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Keeping cool

Nick Robinson | 12:55 UK time, Tuesday, 27 November 2007

From the PM's news conference:
Worried. Very worried. That is how I would feel if I were Harriet Harman. Repeatedly Gordon Brown has refused this morning to give her his unequivocal backing after it was revealed that her campaign for deputy leader accepted money from one of those used by David Abrahams to hide his donations. The Brown campaign and the Benn campaign refused similar offers.

Otherwise, Gordon Brown has adopted the same tactic as he did last week over the missing discs. Before a single question was asked he gave an apology, a denial of knowledge and an enquiry to establish the facts. Critically, and effectively, he also kept his cool.

The problem he has is to explain why the cash for honours saga wasn't warning enough to change his party's practices.


  • 1.
  • At 01:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

I trust Alastair Darling will ensure that those who received the money from Abrahams as gift to do with 'what they like' will be made to pay tax on their unearned income. That might put others from adopting this ploy. I also wonder whether this is just the tip of an iceberg involving others who made similar contributions.

  • 2.
  • At 01:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • jim evans wrote:

Dear Nick
Me thinks there be a third scandal for the Brownites, has any one heard of the armies pay scandal, where troops still have not been paid fro six months.??????

  • 3.
  • At 01:15 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

It only washes once we knew Harman had problems and now she must also fall on her knitting needle, she will need those in years to come.

I think to be honest this shows that Blair held Labour together, with sticking plaster, now he has gone the sticking plaster is coming apart.

It needs emergency treatment like an elections before it takes another eighteen years before Labour again is trusted.


Is it the case that another of the candidates for Deputy PM was offered the same money, and refused it because of its provenance?

If this was the case, how did the other candidate know this and Harriet Harman did not?

  • 5.
  • At 01:20 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Doug Harris wrote:

Mr Brown is famous for working hard, absorbing briefs and going into the detail of issues

He is party leader for goodness sake - and he isn't a recent arrival!

It is scarcely credible that he knows nothing about this issue

He is either a knave or a fool

  • 6.
  • At 01:23 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • George wrote:

It must be a sign of the times when Mr Brown managing not to fly off into an uncontrollable rage whenever he is questioned about his actions, is judged as a success.

  • 7.
  • At 01:24 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • benamas wrote:

So prime minister cannot recall any discussion with head of donations on this matter.

This is a PM who never asks questions so he never knows anything and can be held responsible

Time for a PM who will be responsible and will allways be asking difficult questions.

Did PM never have we had any donations refused, if yes why ? Have these people donated to other people... ?

Ministers are paid fortunes and pensions to be responsible and ask questions all the time to avoid things becoming issues.

  • 8.
  • At 01:25 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • paul p wrote:

I'm really confused about this report about Harriet Harman and Benn?

From the BBC story:

The only other deputy leadership contender known to have been offered money by Mr Abrahams was Hilary Benn, who turned down money offered to him under Janet Kidd's name.

He subsequently accepted it under Mr Abrahams' name.

Er - excuse me...

  • 9.
  • At 01:26 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Jane Jackson wrote:

David Abrahams donated something like £600,000 to the Labour Party, and yet Gordon Brown, when told that he had met Mr. Abrahams on more than one occasion, doesn't remember a conversation with him. I wonder how much you would have to donate to actually be remembered?

  • 10.
  • At 01:28 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Peter Leach wrote:

Nick, are not David Abrahams and the Labour Party in breach of Money Laundering Regulations?

  • 11.
  • At 01:29 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Nigel Wheatcroft wrote:

Another enquiry with more yes men who will stall the results and then a whitewash.That is what we expect and will get.
No wonder there is a lack of faith in politicians.This government was quick in opposition to accuse the Tories of any little bit of sleaze.This lot have made it into an artform,not just the odd brown envelope but hundreds of thousands of pounds,and still they are in denial that they have done wrong.
The chickens are coming home to roost and there seems to lots of them.

  • 12.
  • At 01:29 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • kate jamison wrote:

And tellingly Gordon referred to her in past tense. More importantly what with all theses reviews going on when will Gordon find the time to "get on with the Job" as he puts it. And who is going to pay for all these reviews to this govenments blundering incompetence!

  • 13.
  • At 01:31 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • glyn williams wrote:

I thought the two questions asked by Nick Robinson to be spot-on. Can we really be expected to believe that a man who is widely acknowledged as a control freak and who has been Chancellor for ten yeras knew nothing of the cash for honours and now declares no knowledge of these latest large donations. If he did not, he should have, which then confirms the sheer incompetence of the whole of this Government. No doubt Harriat Harman, as with all New Labour Ministers, will just brazen it out. I am sure she, along with this corupt Government, will just carry on in her(its) own sweet, doubled standard way.

  • 14.
  • At 01:32 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Peter Palladas wrote:

"Before a single question was asked he gave...a denial of knowledge and an enquiry to establish the facts."

So it's "The answer's 'No', now what's the question?" Gordo is it?


Yesterday, we were given to understand by Jack Straw that hardly anyone in the Labour Party apart from Peter Watt knew of david Abrahams. Today it is clear that at least three cabinet ministers (including the Prime Minister) may have known a good deal about him.

Brown said:
"I am sure I may have met him but I have no recollection of any conversations about any of these issues,"

So what did they discuss, or is the Prime Minister's memory unable to function on this issue?

Harriet Harmon seems to have been given the same level of confidence as that given by boards of directors to many football coaches!

