Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/516/3636
Hain's sorry saga of sleaze
As Peter Hain's scandal of undeclared campaign donations has unravelled it has revealed the nature of New Labour politics. It is a world away from the reality of life for working people in Neath and Wales, who Hain pretends to represent, or from the benefit claimants and pensioners who have suffered at the hands of Hain's Department of Work and Pensions.
Dave Reid and Geoff Jones, Socialist Party Wales
Hain spent a vast £185,000 on his campaign last year to become deputy leader of Labour (Labour's total budget in the Welsh Assembly elections was £254,000) but he came fifth in a field of six.
The campaign left him with huge debts which had to be filled by asking around friends and supporters for donations and loans. It was £103,000 he received from these sources that he forgot to declare.
The origins and route of those donations paints a vivid picture of the murky world of business connections at the heart of New Labour today.
As well as donations from the GMB and UCATT trade unions, tens of thousands of pounds poured in from business people eager to help one of their friends in government, even though he implied he was standing in the tradition of 'old Labour' values.
Two donations totalling nearly £15,000 came from South African Isaac Kaye, who was chairman of Norton Healthcare when it was embroiled in a police investigation over defrauding the NHS, and who has also been accused of bribing doctors in South Africa to prescribe Norton drugs. Norton has also been found guilty of breaking US law by refusing to allow its nurses to take part in trade union activity.
Before emigrating to Britain, Kaye was a prominent supporter of the National Party, the governing party of the apartheid regime that repressed millions of black South Africans and against whom Peter Hain had fought when he was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement.
Another donor, diamond dealer Willie Nagel, previously donated £20,000 to John Major's Conservative Constituency Association.
By your friends shall you be known. And these are secret friends. To protect their anonymity their donations were diverted through an inert think tank, the 'Progressive Policies Forum' which has held no meetings nor produced any reports.
As The Independent put it: "Business people contribute to a politician's expenses usually in the expectation of a favour being recognised at a later date... they ask for anonymity not because they believe in doing good by stealth but because publicity is likely to ruin the implicit bargain."
Why are trade union leaders donating trade union funds, which are then combined with money from right wing super-rich donors to fund big-business friendly New Labour politicians?
In The Socialist 17 January 2008:
Environment and socialism
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