Sunday, 13 January 2008

The Sunday Hain

The Sunday papers could be worse for Peter Hain. He's no longer omnipresent on the front pages, although there appears to be a consensus among his critics that after yesterday's televised statement he still has questions to answer about the way he financed his deputy leadership campaign.

Several papers report the disquiet in Team Hain when it emerged how the campaign had been funded from the think tank that thinks it's a bank, although aides who still work for him deny that they threatened to resign or that they have advised him to go.

(When I heard Peter Hain was involved in something known as the PPF I assumed the initials stood for the Putney Popular Front from Hain's time in SW15 - perhaps a breakaway from Woolfie Smith's Tooting Popular Front.....).

The Conservatives have stopped short of calling on Hain to go, perhaps because of the questions over the way the shadow chancellor George Osborne's office is funded.

But the Tory MP Crispin Blunt pointed out on Sky that the Work and Pensions Secretary expects benefit claimants to fill in 27-page forms but appears to have failed to fill in a four-page form himself.

His leader, David Cameron, told the Andrew Marr show: "If he goes on like yesterday I think his time will be up.

"It's no good, when all these questions are being asked, just sort of come out and read a statement and scurry back indoors again.

"He has got questions he needs to answer, there are inquiries under way so I'm
not jumping the gun, but he can't go on as yesterday."

The Hain strategy, apparently supported by Number 10, is to hang on until the electoral commission and parliamentary commissioner for standards complete their inquiries.

But if a reshuffle happens before they report - and Labour MPs have been gossiping about one as early as next month - then Gordon Brown will have to decide whether it is worth keeping Hain in his Cabinet. You wouldn't put your mortgage on his future job propects.

1 comment:

Hen Ferchetan said...

Anyone taking bets on when we'll see the first benefit cheat trying to use the "Hain Defence"?

"Yeah I forgot to tell the DWP I was working now, but that's cos I was so concwentrated on working hard in my job at Tesco's!