  • 16.
  • At 01:34 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Unixman wrote:

Why did Brown and Benn refuse similar offers? Was it because they knew the source of the money?

  • 17.
  • At 01:34 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Robbie wrote:

Yep all well and good!

Apology - denial - enquiry....

Don't get me enthused enough to vote!

The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP
The Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP
The Rt Hon David Miliband MP
The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
The Rt Hon Des Browne MP
The Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP
The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
The Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP
The Rt Hon John Hutton MP
The Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP
The Rt Hon Peter Hain MP
The Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP
The Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP
The Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP
The Rt Hon Ed Balls MP
The Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP
The Rt Hon James Purnell MP
The Rt Hon Shaun Woodward MP
The Rt Hon the Baroness Ashton of Upholland
The Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP
The Rt Hon John Denham MP
The Rt Hon the Lord Grocott

Don't knock my door - don't even ask - the answer is NO!!!

Elvis has left the building and last one out turn off the lights!

  • 18.
  • At 01:35 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

An apology just isn't anywhere near enough here. It seems quite possible that a criminal offence has been committed, and there is no doubt in my mind that the police should investigate whether any charges should be brought.

Anything less will leave us voters with the distinct impression that there's one law for us and another for them.

  • 19.
  • At 01:40 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • JonA wrote:

This looks like a case for Yates of the Yard.

  • 20.
  • At 01:42 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Stephen Lundy wrote:

How come no one but the former General Secretary knew about Mr Abrahams routing contributions through a colleague however Mr Hilary Benn refused a donation from Janet Kidd but later accepted the same donation from Mr Abrahams. The conclusion is that the statement only the GS knew is false since Mr Benn refused the deputy leadership funding contribution when it was proffered in Janet Kidd's name. He must have known the true source of the funds, the intention to obscure the identity of that source and that it was at least inappropriate to accept the contribution. It appears that at least the GS, Mr Benn and Ms Harman knew about Mr Abrahams activities. Lastly, why several contributions to Deputy Leadership campaigns?

Gordon Brown is beginning to seem like the captain of the Titanic. Trying to sail on serenely while ignoring (or I suppose we have to say not knowing) what is going on around him.

I think Harriet Harman is already sunk, and others in the party know it to be true - because, although they are saying nothing, they know exactly what has been going on.

Let's hope the enquiry brings everything to light. Until then, it's seems that only the press can give the public the truth. Certainly not this government.

  • 22.
  • At 01:46 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Harriet Harman has admitted that on 4 July her campaign received a donation from Janet Kidd for £5,000. According to the BBC, Ms Harman has said she "was not aware of any funding arrangements... between David Abrahams and Janet Kidd".

This looks to me like a very small issue, compared to what we are being asked to believe by the Prime Minister, which is that nobody except Peter Watt knew that David Abrahams has donated more than £500,000 to the Labour Party since 2003.

We are also being asked to believe that nobody in the Labour Party hierarchy (not even Watt) was aware that these donations were not being properly recorded and reported in full accordance with the law.

In this context, the £5,000 donation to Harman's campaign looks like a very uninteresting and irrelevant sideshow. Except from the perspective of the right-wing press who seem to have had it in for Ms Harman since before she was elected to the post of Labour's Deputy Leader.

Might I suggest, to paraphrase Ali G: Is it because she is a feminist?

  • 23.
  • At 01:49 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • jane wrote:

I was not surprised that the PM did not support Harriet Harman and seemed to emphasise that the current problems had developed over several years without acknowledging the amount received since he became leader of the party. He really thinks we are all stupid and can not see that he is is trying to ensure his own reputation is untarnished at the expense of others. Does he really believe that hanging a colleague out to dry will endear him to us? All I can see is a political strategist who is more worried about his own image, out maneouvring the Tories and totally uncaring and unsupportive to colleagues. I did not believe the PM only attended the NEC to produce his report and he did not keep himself abreast of all party events. He is the leader of the party and I believe did produce a document about restructuring the Party shortly after becoming PM. No excuse - again trying to wiggle out of responsibility even though donations have also been made since he became PM.

He has demonstrated the negative aspects of his personality which are no doubt well known by his colleagues. Cabinet colleagues cannot look to their leader for support when things go wrong. However, they can be assured that all positives or policies will make headlines for the PM! Shame on him!!

Throughout this series of events, I'm reminded of Donald Rumsfeld's turn of phrase about known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

- Northern Rock stock had fallen 36% from the start of June until the end of August. Yet, the week before the emergency Bank of England loan to Northern Rock, I'd assume that no one really thought that the government would be billions in hock to Richard Branson within 3 months.

- Everyone is concerned about identify theft, shredder sales are going through the roof, but I think no one really thought that the government could design internal computer security so badly that they could lose 25 million records, including bank details, and then try to brush it off as Westminster village froth.

- Most Labour MPs would have thought that the leadership had learnt its lessons about who to accept money from, and how to accept it.

What else is lurking out there for Labour that they don't know they don't know?

Gordon Brown is beginning to seem like the captain of the Titanic. Trying to sail on serenely while ignoring (or I suppose we have to say not knowing) what is going on around him.

I think Harriet Harman is already sunk, and others in the party know it to be true - because, although they are saying nothing, they know exactly what has been going on.

Let's hope the enquiry brings everything to light. Until then, it's seems that only the press can give the public the truth. Certainly not this government.

