The party turns its back on trade union money which even those closest to Ed Miliband still admit is the “cleanest money in politics”, and turn instead to someone now reputedly worth £75m and about to make it onto the Sunday Times Rich List.
Whose client list includes the well-known democracies of Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Qatar.
For money that is very far from clean.
From a man who, we learn today, on the day the Millie Dowler story broke, sent a text to Rebecca Brooks saying: “Let me know if there is anything I can help you with. Thinking of you“.
From a man who advised Rebekah Brooks to launch a “Hutton-style” inquiry into phone hacking to protect her reputation and that of Rupert Murdoch on the day that the affair erupted into a criminal and political scandal.
From a man for whom the worst threat to his reputation is still to come from what Peter Mandelson calls the “very difficult minefield” of the Chilcot inquiry, which Blair has done his utmost to ensure does not have access to records of his private conversations with George W Bush.
How Labour accept large sums of money from this man as we await the condemnation of the Chilcot inquiry?
In comparison, I feel intensely relaxed about Labour accepting £7,500 from Lord David Owen who, in stark contrast, urged that “Chilcot and his colleagues should stand firm and not be bullied,” and argued that normal conventions simply did not apply:
We went to war in 2003 and lost; our army suffered possibly its greatest ever humiliation in Basra.”
I certainly hold no brief for David Owen, but as I argued three years ago in response to speculation that he might rejoin Labour, “Labour is a social democratic party …. is it not the right place for social democrats to be?” Blair’s office at No 10 was stuffed with ex-SDP advisers – Andrew Adonis, Roger Liddle to name but two. If Labour is a broad church – we should accept them as members provided that we are all prepared to work together, respect our differences and accept democratic decisions (though that wasn’t somthing Owen was prepared to do back in 1981).
I would not argue against accepting Owen back, and nor would I reject taking his money. But Blair is different.