Damning opinion on Snake-oil Tony
BRITAIN’S sleaze watchdog has launched a personal attack on Tony Blair for failing to uphold standards in public life after a succession of scandals.
Sir Alistair Graham, appointed by the prime minister to oversee politicians’ behaviour, has criticised Blair for treating standards as a “minor issue, not worthy of serious consideration” and says the prime minister now faces repercussions for failing to give the issue sufficient emphasis. “I think it’s a major error of judgment,” he said this weekend in an interview in The Sunday Times.
....On cronyism, he says: “We have given recommendations as to how the government could address that. They accepted many of our recommendations but they didn’t accept those.”
Overall, he says: “We would have preferred more positive support from the prime minister.
“We suspect he is pretty lukewarm to the work we do, though it is interesting where we suggested changes to improve ethical standards in local government, it [the government] accepted all of those recommendations because it was helpful to it.”
Graham also lambasts the government for failing to tackle electoral fraud. Postal voting has been extended to everyone to encourage higher turnouts. But the government has ignored independent advice that individuals should register to vote rather than households. Critics have suggested that this is because more rigour would hit Labour’s share of the vote.
Graham says: “It might be argued there was a party-political interest. There was a fear that if you increased the integrity of the electoral register, you might put at risk — particularly in inner-city areas — who exactly was on the register. And there might be party advantage in how these matters are dealt with.
“It’s not a very satisfactory situation where the professional body [the electoral commission] is saying one thing and the government is doing something else . . . it undermines trust in our democratic system and anything that does that is very worrying.”