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For the past several days, while election fervor has swept America and the blogosphere, the Blair Government is under increasing scrutiny by the Metropolitan Police.

It has come to light that a number of well-heeled gentlemen allegedly swapped secret loans to the Labour Party for its recent election campaign, in exchange for peerages.

This is the big story in Britain right now, and I've only begun to follow it myself. More below the fold.

Following an arrest in July, Lord Levy, Tony Blair's main fundraiser, has admitted that he got the idea for a secret loan scheme from previous Tory governments. Undisclosed loans to political parties of over £5000 have been illegal in Britain since 2000.

Four secret donors gave over five million pounds apiece to Labour, all of whom received nominations to the House of Lords. Three arrests have taken place. The inquiries into Tory wrongdoings concluded before Halloween, and all the focus has been turned onto a handful of Cabinet ministers... and now on Tony Blair himself.

Andrew Grice writing in The Independent today:


Tony Blair is one of only two cabinet ministers who knew the party agreed to accept secret loans from rich supporters, Scotland Yard's "cash for honours" inquiry is to be told.

...

The latest twist in the Metropolitan Police inquiry could leave Mr Blair dangerously isolated. Some Labour insiders believe the Prime Minister may have been the only politician to know that the four businessmen had a financial relationship with Labour when he nominated them for seat in the House of Lords.

...

The Prime Minister has said he takes "full responsibility" for Labour's decisions but insisted that he did not nominate the four men for peerages in return for their loans.

Blair allies are worried that there is a "media agenda" to goad the police into interviewing the Prime Minister. If he is interviewed, he is reported to want the session to take place away from Downing Street to avoid humiliating television pictures of the police entering No 10. It could be held in his Commons room or at his Chequers country residence.

Also see Matthew Norman's "The quaking wretch in Downing Street":

Many of us see the cash-for-honours case in the same light as the Feds getting Al Capone for tax evasion.

This may well spell the end of the Poodle.

Bush's allies continue to vanish.

LIBERTY.

Originally posted to Yamara on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 10:13 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips to rid us of Bush's House Elf (16+ / 0-)

    "To such thinking you have only to say 'the land you loved is doomed' to excuse any treachery, indeed to glorify it." -Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories, 1938.

    by Yamara on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 10:11:28 PM PST

  •  ANARCHY IN THE UK!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marci in ca, Yamara, kraant

    FREE TRADE ISN'T FREE!

    by Intercaust on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 10:37:23 PM PST

  •  Lord Goldsmith's role (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justina, Yamara, kraant, Demena

    A recent development has been over the role of Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General for England and Wales.

    Goldsmith may be remembered as the man who changed his legal advice (after a visit to Washington and long discussions with US administration lawyers) to provide cover so as to permit Britain to go to war in Iraq. Alternatively it is rumoured that Downing Street aides of Blair wrote the advice and Goldsmith signed it. Either way it caused a perception that Goldsmith is not as independent of the Prime Minister as a law officer of the Crown is supposed to be.

    One of the Attorney General's functions is to be in charge of the Crown Prosecution Service, which undertakes most criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. As such he can decide whether a prosecution does or does not take place.

    Some people have suggested that there might be a bit of a conflict of interst if Goldsmith was to decide the fate of Blair. Goldsmith has so far declined to recuse himself, but he is taking advice from outside Counsel.

    This whole story is something the political world has assumed would die away, with the police just going through the motions of an investigation. However the investigation just seems to be slowly building and getting closer to Blair.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 10:48:15 PM PST

    •  My Brit ex-gf pointed this story out (0+ / 0-)

      While congratulating us on our regaining Congress.

      Thanks, babe.

      And thanks, Gary-- I'm only beginning to learn all the contours of the story, and it certainly has had no play over here.

      "To such thinking you have only to say 'the land you loved is doomed' to excuse any treachery, indeed to glorify it." -Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories, 1938.

      by Yamara on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 11:03:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Source for Gossip and Rumour (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yamara, bayside, kraant

        Guido Fawkes has been blogging about this investigation for some time. His most recent item on it suggests the police have or are about to speak to the following people.

