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The blame game

Brian Taylor | 14:46 UK time, Wednesday, 28 November 2007

It is, I suppose, a familiar political tactic.

It was deployed by Labour, with some justification, during the controversy over the Gould Report into the Scottish elections.

Today that same tactic was deployed by the Prime Minister - with rather more questionable justification - as he faced a sustained challenge in the Commons over the improper donations to his party.

The tactic? Spread the blame.

Suggest that a problem is shared across the political divide and requires a consensual, cross-party solution.

David Cameron, backed up by a succession of Tory MPs, sought to pin the blame for the funding controversy directly upon Gordon Brown.

Ascending to a scheduled but understandable crescendo, Mr Cameron inquired whether the PM was “cut out for the job”.

In response, Mr Brown repeatedly sought to argue that there should be a shared interest in cleaning up party donations.

All parties, he stated, should pursue this objective.

It was a good try - and even warmed up the Labour benches when Mr Brown recalled the early actions of his premiership in tackling terrorism, flooding and foot-and-mouth.

Oh, happy days, you could see him thinking.

But was it good enough? Not for Vince Cable, the stand-in LibDem leader, who depicted Mr Brown’s reputation as shifting “from Stalin to Mr Bean”.

How they laughed - with, of course, the exception of the notably glum Labour benches.

A few minutes earlier, as forecast here yesterday, opposition MPs had contrived to raise the donations issue during questions to the Scottish Secretary Des Browne.

Angus Robertson, who led the SNP campaign for the Holyrood elections, sought an assurance over whether any of the David Abrahams cash had found its way into Labour’s Scottish election effort.

Des Browne is a cautious politician - and an advocate. He gave a cautious reply. He could give such an assurance “in my state of knowledge”.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 05:22 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Rab o'Ruglen wrote:

This donations scandal is another absolute disgrace, reducing British politics to the level of a banana republic. There should be an immediate and wide-ranging police investigation ending with those guilty of conspiracy (for that is what it appears at the moment to be) being prosecuted. But of course it will turn out all to be the office boy's fault - again!.

  • 2.
  • At 06:48 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

I thought questions 1 – 5 were poorly structured and poorly delivered, question 6 was preceded, interposed and closed with what can only be described as an abusive rant; with so many options to attack available to the Leader of the opposition seems to be either acting guardedly or he loses control when Gordon Brown does not deliver the response David Cameron had predicted and accordingly had based his next questions upon.

David Cameron had seemingly mustered his troops to provide a constant salvo in the direction of the Prime Minister; we must note in the current Conservative political climate the Leader of the Opposition and his foot soldiers continued their policy of character assassination of the Prime minister by openly questioning his integrity from it must be noted the safety of the Dispatch Box and the opposition benches.

Now I do not know why David Cameron was unable or unwilling to produce a controlled attack on Government policy although I do have some suspicions as to why he has chosen his route of the day I would just comment that the Leader of the Opposition should write to Santa for a political sat-nav.

I will await more information before I come to any conclusions.

Vince Cable has gone down greatly in my estimation; previously I had thought Vince Cable had done well after taking over from Menzies Campbell however the wit that passes between these politicians off camera has now been played out on National television; I would think it possible Vince feels remorse for his remarks which effectively have damaged himself more than the Prime Minister.

  • 3.
  • At 08:19 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Euromac, Brussels wrote:

I thought Vince Cable's remarks were an excellent use of humour to puncture the puffed-up pomposity of Brown

Following the cash for honours scandal it was safe to assume that everyone would make sure their financial houses were in order, especially Labour.

But of course there were no prosecutions, just another whitewash, so clearly it has been 'as you were', at least for Labour.

Harman is almost certainly gone and even at this stage Darling is on shaky ground. But one thing is certain, even if everyone in the cabinet survives Labour's reputation in the country will be severely and I would think irrevocably damaged.

Any criminal prosecutions over this matter, or were the HMRC discs to fall into criminal hands, not only will senior cabinet Ministers fall the Government would almost certainly fall with them.

This is a black year for Labour in Scotland and the UK and will take some getting over.

