Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Poliblogs 28 November 2007: BUMPER EDITION

Simply not believable

As I listened to Newsnight last night, I posted that the circumstances surrounding the donations given by David Abrahams to the Labour Party via third parties being outlined by the party spokesman was not believable. And the explanation has duly fallen apart today. Probing has revealed that Hilary Benn turned down the offer of a donation from Mr Abrahams because he knew the terms on which it was being given. Mr Benn turned down the donation because Baroness Jay had told him about the terms of it - so she knew as well. So that's two senior figures in Labour who knew, apart from the now departed General Secretary of the Party.

A View from Rural Wales

Labour Party funding scandal: General Secretary resigns

The Labour Party has been receiving donations from a wealthy businessman. Only he didn’t wish to donate in his own name, so he made the donations in the names of two of his employees. This illegal practice has now been brought to light, and the General Secretary of the Labour Party has resigned. According to him, although he knew of the arrangement, he wasn’t aware that it was illegal. Really?

Bel is Thinking

Should have known better

Once again, Labour has fallen foul of a funding scandal - and this time, heads will roll

David Hencke

45 Words That Shame the Labour Party

"I was aware of arrangements whereby David Abrahams gave gifts to business associates and a solicitor who were permissible donors and who in turn passed them on to the Labour Party and I believed at the time my reporting obligations had been appropriately complied with." Those were the words of the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Peter Watt, who resigned tonight. They are also the words of either a liar or an incompetent fool.

Iain Dale

Could we have another deputy leadership election?

I suspect that "God forbid!" would be the answer of most Labour Party members to that question, but the current pressure on Harriet Harman over the dodgy donations affair means the possibility cannot be ruled out.

Paul Linford

Harman in trouble

Has Harriet Harman been hung out to dry by the Prime Minister? The Guardian reports that Labour's deputy leader and party chairwoman, is clinging to the support of Downing Street after it emerged that her deputy leadership campaign took money from the woman who had acted six times as an unlawful conduit for funds secretly given to Labour by a businessman. Harman took £5,000 from Janet Kidd to pay off her campaign debts, and yesterday repaid the cash after she apologised to the cabinet for her error.

Peter Black AM

Someone else knew (and sorry Harriet & Janet)

Well well well. A second senior Labour Party official knew about the secret donations by David Abrahams. Jon Mendelson - who was appointed by Gordon Brown to raise funds for him - was told about the arrangement last month by Peter Watt - the man who resigned as Labour's General Secretary a few days ago.

Nick Robinson

Who’d get it if Harman resigned?

Could supporting Cruddas be a way showing unease about Brown? My nomination for Iain Dale’s political blogger of the year (won incidentally by Iain Dale himself - funny that given he was the promoter and vote counter) was Paul Linford. To my mind Paul provides the best insights into Labour party matters and this evening he speculates about who would become deputy leader if Harriet finds she cannot carry on because of the donation scandal.

Political Betting

Why we need to reform party financing

New Labour’s latest funding scandal is part of a bigger problem, and one that goes to the heart of why a strong liberal-left movement is needed now more than ever. Since 1997 New Labour top brass have actively pursued a policy of occupying the centre ground and gradually discarding any notion of what the party stood for. Rather than specific ideals, marketing and positioning (aka spin) would be the way to ensure the Tories stayed out of power.

Liberal Conspiracy

Brown's "impending doom"

By his standards Gordon Brown did reasonably well in his press conference. He stayed calm, managed to smile, and stuck to his basic defence: first he heard of the problem was Saturday, it's unacceptable, Labour will pay the money back, and he's appointed an inquiry led by a bishop and a judge. The event did not in itself deepen the crisis, although his repeated failure to endorse Harriet Harman sounded ominous for his deputy.

Ben Brogan

Browns needs to recover and quick or he is doomed

When a patient’s heart stops beating, medics have about ten minutes to revive it. So it is with the Labour government. Gordon Brown is running out of time to get his defibrillator working. He failed yesterday, and failed again at his monthly press conference. He looks puzzled, bewildered and out of his depth. He is in grave danger of sharing the same verdict history served on the hapless Paul Martin of Canada: an over-promoted finance minister.

Coffee House

Is the Brown Premiership coming to an end?

The moment Gordon Brown announced there would be no election something clicked into place for me. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time but a few weeks later I was struck by this sudden sense that Gordon Brown’s days were numbered.

Pickled Politics

Will Brown last, and what must he do now?

Anthony Barnett (London, OK): Both Mike Smithson at PoliticalBetting and James Forsyth at the Spectator are very taken with Jackie Ashley’s column in the Guardian on the fate of Brown and whether he will last until the next election.

Our Kingdom

Two months of misery and cock-ups for Gordon Brown.

D'oh! - Greatest threat since WW2 - The sun publish an excellent graphic depicting Gordon Brown giving the British people the two fingered salute over the EU Treaty.
D'oh! - The number of prisoners in England and Wales has reached a record high.
Official figures suggest there were 81,135 people locked up in jails and in police stations.
D'oh! - According to Nick Robinson the BBC's political editor, Gordon Brown is to announce very shortly that he WILL NOT be calling an Autumn Election.
Daily Referendum

How the PM could rekindle popularity

The drop to 27 % in the polls is serious, and the lack of trust in politics is tangible. Your well judged campaign to restore faith in politics has been badly damaged by Northern Rock, the loss of HMRC data and the Abrahams donations. I know how upset you are by these developments, and feel they are not of your making. Unfortunately they have changed the political weather, and the Tories are now claiming that Northern Rock is related to your changes to the regulatory framnework in 1997, and the data loss to your merger of Revenue and Customs. No-one said politics was fair.

