Saturday, December 01, 2007

Kebabgate - Blame compliance for the donations scandal

Charles Moore in the Telegraph has the attached article which points at the multitude of rules and regulations causing the the problems that have led to "Kebabgate".

He argues that

Almost all the seriously corrupt things in politics happen when politicians misappropriate the money of the taxpayer, not when they scrabble desperately around for another cheque from Root/Abrahams.
This is certainly true to an extent but also the opposite is true as once a Politician has accepted a bribe or dodgy donation they then become vulnerable to almost any type of corruption because of the hold on them. This may then lead onto the taxpayer being defrauded but the original source was the "donation".

What I do like is his conclusion when he says
"So no, it is not reassuring that Gordon Brown is the son of the manse. His instinct, so disastrously displayed this week, is to perceive a moral defect and rush to distance himself from it as far and as fast as he possibly can, leaving colleagues in the lurch and dragging in a retired bishop to help save him. The phrase "holier than thou" could have been invented for him. This is pharisaism, not virtue."
Couldn't agree more, Gordon's sanctimoniousness nature is so apparent, as is his disdain for the general public which has become more apparent in recent months as he comes under sustained pressure from all angles.

Blame compliance for the donations scandal - Telegraph

Kebabgate - Labour launches inquiry into SECOND donor scandal | the Daily Mail

Has the Labour party got another dodgy donor ready to skewer?

According to the Mail

Mahmoud Khayami, a French citizen, has given a total of £830,000 in the past eight months, making him Labour's biggest individual backer after Lord Sainsbury.

The party said it would launch an investigation after The Mail on Sunday discovered that:

• Khayami made his first donation - of £500,000 - just 24 hours after becoming legally allowed to do so, by having his name added to the Electoral Roll.

• The tycoon - who runs a car dealership in California and has a villa in Cannes - had waited until the age of 77 before adding his name to the roll.

• Khayami is a close friend of Labour-supporting "fixer" Anthony Bailey, whose clients have included Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe regime, and whose own £500,000 donation was rejected by Labour because of fears it had come from foreign sources.

Khayami made his first donation on May 2 this year.

But The Mail on Sunday has discovered he only became a "permissible" donor on May 1, when he first appeared on the Electoral Register.

Had he made the payment 48 hours earlier both he and the Labour Party would have been committing a criminal offence.

Even though his name is on the register, he is permitted to vote only in local and European ballots, not general elections.

Commentators said that while he was thus technically qualified to make party donations, the fact he had done so meant Labour was 'sailing close to the wind' on donation rules.

Sailing close to the wind may just be an understatement!

Exclusive: Labour to launch an inquiry into SECOND donor scandal | the Daily Mail

Iain Dale makes a boo-boo - Clegg 56% Huhne 44%

Looks like Iain Dale made a Boo-Boo and inadvertently published an embargoed Poll for the Lib Dem leadership race on Blogger and then changed it back to being a draft. Now the details are there for all to see if you search Blogs in Google and type in "Clegg" or similar or just follow the link. Anyway its shows the following.

The poll of 678 Lib Dem members finds Nick Clegg ahead with 56% of the vote among all those naming a candidate. However, the results show that Chris Huhne (44%) is still able to beat the front-runner as half the membership (52%) has not ...
I should know I inadvertently did this on one of my blog entries this week and found it could still be seen on the blog search.

Hat tip to Will on Political Betting

Kebabgate - Grayling attacks Brown's Smokescreen

Gordon Brown made a speech this morning to Labours NEC as reported by the BBC here headlined "PM launches urgent funding review".

Apparently the Clunker called for consensus on the way forward and warned that he would not accept "one party deadlock". Apparently he reckons it's time to act.

Perhaps he's forgotten all the new rules, regulations and laws that Labour brought in to make donations more ethical and transparent which they seen to ignore and treat with such contempt, perhaps he's forgotten that it was his own parties intransigence that stopped the last talks on this matter when he refused to treat Union donations the same as any other donations.

Let's not get the truth out there but just blow a smokescreen to try and shift the focus from Labour, perhaps he has something a bit more to worry about?

