Ban dark money donations in the Labour party – Momentum

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“It is downright hypocritical when you consider that Keir Starmer has made ethics and integrity a key dividing line from the sleaze-ridden, self-interested Tories, rightly advocating for “strict rules about donations from shell companies.”

By Kate Dove, Momentum

Nadhim Zahawi’s tax avoidance is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tory sleaze. When Sky News published its #WestminsterAccounts last week, revealing the full extent of MPs’ second jobs and donations, it was little surprise that the Tories dominated.

Whether it’s Boris Johnson and Theresa May’s lucrative speeches, Geoffrey Cox’s money-spinning side hustle or dodgy corporate donations, the Tories’ money-grubbing antics are well-known. Over the past two years, sleaze is what we’ve come to expect from them.

What was more shocking was the revelations around MPM Connect LTD, the shadowy shell company which was the largest non-trade union donor to MPs over the past three years. As Sky’s investigation revealed, MPM has no staff or website. It is run by Peter Hearn, a ‘recruitment mogul’ who has also donated to the Tories..

But MPM Connect LTD is not a Tory donor. Rather, it has funnelled £345,217 in donations to senior Labour politicians since 2019: Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has received £184,317, former mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis £100,000 and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting £60,900.

This would be shocking at the best of times. It is downright hypocritical when you consider that Keir Starmer has made ethics and integrity a key dividing line from the sleaze-ridden, self-interested Tories, rightly advocating for “strict rules about donations from shell companies.” This follows on from a strong 2019 manifesto, on which all Labour MPs stood, which proposed a series of bold new measures to ‘change how politics is funded’, such as banning donations from tax avoiders and tax evaders, closing loopholes that “allow the use of shell companies to funnel dark money into politics” and introducing a lobbying register

Yet more than a week on, and none of the three have returned the money, nor has Starmer called on them to do so. Indeed, Streeting has even boasted of the donations, declaring himself “proud to have successful business people supporting the Labour Party”. Why?

The answer surely comes in the context of a wider push by the Labour leadership to alienate grassroots members and embrace elite business interests. It is clearer than ever that Keir Starmer’s ten pledges were a knowing deception of Labour members, who he has sought to disempower at every turn ever since. Rachel Reeves has even welcomed the exodus of hundreds of thousands of members from the Party. 

Instead, the Leadership has actively courted elite business interests. The pro-business agenda trumpeted by Starmer and Reeves is in reality a pro-elite agenda. Keir Starmer’s attendance at the Davos summit this week is inseparable from his refusal to countenance public ownership of industries like energy and water, where privatisation has been a total disaster and public support for nationalisation is sky-high.

Likewise, the refusal of Rachel Reeves to endorse wealth taxes, even as our obscene levels of inequality reach grotesque new heights, is bound up with the Party Leadership’s turn towards corporate donors and its unashamed embrace of the City of London.

In short, this goes beyond questions of process, to something more fundamental: who is the party for? Are we the party of the organised working class, founded to give a political voice to workers and to fight for socialism? Or are we the back-up party for big business, one which is given a shot at governing so long as nothing fundamental is changed, even as the country falls apart? At Momentum, we will not stop fighting for a party run by and for members and unions, not the corporate elite. If you agree, support our campaign and pass our model motion in your CLP.


Featured image: Palace of Westminster and Westminster bridge at sunset. Photo credit: Rosakoalaglitzereinhorn under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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