Don’t accept the media’s conflating on Labour sleaze

I remarked a while back, HERE if you’re interested, that the media is generally anti-conservative – The Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, Mirror, BBC and media intelligentsia, for example.

Don’t for one minute let these people set your agenda on politics. The moment there’s a scandal involving Labour politicians, their aim is to conflate Conservatives into the scandal. Have no truck with it. Merging the scandal of paid lobbying with anything else is a clever tactic to hide the scandal as an election looms.

Judge everything you read in the light of an upcoming election. Some stuff is true, some half-true, and some downright dodgy. Best to begin with cynicism before giving support to a particular view.

Inhabitants of a parallel universe

What is it about MP’s that makes them think they live in a parallel universe devoid of morality or ethics? Any person living in this universe, and engaged in politics, would have put personal ethics at the very top of their to do list.

But, no. Three Labour ex-cabinet ministers have been caught touting themselves for hire as paid for lobbyists. Being an MP is a privilege. Having the ability to manage our national affairs is reward enough. Their leveraging every opportunity to enrich themselves is not what we expect.

The surprise for me was Patricia Hewitt, on whom I’ve been queasy before. Being ensconced on the boards of Alliance Boots and Cinven is clearly not enough.

Quote of the day: about Stephen Byers

A neat way of saying that Stephen Byers MP, who’s been caught lobbying government ministers for money, is a liar:

Stephen Byers has “an ambiguous relationship with the truth.”

Said by ex-Rail Regulator, Tom Winsor, to Eddie Mair on the BBC PM radio programme this afternoon.

Labour fail to answer sleaze questions

Just watched Newsnight on the Labour secret donor sleaze.

Labour put up some nonentity to defend the indefensible. Meanwhile Conservative shadow cabinet member Chris Grayling was simply superb, deflecting Gavin Esler’s invidious questioning on Conservative funding. A measured, competent, and powerful reply. Well done Chris.

Did you spot the weaselly statement by Jack Straw. When interviewed by Michael Crick, Jack Straw said that he expected the Electoral Commission would be undertaking an investigation, and here’s the insidious spin coming in, he said, ‘that he expected that it would cover all political parties.’ 

Spinning is in the Labour DNA. It’s just something that they do, and use to deflect critical assessment of their performance.

Boy, oh boy, tomorrow’s Prime Minister’s press conference is going to be fireworks for Gordon.

UPDATE: Do take a look at Iain Dale’s blog post HERE. He’s got some terrific backround information, and spot on links.

And yes, once more, I think there’s lots more to come over this.

Labour sleaze – a resignation, what next?

The unfolding drama around the ‘hidden’ donations to the Labour party has, as I expected HERE, suddenly got worse for Labour.

Peter Watt, the Labour Party general secretary, has resigned, as reported here by the excellent Daily Mail who uncovered the scam, after admitting he knew that hiding the name of the mystery donor, and that it was illegal.

Again, like Guido HERE, and HERE, I’m highly dubious that the deception went no higher. To think that Gordon Brown didn’t know about the person who’d given 100’s of thousands of £ since Gordon became PM, simply unbelievable.

I’m watching Newsnight, more to follow.

Yet more Labour sleaze

Forgive me, I’m going to be uncharitable.

The revelations in the Mail on Sunday about David Abrahams, a Labour donor, giving money to Labour through a third party and so hiding his identity, is yet another case of Labour saying they’ll be ‘open and honest about political funding’ and yet doing the opposite in practice.

I simply don’t believe, as Labour Peer, Margaret Prosser a past Labour treasurer, said HERE on The World at One on BBC Radio 4 today, that it was simply ineptitude. 

What utter piffle.  Anyone providing £400,000 to a political party would immediately be recognised as a very important supporter. They certainly wouldn’t be ignored, and so to say the breaking of the law in hiding the donor’s name is down to ineptitute is complete bunkum.

That Labour was not, in some way, complicit in hiding their donor’s name in contravention of the rules governing political donations simply cannot be believed. Remember, Labour have form here – does ‘cash for honours’ ring a bell, where Labour sought to hide donations.

What also struck me as strange, was the choice of language used by Martha Kearney, the World at One presenter, when she began her description of the story as it being ‘odd’ that a donor was seeking to remain hidden. If that were a Conservative donor, I feel confident that stronger words would have been used, such as corruption, sleaze, illegality and so on. To begin the news piece by saying it was ‘odd’ that this had happened is bizarre.

I think there’s more to be had from this story.

Gross misuse of MP’s communication allowance

This year MP’s voted themselves an additional £10,000 Communications Allowance a year to promote the workings of Parliament to their constituents. Here’s the official description of it’s purpose:

“The allowance shall be for the purpose of assisting Members with expenditure incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in communicating with the public on parliamentary business…”

Guidance on it’s use specifically prohibits it’s use for party political purposes. That’s pretty clear, as it says here on page 13 of the Booklet:

“The content of any communications paid from the allowances must not seek to compare the Member’s party favourably with another, promote one party at the expense of another or seek to undermine the reputation of political opponents.”

So if you were a Government Minister you’d be pretty certain what not to do. So why then, does cabinet minister, Ruth Kelly, openly flaunt this guidance. Well, pretty obvious really, she’s sitting on a very small electoral majority of just over 2,000 votes, and so needs to take every opportunity to secure her seat.

The source of Ruth Kelly’s wrongdoing was uncovered by the Mail on Sunday, and Benedict Brogan of the Daily Mail has all the evidence in his BLOG. There’s trenchant criticism HERE from a left of centre blogger, watch out it’s uses strong language.

ruthkellyleaflet.gifOK, OK, I know you’ll want to see the offending document. So here it is, click on it for a larger view.

I have to say I agree with Devil’s Kitchen, this is a flagrant, unprincipled breach of the regulations, and in my opinion was done knowingly. Cabinet Ministers are expected to uphold the highest political standards, though obviously not in Ruth Kelly’s case.

UPDATE: Ooh, I forgot to point you towards Ruth Kelly’s apology, HERE on the Beeb.