If the Independence of the United Kingdom as a Sovereign Nation State is not enough, then the corrupt nature of the Labour Party and its quest for everlasting power ought to be enough to tip the balance.
I hold no brief whatever for the Conservative party of 1990-1997. It was, by and large, entirely the author of its own misfortunes from the top down. Not that we then knew of John Major getting his leg over the deeply unappetising Edwina Currie. Instead the Tories’ headlong plunge to perdition had been begun by the Regicide conducted against its most successful leader ever as Heseltine and others of his ilk gathered in the shadows around the Prime Minister and plunged the dagger repeatedly into her back. Black Wednesday may have been its coffin but it was surely individual acts of sleaze that were the nails in that coffin.
When John Major made his ‘back to basics’ speech to the 1992 Conservative Party Conference, it was the first time that I had considered a Tory leader to be both mad and ludicrous at the same moment. I had been around enough at The Bar, both in criminal law and family law to be well aware of the inherent weaknesses of both men and women to know that such an appeal was utterly doomed the moment he made it and that this was simply an open invitation for the press to highlight each and every self-evidently hypocritical act or utterance made by any Tory MP.
The ‘nails’ were:
- David Mellor’s extra-marital affair with bit-part actress Antonia de Sancha (c. 1992)
- Tim Yeo’s extra-marital affair resulting in him fathering a “love-child” in 1993
- Michael Mates’s resignation as a Minister of State following allegations he had accepted cash and gifts from the fugitive businessman Asil Nadir(1993)
- Stephen Milligan’s accidental death by auto-erotic asphyxiation on 7th. February , 1994
- Michael Brown’s involvement with a then-underage man in 1994, and his subsequent implication in the ‘cash for questions’ affair.
- Neil Hamilton’s alleged acceptance of ‘cash for questions’ from Mohammed Al-Fayed in 1994
- David Ashby discovered to have shared a bed with a man on a trip paid by expenses. Ashby was married at the time.
- Jonathan Aitken’s alleged procurement of prostitutes for Arab businessmen, their payment of his Ritz hotel bill, and his subsequent conviction and prison sentence for perjury after the resulting libel trial in which he unsuccessfully attempted to sue The Guardian over the story.
- Graham Riddick’s entrapment for, and acceptance of, ‘cash for questions’ in 1994.
- Hartley Booth’s amorous, unreciprocated pursuit of his secretary in 1995
- David Willetts’s disciplining by the parliamentary ombudsman over his intervention in a parliamentary enquiry in 1996
- Piers Merchant’s affairs with a night club hostess, and his researcher in 1997
I set them out in extenso, not because I want lovingly to rake over them again but as a reminder of what lay behind them, which is to say that each of these incidents had at their heart either sex or money, all of which were either for personal gratification or enrichment. None of this had at its heart the sustainment of the governing political party in power.
Such personal gratification has been not been absent from the sleaze of the Labour Party, indeed there has been plenty of it. The cynic might say that they spend too much time thinking up new ways to stab one another in the back to think of bed and pocketbook. The most notable feature of Labour’s corruption, however, has been that of raising money and fixing the rule book so as to help keep Labour in power in perpetuity.
I do not propose to look at the entirety of Labour’s sleazebaggery – it is deeply extensive, far too large for this blog but you can savour the rank putrefaction of their corruption here or here if you have a mind to do so – but to concentrate for a moment on the raising of money for the Labour Party.
We had an early flavour of the nature of Blair’s corruption when the seriously rich Bernie Ecclestone gave Labour a bung of £1 million almost as soon as labour had got into power. This was all about tobacco advertising, Ecclestone’s Formula 1 Empire having been founded on a veritable mountain of lungs diseased with cancer from smoking. An EU wide ban on tobacco advertising was in the offing: surprise, surprise, the EU wide ban was modified in the UK.
Of this tendency the cash-for-peerages scandal has been a singular demonstration of the proposition that for the first time since the Reform Act of 1832 a Government party has been actively engaged in a systematic round of the giving of favours of one sort and another in order to secure the funds to pay for its operations and for elections. Who can doubt that the fund-raising operation of Labour in the run up to the 2005 election and its aftermath was one designed to put people into the House of Lords in exchange for money for the party and that every effort was made to conceal the facts from parliament and People?
In addition the Labour Party has been second to none in its abuse of the electoral system for party advantage. Thus it turned the 2001 and 2005 elections into something akin to that which might be found in a Banana Republic, with arrangements for absentee ballots in particular being abused, culminating in a court case in Birmingham which set out in stark terms the extent to which Labour supporters brought the skulduggery more redolent of the Indian sub-continent to our democratic process.
That they have no shame concerning these things is amply shown by the report of an independent Canadian gentleman, Ron Gould, an elections expert from Canada.
He has had a long hard look at the shambles that passed for a democratic election in May 2005 in Scotland. Of this process he says:
“What is characteristic was a notable level of party self-interest evident in ministerial decision-making (especially in regard to the timing and method of counts and the design of ballot papers).
“In considering the circumstances surrounding the planning, organising and implementation of the elections, the voter was treated as an afterthought by virtually all the other stakeholders.
“Voters were overlooked as the most important stakeholders to be considered at every stage of the election.”
Though he does not say this was a Labour-only problem, making the point that in an election there is an obvious and natural tendency for a political party which wants to win as many seats as possible to try and bend the democratic process in its favour, his report effectively points the finger at Labour in general and Douglas Alexander in particular.
Alexander, brother of new Scots Labour Leader Wendy Alexander, presided over this fiasco. It is at his door that the principal complaint of acting for party advantage at the expense of the interests of democracy and the individual electors is laid. In a government which had any sense of propriety or shame, his resignation would have been on Gordon Brown’s desk yesterday. It is not, nor is it likely to be for he is both a Brown lickspittle-crony and in charge of Labour’s election campaign. For him to lose his head would involve casting out one of Brown’s own props and admitting that its own campaign chief had been guilty of Banana Republic tactics. Whatever we may think, Labour will never admit to crimes of that kind: rather the culprit will soon be promoted as a reward for sticking like glue to office.
Other manifestations of Labour’s corruption may be found in its voting an extra £10,000 to every MP in a clear move to help out its own MPs in marginal seats who are becoming increasingly aware of the skilful channelling of money to their Conservative opponents by the Tories whilst at the same time trying to abolish that very same funding, notwithstanding their concurrent shameless refusal to stop similar Union sponsoring of individual MPs.
Be under no illusion: Labour is corrupt in a way that no other party has been in modern times. Their aim is clear: power today, power tomorrow, power for ever. And on the way we will grind our opponents into the dust. The threat to democracy is clear.