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The Corruption of New Labour: Britain’s Watergate?


John Simkin
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Report on the BBC News website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4906504.stm

A head teacher who helped find sponsors for the government's flagship city academies programme has been arrested as part of a cash for honours probe.

Des Smith sparked a row earlier this year when he suggested donors would be given honours in exchange for funding.

He quit his post with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, which helps find sponsors, after the story.

Mr Smith, 60, was arrested in east London under the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act.

He is currently in custody at a London police station.

The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust helps the government recruit education sponsors. Set up in September 2005, its president is Lord Levy, Tony Blair's chief political fundraiser and close friend.

Mr Smith quit his post on the SATT council in January after admitting he had been "naive" when talking to a reporter posing as a potential donor's PR assistant.

He reportedly told the Sunday Times that "the prime minister's office would recommend someone like [the donor] for an OBE, a CBE or a knighthood".

After his resignation he told the Guardian he had "been shattered by the experience. I was naive, I shouldn't have said what I did. I'm desperately sorry".

Downing Street said at the time it was "nonsense to suggest that honours are awarded for giving money to an academy".

Mr Smith remains headmaster of the All Saints Catholic School and Technology College, Barking and Dagenham.

Local Labour MP Jon Cruddas told the BBC Mr Smith had greatly improved results at the school and should be judged on his "21 years as a significant local public servant".

"He is a fantastic head teacher," he added.

In a separate development, elections watchdog the Electoral Commission publishes a new draft code of conduct on reporting loans in the wake of discussions with the main political parties.

It says the parties agree to report any loan more than £5,000 - or more than £1,000 if the donor has given another amount that needed to be reported in that year.

The draft code says "this would apply whether or not the party regards the loan as having been made on commercial terms".

The cash-for-honours inquiry was originally launched in response to a complaint by Scottish and Welsh nationalist MPs that Labour had broken the law preventing the sale of honours such as peerages and knighthoods.

It has since been widened to cover the activities of other parties.

The investigation is being led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who has said he is prepared to widen the investigation to consider more general allegations of corruption.

It followed reports that the House of Lords Appointments Commission had blocked the appointment of four of Prime Minister Tony Blair's nominations for peerages - all wealthy businessmen who had made loans to Labour.

None was on the list of new working life peers when it was published on Monday. One Tory nominee - who had loaned the party £2m - also missed out on a seat in the upper house.

Mr Yates has already told MPs that he is prepared to widen the investigation to consider more general allegations of corruption.

The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust describes itself as the "leading national body for secondary education in England, part funded by the DfES (Education Department), delivering the government's Specialist Schools and Academies programme.

Anyone found guilty under the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act - designed to deal with those who both give and accept honours under inducement - could face imprisonment for up to two years or fined an unlimited amount.

The Act was introduced after the scandal of the early 1920s when David Lloyd George was offering peerages and lesser honours at a price.

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Report on the BBC News website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4906504.stm

A head teacher who helped find sponsors for the government's flagship city academies programme has been arrested as part of a cash for honours probe.

Des Smith sparked a row earlier this year when he suggested donors would be given honours in exchange for funding.

He quit his post with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, which helps find sponsors, after the story.

This is very interesting in the light of Blair's woes but also begs questions as to the role, remit and funding of the Specialist Schools Trust.

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Report on the BBC News website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4906504.stm

A head teacher who helped find sponsors for the government's flagship city academies programme has been arrested as part of a cash for honours probe.

Des Smith sparked a row earlier this year when he suggested donors would be given honours in exchange for funding.

He quit his post with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, which helps find sponsors, after the story.

This is very interesting in the light of Blair's woes but also begs questions as to the role, remit and funding of the Specialist Schools Trust.

I believe this story goes to the heart of Blair’s corrupt administration. The main intention of Blair’s specialist schools (and the recent city academies) is to bring in money from the private sector to help fund education. On the surface it sounds a great idea. However, as Thatcher discovered, wealthy businessmen are unwilling to give money to help state education unless there is something in it for them. You will get the odd religious nutcase to put money into a city academy as long as they are allowed to teach creationism (as with the Middlesbrough City Academy). However, most will only entertain the idea if they can be given something in return. So far the concern has been the granting of honours. This is clearly part of the deal. Since 1997 city academy sponsors have received five knighthoods (Frank Lowe, David Garrard, Clive Bourne, Martin Arbib and Euan Harper) one CBE (Roger de Haan) and one OBE (Jack Petchey).

