Are we there yet?

Posted by Tim Ireland at March 21, 2006

Category: Tony 'King Blair

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
11:46 am and is filed
under Tony ‘King Blair.

CuriousHamster – Time’s Up: Two views of Blair. One conclusion. Parris, an ex-Tory MP writing in the Times, gets Blair exactly right. The Guardian’s rather generous suggestion that “Mr Blair risks becoming a leader without purpose beyond power” is consistent with a newspaper which, despite the criticisms it does air, has backed Blair pretty consistently over the years.

I’d like to add to that, if I may.

Most of Blair’s crimes normally get the following treatment in the Sun:

A. No mention whatsoever and/or heavy focus on a largely invented story designed to divert our attention.
B. A cursory mention on Page 2, but no editorial.
C. Heavy focus with a sympathetic angle and/or editorial.
D. All of the above in sequence if the story fails to go away.

Today, this story manages to stay off the front page (the Sun and the Express are the only major newspapers not to feature in on the front page today) and is placed on Page 2, but just take a look at the focus of it…

The Scum – PM pal’s contract bonanza: The millionaire boss of a firm that runs public-sector contracts worth billions secretly loaned the Labour party 1million. Rod Aldridge, boss of systems giant Capita, appeared on a list – released by party officials – of 12 tycoons who gave a total of 14million. It is the latest in a series of “loans for favours” scandals to hit the Government. Capita has secured a range of highly lucrative contracts under Labour, including setting up the Criminal Records Bureau (worth 400MILLION), running London’s congestion charge scheme (250MILLION over five years) and TV licence fee collection (500MILLION over ten years). It also sends out council tax bills and administers teachers’ pensions. Capita recently revealed its profits leapt 19 per cent to 177million last year. Mr Aldridge said at the time: “The two top markets for us would be the life and pensions market and central Government.” About 46 per cent of Capita’s contracts are with the public sector but it has a dubious track record. Its CRB arm was fined £2million for hindering schools checking criminal records of would-be teachers. And London Mayor Ken Livingstone dubbed Capita “hopeless” over its handling of the congestion charge. Mr Aldridge, 57, one of Britain’s 300 richest men, earned £2.2million last year. The dozen money men made their loans to Labour before the 2005 election – helping Mr Blair to his third victory. In a bid to head off the row last night, Mr Aldridge said he wanted his loan paid back by October – with interest. Meanwhile, snooty Lord Falconer last night arrogantly joked that being Tony Blair’s old FLATMATE got him his peerage. He told guests at a Commons event: “I did not pay for my peerage – sharing a flat with Tony Blair was perfectly adequate.” He and Mr Blair had a flat together when both were young lawyers. The other businessmen on yesterday’s list of Labour financiers were: Richard Caring, rag trade king and owner of London’s Ivy restaurant (2m); property magnate Sir David Garrard (2.3m); biosciences Prof Sir Christopher Evans (1m); software entrepreneur Gordon Crawford (500,000); finance chief Nigel Morris (1m); food tycoon Sir Gulam Noon (250,000); Priory Clinic founder Dr Chai Patel (1.5m); property bigwig Andrew Rosenfeld (1m); Science Minister Lord David Sainsbury (2m); financial services boss Barry Townsley (1m); City financier Derek Tullett (400,000). HALF of voters believe Tony Blair should step down as PM within a year, a Newsnight poll reveals today – with almost a third saying he should go NOW.

As CuriousHamster and Nosemonkey point out, our public broadcaster and the broadsheets even now remain reluctant to give the Crapita/Blair relationship the long-overdue attention it deserves. Doesn’t it feel just a little bit odd to see it in the Downing Street Echo?

