Tag Archives: Labour

Labour Sleaze? Alive And Well!

To use Obama’s terminology – this is a party on the wrong side of history. After the cash-for-honours scandal, we now have Labour peers accepting cash to change the law:

Four peers — including two former ministers — offered to help undercover reporters posing as lobbyists obtain an amendment in return for cash.

Two of the peers were secretly recorded telling the reporters they had previously secured changes to bills going through parliament to help their clients.

Lord Truscott, the former energy minister, said he had helped to ensure the Energy Bill was favourable to a client selling “smart” electricity meters. Lord Taylor of Blackburn claimed he had changed the law to help his client Experian, the credit check company.

Taylor told the reporters: “I will work within the rules, but the rules are meant to be bent sometimes.”

And this is the legislative chamber which ‘Justice’ Secretary Jack Straw says he’s so eager to reform, yet curiously never does. I wonder why that might be?

but the finding on Mr Straw took MPs by surprise.

The case relates to a donation of £3,000 from Cantaxx Energy, a gas company, to a Labour dinner held in Mr Straw’s honour in his Blackburn constituency in 2004. The firm was then seeking planning permission for an energy project elsewhere in Lancashire.

The committee found that Mr Straw not only failed to record the donation on the Register of Members’ Interests in 2004, but again in 2006 when it was drawn to his attention by Ben Wallace, a Tory MP, and again in 2007 when he was shown a copy of his declared donations that omitted the Cantaxx.

Draw your own conclusions.

More Met Mischief

I wouldn’t write these entries if they weren’t so damned easy to find, and there’s nothing like an obvious own goal to back your arguments up! It turns out the Sadiq Khan, Labour MP, had been bugged in a meeting in a prison with one of his constituents. The MP, a former human rights lawyer, was meeting with Babar Ahmad, a childhood friend who was in Woodhill Prison, not on domestic charges, but awaiting possible extradition to the US. No other meetings with Ahmad had been recorded, but London’s Metropolitan Police, renowned racists, homophobes and killers of innocent Brazilians, decided to get this one on tape. Except under a code in place since 1966 they’re not allowed to. Recording conversations between MPs and their constituents has been forbidden since then, and Jack Straw, Justice Secretary, insists it still is.

The guy who did it has been charged worked for the Thames Valley Police and has been charged with several counts of misconduct in public office. But he claims recording the conversation had happened because he’d been leaned on by the Met, in response to a civil action Ahmad had been preparing against Sir Ian Blair, Met Police Commissioner, for an alleged assault by Scotland Yard officers. How unlikely I hear you cry.

It’ll be interesting to see where this leads. Yet again the Metropolitan Police have clearly behaved like a law unto themselves. They demand more powers, and abuse the ones they already have. And don’t forget in the Jean Charles de Menezes case they and their cronies in the IPCC denied they did anything wrong. Trust in the police? In this country? I don’t think so. Will any heads roll over this? You must be kidding. Don’t forget – Ahmad hadn’t been charged with breaking any domestic laws, and the websites he’s allegedly responsible for are just websites, distasteful though their subjects seem to be. And no other of his conversations had been bugged. It’s been claimed those responsible for the bugging didn’t know Khan was an MP. Fair enough on one hand, but that pretty much says the conversation was targeted because both participants were Muslims. Nothing changes, but it really needs to. These people are out of control.

Abusing Ken – Are We Back in the 80′s?

I’d say I didn’t understand the upcoming London Mayoral election, but the reality is one which Polly Toynbee regularly directs us to: the British newspaper media is overwhelmingly right wing, and in this case the Associated Newspapers group which have always hated Ken Livingstone with a passion, scent the possibility of revenge. Of what you may ask? Remember his fight with Evening Standard (Associated Newspapers) reporter Oliver Finegold? Well a newspaper group with a noted history of anti-semitism chose to call Livingstone anti-semitic (a blatantly preposterous charge). He successfully fought them off, and now we’re at election time…who’s leading the pro-Boris, anti-Ken drive? Surprise surprise.

It’s really sick. I’m not saying for a moment that he hasn’t made serious mistakes (supporting Sir Ian Blair in the aftermath of Jean Charles de Menezes’ murder to name but one example – I’m sure Peter Tatchell could come up with many more), but this isn’t politics. Even his desperate opponent Boris Johnson is joining in the frenzy. Having links with a Trotskyite faction? Is the ‘Red Ken’ jibe really supposed to resonate with anyone anymore (hint: the polls suggest it really doesn’t)? Let’s also not forget that Boris’ sudden animosity against Ken is more than a little staged

Livingstone’s a maverick, was before he was elected in 2000, and has supported factions and causes which have been politically incorrect before becoming the political norm for over a generation. As Mayor he’s actually made progress in redistribution of income in a city with levels of poverty unmatched anywhere in the pre-enlargement EU. Whilst the tube hasn’t improved, much of that can be laid at the feet of Gordon Brown, whose PFI contract hasn’t exactly been an incentive to improve our underground transport! Is he a petty bureaucrat? Yes, and I don’t like it. Is he a benign dictator? Yes, by his own admission the powers he assumed in 2000 were needed in order to force through progressive changes like the congestion charge – changes which worked to the betterment of all Londoners. This is a reason to be as uncontrollably brutal against him now? I said a few weeks ago we’d get a Jacques Chirac v Jean-Marie Le Pen-type election here and it’s sadly shaping up quite nicely.

I have reservations about him on principle, after basically admitting it was ok for the Metropolitan Police to murder Jean Charles de Menezes. But I don’t agree with this character assassination which is going on right now. Is he probably a bastard in private? Sure. When did that become a bar to high office? We need to see through the ridiculous distortions of what’s really going on, and see his achievements (check out the press conference Martin Bright tries to cut through by the way, if you can make it work, and make your own mind up). If you don’t think they amount to much then vote for someone else, but otherwise grow up!

The Other Contest

Before you know it it’ll be May and London will be voting for its Mayor. Who though to vote for? Ken? Boris? Brian Paddick? Someone else? For the first time since the position was created in 2000 I really don’t know what the right answer is. In 2000 it really had to be Ken. Blair hated him before the election (thinking him unelectable) then feted him when he realised Livingstone had answers he’d already forgotten about electability. It had a lot to do with what Hillary Clinton’s trumpeting as readiness to lead – the ability to hit the ground running. In 2004 it was also Ken – he’d actually done a good job. Sure he still promised that the transport network would be improved, but he’d actually made a difference in terms of redistribution – something again which Blair feted him for but curiously didn’t learn from either.

This time we have Ken Livingstone, who again has done a great deal for the city, but now resolutely supports Sir Ian Blair – the Commissioner of the murderous, racist and homophobic Metropolitan Police. In essentially dismissing the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, Livingstone has made himself part of the problem and not the solution. I don’t know how I can vote for him again with good conscience, good Labour or no good Labour. (Alexander) Boris (de Pfeffel) Johnson for me is unelectable because he’s a Tory, but check out the rest of his background. He’s a) bananas, b) got a history of not being remotely interested in London and c) is a bit of a racist. Brian Paddick is the candidate for the Lib Dems, which should be the party I have the greatest affinity with. He used to be a deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police (which should be an immediate disqualifier for me) but he was very highly regarded outside the force, and is now totally against Sir Ian Blair.

There will be an agenda to form a grand coalition to stop Boris Johnson, and this might turn into a repeat of the Chirac/Le Pen fight in France, where it was a choice between corrupt or downright dangerous (not that I believe Ken to be corrupt). So there will be a push to vote Ken at all costs, but I don’t know. I’ll be considering Paddick, despite my hatred for his former employer.