Comment at end
1st April, 2010
So how’s that for a headline?
But, and I know it’s a little late for an April Fool’s joke, dream on.
“Before attempting to answer that, and for the benefit of those for whom the mere mention of the former prime minister ignites frenzy about Blair himself rather than anything he says, let’s accept that plenty of people think the same question – where is he centred? – should be asked about the ex-Labour leader too. Apropos which, let me throw into the pot a suggestion from one of his staunchest Westminster supporters this week. “I think Tony needs to donate a million pounds to the Labour party,” he said. I leave that thought with you – and him.”
I have to say that the thought of a kindly donation from the former PM crossed my mind some time ago. I wouldn’t have been the only one. It’s a tempting thought. Since he is now reasonably comfortably off and the Labour party isn’t, surely he could throw them/us a few bob?
In principle, yes, in practice, no.
Apart from the headlines:
- “Blair Buys Brown’s Silence”
- “Labour Party is renamed ‘Tony Blair’s New Labour'”
- “Democracy – Yours for a Cool Million”
- “The OLD Labour Party is REALLY dead. By order of its owner”
- “Blair – 1 million down, 19 to go”
- “Labour & Blair reported to Electoral Commission/Police/UN for Bribery/Fraud/Whatever/ANYthing”
There wouldn’t be too many headlines like this:
- “Thank you, Mr Blair”
- “You’re a Hero, Tony”
- “Labour is saved by the former PM”
- “Blair puts his money where his heart is”
- “Our blue-eyed boy is as good as his word”
The main limitation on a large donation (it needs to be very large since Labour has received less than half than has the Conservative party since Blair left) is the LIMIT of £5,000 in private donations.
Unless, that is, Mr Blair has been able through his “complicated series of firms” to dripfeed, say £4,999.99 per day into the Labour Party’s funding account.
Labour is still floundering in the cash-flow doldrums, and this kind of amount from whomsoever is certainly not appearing in their accounts. Yet. Not as I read it. Though I will leave that kind of detailed research to those who are PAID for it.
Surely by now, in these days of FOI, accountability and openness, it would have been uncovered and leapt upon as swiftly as is Blair by any passing ” arrest Blair” aficionado?
But of course, there is still the LOANS vehicle.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Or so they say.
ELECTORAL COMMISSION WEBSITE
This, from the Electoral Commission and dated 24th February 2010, lists donations and borrowing figures in the last quarter, up to 31st December 2009.
“Fourteen political parties registered in Great Britain have reported receiving just over £17 million in donations between 1 October and 31 December 2009, according to new figures published by the independent Electoral Commission. This is the third highest quarter on record, the highest being January to March 2005 just prior to the last general election.
During the same period, six parties also received payments from public funds totalling just over £2.5 million.
As at 31 December 2009, the total loans entered into by parties stood at just over £15.7 million, credit facilities (such as overdrafts) at just over £18 million and connected transactions (such as guarantees) at £930,000.
The law requires that all donations and borrowing (accepted prior to January 2010) over £5,000 to the central party, or over £1,000 to an accounting unit, are reported to the Electoral Commission. The Commission publishes all donations over these thresholds on a quarterly basis.”
In the Donations Section
- Fourteen political parties reported donations totalling £17,088,525 (excluding public funds) accepted between 1 October and 31 December 2009.
- The three political parties to accept the most in donations were:
- Conservative Party – £10,481,949
- Labour Party – £4,962,886
- Liberal Democrats £1,055,717
- Six parties also received a total of £2,501,071 in public funds.
- Five political parties reported 51 donations totalling £696,965 this quarter that should have been reported in previous quarters.
- United Kingdom Independence Party and the Conservative Party reported receiving a total of four donations amounting to £5,000 from impermissible sources.
Main items of interest in the Borrowing Section
- The total amount of loans outstanding stands at £15,721,823.
- The Conservatives, English Democrats and the Labour Party reported new loans totalling £43,608 this quarter that should have been reported in previous quarters.
