Monday, December 03, 2007

Ignorance Is No Defence

I drove back to London this afternoon from the fine city of Norwich. If, in the unlikely event of me breaking the speed limit, I had been stopped by the Police and had told them that it had been "unintentional" do you think they would have said: "that's alright, sonny, just don't do it again". But that's exactly the defence being offered by Harriet Harman and Wendy Alexander. And it won't wash.

Harman's campaign treasurer, Baroness Gale says she was told by the Registrar of Members' Interests that she didn't need to register Harman's mortgage extension. She was "therefore under the impression" that she did not need to register it with the Electoral Commission either. To the outsider that may seem a reasonable assumption, but it simply is not. I didn't make it when I was registering DD's campaign contributions. If I had any doubt whatsoever, I checked, and do should Baroness Gale have done.

The reason Wendy Alexander clings to office is because if she quits, Harman will have to go too. Both have undoubtedly broken electoral law. Their end is merely delayed. Meanwhile, the electorate will enjoy the spectacle of their political careers deservedly swinging in the wind.


Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile, the electorate will enjoy the spectable of their political careers deservedly swinging in the wind."

Maybe Gordon is already thinking along similar lines for Harriet.

Anonymous said...

Hey! You predicted HH would be out on her ear by Monday. Why the delay?

Paul Burgin said...

If, in the unlikely event of me breaking the speed limit, I had been stopped by the Police and had told them that it had been "unintentional" do you think they would have said: "that's alright, sonny, just don't do it again".

The exact argument my Dad made to me this morning, I have to say Iain you are right, will be doing a similar blog post this evening

Anonymous said...

In the case of speeding on a motorway, i think knowledge would be the only defence!

Anonymous said...

What annoys me is that Wendy will know whether she has broken the rules or not - the only reason for the Electoral Commission is that it can then prove to the public if the miscreant is unwilling to fess up.

If she knows that she has done wrong, then she should go - not to do so is just trying to string the people along as you've suggested with your 'speed gun' analogy..

I think David Cameron should be going a bundle on Wendy, and forget about Harman for this week, and just pick off the 'Weakest Link' at each of the next 3 PMQs...

Anonymous said...

Its even more complicated than that

If Wendy goes other MSPs in Scotland Tom McCabe and Dave Whitton who were in Wendy's team will have to resign front bench posts too as Charlie Gordon already has
so Wendy is the plug in the damn for 3 other Labour figures

Anonymous said...

Just heard that Comrade Brown is changing the law on donations. Why? Surely the problem is his fellow Comrades can't [or won't] stick to legislation they've created!

Anonymous said...

yeah yeah, we've all read ben brogan's speeding analogy already...

Anonymous said...

Chris Leslie has been incredibly stupid in all this 'donorgate' fiasco, by passing details of a donor to Team Harman which wasn't good enough for them. But it won't wash poor Harriet clean.

In my distant past I used to work in a bank branch. The emphasis for any 'debit' was to check that one had the customer's authority, and that they had sufficient funds, and that they had been identified.

If things had gone pear-shaped it would have been a waste of time trying to say, 'Ah, yes, but I spoke to so-and-so yesterday who said it was okay..' - one was expected to make the checks for oneself each and every time to stop fraud and losses for the bank.

The technical term for this is 'cover your arse' management, and it is a pity that Harriet is too much of a dimwit to work it out..

Anonymous said...

It gets better- "Tango Hain" is also somewhat forgetful about donations.


Unsworth said...

Yep, and I'm "under the impression" that the moon is made of finest Roquefort.

These people are supposed to be serious politicians.

Hilarious, were it not so appalling.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Wendy Alexander's future

Ed Keohane said...

As John Selden wrote 350 years ago:
Ignorance of the law excuses no man. Not that all men know the law, but because it is an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to confute him.

Anonymous said...

Look Iain , you are being FAR too hard on them . They are public servants after all .

Can't you see that lessons have been learned and its now

time to move on !

Anonymous said...

Channel 4 News- Peter Hain has now admitted to more donations he "forgot" to declare

Anonymous said...

Both the harridan Harman and the asinine Alexander are, or will be, toast. Both are promoted way beyond their natuiral abilities and in both cases, their political IQ must be less than their shoe size (unless they have unfeasibly large feet). It is a sign of the moral fecklessness of this Government and of the Scottish 'Executive' (building cost: £36m !!!) and all who serve in them that they cling doggedly to office, wearing down their fingernails in the process.

