29 November 2007

£$€!!!!!!!!!!!! - a tale of two similar scandals

We now have two Labour party funding scandals running concurrently: the UK Labour party receiving donations from a property developer via intermediataries. This has claimed the Party's General Secretary, mand it transpires, of course, that Harriet Harman received some similarly conveyed money from the same source to fund her successful bid for the Deputy Leadership. Further, the Electoral Commission have called in the police. If the police to follow this up with the vigour of the 'Cash for Honours' investigation, what will the CPS say? And will Labour dismiss the Electoral Commission's complaint as a political stunt? And given that Harriet Harman got into her position with the help of dirty money - that cash could have made the difference between her winning and Alan Johnson winning - how long can she stay in?

But tonight, news from Scottish Labour is that Wendy Alexander's Leadership campaign broke the law in an attempt to secure funding from a businessman based in Jersey, but with a UK registered company. Party Finance law states that only UK registered electors can donate to UK registered political parties, and all £1000+ donations have to be disclosed. Jersey does not count as a member of the United Kingdom, so for Paul Green to donate the money as himself is against the law. But for him to give it to Labour through his company, Combined Property Services, is perfectly legal, and to give £950 means he is within the donation limit and can aoid detection.

The problem is, Green's name was on the cheque, and therefore, he gave money to Wendy Alexander's campaign. Charlie Gordon, MSP for Glasgow Cathcart has already carried the can for this and quit as Labour's Transport Spokesman. Gordon specifically got in touch with Combined Property Services with the express intention of soliciting a donation, and it is believed to be one of many donations to Alexander in the £900-£1000 bracket. Regardless of the breakdown of individual donations, Alexander pocketed £17,000 for a leadership campaign in which she was the only candidate. In her bid to become Labour's Leader of the Opposition in Scotland, and their candidate for First Minister in 2011, Alexander's campaign attempted to side-step two clear rules and failed to make it around one of them. It is Gordon who pays the price, but there are other questions, regarding the donation, the campaign, and Gordon:

1. How many other donations were there in the £900-£1000 bracket?

2. Where did they come from?

3. Why did a leadership campaign in which there was only one candidate need £17,000?

4. How long after it became clear that Wendy would be returned unopposed did fundraising end?

5. With £950 returned to Green, what happened to the rest of the money? How was that spent in a campaign that wasn't needed?

6. Who instructed and/or permitted Gordon to seek out Combined Property Services?

7. What did Wendy Alexander know of the fundraising that was carried out on her behalf?

8. What did her campaign manager, Tom McCabe, know?

9. What connection is there, if any, with this scandal and the resignation of Lesley Quinn, Scottish Labour's General Secretary? Her UK equivalent resigned after he was implicated in the UK Labour scandal, but she went suddenly after decades of service to the party, before any of this happened. Did she know what was coming?

10. Seeing as Charlie Gordon was all for challenging Jack McConnell's leadership on the grounds that Labour members deserved a choice on who led Labour at Holyrood, what the Hell was he doing raising money for Wendy Alexander?

And an eleventh, far more damning question can be found at ASwaS.


Lord James-River said...

I simply don't understand why all this huge energy waste on funding. Who cares where the money came from? Investigators can did around if they like and publish it but then - so what? Far be it for me to defend the Labour party or party politics in general but I can't see why the fuss.

Norman said...

I just posted this on Terry's blog. I wonder if it will appear considering the current difficulties his candidate in the Scottish Parliament elections now finds herself in.

I wouldn't want to accuse the guy of hypocrisy without giving him the chance to resign.


Terry, how does it feel discovering that you have been using Zionist money to promote the Labour party considering your unflattering opinions about Israel?

Surely that's a straw to break the camel's back and you'll do the principled thing and now leave the pro-Zionist Labour party?

Will said...

James, the reason this is important is that old saying: "He who pays the piper, calls the tune". Who is funding our political parties? Who is influencing them? If we're going to vote for or against the monkeys, we should at least be able to see the organ grinders. For example, Labour received £1m from Bernie Ecclestone, the tycoon behind Formula 1. When the Government announced a ban on advertising and sponsorship by tobacco companies, F1 found itself exempt. The donation was uncovered, the link was made, and it was clear whose tune Labour were dancing to. More telling was that they then felt they had to return the money, but persisted with the exemption.

Also, in this case, the laws that have been sidestepped/broken by the Labour party were put in place by the Labour government. While politicians being hypocritical isn't a surprise in itself, it's still a bad thing and ought to be flagged up.

And Norman, nothing seems to have got past him on his latest post. I suspect he'l go to ground and leave a very comment moderation queue in his wake. And even if he does pop up, you might want to put it in the Terry Watch Comment Bank as well.