The same "disease" that forced Tony Blair from office has now infected his successor Gordon Brown.
Gordon Brown was able to take over the British Prime Minister's office due to the over year long "Cash for Peerages" scandal. The scandal involved Tony Blair and senior members of his Government and his Labour Party in the taking of large sums for "donations" and "loans" for honours (knightships and the like) and life peerages (title of baron/baroness with the right to sit and vote in the upper chamber, the House of Lords, of the UK Parliament). Now, only a few months after taking office it is Mr. Brown who is deeply mired in the same sticky mess.
The General Secretary of the British Labour Party, Mr. Peter Watt, has resigned and a leading London newspaper, The Telegraph, reports that "The Labour fund raising scandal has descended into open warfare between Gordon Brown and his deputy Harriet Harman after Ms. Harman effectively blamed the Prime Minister's inner circle for her decision to accept an illegal donation." Ms. Harman is the Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party and a senior member of the British Cabinet (Minister for Women and Equality; prior to this she was Minister of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs/Ministry of Justice from 2005-2007). Her husband, Jack Dromey, is the Treasure of the British Labour Party.
The Prime Minister has admitted that the Labour Party illegally accepted 670,000 pounds (about US$1.34 million) from David Abrahams. Mr. Abrahams, who is also known as David Martin, used four front men/women to make the unreported donations in clear violation of United Kingdom law. The Electoral Commission has referred the matter to the police and Scotland Yard is now preparing to launch a full-scale criminal inquiry. Mr. Abrahams is reported to be Gordon Brown's third biggest donor. Assistant Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police John Yates, who headed the cash-for-peerages probe, will be advising the police investigation.
Ms. Harman's husband, Labour Treasure Jack Dromey, claims to know nothing of the latest illegal donations to his party's coffers. This has prompted the Conservative Party Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Theresa May, MP, to say to Ms. Harman, "You, the Prime Minister and the Labour Party Treasure are like the three wise monkeys. You see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil." The Prime Minister's senior people are claiming that neither he nor Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor, knew anything of the illegal donations.
All of this is no surprise to me. I know most of the people involved in the cash-for-peerages probe and supplied a large number of documents to the police at the personal request of Assistant Commission Yates. In fact John Yates personally interviewed me and I spoke to and corresponded with a number of his senior investigators. The information that I supplied the police team with could have put several senior cabinet ministers in prison including Ms. Harman. It was a political deal, resulting in Tony Blair's agreement to resign, that allowed all parties to walk away without doing serious prison time.
Even though I am an American (from an old and famous Scottish family) I am a former Scottish Editor at the famous London publishing/genealogical firm Burke's Peerage. I owned a Scottish castle for a dozen years (with two feudal baronies) and successfully claimed an historically important set of Scots Peerage titles in my clan. In August of 1999, after almost ten years of a public claim by right of succession, I used a Scots Peerage Law procedure (an Assumption at Law) to call out of dormancy the Earldom of Stirling, the Viscountcy of Canada, etc. I was allowed to sit in the House of Lords as Lord Stirling on a trip to London in December 1999.
However, I requested a "resettlement-by-Letters Patent" (a process unique to Scots Peerage Law and unknown to modern English Peerage Law) to eliminate the male only rules of succession to my titles. My wife had died young of ovarian cancer and we had not had any children, my younger brother is a confirmed bachelor, but my sister (younger than me but older than my brother) and her children cannot succeed due to the sexist rules of male primogeniture. As my titles are pre-Union Scottish titles it is Scots Peerage Law that applies not English Peerage Law. Scots Law does allow for such a resettlement. I offered, during a visit to Labour Party headquarters to take dual citizenship and to take the Labour Whip in the event that my request for a resettlement were granted. A unique twist to Scots Peerage Law says that a resettled title has the "effect" of a new title and the rules of the "reformed" House of Lords allow "new" hereditary peers a life peerage with voting membership (most hereditary peers lost the right to vote in the House of Lords a few years ago in one of Blair's "reforms").
What I did not offer to do, was to "donate" or "loan" the Labour Party a couple of million. The going rate for a life peerage, under Blair was a "donation" or "loan" of over one million pounds (about $2 million or more). Of course, this was highly illegal under British Law but that did not stop Blair and his senior people. There was a major effort to shake me down for a donation, but this tight Scotsman/American would not play or pay. I brought a legal action on the issue of sexual equality before the European Court of Human Rights. The Blair administration and specifically the Department for Constitutional Affairs/Lord Chancellor's office were the focus of the shake down. At one point they were so arrogant as to lie in writing and to do so in a way that constituted obstruction of justice before the European Court. I wrote to Harriet Harman direct on this matter on July 6th and July 21st of 2005 and was answered (and basically told to go to hell) on July 22, 2005. This directly involved her in the obstruction of justice issue and the cash for peerages issue. As a former Solicitor General (Law Officers Department 2001-2005) she was fully knowledgeable as to the seriousness of the matters, but Blair's people were known for their arrogance and corruption. That this woman was chosen as Cabinet Minister for Women and Equality is almost beyond belief.
I have written a book, CASH FOR PEERAGES: THE SMOKING GUN (published by Lulu; see www.lulu.com/content/953682), on this whole affair. The interesting thing is that Tony Blair's last ditch legal argument was that his recommending of the life peerages to donors was not illegal as they were to be "working peers" and therefor they were not receiving "honours" under the Honours (Prevention of Abuse) Act of 1925. As my case involved not only a possible life peerage but also a set of hereditary peerages it destroyed Tony Blair's only legal defense, and the key people both on his side and those opposed to him, knew it.
The "tar baby" that destroyed Tony Blair seems to be sticking to Gordon Brown. It will be interesting to see if he takes the necessary steps to disinfect himself and if he can do so quickly enough to save his premiership.