However, peerages, knighthoods, etc. have never been the main aspect of this corruption scandal. Rich businessmen don’t mind the odd title but what they are really interested in is government contracts. It is this aspect of city academy funding that journalists should be really investigating.

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It was the Sunday Times that first broke the Des Smith story. They published more details of their covert taping yesterday.

It raises the question why this new material did not appear in the original article that led to the resignation of Des Smith. Is it because that this provides more evidence that Blair was linked closely to Smith and that it is not in the interests of Murdoch to bring the prime minister down. The story has grown so big that Murdoch can no longer protect Blair. Murdoch has probably decided that Blair can be abandoned and replaced by Brown (he has already made the necessary policy commitments to Murdoch). Murdoch is a republican who has always been opposed to our absurd hereditary system and is no lover of the House of Lords.

In yesterday’s article it is claimed that Smith told the undercover reporter that it would be necessary to introduce this willing investor in the city academies to David Miliband. Smith claimed that this was important as “Miliband is going to be the next leader after Blair.” This is an interesting statement. Some shrewd political commentators with good inside contacts have been saying for some time that Miliband is Blair preferred successor. The problem for Blair is that Miliband has no real support from within the party.

On the tape Smith explained the tariff system, in which a benefactor who gave to “one or two” academies might receive an OBE or a knighthood while a donor who funded five of them would be “a certainty” for a peerage.

So far over eight sponsors of the 27 academies have received knighthoods, OBE’s or CBEs whereas several have had their peerages blocked by the Lords Appointments Commission. Others like Sir Peter Vardy have been allowed to force schools in Doncaster and Middlesbrough to teach creationism. I wonder if a businessman offered enough cash he would have been allowed to introduce “black magic” into the curriculum?

All this is on tape and so as it stands Smith is certain to be convicted under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. However, Blair is in trouble. New plea bargaining rules allows the authorities to offer leniency if a person agrees to provide evidence against others. As I said at the beginning of this thread, this is Blair’s Watergate. Des Smith is Nixon’s John Dean. How far up will Smith be willing to go? Sir Cyril Taylor, Lord Levy, David Miliband or Blair himself.

This was the original story that appeared in the Sunday Times on January 15, 2006

Revealed: cash for honours scandal

By the Insight team

PRIVATE donors to Tony Blair’s controversial city academies can obtain honours and peerages by sponsoring the schools, a senior adviser to the programme has revealed.

Des Smith, a council member of the trust that helps recruit sponsors for academies, disclosed that if a donor gave sufficient money, he could be nominated for an OBE, CBE or even a knighthood.

He described what appeared to be a tariff system, in which a benefactor who gave to “one or two” academies might receive such an honour while a donor who gave to five would be “a certainty” for a peerage.

Smith’s comments came during an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times. Suspicions of a link between honours and donations to academies — Blair’s scheme for new privately backed schools — have existed since the ambitious programme of establishing up to 200 academies began in 2001. Six of the biggest academy sponsors have already been honoured after pledging their money.

Smith is an adviser to Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), and says he has been a regular visitor to Downing Street. Smith is a council member of the SSAT, and Taylor personally recommended him as a potential “project director” to an undercover reporter who approached the trust posing as a would-be donor.

On Friday, Smith told a reporter posing as a donor’s PR assistant that “the prime minister’s office would recommend someone like (the donor) for an OBE, a CBE or a knighthood”.

“Really?” replied the reporter. “Just for getting involved with the academies?”

“Just for, yes, they call them ‘services to education’,” replied Smith. He went on: “I would say to Cyril’s office that we’ve now got to start writing to the prime minister’s office.”

Smith was even more confident about the prospect of securing an honour if the donor was willing to give as much as £10m.

“You could go to the House of Lords and get a lord . . . become a lord,” he said.

“So, if you invested in five city academies over, say, a 10-year period, it would be . . .” said the reporter.

“A certainty,” said Smith.

Yesterday David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, said the honours system should not be used to buy support for a policy in this way: “There is a fine line here between recognising public-spirited people who wish to support education and blatantly rewarding people for propping up one of the prime minister’s pet projects.”

Taylor yesterday called Smith’s claims “outrageous.” He said: “In no way is giving money to the academy linked to the award of an honour.”

He admitted recommending people for honours in the past but not because they had given money to an academy: “I have never said to any prospective or existing sponsor that if they sponsor an academy, that I would recommend them for an honour.”