John Redwood

Why the Oxford Union has it wrong

The Oxford Union’s decision to invite David Irving and Nick Griffin to speak confuses the right to free speech with a duty to offer people a platform. Nick Griffin is, within the bounds of the law, free to sound off in his usual obnoxious way. But that freedom doesn’t oblige anyone to ask Griffin to come and speak to them. Equally, artists were free to draw the Muhammad cartoons but newspapers weren’t obliged to reprint them.

Coffee House

Patrick Cusworth: Free speech does not mean that we are therefore encouraged to promote or support those who preach a dogma of hate

The Oxford Union’s decision to play host to BNP leader Nick Griffin and convicted Holocaust denier David Irving in a debate last Monday evening on the issue of free speech was always going to generate discussion. The motion, which effectively called on the two far-right apologists to justify their right to speak at the event, was described by Shadow Defence Minister Dr. Julian Lewis, who resigned his membership of the Union, as “sheer vanity”.

Conservative Home

Free speech is for nasty people, not nice ones

Most people claim they want free speech. Almost all of them don't really want it at all. It is amazing how quickly they start making exceptions. And, funnily enough, the exceptions always turn out to be people whose views they don't like. That is why it is so important that we protect, above all, the freedoms of those we disapprove of. It may well be true, as alleged, that the Oxford Union's invitation to the BNP leader Nick Griffin and the discredited historian David Irving was a publicity stunt. The Oxford Union, and its older Cambridge sibling, are both fighting to maintain themselves in a world where even Oxbridge students are far less interested in politics and debate than they used to be. But even if it was a publicity stunt, that doesn't mean it was wrong.

Peter Hitchens

British Energy eyes nuclear sites

British Energy has named its preferred site for the first of its next-generation nuclear plants. The firm earmarked Sizewell in Suffolk, Hinkley in Somerset, Bradwell in Essex and Dungeness in Kent for development, but has indicated that the Elephant and Castle area of South London will definitely be the location for the first of the new power stations. The firm said that despite concerns about the viability of the latest untested technology, it regarded the E&C site as the most promising. A spokesperson said "the area is largely uninhabited these days due to the poor quality of the housing built in the 1960s and such empty sites are hard to come by in this overcrowded era, a nuclear power station could be just the regeneration that the area desperately needs".


Gordon Brown And Heathrow Expansion

Gordon Brown says to the CBI that there is a "clear business imperative" for increased capacity at Heathrow, and that Britain's prosperity "depends on it." But a London Chamber of Commerce survey in 2006 revealed that:

Coventry Green Voice

A dogma that has had its day

Last week, he was cutting carbon emissions. This week, he's planning airport expansion. How joined-up is 'Green' Gordon?

Tony Juniper

No more Mr Nice Guy

Chris Huhne's tactics in the Lib Dem leadership race have become increasingly nasty: does he think it will win him support?

Nicholas Blincoe

Brown may be right, but isn't it hypocritical of the government to boycott Zimbabwe ?

I agree with Gordon Brown not wanting to attend a meeting at which Robert Mugabe will be attending, but cannot help but feel Labour are being hypocritical in its dealings with Zimbabwe.

I remember the England Cricket Team looking for guidance from the government a few years ago when they were committed to play matches in Zimbabwe, but didn't want to play them for fear of legitimising Robert Mugabe and because of the propaganda he would gain from being at the matches and shaking hands with the players.

Norfolk Blogger

Enter the Dragon and one MP's call to update the Union Flag

In a Commons debate, Wrexham's Labour MP Ian Lucas said Wales' Red Dragon should be added to the Union Jack's red, white and blue pattern. He said the Union Jack currently only represented the other three UK nations. But Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP for Peterborough, said the plan was "eccentric" and would be unpopular. "I do not believe it would add to the unity of the country," he said.

Miss Wagstaff

Common Purpose

Over the last few days I’ve had a few emails about Common Purpose but didn’t pay them much attention because I get bloody hundreds of emails. But today I got an email from someone who wouldn’t bring it up unless there was something in it so I hopped onto Google to see what I could find. Why do I do these things to myself?

Wonko’s World

Building on a solid Foundation

The Northern Rock Foundation has a long and charitable history, but being taken over by Richard Branson may not be all bad news

Martin Wainwright

Blair and Bush in major fall-out

Extraordinary scenes were reported in Annapolis on Tuesday, after George Bush announced a major breakthrough in the Middle East peace process. After several months of painstaking negotiations, Israeli and Palestinian representatives agreed to a timetable of negotiations. Former British premier, Tony Blair, is said to be "absolutely livid" with the announcement. Blair, who was appointed as Middle East Tsar after he quit as UK Prime Minister, is reported to have pushed his briefing notes aggressively across the negotiating table towards Mr Bush in a fit of pique. An aide later admitted that Blair was "pretty angry" that Mr Bush had upstaged him.


Tories 13 points ahead in ComRes poll

A new ComRes poll for Tuesday’s Independent has headline voting intention figures, with changes from last month, of CON 40% (-1), LAB 27% (-6), LDEM 18%(+2) and Others 14%. The 13 point Conservative lead is the largest recorded for almost twenty years; in the unlikely event that such a whopping swing occured in a uniform fashion at a general election it would produce a Tory majority of 58. It is worth remembering however that ComRes do tend to have the most favourable weighting for the Conservatives (and for ‘others’) so we should expect them to report larger leads than companies like YouGov and ICM.

Polling Report

Where no one's in the saddle

In the centre of a roundabout going into Vilvoorde, on the outskirts of Brussels, is a statue of a horse, a monument to the tradition of buying and selling the beasts in these parts. Until the advent of the tractor, farm-horses were one of Belgium's biggest exports. But the Belgians aren't such expert horse traders in modern times. Ever since the election in June, coalition talks have dragged on and on but without a resolution.

Mark Mardell

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