The Labour leadership seems to be getting rattled by the continual highlighting of their members’ servitude to their biggest donor and string-puller: the unions. Regular readers will know that Guido caught Sadiq Khan and Kate Green red-handed and the Tories went very publicly for Rachel Reeves.
At Monday’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, backbenchers were given the following advice:
Correct, you do not need to declare membership, but when local donations are received they should not only be registered with the Electoral Commission, but also mentioned in the Register of Members Interests. However this is classic Labour obfuscation – denying charges that nobody is making. The trouble they have got themselves into isn’t about these two things, it’s about declaring an interest when scrutinising legislation, or speaking on an issue or subject that your donor has a direct interest in. Guido will repeat it until he is blue in the face, Rule 74 of the House of Commons Code of Conduct is very clear:
“It is the responsibility of the Member, having regard to the rules of the House, to judge whether a financial interest is sufficiently relevant to a particular debate, proceeding, meeting or other activity to require a declaration. The basic test of relevance should be the same for declaration as it is for registration of an interest; namely, that a financial interest should be declared if it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question. A declaration should be brief but should make specific reference to the nature of the Member’s interest.”
This is the advice the whips should have been dispensing.