More Steve Morgan Anecdotes Please

Peter Hain’s sleazy lobbyist fundraiser, Steve Morgan, told Radio Wales this morning that he had been brought in to the campaign to “bring order to chaos”. A source retorts “bollocks”. Every donation, they insist firmly, was properly accounted for up until the moment Phil Taylor walked out after falling out with Morgan. The documentation Guido got hold of in May seemed very precise and backs this up.

Hain’s allies are furious at Morgan’s audacity. Guido hears so many bad things about Mr Morgan. Do email more to Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com.

Credit Crunch Over Hain’s £5,000 from Loan Company CEOHe Gave Ringing Commercial Endorsement to Backer

Carol Vorderman charges a fortune to advertise debt consolidation company FirstPlus. Peter Hain got a donation of £5,000 from rival debt consolidaton company boss, Neville Allport, his Picture Financial Services plc offers easy credit – “You can even borrow up to 125% of the value of your home” says the website “something that traditional lenders won’t consider.” They won’t consider such gearing because it is financially reckless.

Prominently displayed all over the company website is Hain’s ringing commerical endorsement. Guido can’t recall a serving minister’s endorsement ever being used to advertise a company in this way. Guido is sure that Hain’s endorsements and the £5,000 donation are entirely coincidental.

The 10.9% APR charged to credit maxed out debtors is very profitable, which probably explains why Ronnie Cohen’s Apax Private Equity is the biggest investor in Picture Financial Services plc. Remind Guido again where Hain stood on the Private Equity issue during the deputy-leadership campaign…

UPDATE : Looks like Hencke and Wintour on the Guardian are joining the chase this morning, with a front-page splash on Hain’s missing declarations. They are (rightly) fingering sleazy lobbyist Steven Morgan, identified by Guido in May 2007 as responsible for raising the cash.

The story points vaguely to an undeclared circa £10,000 from “City or business people”. Hain is said to be personally auditing the figures. Don’t forget the benefits-in-kind Peter…

Hain’s Suspiciously Slow Declaration

On the morning of December 3 earlier this month Guido called up one of Hain’s (until that day) undeclared financial backers to make enquiries. By that afternoon Hain had made a dash across to the Electoral Commission, allegedly entirely unrelated, to clear up a few omissions.

Sky’s Joey Jones wonders why Hain’s team is taking so long to get the information out into the open. Joey asks
So why the delay? – Is there a bigger can of worms than we had thought?

Hain’s team say they want to get their submission absolutely right. I know it may sound a bit cynical for this time of year, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the information got sneaked out once everyone’s headed off for the holidays…

Guido has his own suspicions. Don’t worry Peter, Guido will break away from his holidays to make sure it doesn’t go unreported. Don’t forget anything this time Peter, it would not look good if Guido had to point out an omission again…

Failure to Follow-Up

Guido has been busy Christmas shopping, spending his Clegg bets winnings, which were not as much as they should be because Guido reduced his exposure as the campaign progressed, or rather as Clegg’s campaign failed to progress.

Meantime in the red corner of Guido’s blog comments a number of posters are complaining that Guido has failed to follow up the scandal of Cameron’s Dodgy Donors. Yet more evidence that Guido is, yawn, a Tory toady.

There is a back story here. When the Abrahams scandal blew up Guido got an anonymous call from a posh voice who seemed to be intimately familiar with Tory fundraising processes. It was inconceivable, the source claimed, that if Labour were following procedures they would be unaware of Abrahams. The Tories themselves checked donations against monthly updated electoral rolls. They returned donations regularly which checks discovered failed to meet the criteria, all donations above £200 were checked, above £5,000 they were scrutinised and at £50,000 they got to know everything about them. Labour were simply not doing this checking and Guido should get on to the Electoral Commission to discover how many donations Labour returned in comparison to the Conservatives. Not enough it now seems.

The Tories are being disingenuous saying they voluntarily forfeited the £5,900 and £1,500 donations. They had no choice, the 30 day grace period to discover mistakes was up. Unless by “voluntarily” they mean “we didn’t want to continue breaking the law” they only did what they had to do.

It is extra embarrassing that it is Cameron’s own constituency association. Is it on a par with Peter Watt, the Labour Party’s national general secretary, being party to a proxy donor scheme to cover-up the party’s third biggest donor? Well, you judge for yourselves…

The Fat Lady is About to Sing

All those who pledged to support a private prosecuton of Lord Levy should now have received an update by email and text message.

As was always intended, we will make a final decision as to whether to seek a prosecution following the conclusion of the all-party Public Administration Select Committee’s deliberations. They will be publishing their report into “Honours and Propriety” on Wednesday.

