Are we really in the Brown stuff?

by Stephen Tall on October 12, 2006

Those two well-known friends of the Lib Dems, The Times and Iain Dale, are once again enjoying making hay from the party’s discomfort at having accepted a £2.4m donation from Michael Brown, who was subsequently convicted of fraud.

There’s no new story, and certainly no smoking gun. But that won’t stop ‘em. Read The Times story carefully, and it becomes clear that Mr Brown covered his tracks pretty assiduously. The paper quotes High Court judge Mr Justice Cooke as saying:

“It is also clear that Michael Brown tried to hide the fact that there had been no legitimate trading with the funds supplied to him.”

The Lib Dems were obliged to carry out due diligence on Mr Brown. Were we diligent enough? I don’t know. But we certainly were not obliged to undertake a major fraud investigation.

What Iain and The Times are seeking to do is feed the cynicism that ‘all parties are the same’, that each and every one of us is up to our necks in ordeure. Yet there has never been any suggestion that the Lib Dems promised anything to Mr Brown in return for his donation. In short: the party might have been stupid, but it wasn’t corrupt.

The corruption question mark still hangs over Labour and the Tories, however, with Scotland Yard’s inquiries into the cash-for-peerages row continuing. Let’s see how many Lib Dems are implicated, shall we?

I have heard, from one Tory donor I know, that they were promised a seat in the House of Lords in return for a seven-figure donation. Yet the Lib Dems’ wealthiest backer, Paul Marshall, is applying for his seat through the party’s democratic ‘Peers’ Panel’ process.

Go figure.