First, what exactly did Peter Hain spend over a £100,000 on? Stamps? Helicopters? Lunches for friends? Brown envelopes? Hairdressing? Fake tan? The list is endless (and the truth likely to be just as bizarre). And secondly, if he has to go (and is there any alternative, although staying may give a new meaning to brazening it out), will Harriet Harman and Wendy Alexander be forced to follow suit? (Ben Brogan thought so early this afternoon; although his take on the story this evening was that “barring a bombshell, Mr Hain will carry on while the Parliamentary investigation runs its course. Mr Brown may then take the opportunity of his first reshuffle, after the May elections, to drop him from the Cabinet before the verdict comes in.” Read the whole post).
Question: “Why did Peter Hain do quite so badly in Labour’s Deputy Leadership contest, notwithstanding the amount he spent?” Answer: “Because he is a deeply unattractive prig.”
Many years ago one of my best friends, just called to the Bar, was stopped by the police in Battersea for jumping a red light on his Honda 50. Asked if he had anything to say, his answer, later read out by a humourless policeman to the South London magistrates, was, “It’s all right officer, it’s a fair cop. You’ve got me bang to rights. Will I do time?”. Peter Hain has been slightly less forthcoming but he has said sorry. In the wonderful world of New(ish) Labour, saying sorry is, it seems, all you have to say. Well this is the case if one of the Work and Pensions Secretary’s ex-bag carriers, the MP for somewhere or other in Wales, is to believed (interviewed on Radio 4’s PM earlier this evening). Apparently we are all meant to admire Peter Hain’s openness and the fact that he has owned up to being less than scrupulous about his record keeping. It is not very impressive, but still sufficient to earn him the continuing support of that pillar of rectitude, Gordon Brown. What is perhaps even more suprising is the amount Hain spent. Alex Barker wrote in this morning’s FT that “Labour figures have been at a loss to explain how Mr Hain spent so much in the deputy leadership campaign – he significantly outspent all of his rivals – while losing so badly. He came fifth in a race won by Harriet Harman.” Even if he did outspend the others, together they must have wasted a great deal of money on a contest for a non-job . . . and these are the people who govern us.