill — casino and poker gambling services for digital TV, the web and 3G mobile phones. Well she did warn us that “many of the developments of the 20th century, would shock and surprise” those founding fathers.

YooMedia is run by Dr Michael Sinclair who is busy with his other 61 companies including Sinclair Montrose, which announced plans to set up NHS GP surgeries in Boots retail outlets.  McDonagh has got into (a private) bed with him, to use an analogy, with the CareCapital Group Plc which will aim to privatise the NHS.  One has to keep the Conservatives at bay.

Standard Life

Early socialist groups such as the Chartists were mentioned in McDonagh’s speech to the faithful (or gullible morons who propel these kind of creatures to the top); but their modern day incarnation do not seem as ennamoured of what McDonagh has to offer them today:

Margaret McDonagh, the General Secretary of the party, alludes to this in her recent comments. The editorial in the July party journal Inside Labour has McDonagh say, “You’ll also find an updated membership benefits booklet, showing how you can get free legal advice, as well as great deals on a range of products and services.” The idea seems to be that people join a party because they get money off offers or in other ways are attracted to ‘great deals’. This makes joining the Labour Party equivalent to joining the AA or the RAC and with members having as little real control over the organisation. We’re with the Woolwich.

Well with the AA and RAC someone comes out and helps you — they don’t steal your car in the name of old socialists.  But actually McDonagh is a director of Standard Life and was appointed at the same time as Gerry Grimstone who previously held senior positions within the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Security, and was Chairman of Foreign & Colonial Global Smaller Companies plc and Chairman of the RAF Joint Audit Committee, RAF Strike Command Board. Did those founding fathers not go on about how sometimes the British state’s functionaries and the relics of its empire and big companies just seem to merge into one big UK PLC: but how then do you explain the presence of a radical socialist like Baroness Margaret Josephine McDonagh, of Mitcham and Morden in the London Borough of Merton?  Eh?

But to someone as holy and full of virtue as McDonagh the Perquisites and Emoluments of big business are mere material possessions, the Feudal ermine mere ceremonial trappings: underneath these vestigial baubles is a Ragged Trousered Philanthropist full of the knowledge of all that history of  oppression and socialism.  As too is Standard Life’s Norman Blackwell, presently chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) fraudulently set up by Keith Joseph as the base for propaganda for monetarism, privatisation and right-wing ideology, and to promote Margaret Thatcher or indeed as it turned out Margaret McDonagh.

“…the many not the few”

McDonagh wants to work to help the many not the few. Yes Place, Position but what of the third ‘P’ those old socialists used to go on about, good old fashioned Pelf? Baroness McDonagh can now take her place and position in that area where the people’s voice is upheld by unelected appointees and those who have purchased the price of admission. No not the House of Lords: The annual Eligo International New Year’s Reception (2007) hosted in London by Eligo Chairman Anthony Bailey, the subject of a separate profile . Among the guests attending the two hour event was her sister Siobhain, also in the politics business — at that time PPS to the Secretary of State for Defence and from May 2006 Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Dr. John Reid, Mr. Morals. But there was a few other people, too:

The Rev Fr Dr Shafiq Abouzayd, Mr Nicolas Adamson, HE The Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, HRH Crown Prince Muhammad Al-Senussi of Libya, the Charge d’affaires of the Republic of Paraguay, Alderman Sir Gavyn Arthur, Mrs Mavis Badawi, HE The Ambassador of HM The King of Morocco, Miss Oonagh Blackman, The Rev Monsignor Vincent Brady, The Hon Daniel Brennan, The Hon Alexander Brennan, The Hon Patrick Brennan, The Lady Brennan of Bibury, HE The Ambassador of the Portuguese Republic, Professor Richard Conroy, Mrs Geraldine Davies, The Rt Hon Lord Denman, Prince and Princess Peter Doimi de Frankopan, Princess Louis Doimi de Frankopan, Sir David and Lady Durie, Mrs Mehri Esfandiari, Sister Ellen Flynn, Mr Joseph Gaggero, The Rev Canon Jonathan Gough, Mr Gareth Hale, Sir Ewan and Lady Harper, Mr James Hart-Dyke, HSH Princess Marie-Therese Hohenberg, Dr Austen Ivereigh, Mr Andrew Keen-Downs, Mr Paul Kefford, Mr John Kennedy, DL, Professor Nasser David Khalili, The Rt Hon Lord Lamont of Lerwick, The Rev Monsignor Mark Langham, Mr Robert Leaf, HE The Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria The Rt Hon Baroness McDonagh, Siobhain McDonagh, MP, Mr John McTernan, HE The Apostolic Nuncio, Deacon Meliton Richard Oakes, Colonel Thomas Ogilvie-Graham, Mr David Palmer, HE The Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia, The Charge d’Affaires of Andorra, HE The Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica, The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, The Hon Mrs Celia Sandys, Mr Nicolas De Santis, The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland of Asthal, The Rev Father Michael Seed, Mr Peter Sheppard, Mr Ahmed Suleiman, His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, Mr Edward Walsh, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, The Rt Hon Sir John Wheeler, The Lady Nicholas Windsor, The Rev Canon Flora Winfield, HRH Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and HRH Princess Lavinia of Yugoslavia.