  • 26.
  • At 01:58 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Robbie wrote:

Harman to make a statement at 3.30pm.

£5,000 says GB wants another head to roll.

  • 27.
  • At 02:01 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • George wrote:

You're quite right that this is an act of frankly astonishing naivite/duplicitousness and all the worse for coming right off the back of the cash for honours farrago. If only it weren't almost certain to lead to the worst of all possible outcomes - state funded political parties.

If anyone can think of a better way of ensuring that political parties lose touch with the grass roots than state funding, I for one would love to hear it. The reason parties are underfunded is because membership has fallen through the floor (along with voter turnout); both are symptoms that voters do not see their interests as being aligned with those of the parties.

For politicians to argue that they are only prepared to cease their corrupt practices if we, the taxpayers, pony up demonstrates considerable brass neck. Sir Hayden Phillips should boot both the major parties out of the current talks and tell them to reconnect with their bases or face bankruptcy.

Citizens juries and other focus-group swindles are no substitute for mass membership parties and a proper party conference.

  • 28.
  • At 02:05 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

The intense media scrutiny and brouhaha of the so-called cash for honours saga presented a difficult problem and a lot of pressure. People rarely learn or effect change well under these circumstances, and further events drain attention from pursuing change to completion. When cynical and rude commentary is the dominant force it's little wonder than little space is left for improvement.

Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall there was this one: ''Matters of great concern should be treated lightly.'' Master lttei commented, "Matters of small concern should be treated seriously." Among one's affairs there should not be more than two or three matters of what one could call great concern. If these are deliberated upon during ordinary times, they can be understood. Thinking about things previously and then handling them lightly when the time comes is what this is all about. To face an event anew solving it lightly is difficult if you are not resolved beforehand, and there will always be uncertainty in hitting your mark. However, if the foundation is laid previously, you can think of the saying, "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly," as your own basis for action."

The Prime Minister's cool response to this situation is welcome as it helps calm things down, and his public search for the facts puts affairs on a proper footing and encourages responsibility. As Jackie Ashley commented the other day, the Prime Minister has no shortage of courage but might better develop confidence and relaxation. It looks like the Prime Minister is rising to this challenge.

"According to Master lttei, even a poor penman will become substantial in the art of calligraphy if he studies by imitating a good model and puts forth effort. A retainer should be able to become substantial too, if he takes a good retainer as his model. Today, however, there are no models of good retainers. In light of this, it would be good to make a model and to learn from that. To do this, one should look at many people and choose from each person his best point only. For example, one person for politeness, one for bravery, one for the proper way of speaking, one for correct conduct and one for steadiness of mind. Thus will the model be made."

Someone has some swotting to do, Nick.

*Excerpts from Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

  • 29.
  • At 02:24 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • David Simmons wrote:

No, Nick - its NOT good enough for Gordon Brown to keep his cool and deny all knowledge. Its like the Managing Director of a company saying that he didn't know some of the materials used in his product were 'donated' - but as he didn't know its alright.
As has been said elsewhere - if this practice had been going on for (at least) four years - how come the 'cash for honours' inquiry didn't expose it..? Furthermore - if the Brown reselection camp refused these donations - why was that..?
One thing amuses me - if the original intention was for Mr Abrahams to hide his donations - that plan's come a bit unstuck, hasn't it..??

  • 30.
  • At 02:28 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

Another problem for Harriet Harman is that her husband, Jack Dromey, is the Labour party treasurer. I cannot believe that they never discussed Labour party issues and financing. Did Jack never came home, kiss his wife and said something like: "I had a good day at the office: someone, whose background I can't be bothered to check into, just donated £200,000 to New Labour"

  • 31.
  • At 02:37 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • sjm wrote:

Well, I for one am not mollified by the PM's 'cool response' - I think it's well past the time that the past and present Ministers of this shallow, sleaze-ridden and incompetent administration hung their heads in shame - and in public.

  • 32.
  • At 02:43 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • John Best wrote:

Just over 19 years ago we had the same sleaze with different names and a different party, Then Labour were whiter than white.
The reverse situation now only proves that the whole lot of them cannot be trusted.
The expenses fiasco, that this latest sleaze overshadows, did not have a party bias the short fall in military funding started with the last government and the economic situation would have happened whoever was in power as it is based in the USA.
I really would like someone to stand up and say that they realise they are the peoples representatives and will work for the benefit of the people of the UK. Not themselves, not the other European Countries, not the Middle East but the residents of England Scotland Ireland and Wales of whatever origin or ethneticty.
Make the streets safe, clear out the ghettos and dope barrons,build new prisons, ensure skills training for young people and spend money on real issues, not on idiocy like filing off the cigarette from a statutes fingers.

  • 33.
  • At 02:43 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Let me be the first to call for Hilary Benn's resignation from the Cabinet. Apparently he knew that Janet Kidd was a "dodgy donor", yet he failed to warn Harriet Harman, Gordon Brown and Labour's National Executive Committee. Surely this man is not fit to hold public office.

  • 34.
  • At 02:58 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Errr. Wasn't Ms Harman the country's senior law officer at one time? Surely she understood the law?

I also want to know, if Labour is now giving back the £600,000 that was accepted illegally, which I assume has been spent, where it is going to get the money from? Northern Rock maybe.

  • 35.
  • At 03:06 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Lee Hannaford wrote:

Whats next, this just gets better and better.

Gordon Brown - "He who apologises for everything, but accepts the responsibility for nothing."