The sooner we have a clear code of practice, binding on all politicians and other holders of public office, accessible to the public, transparent and unarguable, the better. And no, I don't mean the so-called 'Standards Board for England' which is beyond parody and so up itself that it prevents local councillors discussing issues affecting their wards with the residents of those wards. Thus negating local councillors' function at a stroke. (Why do we need them anyway? Discuss.)

Vainglorious politicians - is there any other type? if so please name one, just one - clinging to office while all about them clamour for their urgent departure do nothing but demean their office, their party and and their government. In the instance of this hopeless and hapless labour administration, that is not very difficult.

Anonymous said...

Channel 4 News have also just reported that Paul Gray, Head of HMRC, who resigned 13 days ago over lost discs fiasco is now working full time for Gus O'Donnell in the Cabinet Office.

I trust questions will be asked of Brown why this is the case so soon after he resigned over the debacle

The Huntsman said...

As I pointed out a week ago ( ignorance of the criminal law is no defence, though it may afford mitigation when it comes to sentencing.

That said, no Judge worth his salt is going to accept for a moment that any of these shysters did not know the ins and outs of the law, so it will not do them much good anyway.

ChrisM said...

what's the advert the Government has on at the moment "No ifs, No buts"

Vienna Woods said...

Reading "The Scotsman" on-line this morning, the correspondence regarding Wendy Alexander's decision to hold on at the behest of Brown, is causing ructions. Some excellent letters from some very angry and literate people. If Brown thought that his interference was going to help, he can surely think again. The damage being done to the Labour Party by the shear effrontery of the leadership is breathtaking. It just proves how totally inept the Brown idea of renewal has become.

Bagehot said...

nice and blatant re-wording of benedict brogan's post here

which he published yesterday.

keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Talk some sense into Dave will you? State funding, either he's having a laugh or he's successfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Anonymous said...

Harridan Harperson is a trained solicitor who practised for several years, then served as Solicitor General. After much tub thumping over sleaze, the government she was part of, created the PPERA.

Now she pretends to be ignorant of, or reckless with regard to, the PPERA. It won't wash. Whatever next? Me no speaky English?

Nu Labour laid this minefield and sort of forgot about it, and now they're mired in it. The slightest move and another one goes up.

I like the lines they're coming out with:

The rules have been broken. No, LAWS have been broken.

Time for a general review of party funding and new laws. No, let's see the existing laws enforced first.

Hazel Bridges said...

So if Peter Hain keeps his job dispite his forgetfulness will this mean that Gordon Brown will be instructing HMRC (who have been forgetful with our data) to go easy on us when we forget to declare something on our tax returns.

I don't think so.

Charlie Boy

Anonymous said...

It is very clear that these people knew the law by their attempts to get around it.
Wendy Alexander (or her team) asked for £950 from Mr Green. Why? Because anything over £1000 had to be declared. They knew exactly what they were doing and why they were doing it.
These people drew up the laws, but when they were doing it the only thing they had in mind was to damage the Conservatives. Back in 1999/2000 the Tory Party was very cash strapped - Labour loved it.
With too long in office they seem to think that the law applies to others and not them.
I wonder will they come up with another early release scheme as there will be even more pressure on the prison system???

rob's uncle said...

Re: ' . . Baroness Gale says he was told . . '. I suggest 'she was told . . '

Anonymous said...

It tells us quite a lot about these rather second-rate politicians that they expect us to simply swallow their claims that it was all unintentional. They certainly wouldn't adopt the same attitude to others who had broken laws that these same people had enacted.

The donor registration failures are one thing, but the unedifying sight of these politicians wriggling does nothing to increase the respect for politics that they all say they want voters to have.

And if they can't see that, but are purely concerned with saving their own skins, then they should expect what the media will deliver: more and more scorn.

Mostly Ordinary said...

I wonder if I can use the same argument when talking to the HMRC?

This is the problem with the professioanl political class that never have a proper job.

K S Rees said...

Really we ought to be thankful that the government have made it abundantly clear just how incompetent, corrupt and petty they are. With every day the chances of a fourth term become ever more distant, the real question is just how long Gordon plans to hold on.

A Swansea Blog

KS Rees

Fitaloon said...

Looks to me as if it is time for Peter Hain to use the Elf Defence as brought to us in March of this year by BBC Northern Ireland. Unfortunately it failed as will the ignorance defence.

Anonymous said...

I am a very low level politician - a Ward Chairman and LG Councillor. But I know what the rules are.

I donated about £300 to my Association last year and was therefore included on the constituency list of doners sent to the Parliamentary Commissioner (though not public list). As someone who has been an (unpaid & voluntary) election agent I also know about listing the source as well as application of funds for any election. So for all these long time serving MPs and senior Labour apparachiks to claim "ignorance" of the law beggars belief.

