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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oh, Watt?

I was shocked to hear last night that Peter Watt had been forced to resign as Labour Party General Secretary.

Peter WatthehellsgoingonWe were both recruited as constituency organisers at about the same time in 1996 - in fact for a couple of weeks after he started we were based in the same building in Battersea, with Peter as Battersea CLP Organiser and me upstairs working for Anita Pollack MEP.

I think the same of him now as I did then - that he is a serious, highly professional person totally dedicated to the Labour Party. His swift and dignified resignation is a measure of the principled person he is. And what a hero to have kept the little secret to himself and not told Dianne Hayter and the rest of the NEC about it - thus allowing a great many snouts to remain visibly clear of the trough this morning.

Howard Hughes on a rare trip outdoorsPeter was a genuine man of the people - a New Labour man almost (but not quite) able to utter the phrase "working class". When he succeeded Matt Carter as General Secretary in November 2005 he said: "I have been committed to the Labour party all my adult life as the route to ensuring a better life for the hardworking majority in this country. Oh well, "hardworking majority" is the best you're going to get from us, even if by definition it does include company secretaries, jobbing builders and millionaire property developers. Oh - and solicitors, as in one John McCarthy, whom it appears this morning was used as a cover-up for further donation totalling over a quarter of a million pounds.

One thing I'm really p****d off about today is discovering that David Abrahams apparently didn't donate any money to Chipmunk for her Deputy Leadership campaign. I would have thought that, as they are both from north of Watford, the generous philanthropist would have bunged her some wonga. But instead, he appears to have funded the campaigns of the two eventual southern front-runners, Harriet Harman and Hilary Benn, the latter openly and the former through secretary Janet Kidd.
In my dreams I have a plan, if I got me a wealthy man...Mamma Mia!
I haven't got a clue how Peter - or his officers (who Dianne says knew nothing of these arrangements) - came to believe the Abrahams donations through third parties were acceptable (in either sense of the word). But I believe him if he says he thought they were. After all, the fact that not a single commentator in Britain believes that he could not have known that what he was doing was wrong doesn't mean that I shouldn't back him up, does it? After all, he's a serious, highly professional and totally principled person dedicated to the Labour Party.

I simply cannot understand why the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alistair Graham, has described Peter's claim to be unaware of the regulations governing political donations as "bizarre". Nor can I understand his comment that Peter's resignation might not bring the matter to a close: "Breaches of this particular piece of legislation, I think, are classed as criminal offences and therefore I don't know if the Electoral Commission will seek to bring the police in." Surely he knows full well that Jack Straw will stand solidly behind Peter Watt during this difficult period. As far as I'm concerned, there's more chance of me being arrested on charges of Hackney Council vote-rigging than of Peter Watt being arrested on charges under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act.

As for Mr Abrahams, I'm sure that his desire to remain anonymous was simply due to him being a very private and reclusive man, who only liked to turn out in public for special occasions such as Tony Blair's resignation. I don't believe for one moment that there was any link between the political donations and the Durham Green Business Park as so many newspapers are claiming this morning. Despite the fact that Ray Ruddick and Janet Kidd are the two registered Directors of the company set up to develop the site, Durham Green Developments. And despite the marketing of the site as ideal for the relocation of thousands of civil service jobs from London.

It's all just a horrible coincidence, being whipped up by Tories, LibDems, socialists, libertarians, swimmers and cyclists to look like a misdeed. Well, launch an enquiry, I say. We'll be proven innocent, just like we were last time. And the time before.


Jason Langbart said...

It's not often that I agree with Guido Fawkes, but Watt should be jailed and Harman should resign. It's a bloody disgrace.

Myrtle Twingie said...

Fuck New Labour - I'll die before I ever vote for you bastards again.

Pussy Galloway said...

What power has law where only money rules

I'll donate £10 to your selection fund Lukey if you can tell me who said that

Luke Akehurst said...

Gaius Petronius, c.66 AD. Don't send the selection fund donation directly - get your secretary, builder or solicitor to pass it on to me.

Anonymous said...

Lib Dem acting leader Vincent Cable said Mr Brown had gone "from Stalin to Mr Bean" in a matter of weeks.

I love it!

lord london fields lido said...

Myrtle, I couldn't have put it better myself. That said, I never voted for new Labour in the first place.