It just stuns me that they pass the law then break the law, then deny all knowledge of the law. I wish I could do that and get away with it.

  • 36.
  • At 03:06 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • andrew wrote:

Harriet Harman has broken the law and has admitted doing so. She should resign.

  • 37.
  • At 03:07 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Robarts wrote:

How on earth can Gordon Brown claim he did not know about the donation. Does he really expect us to believe that no one in his government was just a tiny bit curious about the third largest donor and do some very basic checks. Baroness Jay apparently knew that Mrs Kidd's Donation to Hilary Benn's Deputy leader campaign (which was refused) came from David Abrahams. Yet when Mrs Kidd appears on the major donor list again no-one bats an eyelid.
I always found its strange that Gordon Brown knew nothing about the enormous loans that funded labour through the last election. Was he not just a tad curious where all the money came from. As Chancellor of The Exchequer surely he needed an enquiring mind to get run the economy properly.
Doesn't know? I doubt it. Hoping no one says he knew ages ago - you bet. Those famous chewed finger nails are going down to the bone as I type.

Has there been a Labour PM since Attlee who did not regard attendance at the National Executive, at best, as a chore? And I seriously doubt that Ramsay Mac got much out of it either towards the end. So why am I not astounded by Mr Brown admitting he gave his Leader's report and scarpered?

Meanwhile, was there anything in the slightest uplifting in an assembly of political journalism's best and brightest queuing up to audition for a "President's Men" remake. So is Nick Robinson of the Beeb seeing himself as Hoffman/Bernstein or Redford/Woodward?

  • 39.
  • At 03:24 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Salmondwinsagain wrote:

Brown is a CLOWN - we r not ALL stupid as he seems to think and he will find that out when the next election arrives.

You can fool some of the people etc etc etc.

This lot are the WORST and I bet Tony is delighted he got out before the proverbial hit the fan - KEEP asking the real questions and do not roll over as usual.

  • 40.
  • At 03:38 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Terry Nuttall wrote:


Are you able to tot up how many inquiries are now running? And how many members of the cabinet they touch? I've lost track - but maybe that's Gordon's game plan.

  • 41.
  • At 03:43 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • IanG wrote:

Your question to Gb was absolutely spot on. Watt was either unbelievably inept or corrupt. He was previously Director of Finance and COMPLIANCE before taking the position of Gen Sec when the previous incumbent lost his job over Cash for Honours. Watt must have known the rules over reporting.
It also begs the question - what is the governance of the party like if neither the Chairman or Treasurer of the party ( Mr & Mrs Harman ???) knew anything about the identity of the third largest donor to the party.
Watt was the only one in the party who knew about this arrangement, even though it had been going for 4 years, and he was only general secretary for a year.
And Abrahams didn't want his name known because he didn't like all the press intrusion. Do they really think we are that stupid?

  • 42.
  • At 03:43 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • sandymac wrote:

#39 Obviously a Scottish Nationalist with nothing new to say. What about your own parties donations, the acceptance of which leaves no doubt, there is no shame in your party. The far right joining the Tories who would have guessed it!

  • 43.
  • At 03:46 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

A clear Brownite pattern is emerging. General acceptance of error or wrong-doing, a general apology. a specific denial of personal knowledge or culpability and the setting up of enquiries or reviews.

It's becoming a bit reminiscent of Manuel in Fawlty Towers."I know nothing" but will " - - eventually"

One problem for the PM is that the scapegoat about whose behaviour he could not be expected to have known and for which he cannot be held responsible has evolved rapidly. Within a week we have seen a progression from a "junior official' in HMRC, to the General Secretary of the Labour Party to the Deputy PM.

A question for you Nick. Can you tell us how many enquiries or reviews have been set up by new Labour following the emergence of errors and problems ?

  • 44.
  • At 03:47 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ron Burns wrote:

Of course these probably illegal donations are to be deprecated, but it's nice to see funding indignation on the rise... perhaps now someone will do something about Ashcroft donating his ONE MILLION a year to the Conservatives on an interesting legal basis - where exactly is it he resides again?

Sorry Mr Cameron - I didn't quite catch what you said just then...

  • 45.
  • At 03:47 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

Getting rid of Harman is political suicide. Alan Johnson as a replacement? The first question he should be asked is why he was silent during the recent CWU strike, considering he was the architect of their current policy. Not only that, he is sponsored by the CWU.

Gordon Brown would be best to leave Harman where she is. But I think he is going to use this opportunity to sack her.

If this happens, the Tories and Lib Dems have to go for a vote of confidence.

Any suggestions on the next crisis?

  • 46.
  • At 03:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Joe Grassick wrote:

How come, if Yates of the Yard is so sharp, he didn't see the cumulative donations from Mr. Ruddick, check his address and occupation, and think something was up? He certainly had time and resources to go through all of the donations to the Labour Party in recent years and make the very minimal inquiries necessary.

Or did he unearth this, only for the CPS to decide not to pursue it?

  • 47.
  • At 03:52 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Michael Gordon wrote:

Gordon Brown as an unelected Prime Minister has lost the right to govern the country. Every issue, and there are so many including one more today 'Cash for Planning? provokes the same response from GB namely lets have a review. These are overseen by unelected figures Professor This or Lord That and are simply used as a delaying tactic to shunt the issue into a siding.
The PM and Ministers are elected to govern and their basic governance of the country is routinely declined in favour of these reviews.
A vote of no confidence in this government is inevitable.

