Monitor: Labour and sleaze

Reflections on the allegations of misbehaviour levelled at members of Tony Blair's government
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The Independent Culture
Sunday Telegraph

IMPRESSION AND image assume overwhelming importance to a Government whose success has been based on successfully manipulating them. And the prevailing impression is starting to be that "Tony's cronies" are selling control over the formulation of Government policy to the highest bidder. "We must be pure," the Prime Minister said. The purest form of democracy remains the parliamentary system, difficult as it may be to rouse public enthusiasm in defence of this institution.

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The Times

THE DRAPER episode reflects the culture of a political party that has been propelled to office by the energy and dynamism of a small clique of advisers. If the investigation into the activities of special advisers exposes wrongdoing, the culprits should be dismissed. Whatever the case, if Mr Blair really wants "to clean up politics", a noble objective, then he should begin very close to home.

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Daily Telegraph

HOW CAN Mr Robinson justify being a Treasury minister in a government pledged to clamp down on the use of tax havens, when he himself is the beneficiary of a Guernsey trust exempt from UK tax? And how on earth can he reconcile this with his proposals to restrict the tax breaks available on everybody else's savings? Throughout this whole affair, Mr Robinson seems to have gone to great lengths to comply with the letter of the rules, rather than their spirit. That might be permissible for a businessman. It is not good enough for a minister.

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News of the World

RON DAVIES blames his downfall on an error of judgement. But it was more than that. It was a betrayal of trust. Blair showed great faith in the man when he promoted him to Secretary of State for Wales. He considered him the right man for the job and gave it to him in the belief that he would honour that trust. Instead Ron Davies betrayed his party and dragged politics into the gutter.

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The Sun

BLAIR'S GOVERNMENT used to be as pure as snow. Now a part of it has drifted. Geoffrey Robinson faces another inquiry into his business life. The Paymaster General is accused of 13 breaches of company law. He remains innocent until proved guilty but if he is a man of honour he should withdraw from office until the probe is complete. Otherwise, Trade and Industry supremo Peter Mandelson will have the embarrassing task of sitting in judgment on a fellow Minister.

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Birmingham Post

IT IS almost impossible to believe that Blair's spin-doctors were not aware of all the issues surrounding Mr Davies's departure. Indeed, the Welsh Secretary was accompanied by the Prime Minister's press secretary when he gave his one and only television interview on the subject. That being the case, Downing Street's intimations of ignorance sound more like attempts to deflect questioning.

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The Guardian

OUR VIEW remains that Peter Mandelson was guilty of vanity rather than venality and that since the source of his funding - a loan, not a gift, was from a ministerial colleague rather than an outside businessman, it hardly plumbs the depths of the Tory years.

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Daily Mail

MR BLAIR came to power promising an end to even the appearance of sleaze. Yet from the Formula One imbroglio to Geoffrey Robinson's labyrinthine financial affairs and Mr Mandelson's bizarre mortgage arrangements, that "purity" has often seemed less than pristine.

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