Thursday, December 6, 2007

Abrahams episode - has Gordon Brown actually done something right?

I blogged yesterday about Nick Robinson asking "Cash for what?" about the Abrahams case.

Today's front page story in the Guardian ("Labour helped Abrahams set up secret cash transfers") leads me to conclude further that the Abrahams story is heading for the long legal grass, involving a bit of a 40 winks for the public.

It seems Gordon Brown was a bit premature in declaring the third-party gambit "unlawful". The whole scheme was signed off by lawyers representing Abrahams and the Labour party.

All right, they were exploiting a presumed loophole in Labour's own legislation, which was arguably against the spirit of the intention of the law (so a bit of hypocrisy there). And, furthermore, they appear to have been wrong in their interpretation of the law, perhaps.

But we appear to be in the land of legal nuances which will take our learned friends some time ,and quite sizeable fees, to unpick.

So, it seems to be Much Ado about only a little, or at least something littler than at first assumed.

One could say, as above, that Gordon Brown was silly to dive in and declare the whole scheme unlawful before actually realising, it seems, that it wasn't that clear-cut.

However, I tend to the opposite view. I think Gordon probably did the right thing for the wrong reasons.

The thing that did for J Major was not the sleaze itself so much as the apparent twisting on the noose which John Major and his then party colleagues seemed to elevate to a fine art.

By accepting up front that there had been wrong done, even when it wasn't that clear-cut, Brown has, to a certain extent, refreshingly broken with any comparison with the Major years/Tory sleaze. It is not a big break from that Major model, but to some extent Brown has been refreshingly upfront compared to Major's debilitating denial and avoidance.

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