It would take us a while to pick the bones out of that, but let us simply remind ourselves of some advice from Mandy the Loot: “some donors were initially brought on board by being asked to play a role in the business strategy — thus flattering their desire to offer policy advice. Once they were involved it was possible to suggest other ways that they could help the party.”  Yeah that’ll do for now.

Who could argue that this multitude was not the ‘many’ rather than the ‘few’? But what were they doing? well its a kind of art event… Eligo International is it tells anyone who will believe it:

…a dynamic and well-established public relations and public affairs company offering its clients innovative, creative and competitively priced communications solutions. Our experienced team of communications experts are engaged in developing and pro-actively executing the communications needs of statesmen and public figures, governments, diplomatic missions, senior corporate and industry leaders at home and abroad. From our inception, this has embraced all aspects of client communications including media relations, political lobbying, issues and crisis management, economic, trade, tourism and cultural promotion, co-ordination of VIP visits, as well as personal profiling and reputation management programmes

Like New Labour, Anthony Bailey’s little outfit really started in 1997: ‘Eligio’ means ‘to elect’. Since then his clients have been from Saudi Arabia, including “essential elements of the Official Visit of HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES to Saudi Arabia (2001).” In the corporate field “Anthony has worked under contract to BAE SYSTEMS, SHELL INTERNATIONAL”. But it is not what you think Eligo’s website makes it clear this is about ART AND CULTURE:

“From 1999+ Anthony has been appointed Chairman of the Advisory Group of the PAINTING & PATRONAGE royal initiative which in 2000 and 2001 brought together HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES AND HRH PRINCE KHALID AL-FAISAL in the largest-ever cultural exchange between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 2001 Anthony was awarded the CERTICIFATE OF RECOGNITION by the International Public Relations Association for his work in creating this major cultural initiative.”

Wow an actual certificate of recognition that he is what: not a fraudster?  Who would need things like that hanging in the office? And “Anthony is a longstanding supporter and member of the British LABOUR PARTY as well as a member of his local constituency party in Westminster.” Anthony is also an active member of the Labour Finance and Industry Group and is Chief Policy Adviser of the Party’s international think tank, the Foreign Policy Centre. This also tells us that Anthony is active in supporting the Labour Party’s government polices especially in the areas of education, prison reform, inter-religious and community programmes. Previously (so we are led to believe) he was a Media Adviser to Manning, Selvage and Lee Limited, (1996) Senior Account Director of Burson-Marsteller Iinternational (1991-1995) as well as Program Manager of Management Communications at IBM Europe Middle East And Africa in Paris (1995). Anthony was a freelance journalist for a number of national and international newspapers and magazines from 1988-1998. Royal paintings? is he in MI6? Of course not (although they do say they work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office). His Holiness Pope John Paul II knighted him as a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Order of Pope Saint Sylvester (HOLY SEE) and Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, (HOLY SEE).  This man is working for God. You feel like awarding him something yourself.

Eligo’s ”Painting & Patronage” in London and in Riyadh (where would renaissance art be without the Borgias?) brought together the public and artistic capabilities of HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. Both of whom have developed a powerful lust for watercolours and indeed oils. As a result of the success of Eligo and its business partners, “Painting & Patronage was heralded both officially and publicly in the media as the largest and most successful cultural exchange programme ever between Great Britain and Saudi Arabia and its dynasties.” Apart of course from the elephant in the room here, the Al Yammamah deal, which has nothing to do with this and to absolutely prove this:

“So as to continue the good efforts of the exhibition, a free entry summer school for students was established through Eligo with The Prince’s Foundation and the King Faisal Foundation. Eligo ensured through its sponsorship capabilities the sponsorship of both BAE SYSTEMS and Shell.”

Although if you did want to use some art-stunt to sell arms for oil:

Eligo researches how a client corporation is perceived by its different audiences and recommends strategies that improve or enhance these perceptions and impact on key decision -makers, opinion-formers and ultimately stakeholders.

And Eligo also tell us that by happy co-incidence (divine intervention?) they have seen “extensive corporate experience at work for clients across the world and in a variety of ways. This has included among many others Shell, BAe Systems, General Mediterranean Holding, Raffles Hotels, Balkan Holidays and Shell Companies in Saudi Arabia.” Shell companies mmm…

Eligo has a thank you page which includes an endorsement from Margaret Thatcher who had this to say:

“I was truly delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in your exciting programme of events. I wish Eligo every success in its work which I was pleased to learn will now be launched across Europe and North America.”