Chris Grayling who appears to be the Conservatives spokesman on Kebabgate issued this statement on this matter

“This morning’s speech is a pretty opportunistic attempt by Gordon Brown to erect a smokescreen around events of the past two days. David Cameron wrote to him in October urging major reforms to party funding and a cap on donations, Gordon Brown refused because he didn’t want to give up on the multi-million pound financing from the trade unions. His decision to pick up the issue again today must be more than an attempt to divert attention away from party problems. The other real concern about this morning’s comments is that it looks like he’s trying to find ways of giving himself greater political advantage. He wants to cut campaigning by his opponents in marginal seats whilst continuing to use tax payers’ money to give his MPs a communication allowance to spend in those same marginal seats. It also looks as if he’s set on protecting big trade union donations whilst putting limits on everyone else."
That just about says it all.

ConservativeHome's ToryDiary: Grayling attacks Brown's attempts to switch attention from donations scandal

Kebabgate - The Wendy Apology

This is supposed to be an apology to us the punters who have to put up with this corrupt Labour Government. Wendy's ingracious apology and sneer of contempt show what she feels about the Scottish public.

A Wendy Apology

Kebabgate - Skewered Count

Labour is well on its way to being thoroughly cooked as it displays hereto unseen depths of complacency and flagrant disregard for the laws of this land which it introduced to make donations to Political Parties more ethical and transparent.

The skewered count in the ongoing Kebabgate is growing currently it stands as follows

  1. Definitely well skewered is Paul Watt, the Labour General Secretary who fell on his own skewer to try and prevent further skewering of his seniors. I discussed him here. His fall from grace may be even greater once Knacker of the Yard has grilled him further.
  2. Again definitely well skewered is Charlie Gordon, erstwhile former Scottish Labour Transport spokesman, He has again become sacrificial meat for the skewer after being thrown to the dogs by his masters. Again he is likely to be the subject to a severe roasting by the police.
  3. Looking well done is Wendy Alexander who after helping with the skewering of her former friend Charlie Gordon is now browning nicely on the skewer as she gets nearer to a proper grilling.
  4. Looking well done as well is Harriet Harman who is being skewered left, right and centre by anyone in the Labour Party, the Clunker has been fanning the flames and increasing the heat and she may shortly be well done. Donations to the Save the Harman fund required.
  5. Looking well singed is Jon Mendlesohn, The Clunkers "ethical" Fundraiser and former partner in the LLM spin merchants business.
Others that are standing by quietly marinating before the grilling begins, include the Clunker himself, Matt Carter and perhaps his predecessor David Triesman, and perhaps Lord Levy himself. Others no doubt will be defrosting as we speak ready to join them in the pot.

Scottish Kebabgate - The Wendy House is collapsing

The Herald has some details of the problems facing Ms Alexander as her rapidly disintergrating Wendy House threatens to collapse.

As Murdo Fraser said

"The only defence Wendy Alexander and her team seem to have left is that they acted in good faith, but in total ignorance, of the law. When Wendy Alexander signed her letter to Mr Green, did she not think to query the Jersey address?

"Is it credible to suggest that that Scottish Labour leader, with a long track record of political experience, would have been totally unaware of the law on political donations. Her position is precarious and I wonder if they will resort to making the fall guy fall further, as Charlie Gordon is again heaped with the blame."

Yet again Labour are trying the incompetence defence, it just will not wash.

So another Labour Junior has fallen on his skewer to try and save his seniors, Will it work this time?

Hat Tip: Scottish Tory Boy for the letter.

Alexander Feels Heat After Letter To Tax Exile Is Revealed (from The Herald )

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wendy Alexander is not laughing

Kebabgate probably gets the first lump of meat on the skewer? And a large lump at that!

Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy: Exclusive : Wendy Alexander Thank You Note Proves:

Kebabgate (formerly Donorgate)

I've decided to call the new crisis within Labour "Kebabgate" as hopefully they will be well skewered by the Donors.

Texting the Urine

According to the Guardian

Getting caught short in the centre of London is no fun. Trying to persuade a sympathetic restaurant manager into letting you use his conveniences will often result in the short shrift: "Toilets are for paying customers only."

So a new text service, which promises to tell you where the nearest public toilet is in the City of Westminster, should be well received.

The council's authority covers 8.5 square miles and encompasses nearly every popular shopping and socialising district of the capital.

