Thursday, 22 August 2013

Michael Brown (2nd repeat)

The message still hasn't got through. No doubt it will have to be restated the next time Michael Brown makes news - presumably an attempt to extradite him during the next general election campaign.

"Why" asks Private Eye this week "are the Lib Dems still refusing to hand back the £2.4m donated to the party by convicted embezzler Michael Brown." The Eye also attacks the Conservatives over £365,000 of Polly Peck money. (To be even-handed, they really ought to mention the massive Labour Party overdraft which cannot be helping the Cooperative Bank in its current difficulties, mainly caused by the bank's taking over the failing Britannia Building Society in 2008 and thus relieving the then Labour government of some embarrassment.)

There is a practical reason why the money, given as I understand it personally to fellow Scot, Charles Kennedy, cannot be repaid. It was totally spent (many would say wasted) on a 2005 election poster campaign featuring Charles Kennedy as party leader. It would be more realistic to ask More O'Ferrall and the other hoarding owners to pay it back.

It is also misleading to state that the party accepted the money from a convicted embezzler. Brown was not charged until several years after the donation. Until then he was indistinguishable from a large number of financial operators. I concede that this alone should have caused the leader to turn the donation down, or at least consult officers of the party and/or governing committees. I don't recall a single party member who was happy with it when the news leaked out, even before suspicions were raised about Brown's company.

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