And check out this editorial…

The Scum – A bad smell: John Prescott predictably tries to divert the sleaze spotlight from Labour to Tories. It won’t wash. The Tories made no secret of the loans they’ve raised. Nor are they in power. Labour has been in office for nine years, and has turned gongs-for-gifts into a growth industry. Now it emerges Capita boss Rod Aldridge, who gave 1million to Labour, has boosted profits on the back of public sector deals. The tendering process was almost certainly above reproach. And Mr Aldridge is not on the present list of would-be peers. But the honours system is now an open sewer – and the more we learn, the worse it stinks.

You may also note the leading editorial that begins; “The Home Secretary is willing to insult the bereaved dad of a 7/7 bomb victim, but he won’t lift a politically-correct finger to protect us against killers.”

I can’t find the related article… could they actually be referring to this?

It looks to me as if Murdoch is ready to cut and run and continue his glorious war on evil with a new subordinate.

Add to this that even people like Johann Hari admitting he was wrong about Iraq and the usual defence measures start to look more than a little futile.

And this week, we even have the timely return of Alan B’Stard to enjoy.

Are we finally there? Have we reached that point where the holding wall will collapse and all of the dirty secrets buried behind it will come spilling out?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been suffering from expectation fatigue for too long to dare to hold any great hope… but I will take the time to engage in some voodoo today and scan the news for that magical word ‘Capita’ tomorrow.

UPDATE – Financial Times – Aldridge loan puts spotlight on Capita contracts

UPDATE – Ahahahahahahahaha! Now this is more like what we’re used to from Team Blair… Alastair must be back at his desk:

BBC – Clarke targets Labour treasurer: Charles Clarke says he has “serious questions about Jack Dromey’s capacity” as Labour treasurer after the row over the 14m of secret loans to the party. The home secretary told a Westminster lunch the fact Mr Dromey did not know about the loans meant “you have to wonder how well he was doing his work”. He said any competent treasurer, even honorary ones, looked at the finances of organisations they were involved in.

Check the spin on that. That’s quality, that is.

UPDATE – CuriousHamster – Contempt All Round: In other news, a professional criminal, finally caught after a long and fruitful crime spree, has complained that the police’s continual failure to catch him raised serious questions about their capacity to do their jobs.

UPDATE – TalkPolitics – Unbe-fucking-lievable: But, of course, Clarke may his own, rather more selfish reasons for trying to smear Dromey – after all the company, Capita, headed up by one of the donors who bunced the party a cool million before the election, Rod Aldridge, is not only making a nice living out of outsourced government contracts but is also one of the 160 companies to have registered an interest in bidding for contracts for the ID cards system, should that ever break free from the current Commons/Lords games of legisilative ping-pong.


  1. Friendly Fire says

    Capita is the Roseta Stone for undoing (finally at long last?) Blair's unwanted legacy.I work in education and had to ditch their incompetence in favour of running accounts in Excel before I found an alternative replacement.

  2. Andrew says

    Manic: The 7/7 story appeared in the Sunday Times, and does refer to Rachel North's dad. Presumably the Murdoch empire exchanges info, just not very well?

  3. Manic says

    Rebekah Wade does not expect her readers to read other newspapers… or to remember the details of any given story for more than a day.(UPDATE – And, as Rachel points out below, she ain't dead.)

  4. Garry says

    Have to agree about the Scum. It looks like they might be preparing to cut Blair loose. I think there's probably also a concerted attempt to put a bit of pressure on Brown to try to keep him "New Labour".Don't think it would be a surprise if they came out for the Tories at the next general election. Murdoch would certainly prefer to back a resurgent Tory party, polls permitting, and I'm pretty sure he wants Brown to know it. It's always a good idea to make the new boy work hard for your approval. Leverage is the key.

  5. Loz says

    If the doners are genuine about wanting their money back with interest does the Labour party have the spare cash to pay them back without serious shortfalls at Labour HQ? Tony Blair might want to leave early in order to let Gordo get shafted trying to sort it out.

  6. Rachel North London says

    Tee hee, rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

  7. Manic says

    Good to hear.:o)So, who else has the safety elephant been fobbing off… or have the Sun just been making s**t up again?

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