Saturday, January 24, 2009

Labour Peers Face Serious Sleaze Allegations

Remember Cash for Questions? Well the Sunday Times has got the Mother of all political sleaze scandals in its edition tomorrow. It makes Cash for Questions look like a minor infringement, compared to charging up to £120,000 for changing legislation, which is what Lords Snape, Truscott, Taylor and Moonie are accused of.
Lord Truscott, the former energy minister, said he had helped to ensure the Energy Bill was favourable to a client selling “smart” electricity meters. Lord Taylor of Blackburn claimed he had changed the law to help his client Experian, the credit check company... [Lord] Taylor told the reporters: “I will work within the rules, but the rules are meant to be bent sometimes... Taylor, a former BAE consultant, said he would not table the amendment himself but offered to conduct a “behind the scenes” campaign to persuade ministers and officials. After agreeing a one-year retainer for £120,000, he said he would discuss the amendment with Yvette Cooper, chief secretary to the Treasury, and talk to officials drafting the bill.

Truscott, his Labour colleague, was also keen to help “behind the scenes” – for a fee of up to £72,000: “I can work with you . . . identifying people and following it . . . meeting people, talking to people to facilitate the amendment and making sure the thing is granted.”

He said he would identify and talk to people who could be persuaded to change the legislation. He offered to contact MPs, peers, civil servants and John Healey, the minister in charge of the legislation.

Moonie offered to help for a fee of £30,000 a year and Snape indicated that he would charge £24,000. By contrast Lord Rogan, the Ulster Unionist peer, said: “If your direct proposal is as stark as for me . . . to help to put down an amendment, that’s a nonrunner. A, it’s not right and b, my personal integrity wouldn’t let me do it.”

All political parties have suffered sleaze allegations, so I'm not going to go off on a knee-jerk rant. But once again the reputation of politicians is going to be dragged through the mire. On the face of it, these four Peers have a lot of very difficult questions to answer. If they are guilty of the accusations they deserve to lose their party's whip and possibly more.

I wonder if the BBC will report this story in the same way that they reported the Cash for Questions incidents. Nothing on their website yet... Waiting...

UPDATE 10.30pm: The story has now finally appeared on the BBC News website but still nothing on TV news bulletins though, according to commenters.

UPDATE 12 noon: It's now leading the BBC news bulletin.

36 comments:

Oldrightie said...

I hope these revelations stick for once. Albeit tip of the iceberg, sadly. I suspect Lords Mandleson and Kinnock could tell a tale or two dozen!

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

We need an election!

Johnny Norfolk said...

The BBC will avoid this story if it can. If it was the Tories it would be a different story and would have been headlines by now..

Martin Day said...

Labour - Labour -Labour - Out - Out - Out!

Ignited said...

Well done to Lord Rogan for his clear position and identifying the corrupt nature of the proposal.

John said...

I can imagine what it's like in the BBC at the moment......"PROTECT THE HIVE!!!"

Grim Reaper said...

I'm constantly amazed by how New Labour gets away with being so sleazy. Then again, I suppose that having a state supporter churning out your side's propaganda does help!

J said...

This should be huge.

Nothing on the BBC website yet.

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

Just watching BBC News and Sky News on the hour and they're still not running the story.

rob's uncle said...

Thanks for your restraint - this story speaks for itself.

Chris Paul said...

Time to dissolve the Lords for ever. But if the story stands up the funniest thing here is that anyone believed these cunning old bastards that they could influence anything.

And it is quite amusing that anyone has this lot down as New Labour.

Still no apology for the silly all police are bastards - trying to stop anthrax plots - story Iain?

Have none of these characters declared their contracts and contacts in a timely way?

It is a pretty large amount but Osborne and Duncan appeared to fail to declare similar and larger amounts of contributions to their operations from city and oil interests respectively.

So far that didn't stick.

J said...

Currently the lead story.

Haberdasher said...

Doesn't this show just how effective our current administration is?

Gone are outmoded, inefficient Tory practices such as 'cash for questions' replaced by more modern, progressive approaches to governance such as 'cash for access' and 'cash for policy'.

Perhaps the peers in question may have overstepped the mark if, as suggested, personal enrichment was involved, however providing they pay the customary tithe to party funds, surely this minor indiscretion should be overlooked.

Yours,

Dirk Haberdasher

justoneglass said...

Guido a bit slow off the mark on this one!

The Remittance Man said...

Chris Paul,

Abolishing the Lords is a bit extreme, it's not the fault of the Upper Chamber that some of its members appear as bent as nine bob notes. This is just a demonstration of what happens when you pack part of the legislature with appointees, cronies and those who bankroll your party.

Tyburn Jig said...

I shall be buying shares in a rope factory.

Dennis said...

What makes me think they'll get off scot free?

