...a blog by Richard Flowers

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 2945: Peter Vain fights for social justice and the vulnerable (i.e. him)

Oh, Mr Peter Vain, how we have missed you… like a heliotrope-hued hole in the head!

Has losing his cushy ministerial job… and his OTHER cushy ministerial job… cured him of his magenta-manicured megalomania and made him a better person? Let us see…

No sooner has he been found GUILTY of "serious and substantial failures" to report the thousands of pounds donated to his brilliant total success doomed campaign to deputy-lead Hard Labour, than up he pops in the Grauniad to document his STRUGGLE to clear his name.

A clue for you, you old firebrick-brushed fraud: it's a struggle BECAUSE you are GUILTY!

"Not a penny went to me, not a penny came from taxpayers…"
…he begins. Oh dear, that is two errors in two clauses, this does not bode well.

"Not a penny went to me": it was spent on YOUR campaign, Mr Vain. It was spent with the intention of YOU being the beneficiary… even if your humiliating second-to-bottom place may suggest that it was a complete waste of money.

"…not a penny came from taxpayers": well it DID, because EVERY person who donated money to your campaign has to have been a payer of UK tax (or you are in ANOTHER whole heap of trouble… just ask Mr Wendy/Ms Douglas Alexander). What you MEAN is that your little vanity project was not funded from general taxation, the taxes that we pay to the Government for, well, all the OTHER vainglorious schemes that they inflict on us.

Vanity project, Mr, er, Vain? Yes! Given that, of the six candidates, five of them – you included, Mr Vain – were standing on virtually identical manifestoes… given that the PRIZE for winning (for anyone other than Mr Frown's heavily tipped preferred candidate of Postman Pat) in this little exercise in throwing a "FAUX-democratic" bone to the recently-deprived-of-a-proper-leadership-election-by-Mr-Frown's-ascension members of Hard Labour's proletariat was a TOKEN job and a LOLLIPOP… given that it wasn't about EITHER power OR policy… it is a BIT difficult to characterize this INTERNAL Hard Labour JOB INTERVIEW as an exercise in the VITAL POWERS of democracy.

It really was more about buffing up your brown-basted ego, wasn't it, Mr Vain.

And of course it was a much, much bigger waste of money than any of the other candidates because Mr Vain raised far, far MORE money than any of the other candidates: in fact his £180,000-£200,000 in donations is more than half as much as the about £370,000 raised by ALL the other candidates PUT TOGETHER.

Mr Vain's self-justifying non-apology continues, between bouts of maundering self-pity, with efforts to throw mud at other Parliamentarians, muddy the waters of political accountability, excuse Hard Labour for making bad laws and finally abandoning the Rule of Law altogether!

First the muck-raking:
"This year alone between February 20 and June 30 there were 172 donations, totalling £783,574, which were reported up to seven years late by MPs, including the Tory leader, David Cameron, the Liberal Democrats leader, Nick Clegg, and the now the London mayor, Boris Johnson."
This is an INFURIATINGLY UNSOURCED accusation, both in the Grauniad and on Mr Vain's own web page – have these people never HEARD of HYPERLINKS?!? – because I should really like to know how MANY of the six-hundred-and-fifty-plus MPs are included in this report.

Because you see, it is a bit DISHONEST to mention a REALLY BIG number and then a REALLY LONG time to be late and then CHERRY-PICK just three names to blame. He makes it LOOK like Mr Balloon, Mr Clogg and Bojo the Clown have had it away with quarter-of a million a head. Or even THREE-quarters of a million EACH.

Taken as an average, those 172 late declarations out at £4,556 each – which is a tidy sum, but not in remotely the same league as Mr Vain's £100,000 blooper. Whereas the way Mr Vain makes it come out, it looks like he's only doing what others have done.

There might be some case for complaint that the treatment of different people under this law does not seem to be proportionate, and certainly it's fair to wonder why the Baronet Oboe seems to have avoided even so much as a trip to the naughty-step.

But even if smearing your political opponents with "THEY DID IT TOO, N'YER" wasn't deeply UNATTRACTIVE, the idea that a new law is a BAD law because it has caught lots of people seems… BIZARRE rather underdescribes this conclusion.

Anyway, next on to buck-passing:
"We need to be able to share the responsibility of complying with the current complex rules. Busy MPs (in my case also holding two cabinet jobs at the time) should be able to appoint compliance officers – especially for internal party campaigns – with similar legal obligations to agents in public elections."
This is INTERESTING – to say the least – because according to the Electoral Commission, the MAIN reason that Mr Vain got away with not going to PRISON was because
"…regulated donations were not reported to the Commission on time. However, they have said that Mr Hain was not the person responsible for reporting the donations, and that it is not possible to prove that anyone else involved with his campaign was responsible."
If anything, surely this means that reform ought to be the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Mr Vain suggests, pinning the responsibility MORE FIRMLY to the individual MP, not less. Yes, of COURSE she or he should be allowed to employ a compliance officer (or bookkeeper) to keep track of the paperwork. Goodness, the House of Commons could even afford to PAY (yes, shock, horror, etc). But the RESPONSIBILITY should never be palmed off on a civil servant or functionary.

Then we have the covering of Mr Frown's bottom:
"this experience has underlined to me just how vulnerable all those in public life are, thanks to the unintended consequences of what was well-meaning legislation by Labour to clean up political funding under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000."
There's almost TOO MUCH here to cover. I mean why limit the victims of "unintended consequences" to those in public life. There are plenty of examples of private citizens (or indeed NATIONS, if you happen to be Iceland) being victimised by Hard Labour's unstoppable torrent of "well-meaning" legislation.

And what exactly is the meaning of "well-meaning"? Because under the circumstances, and given Mr Vain's "examples" above, "well-meaning" seems to be meaning "meant to get the Conservatories".

How DEEPLY EMBARRASSING for Hard Labour to discover that their own members were as venal and untrustworthy as the Conservatories. Only, it turns out, the Hard Labour CANNOT be embarrassed. How else can you explain Mr Vain's unspeakable GALL?!

And so finally, away to La-La Land:
"But my fundamental conclusion is also that the police should never have been brought into politics as this flawed legislation (repeated in the new bill) has done."
As one of the commentators remarks, someone really OUGHT to pass that memo on to the Hopeless Secretary, Ms Jacquie Spliff.

But HONESTLY, if that's your fundamental conclusion then your fundamental conclusion is that politicians should be ABOVE the LAW! (How can I claim to be surprised that a Hard Labour apparatchik thinks this way!)

As a CONCLUSION, that certainly has FUNDAMENT in it.


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