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"#Purple Hain, purple Hain..."

The possibility that the “think tank” that Peter Hain’s rogue £103,000 was channelled through is phoney is an intriguing one. The Progressive Policies Forum doesn’t even show any signs of thinking; it does nothing but exist—even “sentient tank” might be stretching it—while it appears that the funds went into the PPF and were transferred out on the same day, which, by a bizarre coincidence, looks an awful lot like money-laundering. In fact the only thing that mitigates against the PPF having been set up purely as a slush fund is that, as this article says, “that seems unlikely. It's difficult to see how any rational person could ever think it would work”—but that’s not a defence I’d want to rely on in court. I can’t help but be reminded of when, in the mid-1990s, the Tories were found to have set up unconvincing front companies to launder their own donations. Note to the faithful, though: just because this was a shifty, unscrupulous Tory habit does not make it okay for Labour to do it too.

Apparently, because Hain initially declared that he had received £82,000 in donations to fight for the deputy leadership, he had to fork over a mandatory 15 per cent (£11,550) to the Labour party. When he eventually revealed the existence of the extra £103,000, he suddenly found himself owing the party 15 per cent of that as well—around £16,000. He is said to have “no immediate plans” to cough this up, as would most of us if suddenly faced with a similar unexpected bill. Then again, Gordon Brown himself has been lax in paying his 15 per cent to the party—he appears to have paid £0 of the £32,355 he owes—but in his case there will doubtless be a perfectly sound, principled reason for this, as opposed to the “incompetence” he has ascribed to his own minister this afternoon.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
To be scrupulously fair, Brown hasn't been channelling money to himself through front organisations. Incidentally, when we're talking about money that Hain and Brown haven't paid to the party, we're not talking about money in their actual pockets are we? Is it their private offices, or what? I find all of this sort of thing annoyingly unclear in the press.

What puzzles me about the whole PPF thing is that no one who's donated to it seems particularly dodgy or questionable, so why not just let them donate publicly? There is apparently some question about whether companies that donated consulted shareholders, as they must do under electoral law, so perhaps that's it.
Jan. 16th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
> What puzzles me about the whole PPF thing is that no one who's donated to it seems particularly dodgy or questionable, so why not just let them donate publicly?

You and everyone else. In the absence of anything more solid, Guido, above, and others have pointed out that Willie Nagel, a diamond trader, and Isaac Kaye, a former supporter of apartheid who has been investigated for ripping off the NHS, are two of Hain's donors. Trying to veil their involvement in order to protect Hain's left-wing credentials may seem like a flimsy reason for setting up a front company to funnel money through, but as a theory it currently has the advantage of actually being some sort of reason.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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