Smith himself backtracked when confronted by The Sunday Times. “It is not possible (to acquire an honour by a donation),” he said.

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Now this is beginning to feel like a real scandal. There are police inquiries, the first arrest, talk of leads that go "all the way to the top". When you hear that detectives are mulling an interview with the prime minister himself, you know it's big.

Every scandal worthy of the name has the involvement of the police. Otherwise it's merely a gaffe, an embarrassment or a row. David Mellor's infidelity was embarrassing; Jeffrey Archer's perjury was a scandal. Ronald Reagan's joke about bombing Russia was a gaffe; sending arms to the contras was a scandal. The allegation that a crime has been committed is the crucial ingredient. Now that the honours affair has it, it's become serious business.

There's another important distinction in the taxonomy of scandal. Some are accidental: the revelation of a human lapse that could happen to anybody at any time. Such episodes carry no larger freight of meaning and, as such, tend to have little or no political impact. The former Welsh secretary, Ron Davies, and his "moment of madness" on Clapham Common in 1998 is the textbook example.

But some scandals are no accident. These arise directly, almost organically, from the political milieu they strike. They bite because they reveal or, more often, confirm the true nature of the regime that gave them life.

Watergate is the exemplar. The 1972 break-in at Democratic party headquarters and subsequent cover-up was only the most visible manifestation of Richard Nixon's long-established willingness both to crush his political enemies by brutal means and to trample on the law. Watergate was no accident. It grew organically out of the soil that was Nixonism.

The swirl around loans, academies and honours is similarly no mere stumble, no lapse that might have occurred under any administration. This affair is the logical, even natural outgrowth of the style of government and political outlook that is Blairism.

What is the origin of this mess? The simple answer is that Labour - along with the other political parties - has, in the last decade, found itself short of money: the cost of fighting elections has risen, just as party membership has fallen. That's left a funding gap, which Tony Blair filled by turning to "high-value donors", very rich individuals able to write a seven-figure cheque.

Now, some Blair defenders describe this sequence of events as if it were a matter of pure, inevitable logic. No alternative course of action was possible: if you're short of cash, you get it from mega-bucks businessmen. But that was not the only option available. Blair could have turned, for one, to the trade unions and sought more money from them. Oh no, say the PM's allies: no Labour leader likes to be dependent on the unions.

OK, he could have tried something else. He might have done what 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean did in the US, raising funds not a million at a time, but through thousands of small donations - $10 or $20 apiece - from individual supporters. That might have been a tall order in 2005, when fury over Iraq stood between plenty of Labourites and their chequebooks. But it could have been a runner in the first, heady days of New Labour. Yet it was hardly tried: Blair preferred to dip into the deep pockets of big businessmen.

That's not a coincidence; it was encoded deep in the creed of Blairism. From the very beginning, from the day he became leader in 1994 if not before, Tony Blair made it clear that he accepted the Labour party on sufferance; he had no enthusiasm for it, let alone affection. He saw it as a problem to be got around, not part of any solution. One former aide candidly admits that "he's never seen the party or its members as a resource that might be valuable", the way John Prescott or Gordon Brown have. The Labour party was, at best, "an electoral machine, useful for knocking on doors".

Of course Blair's first instinct was to look outside Labour for help, even keeping the party's own treasurer in the dark. He has dedicated much of his career either to fighting the Labour party or bypassing it, whether by neutering the annual conference or attempting to overrule members' democratic decisions and impose his own: remember Alun Michael in Wales and Frank Dobson in London. Seeking to win elections without Labour money was the logical destination of a road he had taken long ago.

The same is true of his choice of benefactors. No one who followed Blair in the 1990s can be surprised that he chased the favours of plutocrats. The stories are legion of Blair's personal admiration, even awe, for men who have made serious money. Nearly 10 years have passed since I was first told that Blair tended to go "dewy-eyed" and starstruck when in the company of wealth. Ideologically, too, the fit was natural: Blairism holds that market mechanisms contain a solution for almost every problem. When he demands that a public service reform itself, it usually means he wants it to behave more like a private company.

Which brings us to the latest wave of the honours affair: the charge that donations to city academies were lured by the promise of gongs and ermine. This too feels more organic than accidental.

Once again, there is the enduring Blairite faith in the magic of the private sector. If a man has made a mint selling cars or carpets, he will automatically, says Blairism, be better at running a school than a local education authority. So much better, in fact, that in return for less than one thirteenth of the capital budget - a mere £2m compared to the £25m invested by the government - this business wizard gets control over the curriculum, the ethos and even the name of his chosen academy.

