Friday, November 23, 2007

Has Balls SPAD Broken Code of Conduct?

click on the image to enlarge
An interesting aside to the education green paper stuff this week – Ed Balls has stayed silent on the whole thing but there has been a string of attacks from Labour ministers Jim Knight and Andrew Adonis both in press releases fired out to journos (often based on selectively quoting Michael Gove completely out of context) and in appearances on TV. I saw three of these press releases and the thing that struck me was that they were from Ed Balls’s special adviser, Alex Belardinelli. So whilst Balls was keeping his powder dry by not giving quotes or going on telly he was obviously masterminding this activity behind the scenes.

Anyway, there is a question mark about whether Balls’s SPAD broke the rules in doing so. A quick google search shows he does have an official government email, but if he used this to send out the material in question I think he would be in breach of the special advisers code of conduct, which very clearly states: “Special Advisers should not use official resources for Party political activity.” The key part is this...

Contacts with the media


12. Special Advisers are able to represent Ministers’ views on Government policy
to the media with a degree of political commitment that would not be possible for the permanent Civil Service. Briefing on purely Party political matters should however be handled by the Party machine.

If this was a government response, why wasn't it issued by the Department's Press Office? And if it was a political response, why did it not come from the Labour Party Press Office. It is not the role of taxpayer paid for special advisers to slag off the opposition. They are there to give political and policy advice to their Minister and that's that.

7 comments:

Chuck Unsworth said...

Which just goes to show that you can legislate as much as you like, but sure as hell some cretin will break the rules.

A bit like HMRC, then.

Greater Manchester Fabians said...

Why no mention of Patrick Mercer this week Iain? Pass you by did it?

http://gtrmancfabians.blogspot.com/2007/11/media-headlines.html

Anonymous said...

xndhjgaThis is a clear breach. I know of no precedent for a Special Adviser issuing a press release.

One presumes the Permanent Secretary has had a word with the Secretary of State? If not, he should have.

jdc said...

How tiresome. I used to get all worked up in 1995 about this sort of thing - Government activity being announced from CCO and vice-versa. The difference is I was a priggish seventeen year old, not someone who's been around politics long enough to recognise a non-story when I see one.

Oh well, I'll make a note of it so we can act outraged when your lot do it when you next win, I guess.

Normal Mouth said...

"Has Balls (sic) SPAD broken code of conduct?"

Hmmm. Don't know. Here's an idea - why don't you try and actually find out the answer before writing about it?

But then I suppose the mud will stick one way or the other, eh?

Anonymous said...

"Special Advisers are able to represent Ministers’ views on Government policy
to the media with a degree of political commitment that would not be possible for the permanent Civil Service. "

You've quoted the rebuttal to your own innuendo in your own post. Christ, you're not very good are you?

Chris Paul said...

Er, NO. The SpAd done good.

Next question?

The word verification is spooky : spdds.