Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A little bit wooor and a little bit waayyy

The Electoral Commission say they're going to investigate the loans row pretty thoroughly. Hurray! In their statement they say:
In our view, questions remain about whether these previous loans were made on commercial terms, and therefore whether parties are right to maintain that no element of them should have been reported as a donation.
Kick it too them. Let's see what's really been going on.

One of the key aspects I'd look into is whether the loans would have been available from a commercial lender. It seems to me that this is essential if they really are loans on "commercial terms".

Would Labour have qualified for the loans they recieved in 2005 if they'd applied for them from a commercial lender? I doubt it very much. That party has lots of debts and very little in the way of guaranteed income. Too much personal experience of that leads me to believe that lenders are not normally bending over backwards to lend money in such circumstances.

It looks like the other parties might also have a case to answer. The Labour Party is the one I'm most interested in though. That's not just because I detest the way they go about their business generally but because they're actually in power. They make laws which affect your life (if you live here) and mine.

And they approached the chairman of Capita and asked him for a loan. In simple terms, that's extortion. Did Aldridge, a man who's company receives a large proportion of its income from government contracts, really have the option to say no? Perhaps this extortion was unintended. But they've been given the benefit of the doubt so often now that it would seem downright foolish to do so again.

So if I hear one more Labour minister refusing to answer questions about the shady deals they appear to have done by claiming that "this is a problem for all parties", I'm going to throw a brick through my TV. Answer the questions.

Here are just a few which have yet to be answered.
  1. Was Tony Blair aware of the policy of taking loans instead of donations?
  2. Did Tony Blair know the details of any of the nearly £14m of loans received?
  3. Why did Lord Levy turn down an offer of a donation from Dr Chai Patel and specifically ask for a loan instead?
  4. Why did the party ask Rod Aldridge for a loan despite the fact that his company was earning huge sums of money from government contracts and was bidding for more?
  5. Why have Gordon Brown, John Prescott, Jack Dromey and others been able to catagorically deny any knowledge of these loans while Tony Blair has not?
  6. Why were the loans not declared when the lenders were nominated for peerages by Mr Blair? (Fatuous "it's not against the rules" arguments aside. Blair loves to talk of acting in a certain spirit. The spirit of the rules he introduced meant that the loans should obviously have been declared.)
  7. A big one. Lord Falconer said "this is an issue which affects all political parties and I hope that the government, political parties and the Electoral Commission will be able to work together to find a solution which allows for transparency and fairness." This confused me. I had thought it was perfectly possible for the government to act in a way which allows for transparency and fairness without consulting anyone else. I has thought that a party which made a big deal about these issues could reasonably be expected to go out of their way to actually do it all on their own. Furthermore, I had thought it would not be necessary for a government to create an explicit law banning themselves from behaving in a way which is in direct contradiction to the spirit of openness which they claim to care so much about. Why does the Labour Party under Tony Blair not agree?
There are more. Answers to these would be a good start though.

I'm going to send these questions to the Labour Party/government. Does anyone have any suggestions for the best place to send them?

Btw, The title of this post is apparently the the official spelling. That Tony Blair. He's a geezer...

Tags: , , ,

No comments: