Monday, 14 January 2008

The Late Lunch Briefing

Brown Indecisive. Again.

Once again, the past few days have shown Gordon Brown up for being indecisive and possibly even a bottler. Where was he when the latest Peter Hain story broke? Absolutely no-where. Then, five days late or so he decides to back him b y refusing to sack him, but then implies that he will probably have to fall on his sword anyway. What sort of a backing is that? The backing of a weak and indecisive leader. Brown knows that if he sacks Hain it opens the flood gates though he is desperate to keep them closed. But if had just acted swiftly in the first place, this scandal would be over and he wouldn’t be forced to defend the indefensible.

Some Labour Luck

Labour did have a small piece of luck over the weekend, with the news that George Osborne had failed to properly register some donations he received via the Conservative Party (who had already registered them). The credibility of these stories is exemplified by the lack of credence given by the press for any serious misdemeanour and only senior figures like Lord Malloch Brown daring to criticise Osborne. However, you cannot blame Labour for trying to make some political capital out of this non-story given the mess they are in.

Will he go?

The chances of Hain going are still very much in the balance. Now that Brown has backed him, doing a u-turn on that would look ridiculous given the indecision that has dogged Brown’s premiership so far. However, the pressure on him to resign may yet become too strong. The whole thing depends on his ability to explain the reason for the Think Tank, Progressive Policies Forum, that all this money appears to have been laundered through. If it was some sort of money laundry, then it proves that this whole debacle was a premeditated and planned. At present we have no answers as to what this think tank was set up for other than to pass money through. All we do know is that the think-tank employs no staff and has not published any research since it was set up in December 2006. Very suspicious.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon, has today confirmed that he is to launch an investigation into the funding row following a complaint by David Davies. If Hain can prove that this was just an oversight, then he will survive. That is a big if however and Hain needs to come up with some answers sooner rather than later or he will not only be damaging his own reputation irreparably but also the Labour party's.

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