Do Emails Get Osborne Off the Hook?

Guido has been slow to comment because despite having asked Osborne’s office for copies of the emails which Osborne claims get him off the hook on the non-declaration of third-party financial support for his staff, he hadn’t seen them. Sam Coates’ Red Box got them first.


From : BARRY, Alda
Sent: 06 December 2007 14:44
To: Da Costa, Nikki

Subject: Overlap

Good morning Nikki

I promised Mr McLoughlin written confirmation of the areas of interest where Members must register both with me and also, under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), with the Electoral Commission.

I hope the following brief summary is helpful, but Mr McLoughlin might also like to consult the Electoral Commission for more detail. I usually speak to Rachel Savage on 020 7271 xxxx

The Electoral Commission is

interested in ‘political donations’. Benefits personal to the Member (eg tickets to sporting events) are not of interest to them.

The areas of overlap are concentrated in Categories 4 (Sponsorship) and 6 (Overseas visits). In the case of the latter, their threshold is higher than ours – they do not require the registration of visits worth £1,000 or less.

There are also a few interests which we register under Category 5 (Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)) which are regarded by the Commission as political donations which need to be registered with them if they are worth more than £1,000 – car parking passes or web-site design (if worth more than £1,000) are examples of these.

Under PPERA, it is the responsibility of the Member to report appropriately to the Electoral Commission. It has recently become the practice of this office to advise Members to consult the Commission if it appears to us that an interest should be registered with them, but I must emphasise that this is purely informal arrangement and does not absolve Members from the responsibility for being aware of, and complying with, their obligations under the Act. Nor can this office advise, expect ingeneral terms, about the requirements of the Act.

This office and the Committee on Standards and Privileges are aware of some dissatisfaction among Members that they have to register the same interest twice. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 opens up the possibility of a ‘one-stop shop’ for reporting where the requirements overlap, and it is hoped that the House will, before too long, be given the opportunity to consider the implications of such a system and decide whether it wishes to implement it.

I hope this helps

Alda Barry

So nothing about third party funding of staff via CCHQ in the main email.

From: Da Costa, Nikki
Sent: 07 December 2007 11:03
To: BARRY, ALda
Subject: RE: Overlap

Thanks Alda.

This is very useful

Kind regards

Nikki

Nikki da Costa
Special Adviser to the Opposition Chief Whip

A simple acknowledgement.

From : BARRY, Alda
Sent: 07 December 2007 13:53
To: Da Costa, Nikki
Subject: RE: Overlap

Nikki

I think I misled you just now. The register deals with donations to a member’s constituency association and not to central offices. Sorry.

Alda

The highlighted text appears to get Osborne off the hook. What do you think?

+++ Hain’s CLP Emergency Meeting +++

Hain’s own constituency Neath Labour Party is holding an emergency executive meeting on Wednesday to discuss the affair. Hain has a lot of questions to answer…

Disorganised or Destabilised?

Emily Thornberry, the former Trotskyite turned property developing MP, was on Radio 4. She defended Hain on the grounds that he was obviously disorganised and the proof of that was that his campaign strategy and budget details were revealed last year on this blog. Guido would contend that it was good investigative journalism that got the stories on here that so destabilised his campaign. What does it say about him as a Minister when the best defence his colleagues can proffer is that he is disorganised and chaotic?

Home v House

ConservativeHome is not taking the Speccie’s critically successful entry into online discussion (with CoffeeHouse) lying down. It too has now launched a multi-authored comment site. CentreRight.Com’s groundbreaking advance is to not have reader comments. Now the Dead-Tree-Press is all full of unpaid commentators maybe the truly avant garde Web 3.0 thing to do is to remove the interactivity…

Guido is sceptical about multi-authored blogs. They have to have a tight-focus to be successful. Waffling about anything and everything doesn’t work. Good luck, but Guido is reaching info overload…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Labour Rank and File Disown Hain

The Sunday Times reports members of Hain’s campaign urging him to quit. The rumblings in the rank and file don’t sound any better. Looking around the Labour blogosphere there is no comfort for the embattled Hain:-

Paul Burgin, a party press officer for the N. E. Herts CLP writes “Hain Must Go…he should hand in his resignation first thing on Monday”. Highbury CLP’s Tim McLoughlin has questions, “If he is unable to run his own small office effectively, how can one expect him to properly manage the Department for Work and Pensions?”

Susan Press, a Labour Deputy Mayor, writes “In life we all make mistakes. So I admit to serious misjudgment in voting for Peter Hain as Deputy Leader.” The “bogus think-tank” is the last straw, she doesn’t believe a word he says.