Eligo also worked for New Labour. Using an image of a group of protesters (pictures of the founding fathers of the Labour Party being unavailable) to illustrate and advertise how their ‘crisis management specialists’ are on constant standby ‘to counsel our clients facing potential or soon-to-become public crisis situations’. This is resolved in a ‘discreet, cost effective and innovative way.’ Particularly round at King Faisal’s gaff.

Bailey became a supporter of the Labour Party in 1996 having previously supported the Conservative Party. He is a member of the Labour Party and the Amicus trade union. It was reported in The Sunday Times in March 2005 (the article was subject to a legal action brought by Bailey) that the Party had turned down an offer by Bailey to donate to the Party’s 2005 General Election campaign following a dispute between Bailey and a leading Labour party figure. According to the Independent:

Mr Bailey’s inclusion surprised some Labour insiders. Last year, the party reportedly turned down his offer of £500,000 amid concerns that he was a lobbyist with clients including members of the Saudi royal family and defence companies such as BAE.

How twisted can this get: the Labour party TURN DOWN an offer of £500,000!  Bailey had clashed with the controversial Labour fundraiser and Tony Blair’s Middle Eastern envoy, Lord Levy. Tony Blair, Party Chairman Hazel Blears and the Chairman of the Labour Party’s National Executive Council, Sir Jeremy Beecham have all publicly endorsed Bailey and welcomed his support, no doubt using the ‘John Reid Defence”. In November 2006 the Electoral Commission published its quarterly report which stated that Bailey had made a £50,600 donation to the Labour Party.  It turns out that desperate for cash Blears (that was her condition not a nick name… well) wrote a letter grovelling apology for the ‘mix up over ‘what was first regarded as filthy lucre, and then praised Bailey’s ‘charity’ work and involvement in the London Challenge Ministerial Advisory Group. According to the Register of Members’ Interests an Anthony Bailey, of London made a personal donation to Hazel Blears MP as did a Mr Mahmoud Khayami, of London which was Registered on the 15 August 2007. Press reports such as the Mail’s noticed the Khayami money but not Bailey’s.

Bailey is also a member of the Party’s Labour Finance and Industry Group, like Sir Sigmund Sternberg and Chief Policy Adviser of the Party’s international think tank, the Foreign Policy Centre —a position to which he was appointed in May 2006. Both LFIG and the FPC have connections to Baroness Ramsay of MI6 and rather a lot more.

Control Freak

Some sources state that during her three-year stint until 2001 as the Labour Party’s first woman and youngest ever general secretary, her ‘management style’ saw her portrayed as the embodiment of the party’s obsession with ‘control freakery’. The post was the culmination of a long career as a party organiser, including playing a key part in Labour’s successful 1997 general election campaign. McDonagh was part of the leadership inner-circle for the 1997 campaign and was charged with delivering Labour victories in key target seats. The Guardian published extracts from Through The Looking Glass, Liz Davies’ fond celebrations of McDonagh’s time at New Labour’s national executive committee (NEC):

“I was to find over two years that NEC meetings were easily the least democratic, most stitched-up and most arduously unpleasant meetings I have ever attended —and I have spent many years in political meetings. […] Procedural manoeuvres were used repeatedly to stifle or stub out debate, as I found to my cost when I tried to raise the issue of the bombing of Iraq at the January 1999 NEC meeting. […] Listening to NEC members reassuring each other that two plus two equalled five was like walking into wonderland. McDonagh rules Millbank with a rod of iron and shamelessly does Blair’s bidding.[…] But McDonagh is utterly single-minded, and her preoccupation with fixing all proceedings at every level on be half of the New Labour project is her most – indeed her only – discernible characteristic. […] The rules are silent as to how many contemporary motions can be taken and I passed the rule book to Hodgson. McDonagh responded: “It is a rule, but it is not written down.”

And on its goes with the now weary tales of the mental health issues one normally associates with a religious cult, politely dubbed ‘Control Freakery’. The Guardian attributed McDonagh’s departure from the NEC after she fell out with No 10 because she refused to authorise nearly £500,000 (five Desmonds or one Baily?) to fund a big rise for the PM’s aide, Anji Hunter, forcing Blair to lobby the NEC members to overrule her.

McDonagh legendary ‘control’ was absent when it emerged she ‘had written confidentially to broadcasters accusing them of “inciting and colluding with” anti-government protesters on the election trail.” McDonagh said she had “growing evidence that broadcasters have been inciting and colluding with protesters at campaign visits by senior politicians” Why didn’t she hire Eligo? Just two days after John Prescott was being filmed punching a potential voter in the face, McDonagh was arguing that: “This behaviour by broadcasters is putting at risk the safety of Labour party staff, politicians and the public.” This was also timed to respond to events when during a stage-managed walkabout at a Birmingham hospital, postmistress Sharron Storer, whose partner is seriously ill with cancer, waylaid Prime Minister Blair, angrily berating him about the state of the National Health Service.  The nightmare scenario: a politician meets a member of the public.

