Just goes to show that no matter how close to the powerful you are, no matter how well connected you are, the criminal justice system can’t be spun as easily as newspaper headlines.
How long before we see Levy do the “perp walk”?
Today he claims Britain has the most “aggressive, dismissive and intrusive” media. Not intrusive enough methinks. If the media were only more aggressive perhaps we would not have a system whereby a member of the government openly and insouciantly fiddles his expenses without being called a crook in the press.
It has been widely reported that the Campaign Group is contemplating putting up a candidate. John Austin is also willing to stand as a stalking horse candidate, as is Glenda Jackson. But will they find 70 more MPs to back them? It all has to be done in time for party conference.So who are the likely signatories to any nomination papers? 52 dissidents rebelled on the education vote and 25 did not vote – those 77 can be assumed to be likely to want rid of Blair, add in the Brown backers on the government payroll and you have more than enough. The payroll Brownites are: Des Browne, Alistair Darling, Yvette Cooper, Nigel Griffiths, Harriet Harman, John Healey, Dawn Primarolo, Stephen Timms, Tom Watson. On the backbenches: Ian Austin, Ed Balls, Nick Brown, Tom Clarke, Frank Dobson, Doug Henderson, John McFall, Ed Milliband, Geoffrey Robinson, Clare Short, Andrew Smith, Michael Wills. But do they have the guts?
With nearly a hundred MPs for a stalking horse to appeal to, Guido has a fair few quid on Betfair’s Blair Switch bet backing the change happening July/September. In this scenario the Brownites get a smooth transition by convincing Blair they have the required numbers. At the last moment before this year’s party conference (to prevent any other candidates coming forward) Brown’s name is put forward with Blair as his first nominator. Brown becomes leader of the Labour party at the conference, Blair remains as PM to serve out his term as promised, vanity satisfied by out-distancing Thatcher. Brown gets on with the Labour party campaign against Cameron, Blair leads the country in a presidential style. This is the “Aznar solution”.
Sleazy Levy would know that they were risking millions on getting government approval, they would therefore be vulnerable to an approach from the Labour party’s fundraiser – well, if you have a £600 million property development resting on government approval what is a £3 million “loan”? It represents less than 1/2% of the development cost.
Capita with billions in government contracts would also be vulnerable, we all know you “do not to ask for credit because refusal often offends”. What businessman would want to offend their biggest customer, even if as Labour claims it was unlikely to make any real difference, would you as CEO want to risk offending the source of more than half your revenues? Rod Aldridge didn’t approach Labour with an offer to help, they approached him – “The Labour Party came to me last year in need of financial support following the costs incurred at the last general election”, he said.
Businessman are cynical about politicians, most would view such an approach as a shakedown, but what real choice would they have?
Cameron comes over as very personable, he could have had a career as a TV presenter – where did it all go wrong?
Not a mention of Loans for Lordships – an indication that the Tories feel a little exposed here?
Cameron should come clean – since it is all before his time and he won’t suffer from it – Blair however is balls deep in with Levy.
Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Section 1 (1)
If any person accepts, obtains or agrees to accept or obtain from any person, for himself or for any other person, or for any purpose, any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.
A pattern of behaviour is not proof, nor will circumstantial evidence be enough. What the police investigators will need is documentary evidence, they will need, forinstance, to look at the papers provided to the Lord’s Appointments Commission, do they contain falsehoods? Who assisted in that and in doing so attempted to procure the grant of an honour. Did those people have any dealings with donors? Downing Street advisers’ appointments diaries should make interesting reading. Who did Des Smith mean when he referred to the “the prime minister’s office”?
Guido understands that the Specialist Crime Directorate’s* Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur is treading very carefully with the investigation. Officers led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates need to seize the diaries of key people quickly before they get “mislaid”. If the diaries show that a donor met anyone involved in the process of procuring honours, than clearly both the donor and the procuror will have to be questioned. Merely writing letters to those concerned requesting to talk to them next month is not good enough – the police need to go in to Downing Street and get the evidence now.
*Formerly known as the “Fraud Squad”.
The Serious Crime Inspectorate’s investigators should cuff him and bring him in for questioning immediately – New Labour is getting desperate – who knows who he might be asking for protection money right now? The police should round up a posse and head up to the North London Hacienda, don’t let him get away. Maundy Gregory was whisked off to France by worried peers who gave him a pension for his silence.
Hell with this lot Levy could be taken for a “walk in the woods“, for his own sake, take him into protective custody.