  • 5.
  • At 11:33 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Go to then, you come to me, and you say,
"Shylock, we would have moneys,"

  • 6.
  • At 11:40 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • scotleag wrote:

Compared to Ecclestone and "cash for honours" these are trivial matters, consisting of an eccentric individual's method of donating his own money to a political party in return for apparently nothing.

We see the SNP mouthing off about a few hundred quid from a guy in the Channel Islands when that same party solicited thousands from a tax exile film star for years.

The Tories are virtually owned by the scarlet pimpernel of politics (they seek his residence here, they seek his residence there) Lord Ashcroft.

The Libs were funded for years by tax exile 'Union' Jack Hayward.

All parties are involved. If the opposition REALLY thought this was an exclusively Labour problem then messrs Cameron, Cable & Salmond would all be authorising independent investigations into their own parties in order to show how pure they are.

Whatever could be holding them back?

  • 7.
  • At 11:49 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

"All that glisters is not gold."

  • 8.
  • At 12:01 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • John wrote:

Mr Abrahams through intermediaries gave to the Labour Party.
From 31 January 2003 to 24 May 2006 a total of £351,975 this is when
T Blair was PM and his chief fundraiser was Lord Levy.
From 28 June 2007 to 10 July 2007 a total of £312,000 while G Brown is PM and his chief fundraiser is Jon Mendelsohn.

Did Tony Blair know of the £351,975 ?

  • 9.
  • At 09:01 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Ed Gray wrote:

Brian,

It was distinctly noticeable that BBC Scotland again yesterday referred to the Tories and the Lib-Dems raising questions at Westminster about Labour funding.

Typically, no reference to the SNP, although it was they who instigated the Cash for Honours inquiry, and who were also at the cutting edge of the challenge to Labour yesterday.

Is it – as it frankly appears – deliberate BBC (Scotland) policy to omit reference to the SNP at Westminster, with the aim of effect of negating the weight of their presence there in the eyes of the public??

Amidst other concerns, this does indicate a distinct lack of impartiality.

  • 10.
  • At 09:02 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Chris Morrison wrote:

The onyl good thing for labour at the moment is that with all the problems at home there isn't much talk about illegal wars...

Chris

  • 11.
  • At 09:37 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • dr.james smith wrote:

I think Vince Cable's remarks were an insult to "Mr Bean" who even though useless, in my opinion did not lack integrity.
"Mr Bean" was not a member of a party purporting to clean up politics.

regards

  • 12.
  • At 10:03 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Tam McGowan wrote:

Post number 9 jokes I hope.

With Sudan and Iran in firing line, it would not suprise me if Brown and his cronies use this as a distraction form Labour coruption in the anonymous donations scandal

Tam

  • 13.
  • At 10:43 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

Thought that this wee extract might cheer up all my dear friends who still haven't jumped ship from the neo-con Labour Party.

The Laughing Policeman (Billie Grey)
(Performed by Charles Penrose).

He laughs upon point duty
He laughs upon his beat
He laughs at everybody
When he's walking in the street
He never can stop laughing
He says he's never tried
But once he did arrest a man
And laughed until he cried.

A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Ooo... ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Ooo... hoo hoo ha ha ha ha ha ha
Ooo hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

What's the betting that the Labour Party get off with it again ?.

When the people in charge of justice are selected by them, rather than elected, then we will always have this kind of problem with accountability.

Ron Gould’s Report wasn't good enough for them, so they should be sent to jail if found guilty, as it's the only way that they will learn a lesson.
Either because they are so thick that they can't understand their own rules, or they are so arrogant thet they know that they will get away with it again.

This is Mis-Representation of the People Act, as Gordon Brown has all but admitted that their behaviour was illegal.

Their incompetence is breathtaking.

Their General Secretary's resignation is such a small and unusual step these days.

We look forward to further developments, especially inside and outside Parliament.

Let Democracy Rule.

  • 15.
  • At 11:59 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

"Brother, can you spare a dime?