Now, I'm all for philanthropists doing their bit for public institutions like schools. I also like the idea that not every common good has to be provided the same way: academies run by, say, a university or a charity have some appeal. But that's not, predominantly, what the government has in mind. When it says it wants to look beyond the traditional providers, it means business.

The same logic applies in both the party funding and city academy cases. The Labour party, the public sector and the civic worthies of local education authorities are, in the eyes of Blairism, all of a piece. They are members of a single tribe, best pushed out of the way, since their various roles - whether funding election campaigns or running schools - are bound to be performed better by the geniuses of private enterprise.

As for paying these benefactors in the currency of honours, that makes Blairite sense too. Unlike John Smith, or now Gordon Brown, Blair has never strongly seen the need to reform the constitution: he is not affronted by the undemocratic nature of the House of Lords. Instead he has seen it as a pool of patronage from which he can usefully draw.

Now we can see that the elements were all there long ago: impatience with the Labour party, an awe for business, a readiness to abuse the deformations of our political system for his own ends. That they have come together now is no accident. The last few years have been the chronicle of a scandal foretold.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...1756376,00.html

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The swirl around loans, academies and honours is similarly no mere stumble, no lapse that might have occurred under any administration. This affair is the logical, even natural outgrowth of the style of government and political outlook that is Blairism.

What is the origin of this mess? The simple answer is that Labour - along with the other political parties - has, in the last decade, found itself short of money: the cost of fighting elections has risen, just as party membership has fallen. That's left a funding gap, which Tony Blair filled by turning to "high-value donors", very rich individuals able to write a seven-figure cheque.

Now, some Blair defenders describe this sequence of events as if it were a matter of pure, inevitable logic. No alternative course of action was possible: if you're short of cash, you get it from mega-bucks businessmen. But that was not the only option available. Blair could have turned, for one, to the trade unions and sought more money from them. Oh no, say the PM's allies: no Labour leader likes to be dependent on the unions.

OK, he could have tried something else. He might have done what 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean did in the US, raising funds not a million at a time, but through thousands of small donations - $10 or $20 apiece - from individual supporters. That might have been a tall order in 2005, when fury over Iraq stood between plenty of Labourites and their chequebooks. But it could have been a runner in the first, heady days of New Labour. Yet it was hardly tried: Blair preferred to dip into the deep pockets of big businessmen.

That's not a coincidence; it was encoded deep in the creed of Blairism. From the very beginning, from the day he became leader in 1994 if not before, Tony Blair made it clear that he accepted the Labour party on sufferance; he had no enthusiasm for it, let alone affection. He saw it as a problem to be got around, not part of any solution. One former aide candidly admits that "he's never seen the party or its members as a resource that might be valuable", the way John Prescott or Gordon Brown have. The Labour party was, at best, "an electoral machine, useful for knocking on doors".

Of course Blair's first instinct was to look outside Labour for help, even keeping the party's own treasurer in the dark. He has dedicated much of his career either to fighting the Labour party or bypassing it, whether by neutering the annual conference or attempting to overrule members' democratic decisions and impose his own: remember Alun Michael in Wales and Frank Dobson in London. Seeking to win elections without Labour money was the logical destination of a road he had taken long ago.

The same is true of his choice of benefactors. No one who followed Blair in the 1990s can be surprised that he chased the favours of plutocrats. The stories are legion of Blair's personal admiration, even awe, for men who have made serious money. Nearly 10 years have passed since I was first told that Blair tended to go "dewy-eyed" and starstruck when in the company of wealth. Ideologically, too, the fit was natural: Blairism holds that market mechanisms contain a solution for almost every problem. When he demands that a public service reform itself, it usually means he wants it to behave more like a private company.

I believe it is wrong to suggest that this corruption scandal is based on “Blair’s personal admiration, even awe, for men who have made serious money.” It might be reassuring for political commentators to convince themselves that some sort of psychological trait is the cause of this scandal. The real problem is the corrupt nature of the political system that we live in. It is a system that was used by the Tories under Thatcher and Major. For a variety of reasons journalists failed to dig too deep into these corrupt activities and Tories were therefore more likely to be exposed for sexual infidelity rather than taking backhanders from arms manufacturers. Therefore full details came out about David Mellor’s sexual antics but not about Margaret and Mark Thatcher’s involvement in arms deals. See the following article on this scandal:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/freedom/Story/0,,1699314,00.html

The real scandal is not “cash for honours” but “cash for government policies”. The Labour Party used to be funded by the trade union movement and individual members. It was clear why this money was given to the Labour Party. Once in power, the government was expected to follow policies that would help the less well off in society.