Well over two hundred people have pledged financial support for a prosecution. As we have seen with this second Donorgate wave of Labour fundraising sleaze, there will be no end to corrupt political fundraising until those concerned realise that they risk jail. This can’t be allowed to go on unpunished. Harman, Hain and others claim ignorance of the law and forgetful mistakes. The opportunity to unforgettably impress on politicians the disgust of voters with the system is approaching…

Ashcroft Should Come Clean

Labour is getting hammered for breaking the laws on political funding. Rightly so, there needs to be criminal prosecutions in order to make it clear that the laws are to be obeyed. The Tories are working around the laws, which may be legal, but it is slippery. It is also bad politics, slushing money through unincorporated associations is just not on any more. Ashcroft’s tax arrangements are only a private matter if he is a private person.

Ashcroft’s influence on the Tories, like that of Lord Sainsbury for Labour, has been in the national interest. Billionaire Lord Sainsbury helped finance New Labour, dragging the Labour party from socialism towards an accommodation with the Thatcherite settlement and at the very least an acceptance of the market economy. Sainsbury financed progressive think tanks and pressure groups as well as the Labour party itself, to the betterment of the country. It was in the national interest to have a non-socialist alternative governing party to the Tories. Like Ashcroft he got stuck in rather than just sending £15 million plus of cheques.

Ashcroft has an equally involved approach, he has made an evidence based case to the Tories to change their game for the better. He has encouraged them, with financial incentives, to campaign professionally. He has pushed the party to appeal to the young aspirational middle classes once again, rather than just their core voters. It has got to be in the best interests of the country to have an opposition that is electorally competitive and appealing rather than ideologically marooned. Ashcroft is not a sinister Blofeld type character, he like Sainsbury has constructively used his wealth to better his party and (eventually) his country. But the increasing perception that Labour is trying to capitalise on is that he is a shadowy tycoon manipulating Cameron. It is in his own interests to come clean and it is definitely in the interests of the Tories that he comes clean – soon. If not people will be entitled to assume he has something to hide.

Politics in Britain suffers from a disconnect between cynical voters and disingenuous politicians. Any lack of clarity and the voters presume the worst – usually correctly. The money laundering, for that is what it is, endemic in British politics is just not acceptable. Every penny should be accounted for and sourced, whether it is Midlands business types or Muslim moguls. If they don’t like the publicity than they shouldn’t donate. Corruption is only possible in the shadows, in the sunshine we can see clearly, whatever reforms are made should be on the basis of total transparency. State funding is a lazy option, it also presumes that political campaigning is of such importance that it should be funded – it isn’t. In Europe there is plenty of state-sourced funding corruption, it won’t make things any better.

Politics is needlessly expensive, we don’t need so much politics or so many politicians and their hangers on. Politicians need to be taken down a peg or two, having to raise money only from people who are prepared to openly support them might bring some much needed humility and make them more connected to voters. If people are too ashamed to openly support politicians, it is the politicians who need to improve their reputation.

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Abrahams did get government fast-tracking after donationSunday Telegraph
96% of Muslim Friends of Labour cash came from one donor Sunday Times
Planners fast-tracked Labour donor’s business park scheme Indy on Sunday
Wendy hit by more revelations – Sunday Herald
Scottish Labour loses top donor in sleaze rowScotland on Sunday
Son of millionaire MP Sarwar guilty of £850,000 money laundering scamScotsman

Oh and…

Hugh Grant parties with vice-girlsNews of the Screws

Follett Contradicts Herself Again

Yesterday Barbara Follett released a statement giving a sort of non-denial of undeclared funding of her political office. She seemed to think that because the money was drawn from her husband via their joint account it did not have to be declared. Wrong.

The Huntsman blog which first drew attention to this undeclared funding reminds us about a statement released by the Follets and covered by Guido in November 2004. The statement specifically admits that her office “is heavily subsidised by her husband, Ken Follett… In the financial year 2003-2004.. she claimed only £118,214 in expenses. She contributed her entire salary of £55,118 to meet some of the difference. The remaining £102, 673 was met by Ken.”

She was attempting to justify her claim for mortgage subsidy allowance on their £2 million mansion. If her political career is indeed being subsidised by her husband, she should declare it properly on the register clearly. The law is the law.

Follett v Follett

Guido and Mrs Fawkes often have disagreements over who spends how much on what. She thinks it all goes on booze and Guido suspects a lot of it just gets wasted on not getting wasted.

The multi-millionaire Folletts are no

[…]

+ READ MORE +

EXCLUSIVE : Darling Spoke at Deutsche Bank Hosted Labour Fund-Raiser

An outraged City co-conspirator has tipped off Guido that this morning Labour’s London Business group held an £80 a ticket breakfast fund-raiser with Alistair Darling.

Guido is stunned that in the current circumstances the Chancellor of the Exchequer attended a

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Ask the Electoral Commission to Confiscate the Money

Just got off the phone with the Electoral Commission. They are taking the “we can’t comment on an ongoing police investigation” line (© T. Blair). They however offered to direct Guido to the relevant legislation, which states

Forfeiture of

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Purnell was Telling Porkies

As Guido re-iterated on Sunday, Labour have not paid back the Abrahams money. So when James Purnell toured the Sunday morning broadcast newsrooms claiming that “we’ve given the money back” he was lying.

Angus MacNeil put Jack Straw on

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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