Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Reporting sleaze

It appears that John Redwood is also aware of the contrast between how the BBC is reporting the current Labour sleaze stories with the wall to wall coverage and invective in the 1990s when reporting Conservative sleaze.

Forgetting that in comparison to this government's antics those of the Major government were mild indeed, the coverage is very different in tone.

Here are some of the points John Redwood makes, please do go and read the rest of the article...

" also remember that the BBC was willing to glorify little known Tory backbenchers who had made a mistake or were the subject of allegations as “Top Tories” caught in a “sleaze row” or just in “sleaze”. Experts were wheeled out to tell us it was a government in crisis. Tory interviewees were subject to endless interruption and innuendo, as the party was confused with the individuals.

How different it is today from the BBC. Labour’s Chief Whip Mr Hoon is allowed to tour BBC studios to make statements about how it will all be sorted out in an enquiry, and how the government is moving quickly to show it is a model of probity, without interruption or innuendo. The BBC does not line up experts to comment on the seriousness of the possible criminal charges, or the seniority of the Labour figures involved. Nick Robinson is an honourable exception, as he is doggedly trying to get to the truth....

It was a failure to register the true donor of large sums of money that led the Prime Minsiter to admit that the party he leads had broken the rules. The first defence mounted was that the General Secretary - Labour’s own senior Compliance Officer - did not know the rules and was resigning because he and he alone had made the mistake. Many in the press doubt that only the General Secretary knew of the arrangement. The testimony of Hilary Benn, Margaret Jay and Harriet Harman - and their respective assistants - will be important in working out just how many people did know.

Today the position has been made worse for the PM by the revelation that his own fund raiser, Jon Mendelson, wrote a letter to the donor Mr Abrahams implying he too knew he was an important donor. This takes the whole issue that much closer to the doors of the PM’s study....

We should not lose sight of the reticence of the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears yesterday to answer questions how the decision was made to grant planning permission to Mr Abrahams. If the PM knew on Saturday of the problems, Hazel Blears and her department had some time to find answers to the obvious questions MPs and journalists were going to ask, but so far has not done so. The sooner she can give us an authoritative statement on how this was handled the better as far as the government is concerned.

There is also the question surrounding the gift of monies to intermediaries to pass it on to the Labour party. How have these transactions been accounted for? Are they all tax free transactions? Were there agreements in writing given the size of some of the sums involved? Why did the intermediaries agree to do it, as from their point of view it could prove to be all hassle and no reward if they received nothing in return for their deed?"

All good points and raising questions that need answering, somehow I doubt that Gordon's review will do this to my satisfaction..

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