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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Harman in trouble

Has Harriet Harman been hung out to dry by the Prime Minister? The Guardian reports that Labour's deputy leader and party chairwoman, is clinging to the support of Downing Street after it emerged that her deputy leadership campaign took money from the woman who had acted six times as an unlawful conduit for funds secretly given to Labour by a businessman. Harman took £5,000 from Janet Kidd to pay off her campaign debts, and yesterday repaid the cash after she apologised to the cabinet for her error.

However, not only has Gordon Brown made it known that he turned down a similar donation but at yesterday's press conference he only expressed his personal confidence in Harman after seven requests to do so by journalists. It is the sort of loyalty and support that a failing football manager might expect of his club chairman.

What is becoming clear is that the Prime Minister is not in charge of events. The scandals over Northern Rock, the missing 25 million HMRC records, QinetiQ and now the dodgy donations are all dictating his agenda and pushing him onto the back foot and judging by this piece on Liberal Democrat Voice there is more to come.

Mark Pack congratulates Baroness Jay for her perceptiveness in spotting that donations from Janet Kidd were not all they appeared. Mark concludes however by pointing out the obvious discrepancy:

It does all leave one odd inconsistency though. According to Baroness Jay, David Abrahams approached her about donating “discretely” (i.e. via Janet Kidd). Yet according to Gordon Brown in his press conference today, it was Janet Kidd who approached his leadership campaign to donate funds (and was rejected, even though at the time she was on record as being a major Labour donor). Why would David Abrahams have approached the Harriet Harman campaign personally but the Gordon Brown campaign via an intermediary? Life is sometimes messy and inconsistent; or is there more to come out on this?

Gordon Brown still has many questions to answer both about this affair and also as to when he is going to reform political funding so as to limit spending and the value of people's donations? It seems to me that the introduction of an element of state funding is the only way to restore the integrity of the political process.
Nor can she expect much support from the Labour membership, after she made all the right noises about Trident and Iraq during her deputy leadership campaign, then backtracked when the post was in the bag.

"She's now unsaying or denying she ever said everything she said in the election apart from man and woman balancing act." as one contributor to Labour Home puts it.
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