So, no one will be going to gaol over the Cash-for-Coronets affair.
This came at a perfect time for Mr Frown, since it drew a line under the time of Lord Blairimort on the same day as the Ealing and Sedgefield by elections showed that Mr Frown was a WINNER in his own right.
(Only a CYNICAL READER could think that he
This outcome is not terribly satisfactory for either the people who were accused OR for the people who thought that the probably DID IT – which probably explains the level of HYPERBOLE that both sides are employing.
For those who think that Lord Levy and chums were in it up to their perma-tanned eyebrows, the failure to attempt a prosecution smacks of "they did it but we've not got enough evidence to prove it". Hence we get cries of COVER UP and wails of WHITEWASH!
For the four people who were arrested – plus the ex-Prime Monster who wasn't – they are left without the opportunity to clear their names, their reputations besmirched because people think there's "no smoke without fire". Can you honestly put your fluffy foot on your fluffy tummy and say you could treat them as INNOCENT UNTIL PROVED GUILTY? This means we get over-excited over-the-top claims of VIRTUE and accusations of GESTAPO TACTICS and a WITCH-HUNT.
Fluffy Mr Sir Alan Sugar off the Apprentice came on the radio to say: "look, I know nothing at all about this case and I haven't looked at the evidence but my mate Lord Levy was a bit upset so you're all fired!"
Another object lesson in how NOT to react to the news came from the Labour now-ex-minister Mr Dennis the Menace McShane who was on the Newsnight Show within minutes of the story
Sorry Mr the Menace, but "TERRIBLE TORTURE" involves the CIA sticking you on an INVISIBLE JET out of Heathrow and handing you over to the SAUDI SECRET POLICE no questions asked. Nor does the nagging worry that the police might find the secret documents that prove that YOU ACTUALLY DID IT really compare to the more imaginative photographic poses of the Abu Ghraib guards.
Mr the Menace also wanted us to be looking at ways to stop jumped-up little oiks from the Scottish Nasty Party having the right to – horror – write to the police asking them to investigate what PRETTY OBVIOUSLY looked like seats in the House of Lords Club being sold for ready money disguised as "loans".
As Mr James points out, though, it is not like the Labour didn't do anything wrong – on the hidden loans, they merely got off on the technicality of their offence not having been made illegal at the time they committed it.
Having a CONFUSION between what is ILLEGAL and what is WRONG seems to be quite common in this business. BBC interviewers on the subject would just keep on proceeding from the point of view: "Well, we all know that this is how political parties raise their money, and this sort of thing has gone on for hundreds of years."
Well, for hundreds of years people used to pour their SEWAGE straight into the THAMES and that was NOT VERY CLEVER either. And that caused a BIG STINK in PARLIAMENT too!
(But isn't it just TERRIBLY BRITISH to be less worried about the people who can apparently BUY POWER over us and more worried about the people who cause a FUSS complaining about it!)
SURELY this must mean that it is time to consider the two REFORMS that would put an end to this sort of blatant patronage and the corrupting influence of cash: making the House of Lords Club PROPERLY democratic and sorting out how we finance political parties.
Certainly that is what Sir Mr the Merciless has been saying.
Party funding is a TRICKY ONE.
Political Parties cost money to run – all those leaflets don't just photocopy themselves, you know – and that money has to come from somewhere.
People intrinsically dislike the idea of their tax money going into the pockets of politicians to fund them being political. Not least because most people do not seem to WANT political campaigns forced down their throats anyway!
They often say: "if they're own members can't support them then they're not worth supporting."
It seems VERY ODD, though, that loads of people ALSO complain that the two big parties are VERY NEARLY THE SAME, and yet they both seem to be able to raise shed loads of DOSH.
There are two ways to do this. One way is from the party members: membership fees, appeals, raffles, cheese and wine parties, all the usual.
The other way is to attract money from rich people… from VERY VERY rich people[*]… people who generally want a FAVOUR in return.
[*]Of course, the Labour ALSO raises money from the Trades Unions. Unions are supposed to be a way for a massed workforce to get a political voice – in negotiations with their bosses, or in negotiations with the government – by teaming up and having a few people speak for all of them. They can also pool their money so that their spokespeople can ACT like they are VERY VERY rich people, although (theoretically) in the interest of their membership.
