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Three unanswered questions for Jon Mendelsohn

  • Paul Mason
  • 28 Nov 07, 12:55 PM

mendelsohn_brown.jpgDavid Abrahams’ dramatic call to Jeremy Paxman, in the middle of Newsnight ( watch it here), leaves Labour’s Larry Whitty with some very specific questions to address in his forthcoming inquiry. I was told categorically last night, by a Labour spokesperson, that Jon Mendelsohn had never solicited money from Mr Abrahams since he had become Gordon Brown’s chief fundraiser. Yet within minutes of Newsnight running that Labour response, and Geoff Hoon repeating it, Mr Abrahams was on the phone quoting a letter – he says handwritten, Mendelsohn says typed – from Mr Mendelsohn, which he says was an implicit request for cash.

I came across Mr Mendelsohn’s link to Abrahams while researching the circumstances of the latter’s departure from Labour Friends of Israel. Senior sources in the Labour Party have told me that Mr Abrahams was thrown out of LFI five years ago by Mr Mendelsohn; Mr Abrahams himself confirmed to me last night that he had “fallen out with Jonny Mendelsohn” and told me he was annoyed that Mendelsohn had recently approached him at a dinner, sitting next to him. He suggested the fall-out had been over a cheque he refused to sign; others have suggested LFI were not happy with Mr Abahams' “behaviour”. I was left with the impression by friends of Mr Mendelsohn that there is no love lost between the two men.

Their relationship is relevant for this reason: Mr Mendelsohn comes in, on 3 September 2007, to sweep the Augean stables clean where it comes to Labour’s fundraising efforts. He would certainly have known of Mr Abrahams – a man who he had differed with strongly during the last four years. He would have known of Mr Abrahams' reputation for “Walter Mitty-like” behaviour, as it is being called in the press, including the use of an alias in local government planning documents. So if he comes in, and looks at the major donors, he either knows that Abrahams is the third biggest, via the proxies of Ray Ruddick and Janet Kidd, and the alarm bells start ringing – or he doesn’t.

Today, in a statement, he outlines his version of events:
Peter Watt told him – he does not specify when – of the arrangement by Mr Abrahams to use proxies and assured him it was legal. He nevertheless did not tell Gordon Brown, or members of the NEC about this:
“I did not discuss this with the officers of the National Executive Committee or party leadership but I decided to tell Mr Abrahams that his method of contribution was unacceptable.”

This leads to the letter Mendelsohn says he wrote on Thursday, which arrives yesterday, Tuesday 27 November, requesting a meeting. In the interim, it appears Mr Abrahams asked him if he was to be asked for money, which Mr Mendelsohn blanks by reiterating a bland form of words.

So whatever inference Mr Abrahams took – as he told Newsnight last night he thought he was being asked for money – it was not Mr Mendelsohn’s intention to do so.

However questions remain to be answered about timing. Mr Mendelsohn, for somebody steeped in the communications business, is proving remarkably uncommunicative. He has not answered messages left for him seems intent on speaking through the medium of junior press officers at Labour HQ. So here are some questions we would like to throw at Mr Mendelsohn should anyone bump into him within the Westminster bubble:
1) Why did you ask Mr Abrahams to leave Labour Friends of Israel? There is a public interest in this matter since he was deemed by Labour’s general secretary a suitable donor, and by party officials suitable to be on the front row of Tony Blair’s leaving speech. Was Mr Abrahams’ behaviour in the LFI unsuitable?
2) On what date exactly did Peter Watt tell you about the arrangement? The public interest here is that during September-October Gordon Brown was planning an election. It was your specific job to raise money for that election. If you had found out between taking office and the week of the Conservative Party Conference, in which Gordon Brown was on the point of calling the election, you would have had to choose whether to approach Mr Abrahams or the “phoney” donors for an election donation.
3) Why did you not raise your concerns with the NEC or the party leadership? An examination of the law would have told you that this method of donation was illegal. What were the reasons for deciding not to inform at the very least the party Treasurer?

I am putting these questions to Labour’s press office. In the meantime, keep sending us our info and views on this unfolding story.

By the way, if the name Jon Mendelsohn is sounding familiar to viewers who have momentarily forgotten his role in the Labour cash-for-access scandal exposed by Newsnight irregular Greg Palast in 1998, you can update yourself here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:24 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • D Jones wrote:

And David Abraham's connection to Friends of Israel ?

