Anorak News | Lord & Paymaster

Lord & Paymaster

by | 20th, March 2006

”I’M bound to say not all the information is out yet, and we’re still looking at it.’ So says Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in his customary obfuscating manner.

‘Sold to the man in the ermine coat’

But whatever more information needs to come to light, and whatever members of Labour’s national executive committee discuss when they meet tomorrow, how can it be that Tony Blair thought accepting loans from people who wanted to be members of the House of Lords would not look iffy?

Especially those loans to the party totalling £4.75 million made by four businessmen who were all subsequently nominated for awards.

The House of Lords’ Appointment Committee has blocked all four nominations, but damage has been done. As the Telegraph says, a poll for the Sunday Telegraph showed that 70 per cent of voters now thought Blair’s Government was as “sleazy” as John Major’s “or sleazier”.

The paper also notes how a poll in the Sunday Times showed that 56 per cent thought Mr Blair had given peerages for money.

And this is hardly the first time money has made the Blair Government look grubby. The Guardian looks back at “A history of sleaze”. It notes that Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone once gave £1million to Labour “in return for the sport being exempted from the ban on tobacco advertising”.

Of course, what with this being the left-leaning Guardian, Tory sleaze (and there’s a rich vein of it) is touched upon, and readers are reminded of Neil Hamilton, Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken, the latter two ending up in jail.

There is little to no chance of Blair being sent to prison, although the idea of Tony and Cherie doing a Neil and Christine Hamilton and becoming stalwarts of daytime TV is not entirely fanciful.

But whatever happens, it all smells. And Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has picked up the sickly scent.

As he tells the Times: “The problems have come because of a lack of honesty and transparency in some of the arrangements that have been made. Obviously the loans should have been made public and have not.”

He goes on: “This Government is clearly in danger of attracting the sleaze label that was so clearly pinned on the previous government.”

And they only had Norma Major…’

Posted: 20th, March 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink