"The sewage is beginning to lap at Tony Blair's feet", says The Sunday Telegraph. Following last week's arrest of his chief fund raiser, Lord Levy, Blair is set to become the first sitting Prime Minister to face police questioning in connection with a criminal inquiry. The idea that he could have had a hand in the cash for honours affair is "demeaning and embarrassing" to the entire country. The intrigue deepened this week as it emerged that Blair apparently held a meeting with "curry king" Sir Gulam Noon who revealed that he was advised to remove his £250,000 loan to the Labour Party from his peerage nomination form weeks after the millionaire businessmen gave evidence to the enquiry.
Vladimir Putin's jibe at Blair was unavoidable, notes Janet Daley in The Daily Telegraph. If you're fervently promoting democracy worldwide, then you must treat governmental processes with respect at home. "That pretty much excludes raffling off seats in the Lords to the highest bidder". New Labour looks worse than the last Government, according to Peter Oborne in the Evening Standard. In the John Major years, sleaze was confined to "bad apples operating alone"; today, it has engulfed almost every senior member of the Government. According to a Daily Telegraph poll last weekend, the public now deems this Government sleazier than Major's.
This affair threatens the survival of our political parties as much as it does Tony Blair's position, says Michael Portillo in The Sunday Times. Shareholders have abolished company donations; this scandal will end support from rich individuals; and a future Tory government will scrap bungs from trade unions. The Tory leader favours state subsidies for the parties, but the necessary legislation is unlikely in the present climate, so "perhaps they will go bankrupt". That would hamper efforts to oppose those in office, which, after the "abuses of the Blair era would be a deeply perverse outcome".
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