Tuesday, 27 November 2007


The latest scandal for the Labour Party (adding to that of the Labour government) is this business of £600,000 paid by David Abrahams via three or four others ("Is there a fourth man?" is like a reminder of a traitors' spy-ring exposed - there is, too, a woman), so that he can stay anonymous. It is illegal; criminal law is involved. On Monday we were told that only the Chair of the Labour Party knew about it: the now resigned Peter Watt. Then on Tuesday we hear other donations to Labour leadership election campaigning also came from this man via others, which had Gordon Brown's team rejecting one for his no competition leadership campaign because the donor was unknown (though we are to suppose he didn't bother to find out who's offering such lovely lolly...), Hillary Benn rejecting a donation (deputy leadership candidate) because he spotted a proxy, and Harriet Harman accepted a donation for her deputy leadership campaign (one of many candidates) from Janet Kidd, unknown to her to be a proxy, "in good faith". Incidentally, how do you accept a donation in 'bad faith'? So Gordon Brown didn't know, and had judgment, rejecting the dosh, Hillary Benn knew, and had judgment, and then took the dosh direct from Abrahams, but Harriet Harman didn't?

The Chair Peter Watt said only he knew that the donation was via proxies, which is against the law that the Labour government passed in 2000. Was this ignorance for deniability then? Isn't the boss - aren't the bosses - supposed to know? Why is the National Executive Committee and the Great Leader in a complete fog? Mind, this was Monday's explanation, and now we at least have gossip and concern about dodgy donations according to Tuesday (today).

How to smell a rat: if someone who is in an ordinary job employed by a Labour Party supporter and probably having to pay off a hefty mortgage donates a meagre £200,000, do ask where such a generous donation comes from!

Nick Robinson, the Political Bilko of the BBC, puts it more starkly:
Labour MPs in the north east tell me that one call to any of them would have been rigorous enough to stop this happening. Asked, "have you heard of Ray Ruddick?" they would have replied, "never heard of him - why, who is he?".

Had the reply been anything like, "he's given us over £100k in the past few weeks and he lives on your patch - he says his address is Blakelaw..." the response would have been hysterical laughter. Blakelaw is, one angry Labour MP suggested to me, a well-known estate on which, "the only way anyone there would have that sort of money is if they were very lucky or they were drug dealers".
Well they still carry on government! They introduce this idea of skills to help longer term unemployed (come on, don't give it to local Jobcentre mini-bureaucrats to do), which is a good idea so long as the system does not descend into a return of noddy schemes of training. I remember the driving test approach of taking an NVQ IT test over and over again until your memory told you what to do in order to pass. They were rubbish, all to massage the unemployment figures. Job Clubs were a useful discipline, but cost them too much in staff, postage and travel expenses. At one time the Conservatives realised that with a bit more money from Incapacity Benefit to survive on and dole figures going through the roof they'd better put older people on to that. If this government takes them off Incapacity Benefit and puts them into training, to keep them busy, they'd better be sure it's worth the money. It won't be if there is a cyclical downturn - and the American dollar is plunging as that economy of borrowed money comes to the end of its cycle of debt. We all notice the rise in food prices never mind soaring petrol bills, and all this is cost not demand inflation that must mean more unemployment.

So there is the business of governing; but while the wagon is rolling along the wheels are coming off. The business of governing is going to get hard enough, with unpopularity to come, but they can't even get the basics of honesty with straight dealing and managing themselves right.

It is coming to the point where the impact of the Blair-Brown years is reaping its tarnished harvest - croneyism to business men and the fashionable, not telling the truth, spinning everything (announcing positive moneyed policies several times as if new each time) and "I believe" being a substitute for finding out. When this happens and keeps happening, the body-politic needs refreshing with someone else, and a new approach.

For a start, not only Blair should have gone but so should have Brown. Better still, an election would refresh the system. I bet he's pleased he did not call that election! With all this cock-up and scandal, he'd have been out of the Number Ten door just about as soon as he went in.

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