Mr Mr said...

Baroness Royall has just told Marr that the worst that can happen to a crooked Lord is that he/she is named and shamed.

Much like all Peter Hain has to do is say sorry. What does it take to get a crooked politician locked up in this country? One law for them another law for the rest of us.

brian in the tamar valley said...

In all fairness Iain not only is this story now heading the BBC News website but it's been the lead item on Radio 4's news bulletins all morning!

Batteredstrat said...

I have not yet seen any instance of corruption during the tenure of this government that has been rewarded with fair and just punishment.

The BBC, while it is reporting this, will be waiting instructions from Lord Mandleson as to how this should be spun.

My guess is that it will be spun to gain support for more constitutional vandalism. The reforming ability of the H of L could be slashed in favour of more power for the lower chamber (and thereby the executive). A redrawing of the Parliament Act, (which allows MP's to force through legislation) might allow this to happen more quickly and easily and in more cases as a norm.

Alternatively, the power to reform legislation may be stripped altogether, leaving the Lords in an advisory role only.

Mandleson's only problem in spinning this against the Lords as a chamber, is that he sits in it!

The Penguin said...

http://therantingkingpenguin.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-big-trough.html

If you have a strong stomach or something to mask the stench, stick Lord Taylor of Blackburn into Google.

The Penguin

DespairingLiberal said...

On your last point Iain, I think the BBC is always well advised to wait and see a little bit if stories in the Sunday Times turn out to be true. I can imagine you trying to use a lack of enthusiasm over the Hitler Diaries against the BBC!

I have combed other papers this morning and can't find anything anywhere else about it.

However, if true, it is a disgrace and worthy of the US Senate at it's best.

DespairingLiberal said...

OK, just seen it's now the top story on the BBC website.

Looks like they were wisely checking it out before obeying Mr Dale's Murdoch buddies.

Childprotector said...

Iain

You were a lobbyist and you know both that professional lobbyists are banned from paying legislators and that there is no need to pay them anyway. Any MP or Peer will table an amendment if a good case is made.

There are a lot of PR people who do a bit of what they call "public affairs" work on the side and who don't understand the lobbying business - they might think it is ok to offer cash to Peers, but it is hardly a widespread practice. Why pay for something that parliamentarians are happy to do for nolthing?

Sobers said...

It may be on the BBC website now, but I notice the words 'Labour peers' are distinctly absent from the headline and only mentioned ONCE in the entire article. Despite a couple of them being ex-Labour ministers.

The BBC's bias is breathtaking. If this was Tory peers you would have 'Tory peers in sleaze shocker' plastered everywhere on the BBC.

Batteredstrat said...

They wouldn't have waited to see how true it was either Sobers.

karltop said...

"Lord" Taylor is a nasty, smug, foul-mouthed cretin of a man. He deserves everything he gets.

Jess The Dog said...

Bunch of corrupt scumbags caught with their hands in the till. Ha-ha!

The apologist "Lady" Royall claims that "we don't have trial by media in this country". Yes we do, because by her own admission, the Lords is toothless. This is worth a good half-dozen or so seats come the General Election and that is the price that will be paid.

(She's Labour - really - with a title and name like that?!?)

Chris Paul said...

Bit pathetic pretending the BBC didn't get onto this until 10:30 (and you didn't mean pm did you) when they led the AM Show with an extra studio guest dealing with this very item.

Chris Paul said...

PS Particularly as your correspondent J had this as lead story on BBC web at 1:43 am as well.

Chris Paul said...

The Sunday Times story isn't actually holding up all that well.

No smoke without fire and all that. Which Ken Clarke of BAT (and also a part time Shadow Mimicster and MP) might bear in mind. And I would de-frock any of these - along with Black, Archer and Ashcroft - if there was any settled agreement to take this work on by any of them.

Seems half-arsed. The entrapping pretend lobbyists seem to have done the offering rather than peers done the demanding, what was offered in return is at best, looking at collected reports, moot, and I'm not sure anyone at all had agreed to any deal at all. Some talking of running offers by authorities even.

I'd guess they (the ST) have rushed this out ahead of properly springing the trap because it was being rumbled and their game wouldn't have held a further week.

The Times papers really have tumbled down the scale of reliability. Almost getting GuF-like in their burden of proof requirement. Has he had anything to do with this?

Iain Dale said...

You really are making a complete dick yourself. But no change there, I guess.

Pizzatime said...

13.02 GMT

It finally makes the Guardian website.

If these Peers weren't going to table amendments themselves but would persuade others to do so there could be a whole web of back scratching corruption.

Yak40 said...

Blair's House of Lords reform(?) really was in his image wasn't it ?
A home for money grubbing oiks.

Guthrum said...

Impeach all Four, otherwise the Law is held to ridicule