Wednesday, 22 October 2008

A Question of Judgement

Keeping the press busy with holiday gossip for a second day while the pound goes into freefall was always going to be a challenge - but Gordon Brown has stepped up. Fresh from avoiding Cameron's question three times at PMQs today, he called for an enquiry by 'the authorities' into Osborne's behaviour which he describes as 'very serious indeed'.

He doesn't seem to know which 'authorities' or specify which behaviour - and neither, apparently, do his lackeys

So let's try and help him out. The law in question says this:-

Offences concerned with evasion of restrictions on donations

(1) A person commits an offence if he—

(a) knowingly enters into, or

(b) knowingly does any act in furtherance of,

any arrangement which facilitates or is likely to facilitate, whether by means of any concealment or disguise or otherwise, the making of donations to a registered party by any person or body other than a permissible donor

1. I'm no lawyer, but I doubt very much that hypothesising about a donation, setting out or testing the legal obstructions to a course of action, amounts to an "act" in furtherance of anything. Even in Brown's Britain.

2. A careful reading of the statements from both sides would suggest that - if anyone - the principal intermediary, the man doing the facilitating, who introduced all the relevant parties, who brought the UK companies into the Corfu discussion, and who (apparently) broke the news in a September phone call of a possible donation by Leyland was none other than ... Nat Rothschild.

3. Even that has it's limits - the board of Leyland are free to make a donation on behalf of the company, and so they should be. The political environment in Britain directly affects all their stakeholders... employees, creditors etc. - not just to their controlling shareholder wherever he may be domiciled. They are a company, a UK taxable entity, and they are a legal donor - so long as the board arrive properly at a decision to donate from the company's own resources.

So the question of the day must be - what on earth does Gordon Brown think there is to investigate? Why does he think that this is a very serious matter?

Doesn't this all say more about his judgement than that of Osborne?

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