  • 2.
  • At 06:42 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Linda Kirby wrote:

If the Prime Minister is stating something illegal has happened what is he going to do about it now and when are they going to charge the person responsible?
Are these people ever held accountable?

  • 3.
  • At 09:53 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Bill Milne wrote:

Is there any connection between Lord Levey's former role as a fundraiser for the Labour Party, Labour Friends of Israel and David Abrahams?

Is is coincidence that the two names crop up on this web site? (article dated Oct 07)

FD-LLM is to part company with yet another of its senior staffers, with partner David Abrahams the latest lobbyist to head for the exit door.

Abrahams is quitting public affairs altogether and will take a policy-focused role at Ofcom, working within its investigations team.
Abrahams joined LLM in 1999 and has exp­erience in the fields of telecommunications, IT and utilities regulation. He has also worked for Labour Friends of Israel.

Co-founder Jon Mendelsohn, partner Ben Abbotts and MD Craig Leviton have all left FD-LLM this year. Mendelsohn is now director of general election resources at the Labour Party, Abbotts is senior associate at public affairs agency The Policy Partnership and Leviton is corporate affairs director at gambling giant Gala Coral.

  • 5.
  • At 11:13 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Chris Voisey wrote:

Yaay... good to have you blogging again Paul.

Excellent reporting on this.

  • 6.
  • At 11:18 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Alan Evans wrote:

The biggest surprise in this whole debacle is that the bricklayer in his end terraced council house wasn't offered a peerage. Surely that was an oversight?

  • 7.
  • At 12:20 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Simon Newton wrote:

So,was Abrahams.63, conected with Mendelsohn at LLM, did he work at their Soho offices and did the 2 men sit side by side at an LFI dinner? Did the dodgy donations arrive in company cheques or were they all drawn on Abrahams personal a/c? And, what about the poor badgers?

  • 8.
  • At 11:45 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Paul Mason wrote:

There is *another* David Abrahams in play here, and rest assured I am aware there are two and I am not confusing them. The one referred to in posts 7 and 4 above is a different person. We checked this out with LFI during Tuesday's reporting. There is as far as I am aware no link between LLM and the David Martin Abrahams who is in the news, ie the Northeast property magnate who gave the money to Labour.

  • 9.
  • At 02:42 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Will Brown send the money back via TNT? That might blow up in his face.

  • 10.
  • At 06:40 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Oh dear (#4,#7,#8) too much intensional opacity.

  • 11.
  • At 01:53 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:


Write a brief paragraph on the merits of the following example of fund-rasing suggesting how it might be handled in the context of party donations.


Reveal 4 x (car) symbols and you can claim the Nissan Qashqui or a cash
amount. See ticket for claim details"

How to claim:- call claims hotline 0906 xxx yyyy*

Your Card Number refers to which prize you could claim. If you reveal 4 identical symbols you are instantly guaranteed a minimum amount of £5 and you may have also hit the jackpot of a brand new Nissan Qashqai

*calls cost £1.50p per minute..and last no more than 6 mins.


  • 12.
  • At 11:38 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Mike Arcus wrote:

Let's start looking at Jon Mandelsohn's business dealings. He is a director of 16 (!) different companies!

Plenty of opportunities for discovering dodgy dealings there too...

  • 13.
  • At 12:42 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Len Burch wrote:

There is a mystery no-one in the media, seems to be considering, unravelling or making explicit.

We are told that Gordon Brown's campaign team did not accept a donation from Janet Kidd, NOT because they realised who she was, (as they must have as a previous donor known to many officials) but contra-wise "because they did not know who she was", because they "did not know the donor".

Now I find that the strangest reason for Brown not accepting her donation. For there is nothing in the law that says that you have got to know the donor, only that he or she must be on the electoral role and such-like different restrictions on acceptance. Knowing the donor is not one.

I cannot believe a donation would be refused, because the donor was NOT known. It hardly makes sense and seems to be the converse of what happened. If, as someone unknown to the Labour Party, I were to offer them a substantial donation, would they refuse it on that unknown basis – or if they must “know” me, then would they not accept it and find out more about me?

Can Parties afford to refuse donations simply on account of not knowing the donor and how can they always "know" the donor?. What does knowing the donor even mean? And why should any refuse to accept a donation on such a basis? And if any Party were only to accept donations from known and/or existing donors then how will they ever bring in new funds.

The whole answer of refusing the money because of not knowing the donor, makes no sense in itself. However Janet Kidd was not unknown to the responsible officials within the Labour Party. Would Brown’s team have said, “we will not accept this money because we personally do not know the donor”, rather than asking the Party officials whether the donor was known, as those officials most certainly did know .

