Is Loadsamoney Levy the bagman who'll bury Blair?

Last updated at 09:51 31 March 2006

Lobbyist jack Abramoff was jailed for five years and ten months in America this week on corruption charges.

He spent millions on behalf of his clients buying influence in Washington. The scandal has rocked the Republican establishment and ruined at least one high-profile political career.

More casualties will follow. Abramoff was given a shorter sentence in return for co-operating with investigators. He's singing like a canary.

I won't bore you with all the details, but as well as the usual currency of sports tickets, golf days, gourmet dinners and free holidays, Abramoff is also said to have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash bribes.

What they nailed him on eventually was faking documents to obtain a $60million loan to buy a fleet of casino ships.

The reason Washington is shaking is because Abramoff is the man who knows where all the bodies are buried.

We like to kid ourselves that our politics are much cleaner than the American and Continental models.

And to an extent, it's true. But that's no reason for complacency. While the Americans may have bigger and better scandals, they also take them more seriously.

Admittedly, Scotland Yard is now taking an interest in the cash-for-ermine controversy. But no one seriously expects any big-name charges.

This is the Hutton Inquiry in a helmet.

Blair's bagman, Lord Levy, hasn't done anything illegal in Britain, as far as we know. But were he in Washington, he'd have been pulled in for questioning in a highly visible "perp walk" for the TV cameras.

Whichever way you cut it, Blair has been selling honours in return for political donations. What do you call that, if not bribery and corruption? It's a criminal offence.

OK, so Blair hasn't benefited personally, although undoubtedly the money helped him get reelected and enabled him to carry on living beyond his means.

Why don't we seem to care?

In the US, this kind of scandal would be on every talk radio show, every day. Congressional and Senate committees would be established and witnesses called. There would by now have been a concerted effort to impeach the President.

Nixon was brought crashing down over Watergate and Clinton was keel-hauled for lying over Monica Lewinsky.

The political scandals New Labour has been involved in would have destroyed an American administration.

Peter Mandelson would be wearing an orange jump suit by now, not swanning around like royalty in Brussels.

It has always baffled me why no charges were ever brought against Mohamed Fayed, who openly admitted giving Conservative MPs freebies and cash in brown envelopes.

If the Phoney Pharaoh were caught bunging cash to a US legislator, he would probably be doing 15 to 20 in the Martha Stewart Memorial Wing of whatever is Washing-ton's answer to Ford Open. (The Betty Ford Open, probably.)

Given what we do know about, I hate to speculate about what we don't.

Casino Jack is tipping the bucket from his federal prison cell. Who'll do the same here?

Lord Levy is said to be furious that he may be forced to carry the can, even if not criminally.

He's telling anyone who'll listen that he advised Blair against taking the secret loans.

There's no doubt Levy has the map of the graveyard in his safe. Will he do for Westminster what Casino Jack is doing for Washington?

It's a sobering thought, but the likelihood is that if Jack Abramoff were British, he wouldn't be sitting in a prison cell — he'd be sitting in the House of Lords.

Jack's fatal attraction for Condi

What was Jaq al-Straw thinking of when he invited Condoleezza Rice to visit his Blackburn constituency?

They were hardly going to throw a reception at the local mosque. Condi ticks all the wrong boxes - she's female, American, Christian, black, pro-Bush, pro-war. Hardly surprising the peace-loving Muslim elders in Blackburn have told her she's not welcome.

How long can Jaq rely on the support of his 25,000 Muslim voters? There's already a Muslim veto in Blackburn. This week, Muslim burials in the town were exempted from the nationwide strike by council staff on cultural grounds. If Jaq keeps sucking up to Condi, his own political funeral can't be far off.

What was I saying on Tuesday about the callous way we are treated by our so-called public servants?

One of the worst outrages has been the decision of many councils to bulldoze gravestones on health 'n' safety grounds.

Stoke-on-Trent alone has flattened 2,000 in the past three years. Now the Local Government Ombudsman has told them to stop. It should never have come to this.

Instead of toppling the stones, why didn't councils just employ someone to go round with a bucket of cement and make them safe?

That would have been too easy and Town Hall officials wouldn't have had all the fun of causing widespread upset to the bereaved.

Brown's Britain update. The Chancellor is always boasting about how much he's "investing" in the NHS. This week it was revealed that just as thousands of medical and ancillary staff are being laid off because of a funding crisis, the NHS has spent £52.5 million on consultants.

These are management consultants, not Sir Lancelot Spratts. Nurse!

Cherie's £10,000 shampoo and jet-set

The conga-line of bag-carriers and hangers-on which accompanied the Blairs on their recent jolly to Australia and beyond included the Wicked Witch's personal hairdresser, Andre Suard.

So dependent is the WW on her very own Teasy Weasy that she can't leave home without him. As Ephraim Hardcastle reported, Mr Suard gets VIP treatment wherever he goes.

I'm no expert, but I wouldn't have thought her barnet needs that much maintenance. We're not talking Pauline Prescott here. Couldn't she cut out the middle man and pack a set of Carmen heated rollers? Most hotel rooms have blow-dryers these days.

Apparently, they do have hairdressers in Australia. Not everyone looks like Sir Les Patterson.

I'm not one to bitch, but the word is that the hairdresser goes along not to minister to the WW but to attend to Tony's thinning thatch - which, on a windy day, without thickener and industrial quantities of hair-spray would look like tumbleweed blowing down the main street in Tombstone.

Downing Street say the WW paid for Mr Suard's trip but not how much. In the normal course of events you wouldn't get much change out of ten grand for a first-class, five-star excursion Down Under.

Somehow, even if we give her the benefit of the doubt, I can't see the WW forking out anything like that amount. She's a woman who expects a jet-set hairdo at easyJet prices.

The blitz on our history

At the end of the war, Maidenhead Council decided to name streets on a new estate after the planes flown by the RAF.

Lancaster, Halifax and Blenheim became part of the local landscape. It is known affectionately as the Bomber Estate.

Now a Lib Dem councillor, Simon Warner, wants it renamed, because the word "bomber" is associated with terrorism.

"Post 9/ 11, the word has been lost on the younger residents," he complained.

Given that the younger residents are prone to spraying graffiti all over the estate and think that Churchill is that dog off the car insurance adverts, all the more reason to leave well alone.

Why doesn't Mr Warner mount a campaign to remind the gormless youths, who glory in the nickname "The Bomber Boyz", of the sacrifices made by their grandfathers' generation?

Lancaster, Halifax and Blenheim — along with Wellington, Spitfire and Hurricane — helped ensure that Britain remained free and could go on to become a land fit for illiterate louts with no sense of history, not to mention dopey Lib Dem politicians.

What would Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur "Peace-Lover" Harris make of it? The people of Maidenhead should tell Mr Warner to Foxtrot Oscar.

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