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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who was really incompetent?

So where do I start with Peter Hain's complaint in this morning's Western Mail that the Electoral Commission is 'incompetent'?

He told MPs yesterday that he thinks the Electoral Commission needs to be much more accountable and needs different leadership: “I must say, and I won’t go into detail, I found it to be incompetent, dysfunctional and unworldly, politically.”

He added: “I just could not believe some of the things that I experienced... there are countless examples I could quote about my own unhappy experience which just prove to me that the commission has very little idea about the political world that it was regulating.”

The police did not welcome their increasing role in political investigations, Mr Hain suggested, saying: “We are in danger of following almost the American course of politics in which we just pollute politics with all this extraneous interference.”

I have said in the past that I consider Mr. Hain to be honest and a highly competent Minister but if a charge of naivety is to be levied then he must be in the queue as a recipient of that tag. After all he was found by the Standards Commissioner to have failed to declare over £100,000 of campaign donations, has admitted that he was not in control of his own campaign and was forced to apologise to the Commons for the oversight.

To be frank the legislation as drafted did not leave the Electoral Commission any choice but to refer the matter to the police. When that law was put in place Mr. Hain was in government. He and his party were the architects of their own misfortune. Essentially, Hain fell foul of rules that he and his party constructed.

Changes are being pushed for and it is not before time but it seems that the Government are not so keen. Maybe Mr. Hain's time would be better spent directing his ire at the relevant Cabinet Minister instead of hitting out at an organisation charged with doing a job without adequate powers to do it.
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