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Iain Dale and Paul Staines: Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze


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Iain Dale and Paul Staines have agreed to discuss their book, The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze.

(1) Is Tony Blair the most corrupt prime minister in recent history?

(2) What is the main reason for Blair’s corruption? What motivates him? Or is he just guilty of poor judgement?

(3) In your book you have catalogued a long list of corrupt acts. Which one do you think is the worse example of the corruption of New Labour?

(4) What should the Labour Party do to clean up its act?

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(1) Is Tony Blair the most corrupt prime minister in recent history?

Hard to say. I don't think he has personally enriched himself. Cherie has done some trivial grabby things, the children have had a very privileged upbringing. Euan leads a playboy lifestyle. Blair has effected a corrupt financial support system for Labour to escape the clutches of the trade unions. I believe that Lord Levy will be charged before year end. But Blair is complicit.

(2) What is the main reason for Blair’s corruption? What motivates him? Or is he just guilty of poor judgement?

Blair believes he is serving a higher purpose. He is motivated by that end. it will be shown to have been poor judgement only if he pays a price.

(3) In your book you have catalogued a long list of corrupt acts. Which one do you think is the worse example of the corruption of New Labour?

Maybe it is my Irish rebel streak, but the idea that someone can buy their way into the legislature offends me greatly. Lord Drayson is offensive. He negotiated his peerage over breakfast with Blair. Half a million quid now, half a million quid later. He is now a government minister.

(4) What should the Labour Party do to clean up its act?

Spend less and raise money from voluntary supporters, that applies to all the parties. They will have to listen to their supporters as well. No bad thing. State funding will only make things worse.

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(1) Is Tony Blair the most corrupt prime minister in recent history?

I don't believe he is personally intrinsically corrupt, but he has failed to ensure that his government acted in the 'whiter than white' manner which he promised us. However, until we know the result of Inspector Yates' inquiries it is difficult to answer the question properly. If it is found that there is a direct link between donations to the Labour Party and Peerages then he will certainly rival Lloyd George for the title of the most corrupt Prime Minister in recent history.

(2) What is the main reason for Blair’s corruption? What motivates him? Or is he just guilty of poor judgement?

As I say I do not accuse him of personal corruption, but he has corrupted the system. His wife goes on freebie spending sprees, they both grab freebie holidays, he associates himself with some very dodgy people, he fails to act against Ministers who are clearly acting in a sleazy way and has allowed the system of political donations to become tarnished. He's certainly guilty of very poor judgement.

(3) In your book you have catalogued a long list of corrupt acts. Which one do you think is the worse example of the corruption of New Labour?

Where to start? I think the Cash for Peerages episode is the worst and potentially the most damaging if it leads where I think it's going to. All I hope is that Lord Levy gets its just desserts.

(4) What should the Labour Party do to clean up its act?

Fire Lord Levy, sack John Prescott, never rehabiliate Ministers sacked for lying. At least that would be a start.

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(3) In your book you have catalogued a long list of corrupt acts. Which one do you think is the worse example of the corruption of New Labour?

Maybe it is my Irish rebel streak, but the idea that someone can buy their way into the legislature offends me greatly. Lord Drayson is offensive. He negotiated his peerage over breakfast with Blair. Half a million quid now, half a million quid later. He is now a government minister.

I agree that the Drayson case is one of the worst cases of Blair's corruption. However, I am more concerned with his NHS contracts than his peerage. Blair had a meeting with Drayson on 6th December, 2001. Soon afterwards two things happened: (1) Drayson donated £100,000 to the Labour Party; (2) Drayson’s company, PowerJect, won a £32 million contract to produce a smallpox vaccine. The most surprising aspect of this contract was that it was not put out to open tender. If it had of been the contract would have gone to a German-Danish company called Bavarian Nordic. It is this company that Drayson has purchased the smallpox vaccine from. It is believed that Drayson paid Bavarian Nordic £12m for the vaccine. In other words his £100,000 investment has resulted in a £20m profit. In all, Drayson has given £1.1m to New Labour.

(1) Is Tony Blair the most corrupt prime minister in recent history?

Hard to say. I don't think he has personally enriched himself. Cherie has done some trivial grabby things, the children have had a very privileged upbringing. Euan leads a playboy lifestyle. Blair has effected a corrupt financial support system for Labour to escape the clutches of the trade unions. I believe that Lord Levy will be charged before year end. But Blair is complicit.

I disagree. I believe money is an important factor in understanding his actions. Most of the money will come in after he retires. For example, his £3.5m contract for his memoirs from HarperCollins (Rupert Murdoch). It will be interesting to see what kind of directorships he gets after leaving office.

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I don't believe he is personally intrinsically corrupt, but he has failed to ensure that his government acted in the 'whiter than white' manner which he promised us. However, until we know the result of Inspector Yates' inquiries it is difficult to answer the question properly. If it is found that there is a direct link between donations to the Labour Party and Peerages then he will certainly rival Lloyd George for the title of the most corrupt Prime Minister in recent history.

I think the high percentage of donations/loans that comes from people who received honours suggests that there is a link between these two things. However, it is likely to be difficult to prove.

Where to start? I think the Cash for Peerages episode is the worst and potentially the most damaging if it leads where I think it's going to. All I hope is that Lord Levy gets its just desserts.

Personally, I am more concerned with the link between donations/loans and PFI contracts. This mirrors the kind of thing that has been going on in America since the 1930s. It seems that the main attraction for the Labour Party in privatization (something they were very much against when they were in opposition) is the kickbacks that they receive for these contracts. It is true that most of this money has gone to the party, but some have already left government to take highly paid jobs in these companies benefiting from these new “enlightened” policies.

It is also necessary to ask why these rich businessmen all of a sudden became converts to “socialism”. They did not give money to the Labour Party when they were in opposition.

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