So whether you're drinking after work in Soho, or splashing the Christmas cash in Knightsbridge, a quick text message to 80097 with the word 'toilet' will prompt a quick-response text back with details of the nearest facilities and their opening times.

Now apparently, this will, according to the Westminster council make a
"substantial impact on reducing street urination".
Apparently 10,000 gallons of urine are at risk of ending up in the city's streets and alleyways through irresponsible and anti-social behaviour.

Now I can just see the drunks of Westminster texting the service at 1am in the morning just to spend a penny.

What more can I say apart from does it help young kids pee in the right direction as well. Mine can generally find the toilet but miss the bowl, if they could sort this problem out they might be on a winner.

SatLav service finds nearest public toilet | Technology | Guardian Unlimited

Money, Money, Money

No not a song title, just a thought on where all the trouble is coming from in the "Donorgate" scandal that is currently destroying the pitiful remains of the Labour party to many peoples amusement.

All the big problems for the Labour Party are now coming not from the general donations to the party from David Abrahams which are about 650k, but from the donations to the Deputy Leadership campaigns and the attempted donation to the Leadership Campaign fund which total about 10k.

Now I can understand that campaigning for the deputy leadership might cost a couple of bob, but the amounts spent between all the candidates seems to have very significant. Looking at the amount donated to each candidate we see the following rough totals.

Blears 69K, Benn 31K, Cruddas 70K, Hain 77k, Harman 46k, Johnson 53K.
These do not include borrowings of Harman (10K at a rate of 14.17%!) and "late" changes such as the 5K to Hain that he forgot to report from Jon Mendelsohn. This brings in a total of 361K.

Now this seems to be an awful lot of money for a fairly simple job, a few leaflets, a web site, and a couple of nice suits, but it seems to have caused some of the candidates a lot of problems and in particular Harriet Harman.

She has struggled to raise money and even had to take out a significant loan at what looks like a penalty rate and received over 30K of the money after the election had been completed, which is perhaps why she seems to have taken the money from David Abrahams via Janet Kidd without doing some simple checks.

And do try and explain to me how Clunker Brown managed to need 196k for his Leadership Campaign fund, there was no need for this money as no-one challenged him.

I assume that all the spare money from these campaigns is added to the general Labour coffers?

P.S. Note that here in Scotland it only costs £950 to cause Leadership woes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Follow the Money

As I said earlier follow the money and then you will find the Smoking Gun.

According to the Telegraph

"Gordon Brown has ordered an investigation into the finances of the property developer who gave Labour illegal donations of more than £670,000."

"Fears are growing within the party that David Abrahams, who hid his identity by using four intermediaries, may himself have been a conduit for another mystery benefactor, after senior Labour figures questioned his personal wealth."

According to the usual rule of thumb a donor of over £500K is likely to have a fortune of over £50million.

The Telegraph continues
Mr Abrahams is described by friends as a “secretive” person who spends little money on himself but likes to rub shoulders with the great and the good at political and charity events. Last year he was pictured shaking hands with the then Israeli ambassador, Zvi Heifetz, who was questioned then cleared over money-laundering allegations. Mr Heifetz was recently appointed as an adviser to Mr Blair in his role as Middle East peace envoy. Yesterday, a Downing Street source said Labour “had not seen any evidence” to suggest the money was not Mr Abrahams’s. He added: “It would be very serious if it were the case. No one is aware of any such arrangement. It will be part of the inquiry.”

It just keeps getting murkier.

David Abrahams and Sigmund Sternberg

Last night I e-mailed Guido with the above photo discovered via a simple query in Google (David Abrahams Sigmund Sternberg). What more is there to come if even Google can help you out.

I see Sir Sigmund Sternberg sponsored David Abrahams to the Rotary Club in London. Page 7 of the Pdf file has the photo and details.

Sigmund is of course a leading Labour donor and active in fundraising for the Labour Party.

Sigmund is also a donor to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign fund and Hilary Benn’s deputy Leadership fund.

Seems strange that such a leading donor to Labour would sponsor Mr Abrahams to the Rotary Club but wouldn’t have introduced him to his friends in the Labour Party.

Yesterday on I said "Follow the Money". Today I read that John Burton, Tony Blair’s former party agent in the North East, where the scandal is centered, questioned how Mr Abrahams could afford the donations.

