Thursday 29 November 2007

And so, the time has come ...

OK, Charlie Gordon has agreed to take the rap for Wendy Alexander's dodgy campaign donations.

Let's see - today Labour wheeled Charlie out to take all the blame. He said

I asked for a donation from Mr Green, and he asked me to ensure that it was in line with the rules. I handed the donation on to the campaign team and conveyed to them that it was a donation under the auspices of Combined Property Services and that Mr Green had a controlling interest in the company. Unfortunately I was wrong in both these assumptions. I acted in good faith and I deeply regret the fact that this has happened and that Wendy Alexander has been in any way been implicated.
Unfortunately, last night, Tom McCabe said

Paul Green was invited by one on the Campaign Team to make a donation as
a longstanding Labour supporter. As required by the rules we made inquiries
about permissibility and indicated to him that only a UK resident or UK registered company could donate. The registered donation was a UK corporate one. The allegation that a donation was accepted and returned is untrue. We acted in good faith at every stage. The Electoral Commission has been kept appraised.
So let's see - Tom McCabe - Wendy's campaign manager says the campaign team made inquiries about Paul Green's donation, found out it was dodgy and asked him to make it in a different manner. Labour's most senior people in Scotland are in this up to their necks.

The questions still remain about who donated the rest of the money, what happened to the money when there was no election, and how many people are encouraged to donate to Labour in a similar manner.

Brian Taylor was asking in his blog why the story, which has been running since Sunday, was not nailed down before lunchtime today. Good question Brian - was it to allow them sufficient time to get to Paul Green and ask him to agree to a statement matching the one Charlie Gordon was forced into? This is part of what he said:
In August of this year I was asked by Mr Gordon to donate £950.00 to Wendy Alexander’s campaign to become leader of the Scottish Labour Party. I asked Mr. Gordon if this complied with the Electoral Commission Rules and was told that it did. Relying on that confirmation I made the donation from my personal account. I have the greatest respect for Mr. Gordon who was an excellent leader of Glasgow City Council.

July 18th 2004, The News of the World ran a story about Paul Green and Glasgow City Council (this was before Charlie replaced Mike Watson as MSP for Cathcart - while Charlie was still leader of Glasgow City Council).

In that story, it was pointed out that Green had given Glasgow City Council £1 million - just two weeks after the council had approved his plans to redevelop part of the city centre (Buchanan Street). The deal was expected to net Green some £400 million - and the council would be compensating owners in the area for handing over land for redevelopment.

Paul Green's donation to Wendy Alexander's non-campaign was less than £1,000 out of £17,000 she raised - surely now she'll be revealing the rest of her sources?

Brian Taylor's blog goes on to ask:

Is Charlie Gordon, alone, culpable? Should there not have been closer checks made? By Tom McCabe, the campaign manager? By Wendy Alexander herself?
Mr McCabe says the money will be returned. He says, without offering this as an excuse, that electoral law is now exceptionally complex.
Yes, they were responsible for checking that the donation was allowed, not Charlie Gordon. In fact, they made clear themselves in their earlier statement that they knew they had to check.

Electoral law isn't complex at all - it's very, very simple, and it's explained in simple terms by the Electoral Commission. That's how Labour knew to keep the donations under £1,000. That's how they knew to say they'd used a company based here. That's how they got caught.
From what I was hearing today, there's more to come on this - more will out!

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