Sense suggests that the people concerned in that instance would, and did, more likely refuse a donation because they knew, rather than did not know, who the donor was. Janet Kidd’s donation was most certainly refused by Browns team because she was "known" to the Party officials, rather than that she was "unknown".

For we now know quite well, that top officials in the Labour Party did know who Janet Kidd was and is, and would hardly have told Brown’s team not to accept the money because she was unknown. Given that she was a past and generous donor to the Labour Party, then the whole idea and explanation that a donation from her was refused because she was unknown must be the biggest unbelievable nonsense yet - and indicates that Brown's team were not unknowledgeable innocents within those strange (as yet undisclosed) goings on.

I indeed suspect (because of so many undisclosed mysteries) that there is more to it, than simply matters of personal impersonalisation and non disclosure of the true source - but we shall (maybe) see.

But as in so many previous cases one finds ones’ own suspicions increasingly confirmed as more information gets dragged out; and you then find that what were previously issued statements are little more than deceptive spin – or hardly less than half-truths and untruths.

  • 14.
  • At 08:19 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • chris wrote:

I increasingly find myself noticing how very well jewishness has done. For example I thought Lawrence LLewellyn Bowen's programme would be interesting and I was really surprised by his wife but then when his mother in law and family friend turned up I thought to myself, why am I spending my evening watching a few rich and very sociable jewish people arguing over their dinner? last night I watched Jonathan Ross - Jonathan, Hugh Fearnley, Julian Barrett. now please don't think that because i mention this that i have negative connotations to it as i don't at all, i simply observe human beings. most of those mentioned do not practice judaism clearly.

the list goes on. so yes basically, jewish business and jewish media and in the US jewish politicians, are running the world - so what? they do a better job than anyone else has done yet. i had to laugh when i rang paul ross to complain that the british obsession with minutiae (how many times so and so said what to who etc), means that we miss the bigger picture - that harriet harman is hugely important as a female figure and if we're not careful tax payers will be footing the bill for politics to which paul replied that he would prefer that and i thought to myself so what is the difference to me ? one rich jewishman or another?

  • 15.
  • At 11:18 AM on 02 Dec 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:


Part I

I hope this two part critical analysis of groups is read neutrally, as it really is about the dynamics of minority groups, and it may just be that the Jews, as a group, have made the most politically out of what is a peculiarity of group dynamics. Clearly not all take advantage of the law, which is essentially how parliamentary liberal democratic societies function, but it's opportunity which seems to be the problem. What we have witnessed recently has all the self-destructive hallmarks of imperialist colonialism, something which, rather ironically, the British have in the past been notoriously guilty of for centuries. Some of the criticisms below could, perhaps, be levelled at Sri Lankan Tamils to the extent that they've networked and fund-raised for a foreign cause, but they've been nowhere near as 'successful' as SOME of international Jewry in securing power and political support for their second home, Israel.

We have heard a lot about donors and fund raisers being technically domiciled offshore in order to avoid paying taxes, and understandably people are sensitive about this given that, as Sir Ronald Cohen recently said when plugging his book on Newsnight, this is privileged information between they and the Inland Revenue, but having said that, when these issues have popped up in the news, they do appear to disproportionately involve members of this one minority group, which, given it's one of the smallest minority groups (about the same as the British Chinese, i.e 0.5% of the population) is remarkable.

One can't get good, reliable, data on the group's behaviour, given that it's such a fuzzy-set and technically isn't an ethnic group (even though it's protected as a race along with Sikhs, by the Race Relations Act 1976). Its members effectively have dual-citizenship via the Right of Return to Israel by genetic lineage, but can just say they are not practicing Judaism (not that that matters for their Right of Return). So, it is moot whether they are a race (although geneticists trace Jewish lineage via Y chromosome and MtDNA and genetic tests are in fact very good at partitioning races just as human are), but they are a protected, privileged group which, whether they wish it or not, does mean that they are, relative to others, indeed a chosen people.

Conclusion: group identity here is conveniently opaque.

