Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blair's poisoned legacy of sleaze

They say all is fair in love, war and politics - but am I the only person in the country who feels some sympathy for Gordon Brown over the fact that he is now reaping the whirlwind of a Labour Party funding scandal which was absolutely not of his own making?

Brown has been party leader and Prime Minister for five months. Yet everyone acknowledges that the origins of the David Abrahams affair go back four years.

There is one very important difference between this and both Northern Rock and Discgate. While both of those happened on Mr Brown's watch - and hence are things for which he has to take ultimate responsibility - the vast majority of the dodgy donations were made on his predecessor's.

So for David Cameron to suggest on the back of the affair today that the Prime Minister is not up to the job - without a shred of evidence directly linking him to it - is in my view deeply opportunistic.

It is true that Harriet Harman has been a fool not to check more closely where her deputy leadership campaign funds were coming from, but she was never the sharpest tool in the box.

Someone on another blog compared her to John Prescott the other day. Wrong. Prescott was a highly intelligent guy who was regarded as a bit thick because of his syntactical difficulties. When it comes to the density of porcine ordure, Harman is actually the genuine article.

People are saying there is much more of this story to come out, and I agree with Guido that the key to it probably lies in the government's sudden decision to lift its objections to Mr Abrahams' plans for a business park near Durham in October 2006.

Would it be uncharitable to point out that this decision was also taken under the stewardship of Mr Blair, at whose leaving party in Sedgefield Mr Abrahams was subsequently given a place of such honour?

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Anonymous said...

Dear Paul

No. You are not alone. I share your concern about Brown. Blair left a highly toxic cocktail for Brown to sup.

The tragedy is that Brown does not seem to clocked that the Hayden Phillips inquiry is one of the ingredients.

purplepangolin said...

Your probably correct that it is unfair. However, I think that this government has been lucky in previous situations. People have been inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the doubt accumulates. Can't say I have much sympathy.

Snafu said...

I'm not convinced that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer would not have cast his eye over the Party's finances at some time or at least have been aware of the largest Party donors!

He's supposed to have an iron grip!

Anonymous said...

The wheels continue to come off the brown wagon. I must try to think up some new words to the song "three wheels on my wagon".

I always said brown wasn't sleeping beauty awoken with a kiss: thrown on to throne unexpectedly.

six months in the job and never looked at the party's books? Either he is duplicitous or stupid

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

And the link with Jon Mendelsohn? This is a bit different - Brown still seems to have been after more money from Abrahams to fight the election that he ultimately called off.

And no, I don't feel sorry for him. This is a man who rode his luck before, and now it's run it is running around like a headless chicken. For instance, he now throws Black Wednesday at the Tories every time he's called an idiot - when he actually vehemently opposed British withdrawal from the ERM which was bankrupting our economy in the first place.

He's had wonderful luck for 15 years - his hard bun that he didn't make use of it.

Anonymous said...

Brown? Damaged good, and utterly unfit to lead the country. Who cares how he goes, as long as he and the rest of this bunch of shysters and nest-featherers are booted out.

I speak as a Labour voter from 1970 when I cast my first vote, to Iraq. Never again.

MorrisOx said...

Paul, whatever 'toxic mess' Tony Blair left behind isn't the issue.

The issue is that someone in Brown's position should have been well aware of any questionable practices supposedly taking place next door, and alert to the dangers he was therefore inheriting.

The other point is that Brown is now Prime Minister and regardless of its origins he has to deal with the problem. He hasn't dealt with it well and his pre-PMQs stunt with the Mendelsohn letter flew in the face of everything he has said about a New Politics. It was dismally old-fashioned.

I concur fully with your assessment of Harman, who should go. Not just for being a lightweight but for being evasive under pressure.

One final point, over which I hesitate just a little. That is that Labour has a long, long history of money going in and trouble coming out of the North East. This won't be the end of it.

Only blunt honesty will rescue this situation, and while brown hasn't looked evasive he has appeared uncertain and indecisive. He needs to roll his sleeves up, bottom the issue and sluice it out. Trying to stay above it all simply appears timid and ill-informed.

Anonymous said...

Something is Missing from Britain, is it humanism. libertarianism ?

May I introduce you to Ron Paul, sadly not running over here but, I like what he's selling.