  • 48.
  • At 03:53 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Lee Hannaford wrote:

I wonder what the Sundays' have got for us this weekend, it beats the latest "I'm a minor nobody get me out of here" scandal any day. What must the programme producers be thinking can they compete with this....

  • 49.
  • At 03:59 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

I have never been impressed by Harriet Harman. As far as I could see, her election platform was "I'm a woman, vote me!". She was a singular failure in every job Blair gave her, and now she is an embarassment to Brown. And they say people are promoted commensurate with their level of incompetence.....

I'm not convinced Gordon wanted Harriet Harman as deputy leader. So she'll make a useful sacrifice if needed.

  • 51.
  • At 04:01 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • AJ wrote:

First - One for those with a long memory and a little knowledge of the North East - T Dan Smith / John Poulson......a fine tradition of convenient arrangements between builders and labour politians.
Second - Had to comment on No22's point about feminism - Harriet Harman is the classic example of why positive discrimination rarely works. Labour's over positive approach to gender discrimination leads to such incompetents being promoted to high office.
Hey Ho Brown's christmas card list gets shorter and shorter

  • 52.
  • At 04:03 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • John Portwood wrote:

With regards to this donation - what happened about this business development that was turned down and then mysteriously approved after a £200,000 donation was made to the Labour Party?

People of the North East still remember the names:John Poulson, T 'Dan' Smith and Andrew Cunningham.

Plus La change, plus la meme chose.

  • 53.
  • At 04:06 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • tony wrote:

So officer I did rob the bank and steal the money, but when I got caught I immediately offered to give the money back so that makes it all square?

  • 54.
  • At 04:18 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Daniel wrote:

It appears that New Labour was all an illusion held in place by Tony Blairs will alone. Now he's gone the whole thing is falling apart to reveal a gaping void, devoid of policies, integrity, honesty and ideas. Time for a change please.

  • 55.
  • At 04:18 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Kathy wrote:

Why has no one picked up on the comment made earlier:
At 01:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007, jim evans wrote:
....has any one heard of the armies pay scandal, where troops still have not been paid fro six months.??????

What's this all about?

  • 56.
  • At 04:19 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ted Merry wrote:

Gordon Brown - The Steve McClaren of British politics!!

Was Mr Brown doing (or attempting badly to do) a Mr Tony at the press conference today? I noticed a lot of inappropriate smiling as he waited for questions to finish.

Someone was asking a question about (I think) Bangladesh and Brown was grinning madly as the questioner was describing the dire situation there. Is he going mad? Is he fit for purpose? Is this all really happening?

  • 58.
  • At 04:27 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

I think this must mean it is OK for me to pay my staff by means of gifts, rather than wages? This would save them a fortune!

Seriously, there should be a full examination of the tax situation with regard to these large donations. Donations to political parties are I believe tax free, but large gifts to employees are not.

Additionally it now appears a number of smaller donations were made of around £5000. Was this a deliberate attempt to avoid the need to declare donations?

  • 59.
  • At 04:30 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • babyblueblanketboy wrote:

I work for a bank and regularly have to do compliance procedures called "Know Your Customer" in order to prevent fraud and stop money laundering.

Perhaps the most important part of these checks are the identification of the source of the money. Not making these checks could result in fines for the bank and a jail sentence for me. Yet Brown accepts a ton of cash but doesn't know where it comes from?!!

This is pretty basic stuff, the government needs to sort it out.

  • 60.
  • At 04:35 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • David Simmons wrote:

Oh - roll on Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday..!

  • 61.
  • At 04:35 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

How long before back bench labour MP's call for a vote of no confidence in Gordon Brown?

The way things are going many of them are looking at the dole queue unless they get a new boss in ASAP.

  • 62.
  • At 04:35 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • M Dowding wrote:

I've said it before and i'll say it again. You, Mr Robinson are a disgrace. Keeping cool applies to people of courage, not those who only write about it. He was not cool but blatantly and downright untruthful. This so called Government has and continues to run down and ruin our country. Most of the media and particularly The BBC aid and abet.
I notice you never publish such criticism.

  • 63.
  • At 04:38 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Doris wrote:

Does this seem like a fair und unbiased Media or is this a sustained personal attack on Brown by the Murdoch orgainsation?
It seems that Sky's political News team are now taking instruction from the conservatives.
This by one of their correspondents Niall Paterson

"a Tory insider phoned me just a moment ago promising at least another twenty four hours of pressure"

  • 64.
  • At 04:41 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Guy Reynolds wrote:

Why did Peter Watt need to consult with Legal advisors over the weekend to see if he had broken the law?

Surely all he needed to do was to ask a Labour MP, since they were the ones who voted the law onto the statute book, or is it the case that MPs merely vote the way they are told to vote without actually considering and understanding what they are voting for.

  • 65.
  • At 04:43 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Uncivilised servant wrote:

Harriet Harman has always struck me as cocky and too clever by half. But her shocked countenance during Darling's admission of HMRC failings was very telling. In fact, the whole government is looking so shambolic and incompetent, I wonder how long it will be before either DC calls for a vote of confidence, or disaffected Labour MPs (for which read former ministers and/or those with tiny majorities)put the knife into GB? My bet is GB won't make the next election.

  • 66.
  • At 04:43 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Alex Baird wrote:

It seems to me that this Brown/Blair government is using the "ignorance" plea - since when have we the people of this country been allowed to use ignorance as an excuse to break the law? The answer is never! So why should Brown (or indeed the Met Police) be allowed?