(In the old days, Trades Unions used to offer PROTECTION for their members in return for some of their wages... there is a name for this process but it eludes me at the moment.)
The point still stands about them wanting a favour in return.
That favour could be POLITICAL: maybe a government that recognises that they have lots of money already and want to keep more of it, or some (other) ULTERIOR motives – wanting to keep gay-daddies off their busses; wanting to teach made up stories about the creation of living things; or just wanting to float Great Britain PLC… as far away from the continent of Europe as they can manage.
Or it could be a QUID-PRO-QUO sort of favour: the power of patronage – you scratch my back, I'll give you an ermine-coated-tickling-stick for yours – that is as old as the hills. In fact, "the hills" are among the things that the King used to give away in return for support from his barons. In those days, you had to do as you were told by your OVERLORD because he was the toughest in town and in he in turn would do as he was told by the OVER-OVERLORD all the way up to the king – this was a system called FEUDALISM which is Olde English for BULLYING.
So generally they are using their money to either buy something for themselves, or to buy a government with polices for themselves.
But this cannot be good for a DEMOCRATIC system – having a party owe more (in the case of loans, LITERALLY owe more!) to a SMALL number of VERY VERY rich people than it does to the LARGE number of ordinary members.
Could it be that certain VERY RICH people (or Trade Unions) only give money to the Labour and the Conservatories (or even BOTH) because they think they might win and be good for a favour later, rather that because they believe in the policies (or lack of where the Conservatories are currently concerned) of those parties?
Democracy depends on people having a wide choice of policies and picking the ones they think are the best. But this COSY SYSTEM seems to keep choices down to the minimum, which is handy for the VERY VERY rich people – they COULD place an each-way bet on the Labour and the Conservatories and whoever gets in, they would get the same policies and be owed the same favours. This is called WIN-WIN!
Which brings us back to the policy of paying for political parties from the public purse. Golly, what a lot of "P"s!
But how do you divide up the money? Say you give out cash on the basis of the parties turn out at the last election – doesn't that AUTOMATICALLY mean you are giving the biggest share to the party that is already in government. Is that really the way you want to bias the system? Or suppose you give a flat allowance to any party standing: that would be a million pounds each for the Labour, the Conservatories and the Liberal Democrats… but also for the British Nasty Party… or the "Eat at Cath's Caf" Party! Indeed, don't we have deposits for elections precisely to STOP frivolous or self-interested people abusing the political system? But how do we tell the difference between the "Save with the Woolwich" party and the "Save St Mungo's Hospital" party?
In any case, SOMEONE would have to decide which parties get what money and, whether that's the government or a commission of the "Great and Good" or even the National Lottery People, surely that is CENTRALISING control over politics: taking power AWAY from people and letting some arbitrary authority decide which parties – and which POLICIES – get talked about and voted on.
And who are we to BAN people donating to political parties if they want to, anyway?
So, wouldn't it be a BETTER ANSWER to try and make sure that party funding comes from the largest numbers of people based on their own individual preference.
You could put a VERY LOW CAP on an individual's donations: how about five-thousand pounds in any one year, with perhaps a larger limit for bequests – say one-hundred thousand pounds (because Daddy says you could invest that much for around five-thousand pounds a year in interest). That way the parties' funding depends on the BREADTH of their support and no small group of individuals can bend the party out of shape.
The other thing would be to cut down on the amounts that parties SPEND, and be much more strict about it! It seems obvious to me that you would need fewer million pound donations if you were spending fewer millions of pounds on getting elected. The OBVIOUS thing to do is to say people cannot have advertising on billboards – that would save TONS of money! Another good thing would be if all the party leaders could agree to cut down on the amount of travelling around the country in aeroplanes and battle busses that they do; that would be good for the election's CARBON FOOTPRINT too!
Anyway, no doubt Lord Blairimort will be VERY RELIEVED to have got away without a spell in the SLAMMER over this.
"Well, you known, I never doubted… that we'd have the right outcome," he said. "After all… I could always grant myself a Royal Pardon."
Now that this is over, he can get on with his new job of bringing about the APOCALYPSE as Envoy of Death to the Middle East.