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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Things go from bad to worse for Hain

This morning's Guardian reveals that Peter Hain may well have in excess of £100,000 in undeclared donations still to report to the Electoral Commission. The paper understands that there are almost 20 donations that his team failed to declare, in breach of the rules for party political elections.

This means that Hain spent around £200,000 on his fifth-placed Deputy Leadership campaign, well in excess of the other candidates and twice as much as the successful Harriet Harman.

It is difficult to understand how such an oversight could have occurred. The scale of the non-declaration suggests not so much chaos within the Hain campaign as organisational meltdown. The Guardian though has another explanation:

His critics will suggest that he was reluctant to give details of some of the donations because he did not want to reveal that his left-leaning campaign was dependent on business support. He will also be asked whether some of the donors thought their identities would be kept private.

Hain will reveal the names of all the undisclosed donors to the commission, but the GMB union believes that it donated between £15,000 and £20,000 of the unrecorded cash.

Nearly half the donations appear to relate to the period after the closure of the campaign and half to the period after Steve Morgan, a lobbyist, was brought in by Hain to run the operation in a switch of tactics in the summer.

Hain and his supporters accept he is legally responsible for reporting donations to his campaign, but other people on his team were charged with sending details of cheques to the commission.

There is no evidence that Hain sought to break the law and he has already admitted "deeply regrettable" administrative failings.

David Cornock yesterday caught up with Phil Taylor, who ran Hain's campaign before leaving following disagreements with Steve Morgan. Mr. Taylor was very clear as to who is to blame for the problem:

"What I think is very sad is that I know Peter incredibly well. I've worked for him for a number of years and consider him to be a friend and the Peter I know would have had nothing to do with any of this. He is one of the most straightest, honest, decent men that I have ever met and I just cannot understand what went on in that campaign but I can only assumed that decisions were taken by his campaign manager that he knew nothing about because the Peter that I know would never in a million years have ever accepted any donation and not declared it and not followed the rules and in that sense when Peter says there was chaos, that must absolutely be true. That chaos has to be the responsibility of the person running the campaign and that was Steve Morgan."

As far as Peter Hain's career is concerned the next few days could be crucial.
You know when you've been tango-ed
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