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Thursday, March 16, 2006 

Does Blair really think anyone believes him anymore?

Another day, another lie by the Dear Leader. At his monthly press conference he said the following:
At his monthly press conference this lunchtime the prime minister, Tony Blair, said he knew about undeclared loans to the Labour party made by individuals who were nominated for peerages but denied they were linked.

"It shouldn't be one in exchange for the other, and it wasn't," he said. He said he took "full responsibility" for a situation in which Labour accepted three loans understood to have totalled £3.5m to help fund the 2005 general election.

No, of course not. In the same way that Lord Drayson, now a junior defence minister, won not only a government contract to provide a smallpox vaccine, but was also ennobled. Guess what he did? Yep, you've got it, he made a large donation to the Labour party. It's really rather strange that all 3 of the men that gave undisclosed loans to the party just happened by coincidence to be nominated to the House of Lords after the election.

To add insult to injury, the Blairites have been briefing against Jack Dromey, who dropped a bombshell last night when he went on both Channel 4 News and Newsnight to say that he had only found out about the loans at the weekend. Dromey is the party's treasurer, and the one that stands up at conference to explain the finances. The Blairites felt that it was a timed attack due to it coming just as Blair had the humiliating experience of seeing his school reforms passed thanks to the support of the Tories. This is despite Dromey's partner Harriet Harman being a cabinet minister, although she is acknowledged as being something of a Brownite. (Her notorious Freudian slip on Question Time, when she said "since Gordon Brown's been prime minister" hasn't helped matters.) Dromey was not only fuming, he was also incredibly honest when questioned at length by Jeremy Paxman. His answer to a lot of them was simply "I don't know."

The loans to Labour seem to have been arranged by Lord Levy (chief fundraiser and Blair's tennis partner) and former general secretary Matt Carter. Downing Street was kept informed, but no one seemingly bothered to tell Dromey, despite the finances being his responsibility, even if he isn't the main one in charge.
The main riposte to the criticism directed was up until today that Labour believes the Conservatives have had up to £25m loaned to them. The Liberal Democrats have declined to state whether they have had any undisclosed loans, which mostly means yes. With the shit finally sticking to Blair, and with the Tessa Jowell affair hardly having faded away, sleaze is back in fashion again.
"I am prepared to have the rules changed but they have to be changed for everyone and not just the Labour party."

"It's clear it would have been more sensible if loans were treated in the same way as donations," he said, adding that no rules on party funding had been breached.

He said he had spent "some time reflecting" on the rules surrounding the funding of political parties and announced plans to "move very quickly" to a situation where "the right of the prime minister to nominate directly for honours", is removed, and the cabinet secretary proposes the honours direct.

"We will look at taking the politics out of the honours system," Blair said.

"There is not a single party leader I have come across that doesn't dislike the fact that you have to raise money for our party, but you do," he said.

He later said a reform of the nominations for working peers would not be complete until the reforms of the House of Lords were concluded.
So in other words it could yet be years, as Labour promised to reform the House of Lords back in 1997, only to have so far managed to remove around three-quarters of the hereditary peers. I imagine that Blair will at least keep the power until he decides to bugger off to write his memoirs and do the speech circuit in America.

Blair then has yet again promised to do the least he has to to get himself out of trouble. It's becoming a habit, as he blindly believes Tessa Jowell's story that she knew nothing about anything of her husband's dealings, despite signing the mortgage deals. Still, how can you force a minister to resign over it when you personally have sold peerages for loans? The longer Blair stays, the more people will abandon Labour.

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