Monday, 14 January 2008

UK PM says Hain’s fate is out of his hands

Permier Gordon Brown has said of Work and Pensions and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain’s ‘poor administration ’ of the donations for his deputy leadership bid "He took his eye off the ball and he has apologised. The matter must rest with the authorities, who will look at these matters,"

Now Shadow Chancellor George Osborne is being counter attacked with a claim he did not declare £487,000 of donations.

As soon as you look at the details of the attack on Osborne it is quite clearly what amounts to a bogus attack. The money was in fact declared in good time when it was donated to the Conservative Party. George Osbourne just didn’t declare that he had received it from the party a second time in the Register of Members' Interests, apparently after checking with the party weather he should or not and being advised by their experts that he didn’t need to. There is a clear paper trail, so why the fuss.

Presumably as a cynical, but partly successful, red herring to take heat off Hain.

Now, regarding Hain, I must admit, at first sight, it did look like a cock up rather than anything more sinister.

That is until you look at the donors. One of them was an organisation called the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) that appears to have channelled more than £50,000 to Mr Hain.

It was created 3 months after Hain announced he was running for New Labour’s deputy leadership as a limited company. The sole director is a solicitor and it has never filed any accounts with companies House. A key figure in Hain’s campaign, John Underwood, a former Labour communications director, is thought to be strongly associated with the PPF.

So we have a limited company that appears to have done nothing and have no reason for existence, except as a proxy to funnel money to Peter Hain.

Where did this cash the PPF ‘donated’ actually originate? Apparently from people like Rumanian born diamond dealer, Willie Nagel. Coincidentally it seems he had previously been approached by Underwood for cash - but had said he would not contribute unless it was kept private.

Then there was Isaac Kaye, ex South African, now with Irish citizenship, an ex supporter of South Africa's Afrikaner-led National Party, who’s company has been raided by the police.

This begins to look rather familiar. In fact it looks a lot like another try at the same trick of concealing the identities of the real donors.

One that resulted in the New Labour donations scandle that Gordon brown admitted had been illegal. That was over a ‘laundered’ donation from David Abrahams and forced the resignation of New Labour's General Secretary, Peter Watt.

New Labour set these rules up. Why set them up in the first place only to try to circumvent them. Were the rules ill thought out? They made their bed now they lie in it ;-)

So it is clearly not a case of just being a bit late in declaring his donations. He still has John Underwood to throw to the wolves if need be, but if It was illegal enough for Abrahams to take the bullet then it should be illegal enough for Hain to do likewise.