Following revelations that Peter Hain has just ‘remembered’ some more suspicious donations to his Labour deputy leadership campaign, the suspects list is growing longer. There was obivously a culture of complacency surrounding donor registration, despite being the party that introduced these rules, and despite the ‘cash for honours’ scandal that happened only recently.
Harriet Harman and Hillary Benn both recieved donations of £5000 from David Abrahams for their deputy leadership campaigns, Harman through an intermediary, it looks bad. Wendy Alexander in Scotland took an illegal £950 from a Jersey based business man, and denied all knowledge until a personal thank-you letter to him was found. She still denies ‘intentional wrongdoing’ but as we all know ignorance of the law is no excuse. The suggestion around political commentators is that she if Alexander goes, Harman will have to follow, which may be why she is hanging on.
Wendy Alexander used the money for a leadership campaign, for Labour’s Scottish representative, in which their were no opponents. You have to ask why? Maybe that’s why she only needed the £950 not the full £5000. Now Gordon Brown also had no opponents in his Labour leadership election.
Now I start speculating! Brown’s camp only took donations from those they knew. I question why they needed donations if they didn’t fight a campaign, but that’s an aside. This allowed Brown’s campaign co-ordinator to turn down a donation from Janet Kidd (David Abrahams’ go between), who he later recommended to Harman’s people.
If Gordon Brown had a real campaign to fight, if Peter Hain had stood against him for example, he would no doubt have needed much more cash. Would his campaign then have had the strategy of only accepting from people they knew? Would they have been more desperate and less fussy? Labour may be glad they didn’t oppose Brown’s coronation as leader, or he himself may have been more deeply implicated in a scandal he has admitted is illegal.
Brown is however the head of a party with a very dubious record. His close advisors and those in positions of fund-raising power for the whole Labour party, as well as individual candidates in internal elections, showed very little concern for legitimacy. If Brown’s lack of direct involvement is due to his moral compass, he did a very bad job of transmitting it to those beneath him and showed a distinct lack of the leadership we need in a Prime Minister.