Monday, February 05, 2007

Judging Number 10

Its not an obvious thought - and its one that I find hard to bring myself to say, but I will.

I hope, I really hope, that Tony Blair is not charged, let alone found guilty, of any wrong doing in the ongoing cash for honours scandal.

Let me explain.

Firstly, the last thing British politics needs is corruption at the highest level - so I am living in hope that he will not need to be hauled in front of the courts. This would be destructive for both the country but also our whole system of politics.

The hardest conversation I find on doorsteps when canvassing is persuading disinterested, often young, people to vote - not when I encounter someone with a strong set of views counter to my own. This would only get harder. On an international level it will make it harder for any British Givernment to wield any moral clout when criticising countries like Zimbabwe as they engage in truly corrupt mis-Government.

I also think that Tony Blair has done far more shocking things - like invading Iraq - and that is what he should have been punished for. But at the ballot box, not at the hands of the police.

Meanwhile, what sort of Government will we have if it is constantly in fear of judicial enquiry? Trust is the key to running any sort of organisation, and especially so in Government. Constant worries about deleting Emails and individuals coveribg themselves will not help Government work effectively.

Meanwhile, Governments of all colours have given honours to raise cash for politics. The answer is reform - of the Lords, of our political processes and of the role of money in our elections. Blaming it all on Blair will be to miss the structural issues at the expense of the crudely personal.

Don't get me wrong - if he has broken the law then he should be prosecuted. But I so hope that he hasn't.

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