Hain backed by local party members but MPs absent

Peter Hain has received the unanimous backing of his constituency Labour party.

A specially-convened meeting of Neath constituency Labour party (CLP) last night said Mr Hain was an “outstanding MP” of the “highest integrity”.

Local party members passed a unanimous vote of the “utmost confidence” in the work and pensions secretary, who is the subject of two investigations into his failure to declare £103,000 in donations.

The support comes as reports increasingly claim Mr Hain has been isolated in Westminster, with Labour members notable by their absence during yesterday’s Wales questions.

Facing Conservative and Liberal Democrat critics, Mr Hain, who is also Welsh secretary, was asked if it would not be the best thing for Welsh jobs for him to resign from both of his government posts immediately.

The prime minister’s support for Mr Hain has also been described as lukewarm, although Downing Street maintains Gordon Brown has “full confidence” in his work and pensions secretary.

Earlier Mr Brown told a TV interview Mr Hain was guilty of “an incompetence” over his failure to declare every donation made to his deputy leadership campaign to the Electoral Commission.

The prime minister has resisted calls to sack the Neath MP, saying his fate now lies with the authorities – namely the Electoral Commission and parliamentary standards commissioner John Lyons, who is conducting his own investigation.

Clive Phillips, president of Neath CLP, said last night’s meeting had been called to allow local party members to show their support for Mr Hain.

“We have utmost confidence that Peter’s account and apology for administrative failings in his campaign office will be accepted,” he told the BBC.

“We expect the ongoing investigations will lead to a satisfactory outcome and he will be able to continue serving the country with the same commitment and distinction that he has shown in the past.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged Mr Hain apologised to Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday for the “kerfuffle” over his failure to declare donations.

Downing Street yesterday admitted the donor row had become “an issue” and this was why Mr Hain had been moved to apologise.