Friday, July 20, 2007

Another whitewash

Did I believe there was no connection between Alastair Campbell's desire to "fuck Gilligan", the leaking by government officials of Dr David Kelly's name to that end, and the weapons inspector's subsequent suicide? No, I didn't, despite what Lord Hutton told us.

And like Guido, neither do I believe there has never been a connection between donations to the Labour Party and the award of peerages, even if nothing was ever written down on paper about it in a way that would have enabled the Crown Prosecution Service to prove that a specific crime had been committed.

I have one simple question on all this: If no-one at No 10 had anything to hide, why did they seek to obstruct the inquiry at every turn, turning what could have been a routine investigation into one that eventually lasted 16 months and cost £800,000 of taxpayers' money?

I don't think the public will be any more convinced by this than I am. Maybe, as with the case of Lord Archer, we will just have to wait a decade or more for the truth to out.

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20 comments:

Anonymous said...

yes,I know Hutton said Kelly fell on his blunt pen-knife, but you have to be pretty gullible to believe that.
What about all the times the CPS gives an expensive and long investigation the green light and the case is laughed out of court?....is the CPS good for anyhing except carrying out the discretely telephoned wishes of its paymasters??

Matthew said...

How do you know that Number 10 tried to "obstruct the inquiry at every turn"?

Ted Harvey said...

I believe that the cumulative fall-out from the highly politicised PPs excuse that 'it is impossible to find sufficient evidence' on these cases, will be almost as bad as a court case would have been for Tony Blair, his acolytes and Westminster politicians in general.

I have little doubt now that the reason for the extensive delays in publishing the outcome was that the highest authorities in the Met were behind-the-scenes, wrangling and demanding of the PP and the Government some sort of protection for the diligent investigating police officers for during the inevitable public aftermath to the inexplicable decision not to prosecute.

One immediate impact of this whole tawdry business will be increased pressure on the Gordon Brown administration to detach themselves from any 'Blair Legacy'... but I presume that the media and others will now turn their attention to uncovering 'just what did Gordon know?'. This is already happening over Iraq.

As for 'Matthew said'.... is he suffering from visual and hearing difficulties, along with some sort of genetic limitation on his thinking faculties? Or maybe he also still believes, for example, that there was 'a real 45 minute threat'... naw! I think he's being ironic.

Unity said...

Paul:

Let me put this question to you - and no this is no an elephant trap, I'm genuinely interested in your view.

Do you think that an audit of Tory accounts from 1979 to 1997 would show no correlation between donations and the 341 peerages created during that period?

There are two basic schools of thought in all this - one that views this issue solely in terms of Labour sleeze, and another which views patronage as the real problem from which all else proceeds. I'm wondering which school you consider yourself to belong to.

Paul Linford said...

Unity

The latter school. Clearly patronage is at the root of the problem and, on the specific issue of peerages, an all-elected House of Lords (which I have supported for 25 years) is the obvious solution.

But although I don't believe the Tories between 1979 and 1997 can have been entirely innocent of this sort of thing, neither do I necessarily take the view that all politicians are crooks and therefore that all governments are as corrupt as the next one. I genuinely do believe, for instance, that Gordon Brown is a different kettle of fish from Tony Blair in this respect, which is why I have consistently objected to attempts made by various right-wing bloggers to haul him into the whole sleaze imbroglio (the new edition of the "Little Red Book" was an example of this.)

I would make a further point, and that is that, as a man of the centre-left, I set the bar higher for Labour governments on these kinds of issues than I do for Conservative ones. If the Tory Party wants to sell peerages, that is really no more or less than we should expect from a party whose basic philosophy and worldview is built around an appeal to human selfishness and greed. The whole reason for the Labour Party's existence is to argue that there is more to humanity, and to politics, than that.

nadds said...

I cannot believe I actually agree with Paul Linford for once.

You call this right. Levy et al will claim complete vindication, whereas the CPS have claimed insufficient evidence, which means there is some. As you also say, if Tony + cronies had nothing to hide why did they waste so much time not being at the very least, open.

Also recall that Levy claimed after his first plod meeting to have answered everything asked of him, whereas what he actually did was have a prepared statement and answer every question "No comment" (this is the only leak that I believe did come from plod)
This so pissed off Yates, that they decided to have a real look, as opposed to their initial gentle review

I suspect that the real long term legacy of Bliar will be complete mistrust of politicians and anyone associated with him - a warning for Brown as many in the media will now move onto how much he knows of all the dodgy stuff done in the last 10 years, a bit like all you lefties and your long term Thatcher hating fixation

David Boothroyd said...

