Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Party pooper?

Peter Hain is "getting on with the jobs". The Welsh and Work and Pensions Secretary turned up for Welsh MPs' New Year party in the Commons last night.

He stayed around an hour but wasn't really in the party mood - not surprising as the electoral commission, frustrated by its limited powers, is considering calling in the police to investigate his failure to declare donations.

"We are where we are," Hain told party guests. "but I'm staying. There is too much to do in Wales and the DWP."

Today's Times reports that a commission source feels Hain has shown contempt for the rules by failing to declare donations on time and by putting the oversight down to the pressures of his Cabinet job.

But the commission, unable to fine individuals itself, may face a choice between issuing a slap on the wrists and calling in the police.

Hain is angry that people might think he intentionally concealed donations. He realises his fate will be decided by two inquiries - one by the commission, the other by the parliamentary commissioner for standards.

Amid the cold sausage rolls, party guests were treated to a musical contribution from the talented guitar-playing Cardiff West MP, Kevin Brennan.

His choice of music was in the best possible taste. One of two Hain supporters were slightly alarmed by some of the earlier muzak - including Yesterday and We Can Work It Out.

Brennan was joined on vocals by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas for his annual rendition of Lola.

If Simon Cowell is reading this, I'm happy to put him in touch.

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