Labour is trying to spread the blame, with “we’re all at it” spin lines. They keep referring to Lord Ashcroft, who makes all his donations to the Tories above board and has actually given less money than Labour’s Lord Sainsbury.
They also keep referring to “a breach of the rules”, no these are criminal acts, a breach of the law is not the same as cheating at Scrabble. They are now hiding behind the “we’re not going to give a running commentary on a police investigation” line (© T. Blair).
Another line they are using is that they have “given the money back”. They haven’t as yet. It is in any event likely to be confiscated by the Electoral Commission.
There is no real need for new laws or reviews, there is a need for politicians to simply not break the existing laws. If Labour figures had not circumvented the existing laws they would not be in trouble. The idea that this situation is just the result of one publicity shy donor is nonsense, it has nothing to do with Wendy Alexander’s problems or Harman’s second problem.
Harman’s re-mortgage of £40,000 is an illegally undeclared loan – made against her home’s presumably joint mortgage – to her leadership campaign. Technically the loan is in equal part her husband’s loan. Her husband is Jack Dromey, the Labour party Treasurer, so he has permitted an undeclared loan to be made to the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, a loan from him. That is prima facie an illegal loan by two of the very highest ranking officials. She broke not only the spirit but letter of the law – in two instances – the loan and the proxy donation. Harman, the former Solicitor General, should face charges as a consequence.