I suspect the problem is that Labour MPs have been somewhat cavalier in the approach to election returns etc and this has rubbed off in other areas.


Anonymous said...

Mark my words: They're going to stonewall this. Brazen it out. "Mistakes were made", "miscommunication between donors and recipients", "We're confident that the review (which will report just after the next election) will clear Ms Harmon, Ms Alexander, Mr Drony, Peter Hain and a host of junior ministers and enablers of any intentional wrong doing". "Lessons have been learned ...". "Ms Harman is getting on with her incredibly important job as Gordon Brown's deputy and has placed an ongoing order fora half-gallon tub of Haagen-Daaz to be delivered daily."

The media will run out of stories and angles and gradually, they will let it drop for want of anything new, and all the accused will still have their overpaid jobs and pensions.

They'll get away with it. Just as Blair and Cherie did. The nomenklatura bathed in a glow of malice.

Anonymous said...

"I have to tell the right hon. Gentleman that there is no evidence of fraudulent activity taking place, and that this was a failure in implementing the proper procedures. It is important that he should know that the procedures that should have been followed are these: only authorised staff must be allowed access to protectively marked information; information must not be removed without appropriate authorisation; and encryption should be used whenever any information is being sent. Those were the procedures. They are in existence now, and they should have been operated."

Gordon Brown PMQ's 21st November

Of course that failure of a "Junior Official" to follow administrative procedures led to the immediate resignation of HMRC Chairman Paul Gray, who was many steps away from the Junior Official at fault... and perhaps the Junior Official too?

Contrast that with Senior Government Ministers, and Labour Party Officials that failed to implement the proper procedures, that are "in existence now and should have been operated".

Despite their transgressions being the breaking of the Law, they do not resign.

They are a disgrace!

DiscoveredJoys said...

MacGordon MacBrown can still deploy the Bart Simpson defence: "I didnt do it, nobody saw me do it, you cant prove anything!"

Or of course there is the Brookmyre defence: "A big boy did it and run away."

Chris Paul said...

The speeding analogy is pants Iain. Traffic and parking offences are strict liability.

I'm not sure that applies to all areas of the law where words like "knowingly" and "reasonable" and "intention" and so on tend to flit into view.

Perhaps Evan or another M'learned could advise rather than us relying on fellow amateurs?

Just to keep the Family MPs theme going my sister-in-law now has Hain having previously tolerated Hughes.

James Burdett said...

I have posted on my blog about all this and suggested that several people ought to be gone already.

strapworld said...

What an absolute open goal for Cameron.

Harman. Hain.(twice)Alexander. ALL would have been sacked by any self respecting organisation.

Brown tells the world how open and honest his government will be YET allows such people who, in the most charitable interpretation of their actions,have ignored legislation brought in by their own government, to carry on regardless.

What conviction! What openness! what honesty! Brown is a disgrace and should hang his head in shame.

Tapestry said...

filth....means Labour.

what will teens call the Police now?

Anonymous said...


Is it bad form to post two shameless links back to your own crummy little blog in one day?

Hopefully not, so here goes:

As I see it, the problem is not one of Labour MPs deliberately breaking the law, the problem is that they have very poor memories.

And here is a potential cure

Feel free to nick the picture.

Tapestry said...

Harriet Harman's New Book -

'Lessons In Labour Logic'.

Please vote for me. so i can make laws. if anyone breaks my laws, they will go to gaol.

If I break my own laws, it will be because i didn't understand what i meant.

Kris said...

And Harriet is a solicitor. Fancy that!

Johnny Norfolk said...

Spot on Iain.

beaubodor said...

Breaking the speed limit when leaving Norwich is rarely unintentional.
If you see a police car in your rear view mirror, pull over immediately.
It's trying to overtake you.

If Norfolk is (supposedly) the flattest county in England, why does everyone in Norwich look as if they're walking uphill?

Johnny Norfolk said...

Regretably the way it is going Verity is correct. The Tory party has failed to make a big enough song and dance about it all. Unlike 10 years ago when Labour showed no mercy to the Tories for far less people involved.

Geezer said...

Johnny Norfolk. What utter nonsense!
he investigation could take over a year, never mind any prosecutions that may result after that! Do you think this is a one week story??