Is it indeed one law for us and "special" laws for Brown. He is no less "sleazy" than Blair was and if you think otherwise then WAKE-UP and smell the coffee - hmmm nice :)

To think I voted for New Labour - Aargh!

  • 67.
  • At 04:45 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Dave Gater wrote:

Oh dear Mr Brown

tell me,are you John Major in disguise?
I shall be looking forward to tomorrows PMQs

  • 68.
  • At 04:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Geraint wrote:

Motion of no confidence in the government must be tabled at the end of next week if there is another crisis. Surely this cannot go from week to week. We are not getting governance, this is crisis management followed by disaster management followed by catastrophe management......

A people only get the government they deserve, but considering nobody voted for this one, we are currently in a situation that even Stalin would have found unbelievable!

  • 69.
  • At 04:53 PM on 27 Nov 2007,

Surely no one can take GB seriously anymore. Whatever happens he knows nothing about it. If he were Chief Executive of a company he would be on his way. When it gets to 40 reviews of policies and procedures I am off, anywhere but here.

  • 70.
  • At 04:55 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Chris Bowie wrote:

Everyone together...

"thinnnnnggggs, caaannn on-ly get bet-ter..."

Or I am d:reaming?

  • 71.
  • At 04:59 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

I don't suppose the sleazy Tory party- most of the writers here support- would have dreamt of taking any action to clean up party funding.

At least Labour tried.

No one can guarantee that no offences would be committed by individuals. The essential thing is to have in place a system for dealing with any breach and Labour has done that.

  • 72.
  • At 05:05 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • John Short wrote:

What I find inconceivable is that Gordon Brown has not been able, or is unwilling to point to any gathering of snr cabinet and party officials after the cash for honours saga, where everyone would have left with 'whiter than white' ringing in their ears. Their senses would have been on full alert, their jobs at stake if they approved any donations that were not totally transparent, and passing any objective test of compliance with the rules.
The fact that Watt says he didn't know it was not allowed, is frankly disingenious, his 'water' would have told him this was dodgy, and legal or not. lead to difficult political fallout for the PM.

  • 73.
  • At 05:06 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

it's OK, do not worry Labour are giving it all back, Harriet will now give it back hence it's all over.

So lets just forget it and lets getting going hitting the disabled and the sick and the poor, these people are the people who are stealing money, not us.

We are your leaders you can trust us you can I swear.

Except I do not believe you.

Harriet you have Blown it, your speech to night was awful it was silly and it was wrong.

  • 74.
  • At 05:09 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • dave wrote:

I think this will turn out to be Browns Watergate..... what seems to be being missed by everyone is that the largest donations were received at a time when Gord was planning his hit and run election and the party coffers were empty... I say "Follow the money"

  • 75.
  • At 05:10 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

There are various suggestions above that GB could/should sack Harperson. Can Gordon sack his deputy? I thought her election as deputy leader was down to the party members, and out of his hands. He could potentially dump her out of the cabinet, but deputy leader she will remain, unless she chooses to resign.

As ever when a story like this breaks, I expect the next few days to be full of ministers being forced into admission after admission, as their lies are gradually exposed, especially as there are some serious questions yet to be asked, like why various donations were refused if no one could have had any idea that Abrahams was siphoning his money through third parties. Unfortunately, as Alistair Campbell knew only too well, by the time anything like the full truth comes out, most of the public are either bored of the story or confused about who lied about what, and they get away with it.

  • 76.
  • At 05:15 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Geoff Berry wrote:


Brown the Clown and the Downing Street Big Top are moving closer to the edge of Town, to survive they are now disowning their blessed Labour Party.

Is it possible that the Scotland Yard investigations into 'Cash for Honours' can be re-opened.

1, Mr Watts should have to explain why he went to such lengths for his anonymity to be preserved, possibly for 'honourable 'reasons ?

2, These illegal donations were relevant and contemporary to the Yard's investigation and should have been disclosed to the investigation.

3, Possible conspiracy, at the bottom, ipso facto. At the top and in the middle of the Party, to quote Frank Zappa,'It Just Smells Funny'

4, To be asked to believe that Brown and Benn's refusal of donations was not based on priviliged knowledge about the donor, that somehow escaped the naive Ms Harman, is an insult to the electorate.

  • 77.
  • At 05:17 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • William Battersby wrote:


The BBC Newsflash just says that Harriet Harman is 'returning' this money. Please can you tell us who she is returning it to - the person who gave it to her, or the person whose money it apparently is?

  • 78.
  • At 05:25 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • will wrote:

To #42, it may be that #39 is a Scottish Nationalist but I am frustrated Scottish Labour supporter who wants to see the union with England, Wales, and Ireland continue.

The wheels are coming off the Labour Party in the UK, as this current nonsense shows, and the idea that Brown knew nothing till Saturday night shows either his incompetence or mendacity. The party in Scotland is no better being inept and incompetent, otherwise they would have skewered a certain A Salmond long before now.

I hate to say it but, the best opposition to the Nationalists in Scotland is coming from Nicol Stevens of the Lib Dems, for the Scottish Tories don't have a clue either. In addition, the best hope for the UK is to get rid of Labour, although I do not fancy the alternatives.