As Andrew Gimson said in the Spectator, this conjectures a mind set where the “British public which is thought so spineless that it is incapable of protesting without a television producer to stage-manage the event.” Gimson adds that: “There is a nation out there which, in the space of only four years, has become invisible to our rulers.” And what do our rulers keep invisible to the nation.

McDonagh and others

We will get some answers to this line of enquiry is we ask what McDonagh’s ‘management style,’ her ‘control freakery’ really are: what these terms really mean or conceal.  Her recent work has been with BBM, a London based firm of consultants assisting the Trinidadian United National Congress (UNC) whose objective is to win the election at all costs. If this sounds familiar, Philip Gould, noted of the Clinton election of 1992, in his (1999) The Unfinished Revolution: How the Modernisers Saved the Labour Party, that:

Margaret McDonagh, John Braggins and Alan Barnard, who were to hold senior positions in the 1997 election campaign, were all working in one capacity or another for Clinton. Jonathan Powell, then working for the British Embassy in Washington, now Tony Blair’s chief of staff, was observing the Clinton campaign at first hand and building links that were later to prove priceless. Out of all this was born Millbank Tower and the ‘war room’ it housed; rapid rebuttal and the Excalibur computer; an obsession with message…

According to the Guardian McDonagh was taught to use Excaliber by Bob Mulholland, who is termed a “total scumbag” although I have been told that the famed ‘Excaliber’ system didn’t exist, it was nothing more than a team of researchers: is everything to do with New Labour an illusion? McDonagh, Braggins and Barnard now make up BBM.  What do they do?  Well it’s all to do with elections — you know when the people decide, democracy and all that — this is going to be bad isn’t it?

Well according to Seymour M. Hersh, no less, McDonagh was directly involved in election rigging in Iraq concerning Iyad Allawi, who had worked both for Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat and for Western intelligence agencies. At first the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was used, but then backed off, then the activities were kept, in part, “off the books” and were conducted by retired CIA officers and other non-government personnel. According to Hersh in his 2005 piece for The New Yorker:

Several weeks before the election, Margaret McDonagh, a political operative close to Tony Blair, showed up at Allawi’s side in Baghdad, and immediately got involved in a last-minute barrage of campaigning, advertising, and spending. (McDonagh did not respond to a request for comment.) These efforts, and Allawi’s own attempt to present himself as a forceful Prime Minister, apparently helped to raise his standing.

In an interview Hersh adds that McDonagh turned up with a lot of money, and:

“…it’s my understanding that McDonagh and others were, when Blair first began as the build up to the Iraqi war began, they were involved in doing some of the early white papers inside the British government, making the case for Saddam having WMD. Later that activity was taken over by 10 Downing Street, the professionals, but she and others on the outside were doing early drafts of that stuff, very close to Blair. And she was just there at his side in his office, seen by people in his office, not publicly known, but there’s no question that she was playing a major role as a political adviser to Allawi in the end.”

One begins to imagine an ad for BBM: Want a war — call Maggie McD!  Want elected to run shit afterwards— call Maggie McD!

Yes we can!

On the subject of starting wars and rigging elections: as chance would have it McDonagh’s BBM Consultants, who normally work discreetly, are said to be financing and running Philip Gould’s 22-year old daughter, Georgia’s campaign to become the MP of a safe Labour seat: quite literally delivering the ‘political dreams of the founding fathers of our party’, in this case the founders of New Labour: Philip Gould her dad.  According to the Daily Mail:

Keen that Georgia should become similarly successful, her parents gave her a toy office for her sixth birthday, with a team of Barbie dolls to act as her secretaries. And she was, apparently, showing an astonishingly precocious interest in politics.

Some of us think it goes a bit beyond that.  A ballot box (yes they still use them in these days of the ‘selectorate’) had been broken into at Labour’s London headquarters and Georgia blames this on the ‘hard left’ resorting to devious tactics.  The Daily Mail also add that she also believes she is “the victim of a smear campaign by super-union Unite to ensure its candidate, Rachael Maskell, wins the nomination.”  Does BBM stand for ‘ballot box manipulation’— or ‘brutal bloody murder’: who knows?


One Response to “Baroness McDonagh”

  1. […] BBM, was assisting Gould.  BBM stands not of course for “ballot box manipulation” as one commentator quipped but for Barnard, Braggins and McDonagh, all former senior officials of the Labour Party.  BBM now […]

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