Sunday, 20 January 2008

Hain Out

Peter Hain's position is getting weaker by the day, he has even been called incompetent by Gordon Brown, which of course questions the competence of the prime minister. As a long time anti-Tesco campaigner its interesting that some of this money has been said to come from Tesco, who have in the past claimed not to directly fund political parties. They have sought to buy influence by sponsoring conferences and ingratiating themselves with the three big parties, this time they seem to have been caught with their trousers down.

The Electoral Commission said they wrote to Mr Hain, at the beginning of his campaign, outlining his obligations and his duties relating to the declaration of donations. The letter explained to him that he was legally responsible for his campaign, and it was his responsibility to ensure that all donations were declared within 30 days of receipt. Forms were provided for him or his team to do just that. All these forms had to be signed by him personally. Indeed, we know he received the forms, because he did declare some donations in May.

So Peter Hain has no excuses, he had been duly warned about his legal responsibilities but he chose to ignore them. Being 'too busy' is not a valid excuse even for a child who's not done their homework, for a cabinet minister its worse than his silence.

Hain's fake think-tank is a concern, it appears to have been used deliberately to launder the donations as they didn’t do any thinking or indeed tanking. Its often the cover up that looks worse than the mistake, just ask Bill Clinton.

Interestingly Hain already has a criminal conviction for conspiracy, during his trial he elected not to give evidence. Lord Justice Roskill finding him guilty emphasised "He gave no explanation of his part over the incidents with which he was charged." It was this experience that presumably helped provide the basis for his book, Political Trials in Britain.

In another legal case, Donna Easter, a 32 year-old single mother of two who worked in Mr Hain's constituency office in Neath, took him to an industrial tribunal - she allegedly was paid £35 for supposedly a 15-hour week. Hain was not at the hearing in Cardiff, despite his desk at the Welsh Office being only 300 yards way. Another mcavity impersonator, like his boss Mr Brown who likes to disappear when the going gets tough.

Rachel Davies, the tribunal chairwoman, said: "It is unfortunate that Mr Hain is not present today to put his side of the case". The tribunal found unanimously in her favour and she was awarded compensation. Similarly Hain again stays silent when he is up to his neck in it, as speculation grows.

Donations to his deputy leadership campaign had been made by Neville Allport (CEO of Picture Financial), Steve Morgan (whose lobbying firm represents Tesco) and Mike Cuddy (Managing Director of Cuddy Group)"

The Sunday Times reports members of Hain's campaign urging him to quit. The rumblings in the rank and file don't sound any better. Looking around the Labour blogosphere there is no comfort for the embattled Hain.

Highbury Tim McLoughlin has questions, "If he is unable to run his own small office effectively, how can one expect him to properly manage the Department for Work and Pensions?" Susan Press, a Labour Deputy Mayor, writes The "bogus think-tank" is the last straw, she doesn't believe a word he says. Andrew Coates complains "that he has the gall to explain away his gaff of trousering a mere £100,000 by means which would get him imprisoned were he to do the same as a Claimant under the system of his own Department of Work and Pensions... Meanwhile Hain is found out as Mister Well-lined Pockets himself."

The whole Labour Party leadership campaign funding saga is turning into a farce. Under the Labour Party's own rules he must pay 15% of the campaign funds raised into central party funds. Gordon, unlike all the other candidates, has not paid any funds over to the party according to the Electoral Commission. All the other candidates, including even Peter Hain, made their payments months ago. Does Brown have the minimal competence required of a party leader, to ensure his campaign follows the party's own rules?

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