Blair on back foot
Tony Blair’s secret list of 12 multi-millionaires, who bankrolled him for the election last year, was made public on Monday in an attempt to prevent allegations of sleaze from destroying whatever is left of his premiership.
The damage caused to his credibility could hasten his departure from Downing Street. The worst part in the whole funding of almost £14 million is that it was kept secret even from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Chancellor Gordon Brown and the elected treasurer of the party.
The disclosures have also made 12 wealthy men extremely bitter with Blair. Two of them, the Indian-origin Sir Gulam K Noon and Dr Chai Patel, are livid and have spoken publicly about being let down, their only fault being loyalty to the party. One Indian-origin person was nominated by the Tories but so far there is no mention about the Tory nominees.
The row started with the Appointments Commission questioning the nomination of some of the 28 people in this year’s list for elevation to the House of Lords. It wanted to find out if they came up to the standards required for membership of Lords.
The Commission blocked three nominations pending inquiries about their finances. Two of them, stockbroker Barry Towsley and property developer Sir David Garrad, thereafter withdrew their names.
But, the bubble burst with Patel going public about the alleged shoddy treatment meted out to him. He attacked the manner in which he was made to give a loan.
Now after the list being made public, Patel said that he had been asked to provide a loan rather than a donation. Under existing law, donations must be declared unlike loans which may remain secret as long as a commercial rate of interest is paid.
Patel insisted that there was "absolutely" no suggestion that he would be rewarded with a peerage.