Tony Blair knew that wealthy businessmen expected something in return for giving money to the party. That was revealed soon after Blair was elected when it was announced that sport was being exempted from the ban on tobacco advertising. Everyone was surprised by this broken election promise until it was revealed that Bernie Ecclestone had given the Labour Party £1 million a few weeks previously.

Investigative journalists should be looking much more closely at the links between donations and loans and government policy. A starting point should be the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Does it not seem strange to journalists that companies bidding for PFI contracts, who used to make large donations to the Conservative Party when in power, have now switched their support to the Labour Party?

Even this is not the largest scandal. The granting of corrupt PFI contracts has not resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. (I am aware of course of the deaths caused by the granting of some contracts in the rail industry.) I am talking about the Iraq War. Why was Tony Blair so keen to get involved in this conflict? Has it anything to do with the meeting that took place in March, 1994, when Blair was introduced to Michael Levy at a dinner party at the Israeli embassy in London. After this meeting, Levy acquired a new job, raising money for Tony Blair. According to Robin Ramsay (The Rise of New Labour, page 64), Levy raised over £7 million for Blair).

In an article by John Lloyd published in the New Statesman on 27th February, 1998, the main suppliers of this money were Jewish businessmen who were strong supporters of Israel’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

It was recently announced that BAE Systems, the British military contractor is in talks with the European Aeronautic, Defence & Space consortium to sell its 20 percent stake in Airbus. This will bring to an end a nearly 30 year partnership that spawned the world’s largest passenger plane. It is estimated that the stake is worth 6 billion.

According to the International Herald Tribune (8th April) the decision to sell is linked to Blair’s foreign policy. The newspaper quotes Andy Lynch, a fund manager with Schroder Investment Management, as saying that Blair willingness to send troops to Iraq and Afghanistan has made the arms industry a more predicable business than the aircraft industry. Especially as Blair has been very keen to give BAE long-term government contracts (the company specializes in land-based artillery). BAE is also a major supplier to the Pentagon. In fact, in the past two years it has bought six military contracting companies in the United States. It might be worthwhile for journalists to investigate the possible movement of money between BAE and the Labour Party.

Honours and government contracts are two of the reasons why rich people are willing to donate money to the Labour Party. However, the main reason concerns tax policy.

The Thatcher government openly redistributed wealth to the very rich with her policy of reducing the top rate of income tax to 40%. For example, by the late 1980s, the top 1% owned 17% of the wealth. In contrast, the bottom 50% owned only 10%.

When the Labour Party gained power in 1997 Blair and Brown obeyed their orders from Rupert Murdoch and left the top rate of tax unchanged. Today the top 1% own 23% of the wealth while the bottom 50% only have 6%. It is hard to believe that a Labour government would ever redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich, but that is what they have done.

Although Blair and Brown warned us they did not intend to raise taxes on the rich (Murdoch demanded they made that commitment) they did promise to end the tax loopholes that enabled Murdoch and his fellow billionaires, to avoid paying tax in this country. This they have failed to do.

Take the example of Philip Green, the owner of BHS and Arcadia. According to Stewart Lansley, the author of Rich Britain, The Rise and Rise of the New Super-Wealthy, Green has saved himself “hundreds of millions in personal tax in the past three years because the ownership of his companies is vested in the hands of his wife, Tina, who is resident of Monaco.” Over 5,000 British multimillionaires officially live in Monaco to avoid paying tax in this country.

Other supporters of New Labour such as Richard Branson, Lakshmi Mittal and Hans Rausing all use offshore tax havens to reduce their tax liabilities. This is all legal because Brown has refused to tackle this major scandal.

As you can see, it pays all rich people to donate the odd million to New Labour in order to ensure that the top rate of income-tax and the various tax loopholes are kept in place.

The consequence of this policy is to allow the rich to keep more of their wealth. Things like education and health-care still has to be paid for so those earning less than £100,000 have to pay more than they did in the past. This includes university fees, etc.

