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Monday, 27 October 2008

Not only is the PM wrong, but also ...

From today's edition of Her Majesty’s Telegraph:

Gordon Brown backed Lord Mandelson and again called for an inquiry into the "illegal" approach by Mr Osborne.

The Prime Minister told BBC Scotland: "This was an issue where someone had tried to get a donation from a foreign citizen and that is unlawful. It is clearly unlawful. It's in the legislation of Parliament that it's unlawful to take, or solicit, or even to further the objective of acquiring foreign donations.

"That is the issue and that is what has got to be investigated and I know that the Electoral Commission has been asked to do it, the Parliamentary authorities. It's a matter for these authorities, it's not a matter for me."

Sorry, Gordon, there is no offence of soliciting an illegal donation, merely of accepting one. Equally, there is no offence of trying to “further the objective of acquiring foreign donations, although a "person commits an offence if he— (a) knowingly enters into, or (b) knowingly does any act in furtherance of, any arrangement which facilitates or is likely to facilitate, whether by means of any concealment or disguise or otherwise, the making of donations to a registered party by any person or body other than a permissible donor.”

It should be obvious that you can’t enter into or do any act in furtherance of such arrangements unless there actually is a donation. Furthermore, for their to be a donation, there has to be a willing donor, apparently not the case here.

But just to clarify a few points, foreigners are quite entitled to make donations, they just have to be registered to vote, which is how Lakshmi Mittal was able to donate £4,125,000 to the Labour Party. And not all UK nationals may make donations. They have to be registered to vote. They should be registered but not all of them are. If a political party asks a UK resident person to make a dontaion and he/she does so, but the party later discovers that the donor is not registered to vote and returns the donation, the party is not guilty of an offence.

So Gordon, you are wrong on many points and right on none. Some might say you are making political capital by accusing an opponent of an act which he denies, but the reality is that you have used your authority and media profile to accuse another person of a crime that does not exist.

That is not the behaviour of a gentleman, or even of a Prime Minister. But then as we have long known, you have no class.

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