Paul, you've misread the Hutton Report. Hutton found that the government was under a duty to notify the press and public that Dr David Kelly had come forward in the belief he might be Gilligan's source. The fact that the release might be in the government's interest is neither here nor there: and it's a self-evidently ludicrous argument that the government ought not to do something merely because it also happens to have a good partisan motive for doing so.

Paul Linford said...

David

That might have been Hutton's interpretation, but it was a case of see no evil, hear no evil and think no evil. Alastair Campbell didn't sit around agonising about whether the Government had a duty to put the name out there; he wanted it out there for one reason and one reason alone: to fuck Gilligan.

David Boothroyd said...

Not only have you not read Hutton, you don't seem to have read my post. It matters nothing what Alastair Campbell's motivation was. The fact was that the government had to reveal the name. Hutton criticised the way the name was revealed but not the decision to reveal it.

I also wish people would think for a while why exactly Alastair Campbell says the revalation of the name of Dr David Kelly would fuck Gilligan. It is because Dr Kelly was not a member of the intelligence services nor of the Joint Intelligence Committee and had no really significant role in preparing the dossier - in other words that he could not possibly have known anything of the facts which he was notionally the source. If Kelly did mention Alastair Campbell, he was simply guessing and going from the image the media hacks had created of Campbell - and as any audio engineer will tell you, if you plug the output of an amplifier into the input, you get a cacophonous sound out of nothing.

Ted Harvey said...

David boothroyd you are weaving a pointless web of chicanery and obfuscation around Hutton and the set-up job his enquiry was . You probably know perfectly well that Hutton was specially 'enlisted' as a safe pair of hands for the enquiry (re his Northern Ireland 'sound' decisions during the troubles etc.). Everything else that comes after the appointment is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, and your own sound effects; "and as any audio engineer will tell you, if you plug the output of an amplifier into the input, you get a cacophonous sound out of nothing"

Nothing that is, other than evidence of the yawning moral void at the heart of waht was New Labour... and does it really make it any better for you that this void extends across the Westminster political establishment?

Anonymous said...

Campbell says the media treated him tough, then when it turns to Kelly he says, well that is the way the media works. I find him a bit too sure about himself which what caused alot of the problems. He has no humility.
http://www.lonympics.co.uk/Comedy_Soccer/Broox.htm

David Boothroyd said...

Well Ted it's just a bit strange that Hutton was only denounced as a Labour stooge when his report turned out to exonerate the government. The truth is the government did have a duty to be open about Dr Kelly coming forward - freedom of information and all that - and Hutton was being strong and bold in saying so despite the fact that he would get criticised for it.

The fact is that Hutton's detractors were simply not willing to accept a conclusion like that at all, even if amply justified.

Let's suppose there was an inquiry into the legality of the liberation of Iraq, as a lot of people demand. If that inquiry hears from everyone it needs to and decides that, all things considered, liberating Iraq from Baathist tyranny was legal under international law, would you accept that conclusion? Secondary question if your answer is "No", what would be the point in having an inquiry if you have already prejudged it?

skipper said...

Paul
I have no doubt Blair was guilty of selling peerages but why no prosecution? The terms of the act are very hard to prove as they are so specific. If this is indeed the case, the private prosecution Guido is campaigning for will fail as well.

David Boothroyd said...

Skipper, you're stumbling towards the point: when nominating peerages for party supporters, one way in which commitment to party is measured is the amount of money given. That isn't illegal.

What this is all about is a political campaign for a change in the law. Nothing wrong with that, but using the police as part of that political campaign is wrong, and the police's failure to realise that they were being used is a serious one even if the investigation was impeccably conducted (and this one most certainly wasn't).

There was never any evidence of crime in the 'cash for honours' probe. It was just SNP hooey.

Alfie said...

All to do with nods and winks - and always has been. The only guy to ever get caught was Maundy Gregory - for selling Lloyd George's BOGOF peerage deals. (Mind you, although getting banged up for the scandal, he got away with (allegedly) topping Victor Grayson for blabbing about the corruption)

Ted Harvey said...

David boothroyd, the law does have to be used in the existing situation. There is no momentum for a political 'solution' other than a self-serving fix imposed by self-interested politicians.

This can be tested by repeating the question that Blair, Levy et al have been allowed time and again to get away with not answering - " why Mr Blair did your team tell the affected donors to make their contributions loans rather than donations; was it other than for the express purpose of avoiding the very funding reforms in the Labour Party that you instituted (and brayed about)?