In your article you write that there is a useful comparison to be made between Blair and Nixon: “Watergate was no accident. It grew organically out of the soil that was Nixonism. If Des Smith does a John Dean, this might well appear to be another Watergate. In fact it might even be known as Iraqgate.

However, it has much more in common with a scandal that was never exposed at the time and has had very little publicity over the years. It involves Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Vietnam War. David Kaiser’s brilliant book, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War (2000). Kaiser’s book shows how desperate Johnson was to commit the United States to a long drawn out war. What he does not do is explore Johnson’s motivation for this behaviour. Could it have something to do with the people who financed his political career? Is it just a coincidence that the three corporations based in Texas that provided him with so much money before the war: Brown & Root (Halliburton), General Dynamics and the Bell Corporation, made billions from the conflict?

Investigative journalists also need to look at Blair’s personal financial gains from his activities. What for example happened to all that money raised by Sir Michael Levy before Blair was elected as leader of the Labour Party.

What about Blair’s book contract with HarperCollins (a company owned by Rupert Murdoch). It is said the deal is worth £3.5 million to Blair. This information only came out when Blair used the contract as security when he purchased his house in London. Margaret Thatcher and John Major got similar book deals with HarperCollins. Of course, the royalties near reach the multi-million advances paid for them. However, it is a great way of bribing a prime minister.

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We now know why the Labour Party had to borrow so much money for the last election. Cherie Blair spent £275 a day getting her hair done during the General Election campaign – and sent the bill to the Labour Party.

The Prime Minister's wife has her hair done by stylist Andre Suard, from a top London salon, and she got him to invoice his services for the duration of the month-long campaign to the party – a cost of £7,700.

Details of the cost of grooming Mrs Blair were revealed after the Labour party submitted its accounts for the campaign to the Electoral Commission.

A spokesman said: "So what?" This reflects the fact that the leadership of the Labour Party is now totally out of touch with its members and voters.

Backbencher Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton) said that Cherie's hair bill was twice the amount spent on the campaign in his constituency.

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A public opinion poll published by ICM today shows a dramatic fall in the support for Labour. It is the lowest rating since 1987. The figures are Conservatives (34%), Labour (32%) and Liberal Democrats (24%).

It is not good news for the Tories either. It is the Lib Dems who are taking the votes from Labour. This is not surprising as both Labour and the Tories have been caught selling honours for loans.

The public opinion poll shows that it is the perceived corruption of the two main political parties that is losing them votes. The electorate also do not like the solution being put forward by Blair and Cameron. Only 20% are in favour of taxpayers’ money being used to fund political parties.

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It would seem that Blair might be brought down by incompetence rather than corruption. The current scandal about the failure to deport foreign criminals is clearly important and does suggest a high level of incompetence. It also highlights Tony Blair’s incompetence. It is clear that until Clarke resigns, there will be daily stories about crimes committed by the released criminals. Blair was a fool not to accept Clarke’s resignation. He now will have the story right up to the local elections on Thursday.

He should have asked for John Prescott’s resignation last week as well. (In fact he should have sacked him several months ago when it was disclosed that he had not paid his council tax on his second (or was it his third of fourth) home. Blair was completely wrong to say that it was a “private matter”. Blair must have been aware of Prescott’s long history of using his position to obtain sexual favours. This is another scandal that will badly damage Labour with women voters.

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You may have noticed that there has been little press coverage in the media about the Blair corruption scandal. This is because the police have agreed not to arrest and question witnesses until after the local elections take place on Thursday.

However, an aspect of this story will appear before next Thursday. I have it on good authority that an MP will name one government minister as someone who offered Peter Law a peerage in return for him not standing in Blaenau Gwent at the last election. Law refused the bribe and won the seat as an independent (he was a long standing member of the Labour Party). Law died last week and his wife told the story about the government bribe but most newspapers did not publish the story because of the forthcoming local elections. Nor did the media publish the accounts of others close to Peter Law (including his parish priest) who knew about the attempt to bribe him.

I suspect the MP will name Peter Hain, the Welsh secretary, as being the government minister who offered Law the peerage.

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You may have noticed that there has been little press coverage in the media about the Blair corruption scandal. This is because the police have agreed not to arrest and question witnesses until after the local elections take place on Thursday.

However, an aspect of this story will appear before next Thursday. I have it on good authority that an MP will name one government minister as someone who offered Peter Law a peerage in return for him not standing in Blaenau Gwent at the last election. Law refused the bribe and won the seat as an independent (he was a long standing member of the Labour Party). Law died last week and his wife told the story about the government bribe but most newspapers did not publish the story because of the forthcoming local elections. Nor did the media publish the accounts of others close to Peter Law (including his parish priest) who knew about the attempt to bribe him.

