Remember the 1997 General Election? One of the key planks of the Labour campaign was their attacks on Tory sleaze.
Well wads of cash in brown envelopes seems small beer now compared to Labour's loans scandal.
Setting aside the possible link to peerages, it is now clear that the Labour Party, or, to be fair, a small group of individuals in senior positions in the Labour Party, had a deliberate strategy of arranging soft loans in order to get round the transparancy imposed by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPEERA) that they themselves had introduced in response to Tory sleaze.
Reading the articles in todays Independent here and here - based on evidence from a senior Labour Party source - it is clear that Labour could not have afforded most of the campaign they ran in 2005.
That means that Labour MPs in marginal seats such as Andrew Smith MP in Oxford East, Emily Thornberry MP in Islington South & Finsbury, Claire Ward MP in Watford and even Charles Clarke MP in Norwich South may well have lost their seats, had it not been for the cash raised from secret loans.
They certainly would not have had the billboards, mailshots and newspaper ads that were used to squeeze the lib Dem vote in the last week of the campaign to back up their local efforts.
I hope that Lib Dem campaigners in these and other marginal seats will be pointing this out over the coming months.
Labour got in by attacking the Tories for being sleazy. But now we know that they are not only a bunch of sleazebags themselves, but a hypocritcal bunch of sleazebags at that.