Jul 21, 2008

What Did Labour Know?

Tracy Watkins asks

Now, there are legitimate questions over what Labour knew of the donation.
National's Bill English has queried whether Labour Party president Mike Williams played any role in brokering the deal.
Mr Williams openly approved of the Tauranga petition. Labour had more than a passing interest, after all, in testing the electoral rules in a case involving a National MP with deep pockets. And, of course, Mr Williams has a phone number for Mr Glenn, who was Labour's wealthiest supporter. If it were known about in Labour circles, then it would have been known that Mr Peter's denials were a shade too emphatic.
That would have raised alarm bells, given Mr Glenn's pursuit of a posting as New Zealand's honorary consul in Monaco – a position over which Mr Peters has some influence, though Prime Minister Helen Clark has all but ruled it out.
Certainly, it appeared that some within senior Labour circles held doubts last week that Mr Peters' denials would be the end of the story. But Mr Williams has categorically denied any involvement.
After weeks of being effectively incommunicado after one gaffe too many in Miss Clark's eyes, he was moved to break his silence yesterday with a statement: "I can state that I have had a number of discussions with Mr Glenn over recent years. At no time have I been involved in arranging for Mr Glenn to make donations to any other person or party."
The surprise is that the donation was kept secret in the first place. Mr Glenn is no shrinking violet when it comes to putting his name to political donations. The $500,000 in total he gave to Labour came with fulsome and public testimonials from Mr Glenn about his admiration for Miss Clark.
A few straight answers now would be good, but they have been pretty thin on the ground lately.