Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If the money goes to the Treasury it's win-win for Brown

There is no doubt about, the laws that dictate what should happen with illegal donations is utterly bizarre. We now have a situation where the Labour Party has cashed money to the tune of £600,000 and the rules say that the money must not be paid back to the donor but instead to the Treasury. This is outrageous enough when it happens to any party, but when it happens to the ruling party what you end up with is a win/win situation.

OK, so Brown will not be able to use the money to pay for 'Vote Labour' posters, but it can be used for the Government's public relations output. The CoI is already a super-sized propaganda outfit through GNN putting out half-truths and reannoucements, and now they could, in effect, be set to get a little extra cash care of Mr Abrahams.

State-funding of political parties is a silly idea, but allowing the state to seize monies that should be given back to the source is even worse. Where the party in trouble is not in power it means that they effectively aid the Goverment's budget, and when it's the party in power it's a little like just moving it from one bank account to another but where the signatory is the same.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

tiny bit slow on this one, dizzy. and don't get me wrong, i am a fan

dizzy said...

Not following you. What do you mean slow? If you mean on the news story then the simple answer is that this is a piece of opinion.

David said...

When you bear in mind the cause of the problem, it's not so bizarre. Labour are in trouble because they simply failed to take seriously legislation they brought in specifically to screw the Conservatives. As such, the fact that the Treasury takes the money fits perfectly-as far as Labour were concerned, they simply envisaged the poetic situation for them of taking money given to the Conservatives for, ostensibly, themselves.

excalibur said...

When drafting laws, all possible circumstances have to be catered for. In this case the law proscribes donation by proxy, presumably in the interests of transparency. You'd assume that someone who went along with being a proxy donor was in cahoots with the original donor, either that, or incredibly stupid. If someone gave me £25,000 and then asked for a cheque with the payee blank, I certainly wouldn't give it to them, because it smells of something up. The cheque could be used to pay for all sorts of things I wouldn't want to be associated with and possibly be hopelessly incriminating, and this is hardly the way honest people do business anyway. Being unwise isn't a defence in law.

So, given that payment by proxy to political parties is illegal, what do you do with the illegal donations? Returning them to the donor isn't a disincentive. In this case Abrahams could choose to make the donations in his own name and the proxies, whose motives are unclear, could do the same, or give the money back to Abrahams to pay out again as political donations.

If the funds are forfeited, they go into the Consolidated Fund, which is huge, so they are a drop in the ocean. Yes, they can be used in sly ways to promoted the ends of the government in power, but it makes hardly any difference. I suppose more imaginative ways could be found to deal with the confiscated funds, but dumping them into the Consolidated Fund doesn't seem that bad to me.

Anonymous said...

Would you rather the dosh went back to Abrahams so that he could then give it again by legal means?

mitch said...

Perhaps they should burn it! giving it to this lot amounts to the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Clearly it shouldn’t go back to the source, because the source cooperated in an illegal act (and the source might ultimately recycle the money to the party that conspired in accepting illegal funding).

Perhaps the Lottery Good Causes fund would be better, although even that is effectively raided for use on government spending these days.

flashgordonnz said...

It isn't win-win if the Tories can remind the electorate from time to time about funding irregularities and how the money was “confiscated” and turned over to Treasury. Or other such emotive words/phrases. “Forced to surrender the money to Treasury”, etc.

Okay, so the kremlin gets to spend it. But I doubt Liarbore will draw attention to it.

dizzy said...

IN answer to the question I think it should just go back to the donor, the same as I did when UKIP had their problems. I don't think the state should get it is all.

Anonymous said...

To return the money to the donor would mean it was in effect an interest free loan.

A loan would be as illegal as a gift if the lender is disqualified from giving.

For the recipient to be deprived of all benefit from an illegal donation interest must be paid to the Treasury as well as the Principal

nick said...

Could it end up being laundered back to the Labour party through the unions via the "modernisation fund"?

Chris Paul said...

Dizzy doesn't like the state to have any money at all ever you see ... but this is a little bizarre given what didn't happen to UKIP.

Perhaps Labour have asked for this arrangement to try to slow down the DA mayhem machine which has a place back on the Guardian front cover again "today", Thursday.

mike said...

"If the money goes to the Treasury it's win-win for Brown"

And us surely, he's not allowed to keep the money for himself, you do realise that don't you ?

dizzy said...

Oh for fuck sake, the literalists have arrived :rolleyes:

Chris, my comment about UKIP was meant in relation to the fact that I said at that time as well that it was wrong for the Treasury to take money from impermissible donations. That is all.

Praguetory said...

Labour have a legal obligation to pass the money to the Treasury, but (especially in the light of the Guardian's story today) they have a moral obligation to return the money to Abrahams/his proxies.

I think that the intention of the law is to serve as a double whammy for breaking the law.

slow said...

"Slow" - opinion is obvious, much shared publicly elsewhere already, and most people's first reaction to old news. I know you're perfectly entitled to write what you like and what you think on your blog whenever you like, but as a fan, I was just commenting this was a bit of a slow-off-the-blocks post for you.

Man in a Shed said...

Dizzy - I suspect this whole affair from time of the electoral commission, politicians time and of course our favourite police time will have cost the state more that £600,000 anyway.

Nothing the state does is ever cheap - after all its other peoples money !