Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Peter Hain Looks Like 'Toast'

I used to admire Peter Hain quite a bit: his campaigning against apartheid was brave and sustained; his shift into labour from the Liberals was understandable for a man ambitious to succeed in politics; and even his elevation to the Cabinet seemed merited. But actually in office he has failed to impress so much and I'm not sure why. People who don't like him blame his 'perma-tan' and, as with Tony Blair when he assumed a strange 'orangeness', it does seem a tad too self absorbed and undignified.

But I think that in the end, it's not the vanity, or the overly naked ambition, it's his appearance of being too much part of the power elite, too 'Establishment' which deflects current admiration- an ironic criticism perhaps, to aim at a former maverick rebel. So friends do not seem to be too much in evidence just at the moment, when his future hangs in the balance. But looking objectively at the facts, it is not surprising that he is exposed.

To lose sight of, say, a hundred pounds, or even a few hundred, in an election contest, is kind of understandable- the rush of events, the lack of sleep during a campaign and so forth- but a hundred thousand pounds? Personally, I wonder what candidates were doing with such sums given the vacuous nature of the job for which they were all fighting. This 'oversight' speaks either of gross incompetence or wilful deception. It is, frankly, surprising he is still in post.

And that 'front' of a think tank which channelled money into his coffers sounds like a sleazy money laundering operation. So far Gordon has stood staunchly by his minister, fearing his 'relaunch' will be scuppered by the embarrassment of a resignation. But with the police investigation likely to be initiated by the Electoral Commission, I suspect the greater threat to Brown's administration will soon become the further retention of his Secretary for Work and Pensions. The thin thread by which his ministerial career hangs will, I suspect, soon be severed.

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