Ferret Watch : Brownites V Blairites

When Guido read the headline about the “Shambles” memo on Iain’s blog on Saturday his first thought was “Gould”. Gould tried to work with Brown some months ago as part of the perparation for an “orderly transition”, but the short-lived co-operation fell apart in mistrust.

On Friday the Brownites believed the weekend would see a smear operation on Brown, Gordon’s spin-meister Damian McBride put out an extraordinary statement dealing with three issues – Gordon’s knowledge about loans, his lobbying for peerage on behalf of his two cronies, Ronnie Cohen (whom he secured a knighthood) and Wilf Stevenson, director of the Smith Institute, which serves as Gordon’s private political secretariat.

The “McSnide” statement:

Rather than respond in piecemeal fashion to these unfounded allegations and smears, we wish to make the Chancellor’s position absolutely clear – on the public record:

Neither is there any formal position for the Chancellor in the system of nominations for Labour working peers. And the Chancellor has never made any such submissions nominating an individual or individuals in letters or statements.

When asked to give his opinions informally about potential working peers to be nominated by the party, the Chancellor has, of course, been happy to give them on the basis that eligibility should naturally be based on service to the community and country, present and in the future.

Mr Stevenson, former director of the BFI and now director of the Smith Institute, and Sir Ronald Cohen of the Portland Trust are known by the Chancellor and he respects their service to public life and has no hesitation in saying they would have made valuable working peers.

But the fact is that no nomination has been made for either individual to the political honours committee, nor has the Chancellor ever submitted any letter or statement of nomination. In Sir Ronald’s case, it is understood anyway that Sir Ronald has made it clear he would not wish to be considered.

We understand that neither Mr Stevenson nor Sir Ronald has ever made loans to the Labour party.

We also know that if any donations have been made they are anyway a matter of public record under the rules and neither individual has ever discussed any such donations with the Chancellor.

And, as the register of Members’ interests confirms, at no time in Opposition and, of course, never subsequently have either of them made any donations to Mr Brown’s political office.

And in respect of the Smith Institute, set up in memory of his friend, the late John Smith, Mr Brown welcomes and encourages the work they do and their contribution to the intellectual and policy debate of the country but Mr Brown has no financial nor any formal relationship with them.

Guido thinks Brown really wasn’t involved in the Loans for Lordships scam, but McSnide does not really deny that Gordon lobbied for Ronnie and Wilf to get peerages to become working peers. Odd because Wilf protests that he is non-political and has no relationship with Brown, who in turn claims no formal relationship with the Smith Institute. A patently false claim, since we all know that it is a Brownite operation and that if Gordon had his way his friend Wilf would now be a Sith Lord…




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