Cameron doesn't want to appear sanctimonious and preachy, something he has been careful not to do, since becoming leader, you may have noticed. Blair made himself look like a **** in later years, after all his messianic ranting and table thumping about being "whiter than white" and "straight kinda guy" crap.
Cameron needs to criticise publicly, whish he is doing but be careful not to over-do it and lay it on Blair style.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Johnny Norfolk, the Tories should have gone in for the kill, blood dripping from their teeth. Labour could have been brought down so easily if gross viciousness, noisy, slavvering barking and bared teeth had been applied - but they weren't.

They didn't throw Gordon Scum and The Scumettes off balance. They allowed them to go to ground and regroup and recover.

What an inept HM Opposition. Dave has learned so much from Tony ... how to love the green agenda, how to "care" about prisoners, how to pack lists with unwanted and unqualified women ... too bad he missed the one lesson that really matters. How to jump on the prey's back, dig your claws in and ride him and bite his neck till he falls.

Dave's a failure. Brown and his cohorts would have been so easy to bring down. They had no defence.

Yet they're still here. And will be.

Alfie said...

Ignorance is no defence - and under no circumstances should it be used as some sort of justification for getting state aided finance....

Anonymous said...

Geezer- first, ask yourself why an investigation could take over a year. There is very little to investigate. Two months max.

But it will take until, mark my words, just after the next election, oddly enough.

Cameron "doesn't want to appear sanctimonious and preachy". Why not? Is he mad? So far about David Cameron, the only thing we're clear that he doesn't approve of are chocolate oranges.

You say Blair made himself look like a ****. But, he won. The only thing that counts. Dave commanded his troops to give him a standing ovation after all.

Anonymous said...

Verity, I really do not now how to answer you. I have seen your posts, but at somtime soon....

Tapestry said...

the standing ovation was a mistake. he has not admitted it yet, but at least it was not an illegal act.

Anonymous said...

I guarantee there will be no ministerial resignations or dismissals. The affair has now died and will shortly be buried by the DPS.

Everyone has underestimated how far above the law the political classes are.

Geezer said...

Verity, You live in cloud cuckoo Land!

So now you are saying that Blair is a good role model? Ha! Ha! You've changed your tune!

Blair ended up looking insincere and cheesey, after all the sleeze that started to emerge about him and his government.
I'm sure Cameron is fully aware of the Major "Back to Basics" nonsense, that came back to kick him in hte teeth. The country doesn't want a santimonious Labour Government replaced by sanctimonious Conservative one.
Batty blue-rinsers, like you might like it, but the electorate won't.

Anonymous said...

Iain, isn't time you used a spelling and grammar checker?

Johnny Norfolk said...

In life if you want something you have to work very hard for it and be prpared to fight for it.

The tories do not do this. For the most part they just avoid any confrontation with the Labour bully boys. How do you deal with a bully. You hit back harder than he hit you. We all learnt that lesson at school.
The Tories are just so weak. They are letting Labour get away with bully boy tactics.

If they are not prepared to fight they will loose again in the long term when all this is in the past. Another missed oppotunity.

Anonymous said...

I know that Gale looks like a trannie but she is a woman. Unfortunately there are alot of ugly women in the Rhondda

Windsor Tripehound said...


Is anyone else as shocked as I am to see the depths to which standards in our public life have sunk?

This morning someone on the BBC news was pontificating about the "rigged" elections in Russia, and I thought, who the hell are we to talk, when the UK is being governed by a mob of sleazy crooks?

There has always been corruption in public life, from all sides of political, but when caught out the culprits at least showed a modicom of decency and resigned. Not any more.

And now they expect us to fund them too? They're taking the piss - it's all too depressing.

JuliaM said...

"...Cameron doesn't want to appear sanctimonious and preachy, something he has been careful not to do, since becoming leader..."

Ha ha ha ha ha....oh, you were serious?

Camoron is as much a liability to the Tories as Harman, Hain & Alexander are to the NuLab project.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of having laws when they are not enforced? Surely a politician should immediately be stripped of their status as Member of Parliament for committing such a disgraceful and incompetent act?

Vienna Woods said...

It's all coming a full circle and we are already anxious that the Tory machine isn't strong enough to hammer NuLab into touch. It was the same situation with Northern Rock and now, with an opportunity like never before, we seem to be pussyfooting about leaving everything for PMQ to shout a few Yah Boos and score some Brownie points. For heavens sake please give David Davis his head and let him off the leash, as he is the only one that I can think of that could really savage this bunch of criminals!

The bloggers are the ones turfing out the evidence currently ( as with Guido's latest biting at the heels of that obnoxious prat Hain yesterday). The problem is that there is no "follow on" by the Conservatives, or at least nothing remotely noticeable.

Anonymous said...
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Unsworth said...

