ALL politicians live in glass houses and should be careful before throwing stones at their opponents' homes. It was astonishing to hear the acting Liberal Democrat leader Vincent Cable attacking Gordon Brown at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday over party funding, given the huge loan from a fraudster the LibDems accepted at the last election and have still not returned. The Conservatives do not live in a house of shatterproof glass either; questions are still being asked about whether Lord Ashcroft, their biggest donor and most powerful adviser, has implemented the promise he made several years ago to establish domicile in the United Kingdom. None of this diminishes the seriousness of the situation that Gordon Brown and the Labour party find themselves in over David Abrahams' loans. Every hour seems to bring a new twist to this story so it may be better to wait for a day or two more for further revelations before attempting to reach any conclusion. However, what the affair does make clear even at this stage is that the kind of fundraising that all parties are obliged to undertake is both dangerous and demeaning; the rules are in place but can too easily be ignored. If the outcome of this unsavoury affair is a recognition that a fundamentally new approach is needed to political party funding, if necessary by substantial state subsidies, then some good will have come from it.


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