Updated Thursday 14 December, 2006
The Prime Minister has been questioned by Police, but not “under caution”. Although this does not prevent his being questioned further, it may at last give the Prime Minister some relief and rest from this ridiculous, (to my mind), investigation.
The Scottish Nationalists have been after the PM’s head for a long time, and seem to have persuaded the Police that there was a case to at least pursue, if not to answer.
The Police may eventually come to the conclusion that this is no more than an internal party issue, and not a criminal matter. I sincerely hope so.
Whatever else happens, we should remember that the Prime Minister is only human. However, he bears a heavier load than most. I know it is probably asking too much but it would be something if the press and anti-Blair bloggers would cool it for a bit. Everyone, even a Prime Minister, deserves a restful Christmas.
Wednesday 8th November, 2006
Woeful Wednesday – A long old day in politics
The results of the mid-term elections have been woeful for Bush’s presidency. So that’s two leaders who’ve had a rough day today. Mr Blair’s cash for honours worries have also surfaced with the news that his 2005 election cabinet will be questioned or asked to put to paper what they knew about loans for peerages.
Am I just prejudiced here or does this seem like overkill?
Haven’t we always had business people donating cash to political parties in return, implied or expressed for lordships? Isn’t that something we kind of expect? Maybe we shouldn’t, but we have got so used to it over the decades that we just shrug with resignation. Certainly we have never had the spectacle of our governing party under the spotlight in such a glaring way as this. And our Prime Minister is expected to be questioned next, possibly under caution, preparing the way for him to be charged.
The money raised was no greater than in other years. And there was actually less money raised by Labour for the 2005 election than by the Conservative party, raised in a similar way.
It may have something to do with using the “loans” guise to hide donations. It may have something to do with accounting records not being kept too accurately. Whatever it is, I fail to see that it is a high crime for which the PM and/or ministers and employees should be dragged before the courts.
Where are the bodies?
So who did their “manouverings” hurt, if there were any manouverings? It’s not as though they have killed someone as in the Lloyd George open sale of honours scandal, or started an international drugs ring. I’d feel much happier if the police were pursuing some of London’s criminals with the money this inquiry is taking. In fact London’s criminal underworld must be laughing up its collective sleeve at the moment watching the country’s leaders and law-makers squirm while the criminals are allowed to stash away millions in VAT fraud and drug dealing. If I sent this little tale in a script to Channel 4 they’d return it unread!
Surely political parties can sort this out themselves? Presumably the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties will also have to learn lessons.
But the whole idea that this can hang over the PM’s head indefinitely as he waits for the knock on No 10 is ludicrous. He has no more than seven or eight months left in his premiership and one or two other things to think about. And of course while this inquiry is ongoing he can’t defend himself in the court of public opinion, but the public opinion formers continue to let us know theirs on a daily basis.
Hopefully it will come to an end soon and the crown prosecution service will decide not to press charges. Then maybe the business of government can resume in earnest. My concern is that the police inquiry has taken on a life of its own and that even the police will feel compelled to push the CPS to charge someone to make sure the exercise is not portrayed as a waste of resources. (Not that they’d do that, of course.)
The police can rest assured that if the case goes no further they will have secured a payback for all of this. That payback will be that the parties, ALL parties, finally get around to banishing this cash for honours business at last.
Even on a human level I really think that serious thought should be given to this inquiry and the time it is taking. The prime minister has much unfinished business and would, I’m sure, appreciate a little less personal stress in the closing months of his premiership.