Bill's Archived Comments

Monday, 19th March 2001

This is my first comment page for a couple of months; there will be a break again for the first couple of weeks of April, but I hope then to resume regular comment.

Labour Sleaze

'New' Labour came to power in 1997 with a promise that no sleaze would be tolerated and that if any was found it would be dealt with swiftly. This promise was brought into play swiftly with the revelation that a donation of £1 million had been made by Bernie Ecclestone, the 'voice' of Formula 1 racing in Britain, just at the time when the new Government (as it was at the time) had reversed a pre-election promise to outlaw cigarette advertising on track. This revelation brought about the swift return of the money, but of course the changed policy remained - it would have been too embarrassing, I suppose, to reverse that!

Now we have the involvement of Keith Vaz MP in apparent sleaze involving cash payments - this story continues and I will cover it more fully in later comments. Several Labour MPs are now either calling for him to resign or for him to clarify aspects of the charges against him.

Not forgetting of course Sir John Reid, currently Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and until recently Secretary of State for Scotland. It was alleged he had diverted funds to Labour party use and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and Privileges, Dame Elizabeth Filkin, had so found . She had also accused him of attempting to use intimidation and threats to stop inquiries into certain aspects of the allegations and that he had failed to cooperate, but instead had been obstructive. Her findings were simply over-turned by the Labour-dominated Parliamentary committee.

The common thread with the Vaz case? Again the Labour-dominated Parliamentary committee ignores her findings.

Like many other things about this 'New' Labour Government, it is all talk and no substance. Mr Anthony Blair, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, cannot expect to avoid questions about his judgement, which at the very least appears to be sporadically non-existent.

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