Monday, December 18, 2006

The Question Tony Blair Must Answer

As the Cash for Peerages Inquiry becomes murkier by the day it is bceoming clear that Tony Blair's LINE OF DEFENCE that the Peerages were awarded for services to the Labour Party rather than for Public Service is becoming very shaky indeed. I have only just got around to reading yesterday's Independent on Sunday properly, but it will have made for very worrying reading indeed for Number Ten.

Mr Blair's evidence has baffled the donors, who believe they were nominated for the contribution they made to British society, not to the party. The curry magnate Sir Gulam Noon, who lent £250,000 to Labour, told the IoS he had been nominated for a peerage "for my charitable work [and] my building of the business".

A spokesman for the other businessmen at the centre of the cash-for-honours affair, Sir David Garrard and Barry Townsley, said: "My recollection was they were told it was for services to education." Earlier this year, Dr Chai Patel gave a BBC interview in which he outlined the achievements that had led to him being nominated - including founding the Priory Group of clinics. His office refused to comment on his nomination, but a friend said: "When he was nominated he thought it was for public service."

Last night, opposition politicians queried the nature of the "party service" provided by the millionaires, as none has a clear track record of Labour Party activism. It is not clear whether Sir David Garrard is even a Labour Party member, while Sir Gulam Noon has also given cash to the Liberal Democrats.

Downing Street said the "party service" referred to their willingness to serve as working Labour Party peers. A party spokesman said: "I am not going to get into how many leaflets they have delivered."

Dr Chai Patel's official citation lists his contribution to mental health services as well as his advisory positions. The citation for Sir David Garrard notes his £2.4m contribution to the Business Academy in Bexley, and other work. Barry Townsley's citation says he "is involved with numerous charitable organisations and good causes". It concludes: "He would be [sic] active contributor to the Lords speaking on education and business matters." Sir Gulam Noon's citation says "he would be an active member of the Lords bringing wide ranging business experience".

And while we are on the subject, Nick Robinson and others were quick to mention on 'Bur Bad News Thursday' that the PM was in the clear because he hadn't been arrested under caution. May I point out, as several people in the Comments have done so, that the man just arrested in Ipswich had been questioned by the Police four times in the last week without being under caution. That didn't stop him being arrested a few days later. It now seems that Jonathan Powell will be the next one to be questioned under caution.

So, to go back to the original title of this post, here's the question: Did Tony Blair award these peerages for public service or services to the Labour Party?

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Firstly let me say that Nick Robinson is a "Gerry Adams"
Then..
Marvelous !
Blair is such a thick deluded twat that he cant even get his story straight and to compound his sins he is pissing off a group of folk who come from a community where loyalty is everything (you know who they are)stick with them and they will stick with you to the death , cross them and OOPs you are in deep doo doo.
Blair , Dont count on too many of those lucrative US directorships if you rat.

Anonymous said...

I am scared that he might actually get away with it... the man is made of Teflon.

Matt Davis said...

So once again Nick Robinson jumps to the defence of a totally discredited Labour figure. But of course the BBC isn't biased or anything, oh no

Anonymous said...

That's certainly the legal question, Iain. But the political issue is that Blair has debauched the whole system. Having set out to reform the House of Lords, he has turned it into an even more arbitrary and unrepresentitive chamber than it was in 1997.

javelin said...

In a well researched report I can reveal the 4 peers you mention came 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th *from bottom* in a list of services rendered to the Labour Party.

However, in another well researched report I can also reveal the same peers came 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th *from top* in a list of secret donations to the Labour Party.

Conclusion - the 4 peers you mention were given their peerages because of the secret donations OR (and let's be fair) for lack of service to the Labour Party.

Stephen Newton said...

I think you're being disingenuous. The defence was not they were awarded for servces already rendered, but that they were to be working peers and so got their peerages in order that they could perform services for the party in the Lords at some future date.

But there's little doubt that peerages have always been awarded on a nod and a wink and that Tory leaders have used very similar criteria.

You'll recall that Michael Howard has the honour of being the first party leader to be questioned.

machiavelli said...

The answer to your question, Iain, is "neither"; on paper their nominations were for public service, according to the PM they were for services to the Labour Party - yet the Labour Party knew nothing about their dona- I mean loans, and only Downing St knew about them. So in effect they were nominations for services to Tony Blair personally.
Sleazy little man.

Chuck Unsworth said...

Well, anyway someone else was driving the car at the time of the crash, but Blair can't quite remember who it was...

Anonymous said...

I think it's all falling apart pretty quickly and the end could come sooner that we all think.
Tony has (luckily for him but not for our democracy) done a runner, surely Insp. Knacker would want to question him on his return about the discrepencies in his statement and what Sleazy Levy and Ghulam Noon etc have said.
That interview would surely be done under caution.
If knacker has any balls he will ask Blair to attend a Police Station and arrest and caution him before the interview (as Levy).
Either event should cause Blair to resign. In order for Yates to deliver a dossier to the PCS in the New Year, these events have to happen shortly.....
Any money on a new PM before 1st Jan? Before Xmas? Unfortunately it would be the appalling Brown......

javelin said...