- The Liberal Democrats reported the repayment of one loan totalling £4,500 this quarter that should have been reported in a previous quarter.
- The total amount currently available to all parties through credit facilities is £18,063,500.
- The Labour Party and Conservative Party took out new credit facilities totalling £7,000,000.
- The Labour Party extinguished a credit facility of £2,000,000.
Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission said: “We are extremely disappointed with the very high number, and value, of late reported donations, especially from the Conservative Party. The Liberal Democrats and United Kingdom Independence Party also had a high number of late reported donations received by accounting units.
“As the general election approaches, it’s especially important that voters get all the information, on time, about how political parties are funded.
“Parties have had plenty of time to get systems in place and up to now we had seen the value of late-reported donations decreasing. That’s why this quarter’s results are disappointing, and it is important that all parties get back to full compliance and transparency ahead of the general election.
“We have had a particularly high level of late-reported donations this quarter from the Conservative Party head office. They have told us that this was the result of computer problems. The Electoral Commission has met party officers, who have set out their plans to address these problems and return to timely reporting. The Commission will be closely monitoring the party’s progress with those plans.
“We are contacting all other parties who reported donations late to make sure that they too take their obligations seriously and ensure they make every effort to report on time in future.”
A summary of the donations and loans declared in the fourth quarter of 2009 follows below.”
- Full details of all donations and loans are available on our public registers
- An analysis of donations in the fourth quarter is also available here
Oh, by the way, can anyone help me out on this? How did the Labour Party manage to “extinguishe a credit facility of £2,000,000” in the three months from October to December 2009? Just asking.
It’s also intriguing how the Conservatives are falling foul of the time-limit rules. Anything to do with THEIR big donor, Michael Ashcroft, and his non-dom status, I wonder?
RELATED and ETCETERA
I had to laugh at Labour MP Frank Field’s remark. Honestly. Blair, it seems, is like a “water spider” according to Mr Field.
A WHAT? He says he reminds him of a water spider that “… skims across the water, but once it’s gone, you can’t tell that it was ever there.”
He went on – “Whenever I met him, I always came away beguiled and convinced that he would do things differently this time. He was brilliant at winning elections, but then did nothing with it. I don’t think he had much idea of how to win the machine.”
Would that be as compared to the rest of you, Mr Field? You, who have all been brilliant at ‘winning the machine’ – whatever that means. And he did “NOTHING” with his election wins? Would that be nothing as in Northern Ireland peace/the minimum wage/increasing spending to all-time highs on education and health/devolution?
Or do you mean some other kind of “nothing”? The kind of nothing where your unthinkable thinking was unacceptable, largely, perhaps, due to Gordon Brown’s unwillingness to fund it?
Sorry, Mr Field. I do admire you and I think you were right on the immigration issue. But the idea that Tony Blair has left no mark on British politics is so, SO off-the-wall. Ask Dave.
Oh, by the way, there is still time for you to cross the floor, Mr Field. You’ll find Blairism alive and well in the Tory ranks.
JULIE ON BLAIR COUTURE AND THE BLAIRITE PARTY
Julie, one of the select “we few, we happy few” gang has a couple of good posts. The first one is on her favourite male model here and the second on Vote Match is a bit of fun for soon-to-be voters in Britain. Not that you can trust the original Vote Match. Yesterday it said I was likely to vote Tory, with Labour a close second. Tonight it said I would vote Lib Dem, with Labour and the Conservatives tied at 8 points behind.
Now, if there had been a question on the Iraq war it would have known I will NOT be voting Lib Dem. Julie has resolved the confusion with her own poll result:
Tags: April Fool, chief executive, conservatives, David Cameron, donate a million pounds, donations, electoral commission, Frank Field, labour party, loans, Lord Michael Ashcroft, Martin Kettle, michael gove, Peter Wardle, political parties, Tony Blair, Vote Match, water spider