Good turnout at PMQs today, and most of us made a special point of being there just to watch George squirm. Definitely another win for Gordon, and very kind of Cameron to hand him an open goal by talking about 'dodgy accounting'.
Nick Robinson this morning said that 'although the donation [from the Russian billionaire] wld not have been illegal it wld have been politically unwise'... Well, it depends how you interpret the law, which is yet to be tested in the courts.
Yes, if donations come from UK companies and are approved by shareholders in accordance with the requirements of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000, then they're legal. But there are also provisions in the Act which make it an offence to act with the specific aim of getting round the Act. This would cover a situation, say, where an overseas donor gave money to someone in the UK so that they could pass it on to a political party, which would be solely to get round the ban on foreign donations. (A ban which, you may recall, was introduced because Greek shipping magnates - like John Latsis - and others were funding the Tories to the tune of many millions). So if passing it on through an individual is wrong, I don't see that passing it through a UK company is any different. I suppose you could argue that it would be the company's money, rather than his own money, but if the conversation about a donation started with him, then it's a bit of a grey area to say the least.
Obviously there wasn't a donation anyway, so it's something of a moot point. But if he did have a conversation about a donation, as alleged, it certainly betrays a lack of judgment. And running round behind your best mate's back to plant a story about Mandelson also meeting the same guy, is the act of a schoolboy sneak, not that of a statesman. Not to mention totally hypocritical!