Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Labour general secretary resigns over donations scandal

Labour general secretary Peter Watt has resigned in the wake of the 'proxy donations' scandal. He admitted he was aware of the arrangements used by David Abrahams to 'launder' money into the Labour Party under the names of others.

Now we learn that David Abrahams also uses the name 'David Martin', specially when planning applications are being applied for. The whole affair begins to stink to high heaven. Read a little more about this enigmatic character here.

Listening to the Labour stooge on the 'Today' programme this morning (a woman - I don't recall her name, I'm afraid) say how 'shocked' she was by the revelations of their law-breaking was quite funny. She insisted they thought they had a system in place to vet thoroughly all donations - checking that the person donating actually lived at the address given and appeared on the electoral register. The fact that the donor lived in a type of property and in an area of a city where the ability of the resident to provide regular donations of the level and frequency of those ostensibly given by Ray Ruddick ("I can't stand Labour - I can't stand any politicians") and Janet Kidd was unlikely, unless they had other sources of funds. I'd have thought that significant, regular donations from such sources perhaps required some further clarification just to be sure that the money was 'clean' and not just 'laundered' (quite a good joke -eh?!) as it turns out to be, by someone who claims to be a 'very private person', but uses another name to apply for planning permissions where Labour Party people have a say in granting permissions or not. The truth is that the Labour Party's so-called system of checking the source of large donations it receives is so full of holes as to be hardly worth the name! I think the whole reason for this lackadaisical attitude to compliance with laws they have enacted themselves is ideological - any socialists I have ever met seem to beleive the 'justice' of their cause is so obvious to any person of good will that any possibility of cheating by one of their members is so unthinkable to them that they do not actually do any proper checking at all. For example in the organisation I worked for I had to certify, in writing, on a regular basis that certain things had been done or had happened as a normal routine part of my professional activity. Fair enough. What if I hadn't actually done what I'd said I'd done, though? Simple - every so often there were both internal audits and external audits of our activities in great detail; it is fair to say that the internal audits were a great deal more 'forensic' than the external audits, because the consequences of things being discovered later in an external audit would be extremely serious for the organisation itself as either laws might have been broken or shareholders deceived. No system is ever absolutely foofproof, but it needs to be sufficiently robust so that more than a casual scrutiny does not reveal it to be completely illusory. Labour's problem is that it seems to 'assume' its people act honestly, openly and conscientiously, but does not actually do any checking to see that this is the case, nor (it seems) are the people who act on its behalf required to certify, in writing, that they have carried out its own internal rules.

PS/ In an amusing aside I note that the visitor stats for my post on this matter yesterday show I received a visit from someone using the Electoral Commission server - let's hope their in-depth investigation of this sleaze goes a good deal further than looking at what random bloggers are writing. Can I suggest an independent audit of the Labour Party's accounts? Maybe if I'm visited by the Electoral Commission again they'll see this comment and follow it up, or am I being naive and over-optimistic?

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