Ben Lucas of dodgy spin merchants LLM Communications (remember in 1998 they notoriously got an advance copy of one of Gordon Brown’s speeches for a client) is another leading light and trustee of the Network. Coincidentally his top clients include Capita. Through Jon Mendlesohn LLM also has a close association with with the Sleaze-Master General himself, Lord Levy. Mendlesohn is a former Blair adviser on business relations who handled Blair’s business links in the early New Labour days. He boasts that LLM is the conduit between business and New Labour and retains links with Jonathon Powell, the chief-of-staff at 10 Downing Street.
to be continued…
It gets better, donors deprived of any real prospect of gongs are now planning to call in their loans. Labour will be some £6m short of cash without the ability to tap into any obvious vein of venality going forward. The union brothers are not going to bail Blair out, nor Brown as he needs to stand tough on public sector pay so as not to scare the voters. So selling the old HQ is a real prospect unless Lord Sainsbury wants to step in again.
UPDATE : Just noticed a dreadful piece by the Guardian’s political editor – it gives a new meaning to the term “whitewash”. The covert funding programme is because of what that pantomime villain the Daily Mail might say about those nice respectable and generous multi-millionaires. Sir Michael White anyone?
In any event young Angus MacNeil MP wrote to Commissioner Ian Blair last week, and Scotland Yard has now confirmed to him that it will investigate the matter further. 1933 was the last time someone was convicted of selling peerages. The law is the law Mr Levy.
Sir Ian Blair
New Scotland Yard
Thursday 16th March 2006
Dear Sir Ian,
I am writing to you regarding the growing circumstantial evidence surrounding the alleged selling of peerages. I am sure you will be aware of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Section 1 (1) states that:
“If any person accepts, obtains or agrees to accept or obtain from any person, for himself or for any other person, or for any purpose, any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”
The body of evidence in the Sunday Times dossier is incredibly damning. With 80 pence in every £1 going donated to the Labour party by individuals comes from people who have been honoured. Every donor who has given the party more than £1 million has been given a knighthood or a peerage.
There is also the refusal of the House of Lords Appointments Commission to accept recent nominations from the Labour Party to consider. This would appear to be a case for investigation under this Act to see if any criminality has taken place.
Three quarters of those individuals who have given more than £50 000 to the Labour Party since 2001 have received an honour.
I urge you to open an investigation into this very serious matter.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Angus MacNeil MP
Na h-Eileanan an Iar
Now if Lord Levy, Tony Blair’s special envoy and tennis buddy, reminds you of all the good things the Labour party has done; public-private partnerships, outsourcing, privatising the collection of the TV licence, privatising the keeping of criminal records, congestion charging, bringing in management consultancies to government departments and councils. Well, if he asked you to do a good turn, you would want to, wouldn’t you?
If you had £3.4 billion of business in the pipeline, wouldn’t it be a good idea to be helpful? Could it be anything but good for business?
No one would know, it would be secret, this thing would be a little secret. Only you, Lord Levy and a few people in Downing Street would know. Tony Blair would know. That could only be good, couldn’t it? They might do another good thing for you. Yes. “Lord Aldridge”, that would be good…
Levy first came to Blair’s attention in the mid-90s, when he was introduced to the then leader of the opposition by an Israeli diplomat, the ex-music business accountant went on to raise £7m for Blair’s “blind” trust that ran his office. That trust was closed amid allegations about the lack of blindness of the trust and the rewards that went to suppposedly anonymous donors.
The level of coincidence between getting a 7-figure shakedown from Levy and a peerage by return post is approaching mathematical certainty. Levy is certainly adept at manipulating money, the Bentley driving millionaire managed famously to get his tax bill down to £5,000 one year (a fact he went to court to suppress being published by the Sunday Times – and lost). Jack Dromey has timed his intervention well, Blair is looking a bit wobbly today and an extra round of Downing Street sleaze stories will not help. A cynic might wonder if Jack Dromey is not positioning to ingratiate himself with the left-wing union where his future beckons.
Labour sleaze is of a different order to the Tory sleaze of old. The figures are of a different order and the money sloshing about went through No. 10, with the knowledge of the PM he admitted today. Neither Thatcher nor Major would ever have got involved in rattling the begging tin so directly.
The expectation is that Eric will not vote with Blair and Cameron for the Education Bill tonight, which is what Blair was seeking, rather pathetically, to capitalise on. Dave retorted effectively that Blair should concentrate on whipping his own party and leave him to worry about whipping the Tory party.
Forth will do what he wants, but the hope is that he finds something other to do. You know, like give a few cyclists a kicking, send some children up chimneys or just basically any of his hobbies besides voting against Blair.
But the boys and girls who might find this difficult to swallow can rest assured that there is a premium, tasty coffee that also pays producers more than the Fair Trade price, but unlike Fair Trade, isn’t a handout, it is paying what this outstanding coffee merits and there is an ideological angle for Conservatives.
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Of course you should really drink it out of a Free Trade Coffee Mug, in the Fawkes household we won’t drink it any other way. So order the coffee online and help third world farmers who fought for freedom.
Now the prospect of a cabinet minister, David Miliband, setting up a blog has made Guido laugh and wince. The example of Tom Watson MP tells us that it will be one long press release. Tom’s blog was interesting, than he became a whip and it became boring. How much worse will the robotic Miliband’s blog be?