@ David Boothroyd

And what, exactly, are you 'behind'?

Where do we start with that one, eh?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Harman's defence is a load of codswallop.
The Register of Members' Interests is completely separate from the records of the Electoral Commission, compiled under different rules and different requirements for a different purpose.

Next she'll be telling us that she didn't realise she had to declare the loan to the Electoral Commission because the mortgage application form didn't say she had to.

And another thing: If the defence is to say, "I'm a bit thick really", how does that qualify her to stay on as a Minister of the Crown?

Anonymous said...

David Boothroyd

It is the Labour government who permitted the NatWest 3 to be extradited to the USA. You may have overlooked that fact that we signed a one-way treaty with the States. They can extradite our citizens but we cannot extradite theirs. That happened whilst Blair was kissing Bush's feet.

However, even that may irrelevant as the USA reserves the right to kidnap any persons wanted in the USA for any crime without bothering about niceties such as treaties.

When you grow up you may be able to understand such matters.


Anonymous said...

"...Cameron doesn't want to appear sanctimonious and preachy, something he has been careful not to do, since becoming leader..."

Sadly he just isn't doing very well. My old mum has never expressed any opinion about any politician except Dave. She can't stand him and thinks he's a bully.

What will the tories do if nulab decides to stop stabbing itself in its black heart?

Anonymous said...

Immigants are behind Labour because it has given them the jobs the British are refused.

"People on welfare are behind Labour because it treats them with dignity and generosity"

No their not, and no it doesn't. As the economy heads to the nulab-created scrapheap those on benefit are increasingly treated like criminals as nulab blame the victims of nulab malevolence.

Staff in the public services are behind Labour because it pays them far more than most of them could ever get in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Another scandal for Labour -
Hull city Labour councillor, Stephen Bayes, who had hoped to replace Prescott, has been arrested in NI for gross indecency.
Not for the first time, either. He was previously investigated for molesting children at a childrens home.
Of course he had no chance of getting prescotts job. Everyone locally knows that it will go to the Prescott mafia (as they are known locally). You know, the one who got all those Hull council houses cheap and sold them on for a huge profit.

Anonymous said...

Geezer - I see reading comprehension is not one of your strongest skills.

I cited Blair as vicious, brutal and selfish. I said that, to bring the thuggish Gordon Brown and the pack of barking incompetents that surround him, this is the technique needed. Saying, "Nice doggie, I really admire you" was never going to work. Brown and Co are feral.

Read what Johnny Norfolk says in the post two after yours.

Vienna Woods makes the same point.

Carpe diem. Well, Dave didn't, except for some ya boo sucks theatrical posturing at PMQs. These are thugs and brutes and it needs steely nerves and the concentration level of a hunting cat, and an application of merciless brutality to bring them down.

The time - and there was plenty of it - has trickled away. Harriet Harman was predicted to have been kicked out on her fat arse by Monday. Well here it is Tuesday night and her trotters are still comfortably under the top table.

Anonymous said...

The gravest consequence to derive from the Tory failure to get heads - especially Gordon Brown's, or at least Harman's - on this is, they will be emboldened.

Consider what they have done so far, and that they have found out there will be no consequences or than some clucking and squawking in the hen house for a couple of days.

What will they be emboldened to do next?

That the Tories couldn't even claim some heads for such blatant malfeasance bodes ill for our country.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

David Boothroyd, people who get fat have a mental problem. Harriet Harman is a porker. That fat was accumulated one extra piece of cake at a time. One extra biscuit, one more burger, one extra large steak and fried potatoes, one ice cream, one extra pastry, one plate of ravioli drowned in olive oil at a time.

Fat people are greedy. They feel they deserve extras. Harriet Harman is greedy. She feels she is "entitled" to extras and to hell with the consequences of an ever-increasing dress size.

This is a severe character defect and Harriet Harman has it. This is why I mention it.

Her wobbly body is the most visible manifestation of her inner greed. You will notice that I don't refer to her face, which she can't help, her hairdo or her choice of clothes. I'm not interested in making personal remarks.

When I mention chunky Harriet, I am drawing attention to her character. She cannot say no to extras. She feels entitled to cheat to get more money.


You will note that, loathesome as your posts are, I do not make personal remarks about you as I have absolutely no idea what you look like (and long may it remain so). Your own character-deficiency problems are demonstrated by the fact that you, however, make absurd personal remarks about me. Du-uh.

David Boothroyd said...

The comment left at 10:01 AM yesterday, and that at 8:24 AM today, both in my name, were fakes, not written by me and not endorsed by me.

Anonymous said...
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