Very good point by anyonebutblair.

If No. 10 doesn't hand the evidence over (and it's been shredded) then it will difficult to see how the police can avoid questionning Tony under caution (before Christmas) - and that will force him to resign.

Don't hang Leo's stocking up yet Tony it looks like you will have to take it down sooner than you think.

Anonymous said...

If I was you, Tony, I would plead the Fifth!

jafo said...

Now the Police are looking at the staff for possible "perverting the course of justice" charges there must be some very very nervous people in and around No.10.

And these are the people who actually know what has happened.......

Surely they must be reminded that in the Watergate Scandal, the President didn't go to jail because his successor pardoned him, which option isn't open here. However, lots of staff members lost their jobs, reputations and freedom. That little gem would certainly loosen my vocal chords, were I in their extremely parlous position.

Robert Peston's Pregnant Pause said...

Well Fiona,

I better be careful what I say here about all this cash for honours malarkey as I um err don't want to get us into toooo much trouble especially with this charter renewal thingy hanging over us...

Anyway, it seems that the Prime Minister, lick, lick, slurp. slurp, might be in the clear after all because all his New Labour lender cronies... er I mean friends... were going to get their peerages for their services to New Labour rather than the country.

I know that this might come as something as a bit of a shock to them...I mean none of them have exactly worn out the ol' shoe leather in the cause...but it must be remembered that all of them are frightfully busy people who, quite frankly, can't remember what they had for breakfast let alone recall exactly why they were going to get a gong.

Anyway, not to worry, it will all blow over soon you know. Plod's just get to interview that Powell chappie... Blair's Chief of Staff... Jonathan I think his first name is...yes that's right... the brother of Charles who did the same job for Thatcher and who's now a Lord and selling arms to the Aarabs and who twisted bro's arm to get Tony to call off that wretched BAE enquiry.

Anyway, the police as I said have to interview Powell minor but I don't think there's anything for him to worry about as he's a sort of hush hush security service type person so the story goes...I wasn't supposed to say that...ha ha... and ol' Yates of the Yard will know whe to back off.

griswold said...

The Yates pincer movement has Blair's testes in a vice. His investigation of 'perverting the course of justice' initiative will flush one or more canaries who know where the missing memos and emails are. If you hide evidence you go to jail - no ifs and no buts. Clever tactic to turn the heat up. Ole Yates is oiling the cuffs to my surprise. The canaries are begining to warble.

The Remittance Man said...

The citations sent to the palace must be a matter of public record somewhere. Someone must know how to access the application that turned simple Mr Daly into Lord Arfur of Stoke Poges.

ps _ If I can help with the second edition put me on the list for the team

Anonymous said...

Hitch - take your point, but I'm not yet convinced that Blair is in the frame to 'stitch up' Levy as the 'fall guy'. I suspect that while they are both over in the 'middle east' they are scheming over how to stitch up someone else. Could be Jonathan Powell or even try and implicate El Gordo.

I think you are right to say he'd be very unwise to stitch up 'cashpoint' the repercussions could be huge...

Anonymous said...

Brown can't duck out of this one. He spent the money in question on the election campaign and knew full well where it originated from.

Anonymous said...

The schadenfreude's quite sickening on here, especially coming from Tories.

Iain, you say:

"So, to go back to the original title of this post, here's the question: Did Tony Blair award these peerages for public service or services to the Labour Party?"

I wonder - do you have the equivalent facts for the peerages given to Tories in the 2005 election, and in the past? Which were for public service and which for party services? No, I thought not, Iain. The Conservatives have NEVER bought and sold titles for ANY reason, have they ;0) ?

I think the whole police inquiry is ridiculous! Surely the police have more to do than try to work out how internal party money was raised and handled? The public knows the facts of political life. They're more grown up than many of Labour's critics, it seems. So the government, after trying to make the system more transparent - yes MORE transparent - are hoist on their own petard. Trouble is, a lot of us are suspending empathy for their situation, because so many of us are just desperate to see Blair hoist on something for ANYTHING!

Dreadful situation.

Titles have ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS followed money. Not that I approve. I think WE should pay for our political parties, through taxation.

Why not? Like buying your own house we will take better care of it if we "own it". At the moment we leave it all up to the politicians, and then we call them corrupt ba****ds when the system shows itself to be (and to ALWAYS have been) a bit murky.

I don't think the Tories will be thirsting for Blair's blood on the peerages issue. Why? Because if they think arrests will stop there - at Labour - they should perhaps think again.

hatfield girl said...

Blair isn't going to drop Levy into anything. He's on a long-planned trip to the middle east with him that, presumably, was OK'ed when he was in Washington the other week. Certainly Levy never thought he would be arrested but it's noteworthy that since he has been he's said nothing whatever;no attack on Blair, just a written statement via solicitor and a clarification that he won't take the fall alone if anyone tries it.

