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Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

Loans and terror.

The Labour spin and smear machine has gone into overdrive following the loans for lordships scandal. Yesterday saw the Charles "No Trousers" Clarke say the following about Jack Dromey:

Charles Clarke says he has "serious questions about Jack Dromey's capacity" as Labour treasurer after the row over the £14m of secret loans to the party.

He says the fact Mr Dromey did not know about the loans meant "you have to wonder how well he was doing his work".

and today David Blunkett, in a tirade over on the Comment is Free blog:

Yet when Jack Dromey discovered his "latent anger", he was doing more than display his own pique at not having been told. After all, it was the Ides of March!

Yes, apparently Blunkett thinks that Jack Dromey was stabbing Blair in the back, as part of some attempted coup which was meant to lead Gordon Brown to the leadership as quickly as possible. Just one problem with this thesis: it's complete and utter piffle. Dromey was furious because he had been kept in the dark; he didn't inquire because he felt that those higher up were playing fair. It was only when Lord Levy's scheming came to the fore in the sunday newspapers that he found out about it. The smearing of Dromey as incompetent is reminiscent of the way that David Kelly was described as a 'Walter Mitty' type fantasist during the 45-minute furore which led to his death and the Hutton iniqury.

The government keeps repeating that nothing illegal has been done. That's true, but the simple fact that Levy asked Chai Patel (and likely the rest) for his pledge to the Labour party to be a loan rather than a declared donation shows the subterfuge which the fundraisers were indulging in. Now that Labour has published full details of all those who gave loans to the party prior to the election, we find that the one of them was Rod Aldridge, head of support services firm Crapita (sorry, Capita) which has helmed several public service disasters involving computer databases, and has numerous contracts with the government. Doubtless, this was a loan out of the goodness of his heart, and he would not have expected any favoritism in further contract bidding in return. No, that would be cynicism on my part of the highest order. The parties are now all falling over themselves to reform the system, even though they wouldn't have done anything had this not been exposed by the media. Just in case you don't believe me, Blair himself was asked about the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act back in January. Guess his answer. Not that the opposition parties are innocent, the Tories likely have even higher sums in undeclared loans (some suggest approaching £20 million), while the Lib Dems have had some loans, but only of a tiny amount.

So what does Blair do when the last tiny amount of authority he had is destroyed? Yep, he goes on another rant about foreign policy.

Tony Blair launched a staunch defence yesterday of the government's foreign policy, attacking critics for condemning terrorist attacks but failing to challenge the Islamist ideology which drove them.

In a wide-ranging and at times - as he admitted - controversial speech, he dismissed the argument that invading Iraq had spawned terrorism, insisting: "We must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress."

Yes, that's right. The United States and Britain are entirely blameless in all this. Blair can't face up to and admit that his Iraq adventure has been a disaster, that it has made us less safe, plunged Iraq into chaos and left it as a place where terrorists can be both trained and which can be used by extremists as a recruiting issue for their cause. As the Guardian leader eloquently puts it:

No reasonable person will argue with Mr Blair's demand that religious extremism - including Islamist extremism - should be labelled as such, and fought. But no reasonable person can any longer deny that extremism and hatred has been fuelled by the disastrous war in Iraq. It would be good to hear that necessary admission made out loud by those responsible for it.

And if that wasn't enough to make you so miserable about politics that you feel like using the sharp edge of the Sun to slit your throat, we have Charlie Clark stalling yet again on phone intercept evidence and saying that the case for 90-day detention without trial for terrorist suspects is still "compelling".
Even though it was kicked out by a large majority of MPs', when this government gets an idea in its head, however illiberal and indefensible, whatever the circumstances, it won't let go. It's like a dog that when you throw something for it to fetch won't then let you take the object back. Its stubbornness and self-righteousness is just as ugly as all those years of gloom under Thatcher.

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