  • 16.
  • At 01:27 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Trevor Smith wrote:

Certainly the Conservatives have relished the opportunity for "payback" for all the sleeze allegations made against the Major Govt and perhaps the Hutton report explains why the news department of the BBC has given unending and repetitive reporting across the whole of their output on radio and television on this breach of the law.
In all of this reporting no one has come up with evidence to show that:
Mr Abrahams' money was ill gained.
Mr Abrahams either asked for or received any "reward" for his donations
Mr Abrahams and his proxy donors were not entitled to give the money
The Labour Party did not report to the Electoral Commission by the Labour Party
Mr Abrahams' error(?) was that he wished to preserve his privacy.
The Labour Party's error was that those who knew that the donors were acting as proxies should have rejected the donations at the moment of receipt.
Not I would maintain the end of the world and totally does not warrant the torrent of reports and analysis across the BBC and the mock outrage of the Conservatives

  • 17.
  • At 09:21 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:


Part II

The following could be about any minority group, but isn't. In the UK today, can it legitimately be asked whether SOME Jews attain prominence because a) they are white (and more difficult to identify as members of a minority group) and b) are thereby more able to take advantage of their extended 'family' ties? Or is one to accept a priori that higher than expected salience in this group is always to be accounted for through greater native ability?

Can one even ask how British Jewish statistical over-representation has come about without causing offence?

In fact, it can't JUST be due to greater intelligence/ability, as the British Chinese are just as bright/able, yet we don't see them in anywhere near the same frequency, and if a similar group of Chinese British people WERE politically affiliated with Mainland Chinese orientated pressure groups in Britain, questions would surely be asked, and there would be few worries about being considered 'anti-Sino'.

How many other ethnic/racial groups have the privilege of their members
being automatically eligible for another country's citizenship by
genetic (racial) lineage whilst being specifically protected by law
from racial discrimination (to the point that even pointing out group membership and success is a sensitive issue?

Is there good evidence that this group IS singled out as 'victims'? If one looks critically into how evidence for 'anti-Semitic' crime is collected (some is just by e-mail reports) one sees that it's done internally by a Jewish activist group (Community Security Trust (CST)) not by the police (although this may be about to change in the wake of the Parliamentary inquiry in anti-Semitism), as being Jewish is not covered by the Home Office 16+1 classification scheme. Crimes against Jews are not easily comparable to victims of crime in other groups, and given that most self-announcing Jews live in large cities (London, Manchester) where the crime rate is high, one has to be careful. In fact, the more one looks into this, the more one sees opportunity for victim-playing which gets special attention/resources whether intended or not.

The recent parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism occurred when Israel was on center stage because of the unpopular war with S. Lebanon, and concern about anti-Semitism seem to flare up whenever members of its local community become salient in the news for all the wrong sorts of reasons (e.g Cash for Honours).

Any apparent advantages conferred by affirmative action on member of the Jewish community is bound to elicit resentment from members of other groups, just as Mr Abrahams' recent assertion did that he is just a working-class recluse who wishes to avoid the limelight (this was picked up in the Jewish Chronicle see below), as by his trade, he's a wealthy capitalist. Would such behaviour be tolerated as well anywhere else were it not for the constant veiled appeal to anti-Semitism, persecution and 'The Holocaust'?

Back in 1997, the Bernie Ecclestone saga stimulated some of the same Zionist concerns as we have seen aired recently:

(Once again, in passing, I draw attention to a) height, b) estrogenisation, c) feminisation (and NCAH), and that one of the remarked upon behavioural characteristics of NCAH is the stress response, shared, incidentally by women as a class).

The potential for abuse will always exist where enclaves (colonies) establish themselves amongst larger groups, especially when protected because of past alleged persecution.

Ironically, the British once did just this in Africa, India, and the Far East. In fact, wherever they settled in the creation of their empire, so what we see Jewish colonisation of the UK today as retribution for past behaviour in across the world. But as elsewhere, 'tu quoque' is no defence.

Furthermore, assimilation is impossible to the degree that given that identity is preserved by genetic lineage and privilege (Right of Return). This just renders potential networking opaque.

The Fundamental Charter of Human Rights, and all Equalities legislation, now central to the Lisbon Treaty, has the potential to take the advantages conferred by selective, positive discrimination, impunity/immunity even further for this and other groups, as what has to be born in mind is protection from discrimination along with the positive discriminatory advantage of The Right of Return if conditions become unfavourable.

