Thursday 23 October 2008

Distancing herself from the ill-gotten gains

My attention has been drawn to this little spat (full record available here) in the Assembly on Tuesday, when one of Labour's Regional AM's attempted to rattle the cage of our local AM. I think he failed, largely because of an inaccurate choice of words. Instead of a wholly justifiable criticism of the Tory party's source of funds, he ended up making an inaccurate and unjustified attack on Angela Burns herself, over a donation which was clearly given to the constituency rather than to an individual. He was, quite correctly, forced to withdraw his remarks.

The exchange does suggest, however, that Ms Burns (and perhaps Nick Bourne as well?) is trying to distance herself from the donation made by the hedge fund to her local association. I found it particularly interesting that she sees any suggestion that she might have any sort of relationship with a hedge fund as being a 'slur on her integrity'. I entirely agree with her on that point – her integrity would indeed be damaged by such a relationship.

So what does this say about the integrity of her local party – and the parliamentary candidate locally – both of whom most certainly do have such a relationship? To say nothing of Conservative Central Office, who have not only accepted large donations from the same company, but also a range of sizable donations ("Short-sellers bankroll Conservatives") from managers of other such funds?

Alun Davies: In speaking this afternoon, I will resist the temptation to roam across the range of this Government’s successes, although I would particularly enjoy a long discussion on the role of opposition here because, when I read the Tories’ amendment 2 this afternoon, I got the sense that they had given up not only on trying to be a Government, but also on being an opposition. I get the sense that the Tory Party has done a deal and has sub-contracted out to some Russian oligarch or other sort of undesirable that it has in mind. Perhaps you have done the same deal with the hedge fund in New York as Angela Burns did for her constituency.

I will focus my remarks this afternoon on the area in which I have a special brief.

Nick Bourne: Point of order. I think that the Member might like to reconsider his last comment unless there is some substance to the allegation that he made about a Member in this place.

Alun Davies: I was simply referring to the funding of a constituency association by a hedge fund based in New York.

Nick Bourne: You named an Assembly Member and you should withdraw your remarks unless you have any evidence to back them up.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Can you rephrase that last sentence please, Alun?

Alun Davies: If the Conservative Party has not received any funding from that hedge fund, then I am happy to withdraw my remarks.

Nick Bourne: I am sorry Deputy Presiding Officer, but there was a specific allegation about an Assembly Member’s involvement with a hedge fund. Unless you have evidence to back that statement up, you should withdraw it.

Alun Davies: I think that there was such a relationship, and I am happy to sustain that—[Interruption.] I am not going to take another intervention.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. Angela Burns wishes to speak.

Angela Burns: As far as I understand it, Alun Davies has just accused me personally of having a relationship with a hedge fund. I state categorically that I have never had a relationship with a hedge fund or with a hedge fund provider, and I would like him to withdraw that statement because it is a slur on my integrity; I do not play that kind of game.


The Riddler said...
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John Dixon said...


Perhaps I'm just poetically challenged, but I'm afraid that your rhymes are simply too obscure for me.