“I never thought he had that sort of money,”.
Of course once we get up to this sort of level, what's next!

Time for Yates of the Yard to investigate.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Captain John McDermid RIP


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead,

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,

I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one,

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Today was the funeral of Capt. John McDermid.

My thoughts today are with Gill and her sons.


The official funeral notice was as follows:

Today Monday 26th November 2007 - The funeral service for Captain John McDermid took place at Inverness Cathedral and afterwards John was laid to rest with full military honours at Kilvean Cemetery.

John was killed in action in Southern Afghanistan on Wednesday 14th November 2007.

The service was attended by many friends and colleagues who knew John and also those who just wished to pay their final respects, we would like to extend our heart felt sympathies to Gill and the children at this extremely sad time.

Gill identified the charity "HELP FOR HEROES" rather than sending wreaths, in memory of John.

You can donate to the fund via the link in the sidebar.

Also see here

Chief praises soldier's bravery

Who Else Knew?

If, as reported on the BBC, the donations have been going on for four years, and Peter Watt has only been General Secretary of the Labour Party for under two years, then who else knew about the donations funnelled from David Abrahams's.

The previous General Secretary of the Labour Party was Matt Carter who, according to the always correct Wikipedia, organised the legal aspects of loans from individuals to the Labour Party that were central to the Cash for Honours political scandal. Did he know anything about the set-up or was he ignorant of the deal?

Update I. BBC reporting a further 200k of donations found through Mr Abraham's solicitor.

Update II. Lib Dem Voice reports that Peter Watt must have known the rules.

Update III. Comments on Guido indicate the matter is now going to the Police.

Update IV. Now it seems Harriet Harman trousered 5K from Mr Abraham via a similar arrangement. Hilary Benn received 5K direct from Mr Abrahams

Labour Blames another Junior Worker

I see that Gordon Brown's Labour party are again blaming an Office Junior for another disaster that has befallen them. Where do they get these patsies from.

Listening to the various Labour Ministers being rolled out to blame it on the junior I was just cringing.

Jon Snow made a good point speaking to Jack Straw when he asked how come if no-one else knew of David Abrahams's donations, why was he given a ringside seat at Tony Blair's departure.

How they can expect us to believe the story that he didn't realise it was just slightly shady to third party the money is beyond belief.

This stinks, something is rotting in the corpse of the Labour Party.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Labour boss quits over donations

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Independent thoughts on Gordon

The Independent has gone to Town on Gordon as follows.

Government in Crisis (I): Victory to the traffickers

Government in Crisis (II): PM and Darling hit by triple whammy

Government in Crisis (III): Defence Secretary’s £1bn plea rebuffed

English FA - Ultimate Humiliation

So there you are having done the decent thing and sacked your Leader after some disappointing results and you get the ultimate humiliation of being told by the current Labour Government that
you need to get your house in order.

Apparently the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has decided the Football Association needs advice on picking a new coach. He thinks the FA is wasting money and needs to take a good hard look at itself.

I can only raise my eyebrows at the sheer hypocrisy of this. Labour has wasted billions in the last ten years and should not have the right to tell anyone how to run their business. At least the FA have got rid of their leader who was under performing, I don't see the Labour Party doing this.

Minister attacks FA contracts for flops | Football - Times Online

Officers quit army in record numbers

This article just says it all, as Gordon Brown bleats on about how he is doing the best for the Armed Services and they are getting more money than ever.

It looks like the Officers in his Armed Forces are voting with their feet and leaving the services by the bucket load. Already in the first six months of this year 1,300 officers left which is double the rate of the previous year.

One officer, who put in his 12-months’ notice last month, said the reason most were leaving was that the army felt

“undermanned, undervalued and underfunded”.

“We are overstretched and quite clearly underfunded,” said 31-year-old Captain Will Richards. “It’s not a lack of job satisfaction – that still exists – but the incentive to stay in is no longer there. The forces no longer get the public appreciation and recognition, or the funding, they used to.”

Last night I blogged that due to the shortage of troops many are being denied the 24-month gap between frontline operations promised by the Ministry of Defence over the past four years. This is just another nail in the lie that are Armed Forces are properly funded and equipped.

Officers quit army in record numbers - Times Online