Even LabourHome’s usually on-message Alex Hilton reckons it “untenable that he will remain in his position for another week and the end of his ministerial career is probably only awaiting the Prime Minister’s deliberations on the implications for a full-scale reshuffle.” On the left Andrew Coates complains “that he has the gall to explain away his gaff of trousering a mere £100,000 by means which would get him imprisoned were he to do the same as a Claimant under the system of his own Department of Work and Pensions… Meanwhile Hain is found out as Mister Well-lined Pockets himself.” David Osler, a left-wing friend of old, regrets that once “I did at least accord you a certain degree of genuine respect as a radical reforming politician. I don’t think I like what time and high office has done to you.”

It is also noticeable that not a single Cabinet Minister has defended Hain…

Every Little Endorsement Helps :Another Company Endorsed for Hain’s Fundraiser

Hain’s chief fundraiser is the sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan. His biggest client is Tesco, so is it any surprise that Hain was pictured promoting Tesco? No.

This is the third identified corporate endorsement with cash links to Hain. (Picture Financial Services and Cuddy both got Hain’s endorsements, he got their cash). Morgan gave £5,000 of his in part Tesco derived earnings to Hain’s campaign. Which Morgan then forgot to declare…

The press release sent out by the DWP was headlined “Every Little Helps”. The somewhat thin justification for his civil service department doing corporate PR slogans for Tesco was that they had employed previously unemployed workers. The evidence is that Peter is always willing to help out with PR for donors…

Hain Cover-Up Not An "Absurd" Idea

Hain is attempting to shamelessly tough it out, despite even members of his own campaign team telling him to resign. He says the idea that he had attempted “to hide anything is absurd”. Is it really?

Why did his campaign wash cash through the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) shell company in that case?

  • The BBC is reporting that one of the donations was transferred immediately it was received in the PPF account to his campaign account. Why not donate it directly to the Hain campaign if you have nothing to hide?

  • Willie Nagel, a diamond dealer, used PPF to keep his donation private. Indeed that was the condition upon which the donation was made. That is not in the spirit of the law. It is a deliberate attempt to hide the source of funds. Not so absurd now is it?
  • Is it absurd to wonder if his campaign team thought it might be better for the campaign’s left-wing credentials if it was not known to be the recipient of funds from a foreign multi-millionaire diamond dealer?

  • Perhaps the great anti-Apartheid veteran did not want the embarrassment of it being known that he was funded by Isaac Kaye, a former supporter of South Africa’s Afrikaner-led National Party. Kaye has previously been involved in “gifts for influence” and NHS price fixing scandals. Being known to be funded by an under investigation NHS profiteer would not appeal to Labour Party activist voters.
Routing the funds through a faux think-tank would disguise their source. Did somebody decide that not declaring them to the Electoral commission would avoid the risk of awkward questions altogether? It was absurdly bad luck that the unrelated Jon Mendelsohn / Abrahams proxy donor scandal resulted in Mendelsohn’s undeclared donation eventually being exposed. Mendelsohn’s admission meant that the other undeclared donations would inevitably come out during the police investigation – if it was not for the Abrahams scandal blowing up, Hain would have probably got away with it. It is the cover-up that always gets them in the end…

The whole Labour Party leadership campaign funding saga is turning into a farce, with the revelation that even Gordon Brown broke his own party’s donation rules.

Guido has checked the Electoral Commission website, his campaign lists 21 donations amounting to

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Hain’s Story is Unravelling

Let’s tell it like it is, the Progressive Policies Forum is a slush fund. It has done nothing, has undertaken no known political activity, has no employees, no policies and there was no forum or indeed any meeting ever. When

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Shaun Woodward Spoke at Fundraiser

The April 23, 2007, £1,300 Hain dinner paid for by Royal Mail director Huw Roberts had, Guido understands from a source at the dinner Shaun Woodward as the keynote speaker. That a supposedly left-wing campaign fundraiser was addressed by a

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Hain Still Has Campaign Debts of £41,200

According to the Electoral Commission, Peter Hain registered a payment to the Labour Party of £11,550 on September 18. Under party rules he had to pay 15% of the funds raised to the party’s central funds.
Since he raised a

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Labour candidate Clive Lewis tells the Staggers:

“I mean, in the multiverse there’s still three universes in a hundred where there’s a Green MP in Norwich, so anything could happen. I could be caught with my pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end – well, hopefully that won’t happen.”

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