Moreover, if there was no deceit or deception intended, why deliberatly keep the Treasurer of the Labour Party in complete ignorance of these donations?"

And David Boothroyd, you try to lecture us on how the police should not be involved in this mess?

On a minor additional wee note - how exactly do you 'measure commitment to party by the amount of money given' as you say, when that committment is kept secret from the Party Treasurer and the Party at large? (and what a revealing statement that was... meaning then that the small contribution of the ordinary Party member is somehow an indicator of poor loyalty... or maybe the measurement index is all means tested?).

I said it before David, you're all smoke and mirrors and each artifice just serves to further reveal the ethical and moral void at the heart of all this.

David Boothroyd said...

Ted, there clearly is a momentum for a political solution for party funding, and to show it there are cross party discussions trying to find a solution acceptable to all.

As has been explained many times, the Labour Party Treasurer is a post which is not entirely honorary but is not in charge of day to day financing. The General Secretary is the official who deals with that and knew all the details.

I notice you have no answer to my point about the police. The police are not there to be used as a tool to force political change. The SNP had only a superficial belief that what went on might have been illegal; they really wanted to maximise political pressure by raising the question. Their real issue was that the law should be changed: perfectly reasonable position to take but one to be taken up through the political process, not law enforcement.

You ought to remember that in the previous system the chair of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee, Lord Pym, said that they considered donations to political parties to be points in a nominee's favour to be recommended for a peerage: it should they put their money where their mouth was. Political donations surely are one way of assessing commitment to party. Donors certainly reduce their donations when they disagree with the direction of their party. It isn't the only measurement (as you seem to imply I was saying) but it is a measurement.

No-one should be blamed for breaking a nonexistent rule. That's really what this was.

Ted Harvey said...

Final couple of thoughts David.

On the Labour Treasurer being 'entirely honory'; now let me see - because he's honory, he doesn't get told about honours fixing money (millions of pounds that you construe as 'day-to-day' financing) ... pull the other one David.

The police were not used as political tools. The problem here is you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

The issue is how the Blairite/Honours procurement crowd excude an arrogance that says things like "we can sort ourselves out" and "we dont' want the law applied to us like it is being applied to 'ordinary' people every day".

This is very similar to the arrogance of those respectable types in the English Premier football League who failed to deal with on-the-field violence and thuggery but who then showed an attitude of how 'we don't want the police intervening to deal with problems in our fiefdom'... another crowd of prima donnas that don't want 'ordinary' law that applies to 'ordicary people' being applied to them.

Another wrong-end-of-the-telescope distortion you suffer from is citing the likes of political establishment figures like Pym in your support... that just underlines the self-serving partiality of the Political party elites in all of this. That's no momentum for 'reform' that a momentum for another fix.

The proof of the pointlessness of the circuitous arguments you deploy, is that the huge bulk of real people out there in the real world outside Westminster just don't buy any of this guff. Guff that, for example, was a major contributory factor in the recently exited prime minister ending up just about the most unpopular ever.

Anyhow, I'm getting dizzy from all this circuitous activity, and your smoke and mirrors, so I'll end it there.

Paul Linford said...

Ted,

David's right on the honorary treasurer point as it happens, and in a way it was this that blew the gaff on the whole cash-for-honours scam.

Because Jack Dromey's position is regarded as honorary, he wasn't told about the loans. But Dromey's view was that, honorary or otherwise, he should have been told, and it was when he launched an internal party investigation into it that the whole thing initially came to light.

This intervention by Dromey also had a hugely destabilising effect on the Blair-Brown situation and came very close to wrecking any chance of a stable and orderly transition. Because Dromey is married to Harman, and Harman was seen as a key ally of Brown, the Blairites were convinced that Gordon had put him to up it in order to hasten the demise of Blair. I am as certain as I can be that this wasn't the case, but some of the ultras in the Blair camp will probably believe it to their dying day.

David Boothroyd said...

Indeed Paul, Jack Dromey is perfectly capable of running with his own issue without his wife telling him what to do. He was made to look silly by what went on and his anger was entirely genuine and nothing to do with any pro-Brownite plot.

Ted, I think the number of 'ordinary people' spoken to by the police over selling peerages can be definitively estimated at zero, so I don't understand your point about 'ordinary people'.

I think you miss the point about Lord Pym, which is that Pym pointedly avoided the elephant trap of trying to insist that donations had nothing to do with peerages. The issue is that public opinion has changed, and the SNP wanted to get the police to act based on their belief about what the law should be, not based on the current law and constitutional situation. That's not the role of the police.