I suspect the MP will name Peter Hain, the Welsh secretary, as being the government minister who offered Law the peerage.

Report just published on the BBC website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4972344.stm

Plaid Cymru have named Welsh Secretary Peter Hain as offering the late MP and assembly member Peter Law a peerage.

Mr Law was offered a peerage not to stand against Labour in Blaenau Gwent at the last general election, Plaid's Commons leader Elfyn Llwyd claimed.

He made the allegation in the Commons on the day of Mr Law's funeral and while Mr Hain was at a family funeral.

Mr Hain categorically denied the allegation, accused Mr Llwyd of "cowardice" and demanded an apology.

Mr Llwyd's allegation was made during Commons business questions. He said Mr Hain was acting on the authority of the prime minister.

Neath MP Mr Hain had been attending a family funeral.

Commons Leader Geoff Hoon criticised Mr Llwyd for making the claim when Mr Hain was not in the chamber to answer it.

Mr Hain said afterwards: "I regard it as an act of cowardice that when Elfyn Llwyd had the opportunity to put this lie to me directly in the House of Commons yesterday he instead raised it when I was absent at a family funeral and unable to rebut this false accusation."

In a statement, he added: "I am at a loss to understand why it is now being alleged that Peter Law would have made such an accusation about me, when he himself never made that allegation public, even when he was standing in the general election.

"The suggestion that I offered a peerage to Peter Law is utterly without substance. And indeed the Labour Party have made it absolutely clear that no such offer was made."

Mr Llwyd told MPs: "New Labour, in an effort to prevent him from standing for Parliament, offered him a peerage.

"The man named as being responsible is the secretary of state for Wales who made the offer on the specific authority of the prime minister."

Mr Llwyd demanded a debate on the "corrupt practice".

The Tories called for an investigation into the claims.

Shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "I have written to the Prime Minster asking for a full and independent investigation into this allegation."

Mr Hain later wrote to the Speaker of the Commons, demanding an apology from the MP, saying he found it hard to express "just how angry" he was with Mr Llwyd.

He said he was "astonished" Mr Llwyd had claimed he gave him prior notice of his plan to raise the matter, saying he had not.

"I find it appalling that Mr Llwyd has behaved in this manner and believe that he should make a full apology to you, to me and to the House," he wrote.

Mr Law, 58, died last week after suffering from a brain tumour.

He caused a political storm at the general election in May 2005, overturning a 19,000 Labour majority to be elected as an independent.

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There is a theory that the reason that Blair has not sacked Clarke and Prescott is that it will give him an alibi for today’s inevitable disaster. That the people have voted against Clarke and Prescott rather than Blair. He will then attempt to sort out the problem by sacking the two men next week.

Blair is still in denial. He has ignored requests to stay away from the local election campaign. In London officials have asked that all members of the government not to campaign in the capital. Pollsters suggest that Labour will lose six or seven London boroughs. They will also probably lose Barnsley, Hartlepool, Warrington and Wigan.

Personally, I believe they will have their worst night for over 20 years. Membership has fallen dramatically over the last few years. There are very few foot soldiers left. A bad night will make this even worse in the future. After all, how can you expect people to give up their time to fight for New Labour?

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After all, how can you expect people to give up their time to fight for New Labour?

Only if they share his Thatcherite ideology and only then if they are not also supporters of the other 2 mainstream Thatcherite parties.

There has to be a realignment of the Left in this country. Maybe tonight we will see some gains for Respect?

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After all, how can you expect people to give up their time to fight for New Labour?

Only if they share his Thatcherite ideology and only then if they are not also supporters of the other 2 mainstream Thatcherite parties.

There has to be a realignment of the Left in this country. Maybe tonight we will see some gains for Respect?

It will be interesting to see how Respect does in comparison to the BNP. With all the fuss about immigrants not being deported I expect them to do well.

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It will be interesting to see how Respect does in comparison to the BNP. With all the fuss about immigrants not being deported I expect them to do well.

A depressingly accurate prediction.

I have been dismayed by the xenophobia whipped up by the media over foreign criminals.

It clearly has had the effect of improving the electoral prospects for the racist BNP.

On a more positive note the gains of Respect are reported below

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=8785

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