Andy McSmith's Diary: Another fine mess caused by political donations
Members of Tony Blair’s political fan club did not disappear when their champion, David Miliband, lost the contest for the Labour leadership. They remained grouped around a think-tank called Progress, bankrolled by Lord Sainsbury, who was the party’s biggest individual donor in the Blair years.
Leaders of the big unions do not care for Progress. Paul Kenny, the head of the GMB union, was threatening to deploy his union’s block vote to have Progress banned from the Labour Party. An internal document by Unite identified the struggle against Progress as a battle for “Labour’s soul”.
So there will be glee in union offices at the news that Progress has been fined £6,000 by the Electoral Commission because it unknowingly accepted money from Lord Sainsbury when he was not on the electoral register. That is illegal. The campaign group Movement for Change was caught out in the same way and fined £5,500.
The publication of the latest batch of political donations, received in the last quarter of 2013, produced the usual ding-dong, with the Tory chairman, Grant Shapps, berating Ed Miliband for being dependent on union money, while Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Michael Dugher, focused on the number of big donors to the Conservative Party who have wined and dined with David Cameron.
Neither side mentioned that the figures included the biggest political bequest left in someone’s will in history. It was £769,227 bequeathed to the Tories by Mrs Violet Baker, from Birmingham, whose surviving relatives are furious. She was from a Labour-voting family, and her relatives claim that she had no strong political opinions but left her money to the Tories out of spite.
Throwing cold water
In Hampstead, in London, the actor Robert Powell has joined a residents’ protest against a plan to introduce £15m-worth of new flood defences, by increasing the height of the banks between the ponds on Hampstead Heath. “I am bewildered by any suggestions the ponds are unsafe. They have been here for 300 years and there has not been one incident,” he complained. Robert Powell played the title role in the 1977 film Jesus of Nazareth. He probably thinks water is stuff you walk on.
It never rains for Cameron
Immediately before David Cameron’s appearance on Radio Devon today, listeners were treated to a track by the band Wet Wet Wet. Most appropriate.
Not paying court
Nick Clegg is still refusing to reinstate Lord Rennard, the former Liberal Democrat accused of sexual harassment, and Lord Rennard, who denies the accusations, is still threatening to take the matter to court. Hence this comment from Labour’s shadow leader of the House, Angela Eagle: “I understand that Lord Rennard is trying to sue the Liberal Democrats so that he is allowed to rejoin the party. He must be the only person in the whole country who would take legal action to become a Liberal Democrat.”
Le Figaro announces that a forthcoming Paris exhibition will feature a fauteuil de volupté, a contraption that enables couples to copulate comfortably in any position imaginable, even if the man is carrying surplus blubber. According to the blurb, it was used by “Édouard VII, prince de Galles et fils de la reine Victoria”. So why is it not on display in Buckingham Palace?
Next week is not only the school half-term; MPs also have a week off, and so this column will take a week’s break, too. Back the week after
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis's funniest (and most memorable) quotes
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
German conservatives are destroying Europe with austerity, says economist Thomas Piketty
Man dies instantly after shooting firework from top of his head
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...
£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...