A furious Prime Mentalist mumbled a response about having no idea about the £50,000 slush fund that Peter Watt revealed in his book at PMQs earlier. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner has already asked for more information regarding the complaint put in about and with a planted question today at PMQs it seems the Tories think they might be on to something:
The Prime Minister
10, Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA
3 February 2010
Dear Mr Brown,
At Prime Minister’s Questions today, you told the House of Commons that you knew nothing about the secret fund, worth a reported £50,000, which was held by the Labour Party for your benefit. When asked why you did not declare this on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests (RMFI), you said specifically: ‘I know nothing about what he [the questioner] is talking about.’
This simply cannot be true.
It is clear from Peter Watt, the Labour Party’s former General Secretary, that you were the beneficiary of a secret fund held by the Labour Party. He has said explicitly:
‘Before becoming Prime Minister, Gordon went to some lengths to insulate himself and the Treasury from our financial troubles, setting up his own personal pot of cash at party HQ. This was money we could not dip into, since it was set aside for the Chancellor’s own pet projects. Murray Elder helped secure donations from the Chancellor’s supporters’ (Inside Out, January 2010, page 105).
He went on to claim that it may have been used to finance your ‘long-term campaign to become party leader’ (Inside Out, Peter Watt, 2010, page 105).
Mr Watt’s assertions were widely reported. Indeed, across several pages in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Watt claimed that you used ‘up to £50,000-a-year of Labour money to pay for private polling’ (Mail on Sunday, 17 January 2010).
The allegations were explicitly confirmed as truthful by a Labour official who said in the same article: ‘It [the fund] was funded through donations to the Party.’
In the light of these allegations, my colleague, Greg Hands MP, wrote to you more than two weeks ago, on 17 January, to query why you had failed to declare the fund properly the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. This letter was publicised in several newspapers on 18 January.
As you did not respond, Greg Hands submitted a complaint to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner this week. I attach a copy of this complaint for your reference. Again, this complaint was reported.
Yesterday in a speech titled ‘Transforming Politics’, you said that you would ‘do all that is necessary to restore trust’ in politics and the conduct of MPs. If you wish to restore trust in politics, you should stop treating people like fools by claiming that you were unaware of this fund when all the evidence points to the contrary. I therefore urge you to admit to this fund’s existence, apologise for misleading the House and co-operate with any inquiries that John Lyon may wish to make.
Chairman, The Conservative Party
Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar
Pickles has essentially called Brown a liar. There is no way he could have had no idea what the question was about. Guido knows Downing Street is an incompetent mess, but to suggest that Brown would have no idea that a serious allegation of potential corruption widely reported by the press and broadcast media could have gone unnoticed is laughable. At the very least he has misled the House about not knowing, at worst he instigated a cover-up.