Blair ‘paying the price’ over sleaze 4

The Committee on Standards in Public Life is embarking on an enquiry into the Electoral Commission and key issues such as voter registration, arrangements for postal voting and standards of propriety in financing political parties, issues that have been of interest on this weblog for some time.

As Blair stalls on appointing a Labour representative to the enquiry the chairman, Sir Alistair Graham, has gone to the media…

From The Scotsman

TONY Blair has made his government seem as sleazy as the previous Conservative administration because he “ignored” the importance of upholding of standards, Britain’s standards watchdog has warned.

Sir Alistair Graham, the chairman of the committee on standards in public life, accused the Prime Minister of not taking sufficient action to mitigate the string of scandals that has tarnished his government.

The Labour government was paying a heavy price, as public confidence in ministers plummeted, he said in an unprecedentedly robust attack.

“I think it’s a major error of judgment,” Sir Alistair said.

“Opinion polls [show] the public think this government is as sleazy as the last.

“He has paid a heavy price for ignoring standards. We would have preferred more positive support from the Prime Minister. We suspect he is pretty lukewarm to the work we do.”

The standards watchdog’s warning was underscored by a poll that showed that more than half of voters want the Prime Minister to face criminal charges over the loans-for-peerages scandal. An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph showed that

53 per cent of the 1,004 voters surveyed wanted to see Mr Blair prosecuted, and 36 per cent feel he should not face charges.

Reports also surfaced that the Metropolitan Police investigation triggered by the SNP’s complaint was tightening its inquiry around senior Downing Street aides. Although Sir Alistair, a former head of the Police Complaints Commission, has criticised the government before, the severity of his latest attack is unprecedented.

He cited examples of sleaze-mired behaviour that had shaken public confidence in the government. These included Mr Blair’s reluctance to make progress in enforcing the code of conduct for ministers, despite a string of resignations from Labour ministers who had breached it.

Sir Alistair also expressed concern about the disclosures over John Prescott’s affair with his diary secretary, Tracey Temple, suggesting this kind of behaviour not only poured scorn on the minister, but could endanger the careers of civil servants.

In contrast, Sir Alistair was glowing about the Chancellor Gordon Brown’s commitment to restoring integrity to government and relinquishing powers of patronage once he takes over as Prime Minister.

Sir Alistair said he had been encouraged by the attitude of Mr Brown – Mr Blair’s expected successor – who he met last month.

“I was pleasantly surprised how interested he was in the issues. I think that is a helpful sign,” he said.

Jim Knight, the education minister, sprang to Mr Blair’s defence, insisting he was serious about “cleaning up politics”.

He pointed out that it was the Prime Minister who appointed Sir Alistair and had set up a new process of monitoring.

Progress was also being made to tighten up party funding, he said.

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4 thoughts on “Blair ‘paying the price’ over sleaze

  • Chuck Unsworth

    Well of course most of the Government actions taken over the last four or five years have been in reaction to public outcry.

    The question is where does Sir Alistair get to from this point forwards? Perhaps he's hoping that the Government will honour its promises both to him and the electorate. I doubt either will happen, as it would require a complete change of philosophy on the part of Blair.

    On the other hand it could be a high risk strategy to ensure Graham's continuance in office. Personally I think that would be no bad thing, but I do not share his excitement over Brown's apparent support. There's more to Brown's support than just a sense of righteous indignation, I feel.

  • Richard II

    Chuck wrote, after Craig's blog went down and then came back up:

    "Excellent…Nice to be able to see myself (oh, and Craig, of course) in print again."

    And that's what this blog is all about, isn't it? Monumental egos! There's no real concern at all.

    Chuck writes:

    "That some British foreign policy and action may have led to earlier disasters is undoubtedly true. That the United States has failed to learn from this is unfortunately glaringly apparent."

    May have led? No, Chuck, they DID lead to disasters, and, often, intentionally so.

    >"That the United States has failed

    >to learn…"

    You think Britain has learned? You think America wants to learn? How naive!

    To understand Britain's role in the world, you have to look at the past. That doesn't mean, however, Britain's role has changed.

    Introduction to "Web of Deceit" by Mark Curtis <a href="http://(” target=”_blank”>(

    "Since achieving power in 1997, New Labour government ministers have ceaselessly made extraordinary claims about the morality of their foreign policies and wanting to be a 'force for good in the world'. Never in British history has there been such a gap between government claims and the reality of policy.

    "The reality is that Britain under New Labour is a systematic violator of international law and ethical standards in its foreign policy – in effect, an outlaw state. It is a key ally of some of the world's most repressive regimes that is consistently condoning, and sometimes actively aiding, human rights abuses. During a so-called 'war against terrorism', Britain is in fact one of the world's leading apologists for, and supporters of, state terrorism by allies responsible for far more serious crimes than Al Qaida or other official threats.

    "And, in the era of globalisation, Britain under Labour is championing a fundamentalist economic ideology that is promoting the increasing takeover of the global economy by big business.

    "A web of deceit is obscuring this picture. People in Britain are largely unaware of what has been done in their name, even as government policies undermine our own interests. The public's understanding of Britain's real role in the world is being obscured by an ideological system – principally, the mainstream media – that is largely accepting at face value New Labour's rhetoric on its moral purpose."

    I'm beginning to think that perhaps Craig Murray, and his good friend Chuck, are desperate to bash America because they don't want people to discover that ambassadors play a significant role in propping up criminal foreign policy, which entails encouraging the privatization of essential public services, and then sitting back and watching corporations price the poorest people out of the market.

    Just what do British ambassadors do abroad, in countries like Uzbekistan, I wonder? Help people? I find that hard to believe. Assist British corporations in taking over other countries economies is probably closer to the truth.

    No wonder Chuck wants me to shut my mouth.

    In the foreward to "Web of Deceit":

    "Mark Higson was the Iraq Desk Office at the British Foreign Office…Higson described to me how ministers and officials systematically lied to parliament about illegal shipments of arms to Iraq…

    "'So how much truth did the public get?'

    "'The public got as much truth as we could squeeze out, given that we told downright lies.'

    "Britian's foreign policy establishment, Higson told the tribunal, 'is a culture of lying.'

    "Higson's honesty was commended by Lord Justice Scott…a rare accolade."

  • Richard II

    Let me spell it out for you Chuck – oh, and apologies to Craig, of course!

    If, as an ambassador, Craig was happy to impoverish and kill others by helping the government implement its corporate globalization agenda, then why should I have any sympathy for him, now that he's supposedly fallen on hard times?

    As for this being Craig's blog – so what?

    If it's Craig's site, he can decide how it gets used – not you!

    There's no law saying blogs must be run a certain way. It's up to the individual how to run his blog.

    I would have thought Craig would welcome such comments – assuming he's genuine. However, as I haven't met the guy, know so little about him, I'm perfectly entitled to have my doubts, particularly since he's a former civil servant.

    And, isn't this, anyway, what Craig claims to want – for people to doubt the word of those working for government, to make an effort to find out the facts, not listen to propaganda.

    Or is this blog just a promo site for his book?

  • Richard II

    I was going to buy Craig's book, but I've changed my mind. I'm sick of being insulted for making the effort.

    I'm also tired of people supposedly spilling the beans on how the system works, but only if you pay them handsomely for doing so.

    I get the horrible feeling I'm being taken for a fool.

    Now I'm meant to apologise to Craig for reading his blog and then posting my thoughts.

    Enough is enough!

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