For this to work, one needs a shield to protect oneself from 'persecution' along with an ability to point to fear of retribution such as a 'Holocaust'. But this, for all we know, could one day turn out to have been largely an allied (Soviet, USA, UK) propaganda programme to denazify/punish Germany as an alternative to the far more draconian Morgenthau Plan - whch seems to have its roots in Stalin as much as Dexter-White & Moregenthau) in conjunction with the ability to keep the numbers in one's 'colony' down to appear to be a NATIONAL minority (but see NYC statistics presented elsewhere in the NN blog on ethnic groups, as the same may now transpiring in London through high levels of low skilled Asian and African immigration plus high birth rates in these groups). One can, it should be pointed out, make oneself more prevalent through reducing the numbers in the competition through encouraging lower skilled immigration. To ascertain whether there was any basis to this, one would have to look to population base/growth rates, as where observed rates are markedly different from expected, one must rationally ask questions and suspect forces to be operating. Such inquiries should reveal whether any such forces are legitimate, democratic and meritocratic, although this is much harder to achieve in a 'free' market liberal democracy where citizens are reluctant to accept biometric ID cards etc.

Throughout history, Jews has been singled out as unique, and their uniqueness (and success) appears to have depended upon the existence and tolerance of others comprising a much larger outgroup within which they settle, and the outgroup members not benefiting the same way simply because they are the majority (but see Britain and its past colonies for the major exception).

History shows repeatedly that colonisation and apartheid whether explicit or through nepotism/cronyism has always been rumbled, and in the end. Britain lost its empire as did other European states after the war.

Questions: How many non-combatant Jews died in WWII, how many Bolshevik communists, how many Jewish communists, and how many disappeared behind the Iron Curtain after the war (6.3m 'European' Jews lived in Poland/German occupied Russia in the 1940s? Between 1939 and June 1941 Germany and the USSR were effectively allies. Do we know for sure, as some of the Holocaust museums currently define survivors as ANY Jews who were in Europe before the war who survived the war. Those lost to The Holocaust are often counted as those no longer in Europe. I'd like to see more of those in the Jewish community help bring about an end to opportunism, as it must happen, albeit only, I suspect, in a subset of the community. SOME=(NOT(ALL)) and ALL=(NOT(SOME))

4/7 in the FT's list are Jewish, and given the Jewish community comprises no more that 0.5% of the population, surely this is significant one way or the other?

  • 18.
  • At 11:41 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

When a donation is received, is it a legal requirement that the receipt of the cheque is registered and then whether it was banked or rejected? How much of the multi-stage process is recorded? Donations do not just ocme as cheques of course.

However, sticking with cheques, if these are 'torn up', what record is there of their ever having been received?

The bricklayer concerned must be used to explaining to the taxman how he came accros money but isn't sure quite how!
But it does show how poor these people are at covering their tracks.
I think it is alot of hot air over nothing. It is only money for campaigns and unless taxpayers pay for it it has to be from goodwill.
I think Brown should be attacked for his policies and not for this nonsense.
It is perhaps because they have nothing to attack him with that they go for these cheap stories.

  • 20.
  • At 10:18 PM on 19 Dec 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:


Is London going the same way demographically as NYC?

and the subsequent post, but be sure to see the last link/stats at the end of the above post on the NYC demographics and think of London today.

It's very difficult to get the required London data (even the NYC data is masked as a diligent reader will find out). The task is rendered even more difficult in terms of self-classification (i.e. relgiious/practising vs secular) along with politically correct strictures against 'ethnic profiling' (a euphemism perhaps for preventing anyone from really getting a reliable grip on population management?).

Is the apparently high salience a function of an unrecorded/poorly recorded high population base rate (these counts can not be left to enclaves themselves in the interest of impartiality), or is the higher salience just a consequence of additional variables such as higher (predominantly verbal) cognitive ability serving as a multiplier on base rate, i.e a small population number but higher mean IQ? If the latter, no problem so long as other groups have the same distribution, otherwise there is a positive group advantage by genes, which could turn out to be problematic.

There was massive migration into East London at the turn of the last century, much en route to NYC, but where have all of those who settled gone given the traditionally high Orthodox birth rate? Certainly not just to North London as statistics indicate that the British Jewish population has not changed since the war. But how is that possible if the Orthodox population has a higher than replacement level TFR? Onl;y through Jews becoming secular. But is there such a concept given The Right of Return? Is it not a very convenient subterfuge given that it doesn't prevent any of them from shouting anti-semite when critised or becoming an Israeli citizen whenever they wish? Where's the equality with other UK citizens?

If higher attainment is a function of higher (verbal) ability, the question then must be, why there are not far more British Indians and British Chinese (they do bets in English) in the public eye (and House of Lords) given their equally high academic attainment relative to White British.

Any reliable, objective, pointers would be much appreciated. If it's all done on merit, then hats off, all groups have a few bad apples.

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