Leading article: Help us with our inquiries, Mr Blair

Share

The Prime Minister will no doubt say today that he cannot comment on the suggestion that he tried to sell peerages. As we report, that did not prevent him meeting Sir Gulam Noon, one of the millionaire lenders he unsuccessfully nominated to the House of Lords. It can only be assumed that one of Tony Blair's purposes was to try to minimise the political damage caused by the affair.

The ongoing police investigation should not be used as an excuse to avoid legitimate questions. The important facts are well known, because they have been reported - especially by The Independent on Sunday. The purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether anyone has been foolish enough to cross the line from the simply reprehensible to the unlawful, by breaking the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, which bans the sale of peerages.

We know that, with Mr Blair's approval, millions of pounds were raised in secret loans for Labour's election campaign last year - exploiting a loophole in another law. Many of those millions were raised with the possibility in mind that the lenders would be raised to the peerage. This connection was probably never made explicit. It is, as Mr Blair's tiny band of defenders point out, how British governments have long conducted themselves.

The Prime Minister was therefore in the hypocritical position of trying to get round the very safeguards of the new, cleaner politics for which he tried to claim credit. Not only did he avoid the requirement to disclose donations by having Lord Levy encourage people to make loans instead, but he sought to keep this information from the independent commission he set up to vet nominations to the House of Lords.

One question that Tony Blair needs to answer, not just to police officers but to the nation, is how Labour's chief fundraiser came to be advising the party's donors on filling in the forms needed for nomination to the peerage. If the Prime Minister nominated Sir Gulam, Chai Patel, Barry Townsley and Sir David Garrard to the House of Lords for reasons independent of their financial generosity to his party, why was Lord Levy involved?

At some point, either as part of the police investigation or afterwards, Mr Blair will have both to explain and apologise. It might as well be today.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there