Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is Labour Now The Party Of Sleaze?

Erminegate came like a bolt from the blue with corruption in the highest of places. Yet the government has been slow on the uptake with public reassurance of confidence in the House of Lords. That leaves the Tories to milk the scandal and turn the tables on New Labour as the Party of sleaze. 

The Sunday Times investigation which sparked off the New Labour "cash for laws" scandal came 15 years after the same newspaper first exposed the Tory 'cash for questions' scandal in the commons, swiftly followed by the Guardian

Major's government was left wide open to attack as the Party of sleaze and, waiting in the wings, Blair milked it for all it was worth to help to bring down Major's nice 'n sleazy government. 

Now the tables have turned and it's the Lords of Corruption and New Labour cronies who are firmly in the firing line. 

As the story broke on Sunday, the Orange Party asked - how many more Lords of Corruption? And there lies the problem for the New Labour government. 

Out of the ten peers approached, in the Sunday Times sting only the New Labour lords went a-leaping, with three Tory, one LibDem and an Ulster Unionist having nothing to do with it. It's a New Labour problem because the place is stuffed full of its stooges, with a direct line to over a decade of political power.

Investigations are underway into the accusations. The Tories are promising a root and branch reform. A thorough deep clean is the only way to remove the stench of corruption filling the air. But behind Cameron's message is that the Conservatives will end New Labour's nice 'n sleazy ride.

Blair's much heralded reform of the Upper House went off half-cock as he set about getting rid of hereditary peers much to the delight of the Party. But behind the scenes, Blair was beavering away creating peerages for pals, stuffing the cosy gentleman's club with more than 370  cronies.

Privileged hereditary peers gave way to political stooges rewarded with a "lordship" whose job was to serve the Party and act as a convenient way of getting non-elected pals into the heart of government and the cabinet. The rich and powerful who bought peerages with Party donations came spectacularly unstuck with the greed-fuelled 'cash for honours' scandal. 

Sadly it seems few people are deeply shocked by these latest corruption revelations. They're all at it, aren't they? And it seems to chime with the general culture of greed and rewards which is the hallmark of the New Labour years. 

But our democracy runs on two Houses - one elected and the second to act as a trusted back-stop. Without the credibility of the House of Lords, that democratic process falls apart. 

For over a decade New Labour has been digging itself into a squalid monumental hole and there's no way they can dig themselves out of it. History is set repeat itself - only now the boot is on the other foot. 

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