  • 79.
  • At 05:29 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • MIKE EDWARDS wrote:

Nick, you are becoming a national treasure! Your probing, to the point questions to Gordan were excellent. If it wasn't so serious it would be so entertainig as to be shown at prime time TV.

Gordan's 'it wasn't me gov' was rather pathetic and hardly showing leadership. If it wasn't Gordo then it must be Harriet 'in good faith' Harman!

It would appear our present Government just cannot run or manage anything, incompetent through and through.

Please keep probing there appears to be a lot more relevations to come and these arrogant Ministers must come to understand the rules apply to them as well.

Best Regards,


  • 80.
  • At 05:45 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

The real question is was there any criminality involved ?
Was there specific political decisions taken that led to economic gain ?

  • 81.
  • At 05:58 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • MIKE EDWARDS wrote:

Keep up the probing Nick, you are becoming a National Treasure and unlike some on 'Today' don't hold back! Great!

#10 has a good point about money laundering regulations - it takes around three weeks of paper shuffling for me to get permission to accept a new client for my company.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually quite fond of obtaining notarised copies of passports and utility bills from incredulous company directors, and asking them in detail where the money to pay my bill will come from - it beats real work.

If I remember my training properly, breach of money laundering law results in prison for pretty much everyone concerned. Is that your soap, mate?

  • 83.
  • At 06:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Roslyn Miller wrote:

How can it be that Hillary Benn knew the source of the donation and Harriet Harman did not?

  • 84.
  • At 06:28 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • london broker wrote:

ron burns wrote : Of course these probably illegal donations are to be deprecated, but it's nice to see funding indignation on the rise... perhaps now someone will do something about Ashcroft donating his ONE MILLION a year to the Conservatives on an interesting legal basis - where exactly is it he resides again?

Sorry Mr Cameron - I didn't quite catch what you said just then...

so in summary, as long as one political party is accepting questionable donations, then it's ok for the others to accept the same. that's the reason politicians have lost the respect of the public.

  • 85.
  • At 06:45 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Enima Pod wrote:

Well, Nick, you are still banging away at your political opponents, instead of delivering on unbiased and objective reporting on what is happening in Politics! Political reporting for you is always slanted the same way and it does the BBC no credit to pretend that your output is in any way digestible. What would you do without these pot-boilers to keep the slur-machine up and running? I think its time to end any pretense at balance and fair play.

  • 86.
  • At 06:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Rodrigo Portico wrote:

You censor these columns to ensure that nothing adverse to your way of seeing things ever gets through. Well, I am not impressed by this. I find your approach to your responsibilities self-serving, self- fulfilling, elitist and politically loaded against any sense of balance usually associated with bulletins from the BBC. Your position is untenable because it is based on a deceit directed at trusting viewers of BBC News programmes who expect more than to be duped by your shenanigans. If you won't change, than we will all be switching over to less biased reporting and away from blatant besmirching of the government in power.

  • 87.
  • At 07:41 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Maybe we should have a new type justice system, where when thieves or drug dealers etc get caught they can just offer to return what they stole or made off with and "that's alright then", sorry sarge I didn't know I had that in my pocket/bank account. Come on, who do these people think they are. They are knowing, brazen law breakers. Its time we had a citizens committee (elected of course) to over see what this miscreants are up to in parliament.

  • 88.
  • At 07:51 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

If this is Labour's reality of the present, I hate to think whats coming in the vision of the future. I think I know why after 10 years GB could not lay out a clear vision. Its kinda pea soup fog right now. And unfortunately there 60 million in this mess. No wonder they couldn't count a million immigrants. Couldn't see them ....

  • 89.
  • At 07:53 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • C Smith wrote:

I note from the potted biography of Mr Abrahams on the BBC news site that his father was Bennie Abrahams, one time Lord Mayor of Newcastle. Was Mr Abrahams senior around at the same time as the more famous northeastern Labour politician T Dan Smith and of his good friend Mr John Poulson? If so, perhaps Mr Abrahams junior might have had the opportunity to learn lessons that stood him in good stead in his subsequent business career.

  • 90.
  • At 08:17 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Sarah Mudford wrote:

Dear Nick

How can a government expect to admit to something that is illegal and bear no consequences? I find it utterly unbelievable that Gordon Brown did not know where this money was coming from, others did so, so it would appear that there is no communication within government or a group of people who will stop at nothing to stay in office.

The events of the past month have left most of us wondering what the government can do next to top the last jaw-dropping calamity.....I thought it would be global warming that would sink this country not our own goverment!

  • 91.
  • At 08:38 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

The amazing thing about ALL these recent revealations is that our political leaders must think they can actually get away with these dodgy deals. Or do they think the electorate are fools or perhaps they don't care?

  • 92.
  • At 09:15 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • sacrebleu wrote:

GB's repeated mantra... 'I knew nothing' may be true - but how many times did he say it? It implies strongly to me that there are others who DID know. And he knows it. Do I detect the hallmarks of Blair in all of this?

  • 93.
  • At 09:34 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Sue Smith wrote:

Nick, I worked for 18years at a bank.
Banks are legally charged to monitor accounts for money laundering. Whether cash or cheque, these sorts of amounts being paid in and out of accounts normally only receiving an ordinary wage SHOULD have attracted attention. Can we ask which banks were used? I guess it would be the Co-OP...

  • 94.
  • At 09:55 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • James Rowland wrote:

What gets me is how its one rule for Politicians and another for the rest of us.