  • 16.
  • At 12:44 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Deasún wrote:

Peter Fife - You are defending the indefensible. Well, actually, you don't even bother to defend Labour, you simply attack Cameron and Vince Cable.

Do you consider it reasonable or credible that the leader of the Labour Party, and ex-Chancellor, claims that he has effectively no knowledge of how is party is financed? Or that Harriet Harman, despite being married to the party treasurer is in a similarly ignorant position?

And Scoleag, "We see the SNP mouthing off about a few hundred quid from a guy in the Channel Islands when that same party solicited thousands from a tax exile film star for years."

The point is that the SNP were open an honest about these donations whereas Wendy Alexander has spent the last few weeks fielding questions regarding multiple donations of £950 which, at the very least, are against the spirit of the law. She has now been found out just like her elders and betters in Westminster.

The Labour Party has been caught with there collective hand in the till. Gordon Brown has the look of a dead man walking.

  • 17.
  • At 01:02 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Mac wrote:

We already know the outcome of the Labour party's investigation will be. The good judge and the good bishop will say in another White Wash report that there is no evidence of wrong doing in this instance, and that the broad conclusion will be that all political parties are to blame.

We have heard it before at the Holyrood inquiry and from Ron Goulds inquiry into the Scottish elections.

We already know the outcome of the Electoral Commission's report too. It will say that there is no evidence to prosecute, and will generalise that all parties in this scandal are to blame.

A repeat of Yates of the Yard investigation.

We have a political culture that now sticks two fingers up at the electorate and says, "It wisnae me. Even if it was me you cannae prove. Even if you can prove it they'll no' be any charges. Even if I'm charged no one will prosecute or convict."

Can anyone argue that this not the case and that as a consequence we now have law breakers in charge at Westminster.

  • 18.
  • At 02:47 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Do you think Brown will be returning this money by post? Pickles and I are on the case.

  • 19.
  • At 02:59 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • interested by-stander wrote:

Labour now admit it was an illegal donation and Charlie Gordon has resigned as Transport spokesman.

This, of course, is damage limition from Labour in Scotland.

Did Wendy Alexander know this donation was requested?

How many donations for 995 pounds came from Mr Green through surrogates?

  • 20.
  • At 04:44 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

# 6 - the difference is the SNP (and others) do not lie and, note this part, do not BREAK THE LAW regarding the donations they receive. This is a solely Labour problem - as Labour persists in BREAKING THE LAW surrounding party funding, either in a calculated manner or by sheer ignorance. But then again they did introduce the current rules on party funding, if anyone should know them they should!

Trying to smear the other parties is pathetic and should not be used by UK ministers or their supporters! When is someone in the Labour Party going to take some responsibility for these recurring disasters, both financial and the others?

# 2 - Vince Cable's remarks were excellent and have earned the Liberals the first goodwill/positive attention from the general public since before they knifed Charlie, nevermind Ming. He landed a real punch on Brown the other day - something Cameron utterly failed to do in my personal opinion.

All this mess because the Labour Party was worried about the SNP getting money from Sean Connery who lived abroad.

So they thought that they would change the rules, which they did.

Now it turns out that they cannot abide by their own rules, and in opposition they have deprived themselves of more money, and Wendy is complaining that she doesn't have enough money to run her department.

You just couldn't make it up.

Such sheer incompetence.

And they want to run the Country.

What's the betting that the Labour Party will get off with it again ?.

When the people in charge of justice are selected by them, rather than elected, then we will always have this kind of problem with accountability.

Ron Gould’s Report wasn't good enough for them, so they should be sent to jail if found guilty, as it's the only way that they will learn a lesson.
Either because they are so thick that they can't understand their own rules, or they are so arrogant that they know that they will get away with it again.

This is Mis-Representation of the People Act, as Gordon Brown has all but admitted that their behaviour was illegal.

Their incompetence is breathtaking.

Their General Secretary's resignation is such a small and unusual step these days.

We look forward to further developments, especially inside and outside Parliament.

The pantomimes continue.

Let Democracy Rule.

  • 22.
  • At 06:27 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Will Brown be sending the money back by post?

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