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March 21, 2006

Rod Aldridge and Blair

Nosemonkey has a take on what is the real scandal over these loans for peerages. No, not the sale of honours, which has been going on ever since the damn things were invented.

Rather, the loan from Rod Aldridge to the Labour Party. Just to recap. Rod Aldridge is head of Capita (commonly known as Crapita). This is a company whose very existence depends upon large outsourcing contracts from the Government at various levels. Hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

So the head of this company loans a million quid, that he’s earned from outsourcing of government contracts (and wouldn’t it be interesting if it was actually washing a loan from Crapita itself? Anyone had a close look at the accounts?), to the political party which doles out those contracts.

As Nosemonkey says, this certainly has the appearance of bribery, at least to my mind. There are, again as Mr. N  says, three possible scenarios. It was a bung, voluntarily given, it was actually extorted ("How would you like the ID cards contract Rod?") or both of them, Aldridge and Blair together, were too stupid to see how it would look. Sorry, of course, there is a fourth, that Mr. Aldridge is simply a wealthy man who wished to support the Labour Party.

Mr. N then hopes that this will be the scandal that brings Blair down. Hhhmm. Even if it really was cash for favours, something I’m not alledging, that really isn’t all that out of the ordinary. Anyone remember Bernie Ecclestone, the one million gift and the lack of the banning of tobacco advertising in Formula One? Unlike every other sport?

The Times:

A BUSINESSMAN whose company won more than £1 billion of government contracts was revealed last night as one of Labour’s “rich list” who secretly backed the party with loans before the 2005 general election.

Rod Aldridge, the founding chairman of the technology company Capita, whose contracts include administering the Home Office Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and handling the miners’ compensation claims, handed over £1 million in response to an urgent plea for funding to help Tony Blair to win a third term.

The Groan:

One of those named was Rod Aldridge, head of support services firm Capita who passed Labour £1m in loans. His company undertakes considerable business for the government. He insisted the one-year loan was a personal matter on commercial terms.

Ron Aldridge, 58 £1m

Executive chairman of Capita, earning £501,000 in 2004 and with shares worth £5m. Capita is a rapidly expanding firm providing wide range of contracted-out public services, including call centres for the BBC and the NHS.

Interesting question. Just where did he get the money himself?

Another one. Where is Labour getting the money to pay the interest? And to pay back these "commercial" loans? 

 

March 21, 2006 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink

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» Money works in mysterious ways from Comment is free
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Comments

[the political party which doles out those contracts.]

I think you and NM might be getting a bit excited here. There is no political party in the UK which doles out contracts. Ministers have policy responsibility, and the awarding of contracts is an operational task which would fall to the civil service (albeit under the overall doctrine of ministerial responsibility).

Of course it's all a bit smelly, but I would not want to get my hopes up or stake material personal credibility on there being a paper trail linking the loans to the contracts in any way more substantial than just saying "phwoar, look at that, pretty dodgy".

Tim adds: Pretty much agree with you. Thus the Ecclestone reference.

Posted by: dsquared | Mar 21, 2006 8:33:47 AM

And in any case - I'm a blogger. What are we if not deluded conspiracy theorists chasing rainbows of corruption through the murky skies of the internet?

Hell - I even got the guy's first name wrong in the title of my post... (Although in my defence it was fairly late and I had just got back from the pub...)

Even so - and while fully accepting the utter implausibility of a paper-trail (even THEY wouldn't be that stupid, would they?), if this was pushed enough it could be enough. But it'd take the press to do it, and they'd have little interest in doing so - hell, I've had confirmation from someone at the BBC this morning that most of their resources are tied up in preparing for the budget, leaving few people to investigate the other people behind the loans.

(Oh, and yes, I am posting at some length here thanks to Blogger being shit again... Sorry...)

Posted by: Nosemonkey | Mar 21, 2006 10:17:03 AM

As to the money - he's got 15m shares, currently valued at around £70m. He sold 1m in December 2004 for around £3.5m, so he can afford it. But of course it stinks. As someone said yesterday Humphrey moved out and the ermine vermin moved in.

Posted by: Mark T | Mar 21, 2006 11:44:13 AM

"There is no political party in the UK which doles out contracts. Ministers have policy responsibility, and the awarding of contracts is an operational task which would fall to the civil service (albeit under the overall doctrine of ministerial responsibility)."

My mum always said she couldn't see the problem with insider trading: if it was your good fortune to have your ears in the right place at the right time, why shouldn't you make a few bob? I suppose corruption is ultimately a matter of perception, which is why Transparency International conducts its surveys as it does.

Personally, I think the state of affairs that has just been exposed to the light is unacceptably corrupt. There are rules mandating the disclosure of political donations for one reason only - corruption. And here we have a government that has tried to go around those rules.

You think the civil service sufficiently trustworthy to keep us safe? Here's what the NAO had to say about the Home Office accounts. I don't think you'd want to add secret party donations to that lot.

The Home Office's books are unintelligible and have failed their audit. No one has seen Labour's books (but their accountants will be burning the midnight oil just about now, I'd guess). The more light that can be thrown on this mess, the better.

Posted by: Charlie Whitaker | Mar 22, 2006 1:45:37 PM