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Just "severe embarrassment" ...

Nick Robinson | 17:50 UK time, Thursday, 10 January 2008

I suggested earlier that all Peter Hain had to fear was severe embarrassment (unless, of course, there is something illegal or compromising hidden in the accounts we are still waiting for him to publish). Let me explain why.

Extraordinarily the Electoral Commission has no powers to penalise individuals or parties for failing to fully declare donations. The Act (PPERA 2000) which established the law on political funding sets out an escalating series of fines for the late submission of accounts but it does not make any provision for late declarations of donations themselves. Indeed, the Commission is lobbying to be given new powers and what it calls a "a more proportionate and flexible sanctions regime" in any new party funding legislation.

So, what Peter Hain must now fear is :

• being dumped by Gordon Brown - although there is no sign of that at all.

• being criticised by the Electoral Commission

• being criticised by the new Standards Watchdog, Sir Christopher Kelly, who today told MPs that his Committee on Standards in Public Life would "see whether or not there are lessons to be learned from the experience. I would guess... that the committee would be concerned that even now not everyone appears to have understood the importance of being absolutely transparent about political donations".

• having every one of the donors he eventually reveals being scrutinised by the media. That, of course, could change everything...


  • 1.
  • At 06:13 PM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • John Constable wrote:

Perceptions are very important in politics and to the general English public, Peter Hain is probably behaving no-more-or-less than that expected of a party politician.

Hopefully, English people will eventually realise that the party system itself is seriously flawed and will tend to keep on producing this sort of outcome.

At the next General election, why not consider voting for an independent English candidate?

If more independents got into the Westminster Parliament, we English would get better collective decision making for starters.

  • 2.
  • At 06:22 PM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • Andy wrote:


Peter Hain capable of being embarassed, severely or mildly or at all? Flying pig alert!

  • 3.
  • At 07:08 PM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • John Galpin wrote:

Apart from the oft mentioned ethical and legal considerations what does this also say about his administrative competence to be running a major Ministry?

Briefing and organising a relatively small number of people to run an election campaign and its administration isn't that difficult, or it shouldn't be for someone who's been involved in quite a few elections during his political life.

When is Brown's first reshuffle? Is he perhaps looking for a special envoy to Baghdad?

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