Saturday, April 01, 2006

PC Plod and Tony Blair

The inquiry by the police will come to nothing. It is a nice fantasy: Blair bundled out of Downing Street with a hood on his head, pushed into the back of a Black Maria, and driven away at speed, with outraged members of the public running after the vehicle shouting abuse. Back at the station he is roughed-up (sorry, he “falls down the stairs”) before being thrown into a cell – where the only other occupant is, yes, David Cameron sporting two black-eyes. No, I just can’t see it. The British way is to sweep such things under the carpet. Here’s what will happen: the police will say they have found no evidence to sustain a prosecution; there will be some further reforms of election law; and the apparatchiks will immediately start pondering how to get around the new regulations. I suppose in all honesty it is hard to prove the sale of peerages. I have no inside knowledge of how such things work, but I’ve always assumed that the Prime Minister (or his minions) didn’t actually say to Sir Lotsa Moneybags “if you give us £2 million we’ll make you a Lord”. I had always assumed that the PM or minions solicited the donation (or “loan”) and then in a very Sir Humphreyish way expressed “how grateful” the PM was for Sir Moneybags’ largesse, and how such generosity “would not be forgotten” or some such more elegiac version of “nudge-nudge-wink-wink”. Nothing is actually said about the exchange of money for honours because nothing actually needs to be said: everyone knows “what is going down”. The Prime Minister can then argue – risibly – that Sir Moneybags is being made a Lord not because he donates to the party, but because of his sterling work on behalf of the Battersea Dogs Home. The fact that he donates to the Labour Party should not, the Prime Minister will say, be a disqualification; it should not mean that his work on behalf of stray dogs should go unrecognized. And that Sir Moneybags’ company was awarded this astonishingly lucrative PFI contract (which no one able to add-up could possibly regard as value-for-money and for which the taxpayer will pay through the nose for decades) also has nothing to do with his donations or loans: his company simply made the best bid, the contract was awarded on a purely commercial basis. Of course, it is all nonsense (and the fact that the PM makes such an argument shows the utter contempt in which he holds the voting public): the connection between donating (or “lending”) money and obtaining a peerage is too close to be coincidental. But proving, in a court of law, that it is a corrupt exchange is another matter. We know it is a corrupt exchange, and I suspect that they know that we know, and they probably think that we know that they know that we know. But hey are also saying to us: “so what? You can’t do anything about it”. Nothing can be proven, and – to coin a phrase – the “chiselling little crooks” with get away with it.


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