22 January 2007

New Labour gets busted

Police arrived at dawn on Friday to arrest Ruth Turner, Prime Minister Tony Blair's director of government relations. Ms. Turner is charged with perverting the course of justice. The arrest is the latest development in the police investigation of a cash-for-honours scandal in which the Labour government stands accused of offering titles to wealthy patrons in return for loans. Earlier arrests included Lord Levy, Labour's chief fundraiser.

A verbal war quickly broke out between Labour and Scotland Yard with culture secretary Tessa Jowell expressing bewilderment at the police behaviour and former home secretary David Blunkett accusing the police of theatrics. Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Glen Smyth, responded by accusing the politicians of attempting to bring undue pressure on the police. Former president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Chris Fox, suggested political critics were attempting to discredit the inquiry, causing chief constables to fear a threat to police independence.

If Ms. Turner, or any other of Blair's key aides, is formally charged, the Prime Minister's position becomes untenable, and he may be forced to step down before the June or July departure date he has set for himself. For Tony, it seems to be just one damn thing after another these days.

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