What could we buy with £2.4m?

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kennedybillboard.jpegMichael Brown continues to damage the Liberals' reputation, not because money was allegedly fraudulently given to them, but because they have shown no intention to return a penny to those who may have been defrauded. 

The Observer has a new line on this today. Robert Mann, one of those who believes he was defrauded, is suing the party for his part of the money back - £632,000 of the £2.4m in question.

Brown billed 5th Avenue Partners as an "investment opportunity", but Mann's money was wasted on helicopter rides for Charles Kennedy and billboards with his face on it, all to encourage people to do something equivalent to abstaining in the 2005 election.

What I didn't realise last time I looked at this was that the Electoral Commission can, according to the Observer, "take the donation into the public purse if it is found that it is not permissible". 

The Liberals' defence is that they've spent the money, but if Brown is found to have fraudulently obtained it and donated it, the fact is it doesn't belong to them, and they should hand it over. Imagine an associate of a petty thief trying to tell the police and the courts that money can't be returned because it's been spent. 

And just think what government could do with that money instead. 

If it was spent here in Scotland, it could boost the Saltire Prize by almost 25%. If it had been spent in Wales, it would have paid for the revival of their language and culture centre in Gwynedd. The Northern Irish could fund 3,600 childcare places. It'd be more than enough for the English to start making Basildon beautiful

And wouldn't any of those uses be better than letting the Liberals blow it on Focus leaflets and dodgy "only we can win here" charts?

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This page was published on September 7, 2008 12:44 PM.

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