I agree with Fraser Nelson. Francis Elliott’s piece in this morning’s Times, is a perfect summary of the last week’s donor scandals that have engulfed Gordon Brown. I particularly enjoyed this section:
"Behind the scene No 10 aides are furious at the Harman camp’s attempts to pass the blame on to Mr Brown for her involvement in Labour’s donations scandal. Mr Brown had his competence and integrity called into question by David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions over his admission that a controversial property developer used proxies to channel money to Labour. Now, as the cracks begin to show after six days of pummelling over the David Abrahams affair, the Tories can claim that Mr Brown’s administration is not only bungling and sleazy, but divided to boot."
Mr Brown wants to move on from his troubles by proposing reforms to the whole system of political funding. He wants to use this opportunity to increase state funding of political parties. The Labour machine is already trying to embroil the Tories in its mess by launching attacks on how the Conservatives receive money. Lord Ashcroft inevitably and the Midlands Industrial Council are in Labour’s mind.
“This morning’s speech is a pretty opportunistic attempt by Gordon Brown to erect a smokescreen around events of the past two days. David Cameron wrote to him in October urging major reforms to party funding and a cap on donations, Gordon Brown refused because he didn’t want to give up on the multi-million pound financing from the trade unions. His decision to pick up the issue again today must be more than an attempt to divert attention away from party problems. The other real concern about this morning’s comments is that it looks like he’s trying to find ways of giving himself greater political advantage. He wants to cut campaigning by his opponents in marginal seats whilst continuing to use tax payers’ money to give his MPs a communication allowance to spend in those same marginal seats. It also looks as if he’s set on protecting big trade union donations whilst putting limits on everyone else."
Even if Labour did reform the laws governing party funding, does anyone believe that they are competent or honest enough to abide by them?
Editor’s comment: "This is dangerous for Labour. If the Conservatives choose to oppose extra state funding of political parties (as they should), Labour’s attempt to extract even more money from the taxpayer will cause new public fury. The Tories should be doing much in the meantime to increase the proportion of funding they receive from individuals. The Canadian Conservatives would be a good example to learn from."