Verity's view that Blair would be an utter fool to try it, as Levy is infinitely cleverer and more able to take care of himself than is Blair, holds equally for Powell.

So who is the fall guy? The squeals of outrage coming from Brown and his Labour Party faction suggest they've noticed everyone is turning to look at them.

Why did Blair have to cobble together an election fund in such a hurry in 2005 that he got the footwork (though not the practice) wrong? Who turned off the Labour Party usual funding tap to force himself back into the centre of the election campaign when he'd been side-lined by Milburn? And who then spent this surprising 14 million pound windfall, without enquiring where it might have come from?

Which is worse, 4 lordships for an expectation that the holders will deliver for the Party once in the Lords, or whole economic and financial policies being delivered to donors, public-private finance initiatives delivering taxpayers bound and gagged into the hands of 'entrepreneurs' and venture capital companies.

In December 2006, "Channel 4 News disclosed that HM Treasury, presumably on the orders of Brown, pushed through Cohen's knighthood - even though the scrutiny committee refused to confirm his honour, saying that he had not done enough to deserve it...files relating to Cohen’s appointments to government committees had been destroyed... recent government guidelines state that public bodies should keep important data about personnel for decades." writes the Sunday times.

Gordon Brown combines the worst of all possible worlds, capitalist greed and corruption, nationalist isolationism and socialist paternalism.

Why ever should we have to put up with Brown and his cronies after ten years of Blair and his?

wonderful for his age said...

anyonebutblair wrote:

"If knacker has any balls he will ask Blair to attend a Police Station and arrest and caution him before the interview (as Levy).
Either event should cause Blair to resign."

Sorry, old boy, 'It wouldn't be in the public interest'.

2br02b said...

Of course the Peerages were awarded for services to the Labour Party:

As overheard by a fly on the wall of Sleazy Levy's Office:

"No, you don't have to be a member of the Labour Party or vote for us in the Lords or even turn up there. Just donate (sorry, loan) £1 million to the Labour Party... that's a service to the Labour Party innit? ... and as soon as your cheque clears you can collect your trophy peerage at the door on the way out."

That'll stand up as a defence in court? Won't it?

----

I never knoew what it was like to live in a banana republic before, but thanks to Tony....

Anonymous said...

Hatfield girl is on the right track. Blair and Levy are now working on covering their own backs and shifting the focus onto Brown.

There's plenty on Gordon that will stick and blustering denials in the press only make PC Plod more suspicious.

The Remittance Man said...

Anon 8:55

You really don't get it do you.

Quite how is nationlisation going to restore a sense of ownership? We already have an isolated political elite that thinks it's above the law. Cutting the one remaining link they have with their constituencies - money - will complete that isolation.

State funding is the easy way out for the politicians; that's why they are so keen on it. And why the hell should we make their lives easier? We elect them to improve our lives not the other way around.

And if you think state funding will prevent them setting up their private slush funds, think again. Or better still, examine the travails of some recent european political leaders.

No. A far better solution, though more onerous on the politicians, is to say political parties can raise cash any way they like but put in place appropriate monitoring and reporting structures with massive penalties for false accounting.

Then leave the media, including the denizens of Blogistan, and their opponents to expose any shenanigins. Given the furore over the cash for peerages issue it appears that they can be quite good at this if they try.

i'd posit that fear of exposure, damage to their reputations and imprisonment is a far more powerful tool for keeping politicians on the straight and narrow than wishful thinking and a monthly dole cheque.

Raedwald said...

anon said:
The public knows the facts of political life. They're more grown up than many of Labour's critics

Yes, grown up enough to know that the conservatives can't afford to push this one too far officially - but this doesn't mean that 'the public' condones any of it. As Helena Kennedy's enquiry showed quite usefully, it's not apathy but dislike that keeps the public away from the voting booths.

And nuLab has done everything since '97 to worsen the situation; the public see MPs pay, allowances and pensions overflowing the trough while Gordy takes £100bn out of their own pension funds; sees the whole shameful distortion, omission and misrepresentation of intelligence to give Swiss Tony an excuse to go to war, sees the utter failure of nearly ten years of nuLab policy in health and education, which, had it been successful, might just have made up for the rest. And to cap it all the public remembers the brave words about 'people's peers' and how deserving headteachers and articulate dentists would populate the red benches under nuLab. Only to see the familiar dribble of sycophantic placemen, narcissistic donors and dross from the commons taking their seats. At least there was a decent sense of shame in the Labour party about Lord Kagan. There's none now.

Neither party has anything to be complacent about. I suspect that both will seize the 'Reform' banner for next year's touted election. And the public will want to see a cleansing of the Augean stables that goes far deeper than just kicking the straw about a bit.

Anonymous said...

Mr Dale, why don't you invite verity and hatfield girl to 18 doughty st.

Now i would pay to watch that debate!