Monday, November 26, 2007

Blair, Abrahams, Newcastle, Poulson; New Labour - New Sleaze?




David Abrahams, one of the UK Labour Party's major donors, has been in the news.

Mr Abrahams was in the front row when Tony Blair made a speech to local Labour party figures in his former Sedgefield constituency in June announcing his decision to stand down and quit Parliament.

Abrahams served as a Labour councillor in Tyne and Wear and his late father, Bennie Abrahams, was Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

David Abrahams is a director of six property companies. (Profile: reclusive Labour donor David Abrahams - Times Online)

Labour Party sleaze?

There was Labour MP Edward Short 'who had been in the habit of receiving bundles of banknotes from T Dan Smith', the city boss of Newcastle and one time partner of Eric Levine.

Smith formed business links with architect John Poulson which led to his trial for accepting bribes in April 1974.

"Smith's painting and decorating firm received more than half of the contracts for council housing. In 1962 he established a public relations firm to support redevelopment of other urban centres in the north-east, and later nationwide.

"This company formed links with John Poulson, an architect keen for the business and known for paying those who could supply it. Smith eventually received £156,000 from Poulson for his work, which typically involved signing up local councillors on to the payroll of his companies and getting them to push their councils to accept Poulson's prepackaged redevelopment schemes. Poulson earned more than £1,000,000 through Smith." - T. Dan Smith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The Poulson scandal in the early Seventies involved bribes, building contracts in London, the Midlands and the North-east and backstairs planning permission. It led to the conviction of Yorkshire architect John Poulson, senior civil servant George Pottinger and a number of local politicians and officials, including two top Labour councillors, T.Dan Smith, ex-leader of Newcastle City Council, and Andrew Cunningham, chairman of Durham County Council." - http://society.guardian.co.uk/councilsincrisis/story/0,8150,400446,00.html

The "Donnygate" Labour Party corruption case, March 2002, (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/mar2002/donn-m28.shtml) was a particularly bad local government corruption case. Two senior Labour Party councillors in Doncaster, South Yorkshire and a property developer were sentenced to a total of 11 years in jail.

The case has been described as the tip of a vast pyramid of corruption.

Doncaster Labour Party corruption involved:

1. councillors taking expenses for foreign trips

2. councillors buying racehorses

3. embezzlement reportedly running into millions

4. 74 arrests

5. 23 Labour councillors convicted for expenses fraud.

In neighbouring Labour Party-dominated Rotherham council:

1. Rotherham councillors set up an initiative to deal with the town’s poverty

2. Appointed officials received salaries of up to £100,0003.

The organisation failed to draw up a single working policy to combat poverty.






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