On the one hand they pass laws so that people end up with criminal records for such offences as protesting within a mile of parliament, putting your rubbish out on the wrong day or calling a police mans horse Gay.

On the other hand Politicians take us into illegal wars, They sell seats in the house of lords and in this instance they flagrantly break laws which they themselves have passed the same year regulating their own conduct and nothing ever happens to them

They pass laws exerting ever closer scrutiny of the tax deductable expense claims of the self employed and yet claim expenses in a manner that is so blatantly fradulent as would land most of us in Prison. They vote themselves Millions of pounds for their own pension schemes the same week as passing legislation to restrict those of every1 else on the public payroll

Any CEO whose company was accused of fraud could never rely on ignorance as a defence the way Brown seems to think is acceptable for himself even though he has personally drafted laws under which the same protestations of ignorance would land any one else in prison

Politicians seem to think that the laws they make for everyone else do not apply to them and thus behave in a fashion which frequently borders on the criminal

In short the political class be they labou

I wonder what people would say of Guy Fawkes if he attempted to blow up Parliament today?

  • 95.
  • At 10:03 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

Has anyone checked what access Miss Kidd, Mr McCarthy and Mr Ruddick enjoyed to Labour's inner circles.

Surely if they were believed as bona fide donors, they would have been invited to various functions? For 200K, one might expect a drink at No 10?

If they were not invited, one might wonder why not? Is that because they ticked a no publicity box or is it because labour knew they were not real donors.

  • 96.
  • At 10:39 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Eddie wrote:

Consider the following...

You receive a donation that you realise is being put through a 3rd party, which you know to be against the law - so you return it.

The original donor then makes a donation directly.

Do you

1) Take it, no further questions asked.


2) Make absolutely sure something fishy isn't going on, if only to make sure you are not being set up?

If you decide on option 2, might you ask whether the person has ever donated to Labour before through a 3rd party?

Might you check whether they had previously donated to the party directly or through the same 3rd party?

If you find that the 3rd party had been used before would you cover it up or bring it out into the open?

On a different track, when running a campaign and raising funds, do you ever look to see who is funding your competitor?

Do you check to make sure they have declared their funding properly?

If you see a name on the list that you recognise as having tried to illegally make a donation to your campaign do you draw it to the parties attention, or ignore it?

Unfortunately there are lots of questions that come from Hilary Benns refusal to accept the original donation. It is not Just Harman that has questions to answer.

  • 97.
  • At 10:51 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Splodge wrote:

Basically non one here is close to this sitution so surely your views while interesting are basically worthless.

GB's Britain rules and I trust him.

  • 98.
  • At 10:57 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Trevor Smith wrote:

If i send a large fat cheque for £600,000 to this sleaze ridden, stealth-taxing, out-of-touch with the people, arrogant Labour government can i expect my name and details to added to the new years honours list for approval ?.

  • 99.
  • At 11:18 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Richard Searby wrote:

It's probably in Harriet Harman's interests that Gordon Brown wasn't too effusive in offering her his confidence today. A little while back Margaret Thatcher once hailed her beleagured chancellor Nigel Lawson as "unassailable" and look what happened to him.

  • 100.
  • At 11:18 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • RC wrote:

I hope the Police will be called in to investigate here. It seems that Labour seem to think that they are above the law!

I've just had enough of this lot! So I've started a new site:

Looks like Labour could do with a good wash! Purer than pure, even!

  • 102.
  • At 11:26 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Gary Street wrote:

Just listened to Mr Abrahams on Newsnight, he sounds as evasive as Gordon Brown in giving a straight Yes or No answer!!! Do they not realise than when they can't answer a straight forward question with a "Yes" or "No" that the public know that the whole truth isnt being told!!! We aren't stupid.

  • 103.
  • At 11:46 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

Handing it back makes it all right does it ? I wonder why Gordon has quickly initiated an enquiry by his old friends the Bishop and the Actress. ....Before anyone phones the SFO !? and Harriet Harman ! not enough to throw her ex-hubby out with his loot to save her own neck , No ! that'll do nicely Guvnor

  • 104.
  • At 01:35 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • june gibson wrote:

I get sick of members of the Front Bench "setting up an enquiry", now a euphemism for "let's leave it for the time being, it's the holidays soon".
Who enquires? How many? Who appoints? Is anyone keeping tabs on how many enquiries there now are?

  • 105.
  • At 10:16 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • AHH wrote:

convicted of either criminality or just plain incompetence, GB's credibility as a leader of any organisation, let alone the government, is torn to shreds. He is a joke, that gets funnier everytime he starts reciting, like a disturbed child, his economic achievements (methinks the lady doth protest to much). All we need know is further public sector strikes and the unravelling of his precious economic stability and his record as the worst prime minister (and shortest serving) will be complete.
The problem labour have is that as nobody else in the cabinet has shown any integrity or strength, all falling behind their great leader through disaster after disaster, there is no viable alternative labour leader. The inevitable vote of no confidence must therefore be followed by a general election. The sooner the better but just one more scandal and it could be next week.

  • 106.
  • At 06:29 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • AJ wrote:

Thanks to C Smith (comment 89), if you add it to mine (comment 51) what you get is the inevitable result of areas of permanent power - like Labour's North East - at best the belief that rules apply to others, at worst outright corruption (as with T Dan Smith). Perhaps 10 years in power at the National level is the equivalent. Should we therefore expect a lot more to crawl out of the woodwork in the next couple of years?

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