The Week According to Sean Dilley

Opposition within the Labour party is mounting at news of a "substantial donation" by former Leader Tony Blair.

There are those with memories longer than a week who point out that it seems as odd as a vomit-scented air freshener why the former PM would want to give some of his estimated £75 million fortune to a party led by Ed Miliband, given his first act as leader was to attack the legitimacy of the war on Iraq and by extension, the former Sedgefield MP's own morality.

I choked on my coffee at suggestions the donation comes as a reward for not-red Ed's stance on the unions – one that will cost an estimated £4 to £7 million in lost revenues when affiliates are asked whether they actively wish to opt in to political donations. Call me a cynical old reporter if you will, but if I had to bet my salary or a peanut on it, I'd say Tony Blair wants something. Answers on a postcard.

But what is concerning party insiders more than anything is that it unknown what Chilcott will conclude on Iraq and whether Tony Blair's donation could then embarrass  the party. Then there's the email that has emerged of Blair offering Rebekah Brookes any help he could over the thorny subject of phone hacking. That last one forms part of a live case, so it's worth pointing out that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and the concerns of insiders on this point could be premature.


More left hand-right hand issues in Whitehall with an unseemly storm around the prime minister's use of foreign domestic staff from Australia and Nepal and the deputy PM’s employment of a Belgium citizen

This pointless pickle emerged following a speech by respected Home Office minister James Brokenshire who said the wealthy benefit from free movement and ordinary workers are the losers since it's their wages that have stagnated.

Quicker than a personal injury lawyer at a pile up, Labour MP John Mann has waded in and demanded details from all Cabinet ministers who employ foreign nationals. I can't say I blame him for his opportunism but I can say that I'm surprised that such a speech was able to go out in these circumstances. The storm demonstrates just how out of touch all politicians are with the people they are supposed to represent, regardless of party and domestic help status.


There is little one can usefully add to the crises in Ukraine since the situation is so fast moving and any specific analysis is out of date as soon as the ts are crossed, but what is clear is that Britain is very regrettably starting to realise that the notion of any feet on ground or other meaningful military action is off the table.

From the sidelines, it's quite clear that Russia really isn't too worried about travel restrictions. They a tin pot dictatorship with an army of 15 with only sharpened kiwi fruit to defend themselves. The situation therefore is potentially catastrophic, with a modern power struggle between Russia and the West opening the door to a new Cold War. Somebody better get over that negotiating table and turn up the air con.


Some watchers may scoff at the upcoming TV debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage – but before getting in to any of the merits, this debate alone assures the future of the hard-won television debates ahead of polling day at the general election.

The deputy PM should be praised for throwing down the gauntlet during his weekly radio phone-in on LBC last week. But personally I can’t see the Lib Dem Leader achieving anything less than giving the Ukip leader the opportunity to embarrass mainstream politics from top to bottom through personality and straight answers alone. Remember, Nigel Farage has nothing to lose and everything to win.

I for one will be very interested in how the debate plays out – conscious of the good things Europe achieves and aware of the incompetence that exists throughout it's governance and operations. How will the British public react to the nuances here? Simply: they won't. None of us have got time in general life to tear every last issue apart and so I can confidently predict that the debate will become nothing more than a popularity contest between the two politicians. Dangerous territory, so says I.