Labour’s decision to lend Rover Cars money in the run-up to last year’s General Election has been criticised by the National Audit Office. The NAO believes that the chances of £5.2m of taxpayers’ money being repaid are "remote".
Tony Blair has defended the emergency funding of Rover:
"We were doing everything we can, and should have done everything we can, to preserve as many jobs at Rover as possible… No-one would have forgiven us if we hadn’t gone every inch of the way to try and save the jobs. If we had refused to do that at the time, people would have been complaining bitterly."
Shadow Trade & Industry Secretary Alan Duncan is furious. Interviewed on this morning’s Today programme he said that Labour only made the loan to keep the issue from spoiling Labour’s polling day chances. He suggested that Labour would not have made the highly contentious loan if it had not been an election time. MG Rover Cars operated in the electoral battleground of the West Midlands. Mr Duncan said that Labour had used the money for political purposes and should now repay it. The Rover loan is one of the more exotic ways in which Labour has allegedly bought client voters with its supplicant state strategy.
Also on Today, John Humphreys quizzed Lord Falconer about the fact that every person who has donated £1m to Labour has ended up in the Lords. Lord Falconer was unable to defend the situation – only suggesting that the Tories behaved similarly. ConservativeHome believes that a cap of something like £100,000 should be imposed on annual donations to a political party from individuals and trade unions. It would put an end to such cash-for-peerage allegations and force the political parties to seek broad support from the whole population.