        Alan Johnson - Education Secretary

        John Prescott - Deputy Prime Minister

        Alan Milburn - Ultra Blairite ex cabinet member

        John Reid - Home Secretary (Minister in charge of the Police)

        Alistair Darling - Transport Secretary

        Lord Falconer - Lord Chancellor and Constitutional Affairs Secretary (Tony Blair's ex-flatmate)

        Baroness Amos - Leader of the House of Lords

        Lord Grocott - Labour peer

        Charles Clarke - former Home Secretary (before he had to resign for being rubbish in the 'we let foreign criminals go at the end of their sentence without deporting them as the courts ordered, because it was too much trouble to keep track of them and do the paperwork scandal', which Clarke did nothing about despite being warned it was a problem)

        Margaret Beckett - Foreign Secretary

        Geoff Hoon - Ex Defence Secretary, demoted to the well earned obscurity of Minister for Europe

        Patricia Hewitt - Health Secretary

        Gordon Brown - Chancellor of the Exchequer (and almost certainly Prime Minister next year)

        Paul Murphy - Former Northern Ireland Secretary

        Hilary Armstrong - Former Chief Whip now Social Exclusion Minister

        Peter Hain - Northern Ireland and Wales Secretary

        Hilary Benn - Overseas Development Secretary

        Ruth Kelly - Local Government Secretary

        Ian McCartney - Former Labour Party Chairman

        Tessa Jowell - Culture, Media and Sport Secretary

        Jack Straw - Former Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons

        That is a large part of the cabinet, apart from Tony Blair. Not that it is likely that many of them knew anything. The loans for peerages operation was very much a Downing Street project, but I suppose the police are eliminating all the possible red herrings before speaking to Mr Big himself.

        If you want to explore Guido Fawkes archives (for such fascinating side issues as the unfortunate fire at Lord Levy's office, which is tragically suspected of having destroyed some records) try the link.

        http://5thnovember.blogspot.com/

        There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

        by Gary J on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 11:44:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's George's idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yamara

    or maybe Cheney's.
    Their reach to destroy other governments is unquenchable. It just stinks of the Neo's, doesn't it?

    This reminds me of the dispensations that the Vatican hands out for a 'contribution'.
    Thing is, all sorts of titles have been given out in the past for hefty contributions. This probably goes back as far as royalty does.

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

    by BoxerRebellion on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:09:37 AM PST

  •  History (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yamara

    This is a historic device British rulers have used to raise funds.

    King James I, in the early seventeenth century, used the sale of titles as a form of taxation. A subject who was rich enough was obliged to buy the appropriare level of title.

    Jacobean joke. Two men approach a camp where some travellers have stopped for the night. One of the travellers asks another "are the newcomers gentlemen"? He answered "no, only knights".

    Okay so it is not a good joke, but I am sure it would have the drunks laughing at any Southwark tavern in about 1610.

    Fast forwarding to the First World War, David Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister. He has the political problem that the Liberal Party organisation and funds were still controlled by the official leader (H.H. Asquith) who Lloyd George has just overthrown.

    How could Lloyd George raise funds fast. Why not exploit the rich men, whose wives would very much like to be known as Lady Whatever. They had money, Lloyd George could get them titles. So what if some of them had dubious reputations and the King was unhappy about handing out baubles to them.

    Lloyd George sold titles through a broker Maundy Gregory.

    After Lloyd George fell from power in 1922, the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 made it a crime to offer peerages for money. Maundy Gregory went to jail although on his release he began selling papal honours. Lloyd George was not prosecuted, but his reputation was damaged.

    Maundy Gregory is the only person so far prosecuted for the offence, but British governments (more discreetly than Lloyd George or Blair) have long been accepting donations and giving donors peerages.

    The trick is to maintain plausible deniability that the campaign contribution had anything to do with the honour. The Blair regime may have failed to cover its tracks as well as the Conservatives traditionally have.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:38:57 AM PST

    •  There is a difference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yamara

      People expect such behaviour of the Conservative Party, but the Labour Party is supposed to be made up "of the people," i.e., working class. In fact, New Labour seems to consist of nothing but professional politicians, none of whom have any connection with the workers.

  •  Ahh justice is sweet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yamara

    If britian is getting caught bribing you can bet US bush is too...Have heard rumors that judges did this..Cant wait to clean house, we deserve better..

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