Debbonaire Criticises Sky/Tortoise ‘Westminster Files’ as “Misleading”

Shadow Commons Leader Thangam Debbonaire used an appearance on Newsnight last night to criticise some of the reporting by Sky and Tortoise on donations to MPs. After an interview about Nadhim Zahawi’s taxes, Kirsty Wark widened the discussion to questions about MPs’ finances as a whole. Citing the ‘Westminster Files’ data investigation by Sky and Tortoise, she described it as an attempt to shine a light on what MPs get from whom. Thangam cut in:

 “That’s not strictly accurate, what they did was they showed donations as well as income. And frequently what I saw on Sky was a collapsing of the two things together. So there was some reporting which was misleading and said ‘so and so received such and such money’ when actually it had gone to their campaign, or to their constituency party.”

Thangam’s right about this – as Tom Harwood wrote recently. Investigating money in politics is an ancient pursuit for journalists, however implying that Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer or Rebecca Long-Bailey had money put into their personal bank accounts by donors to their respective leadership campaigns is obvious nonsense. Some MPs saw the Sky News website sloppily imply they’d personally pocketed money given by groups to fund policy experts in their offices, or pay for leaflets for their local constituency association. The Sky/Tortoise website stripped the context out to imply something darker happening in British politics. It muddied the water, it didn’t make things clearer…

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Shadow Ministers’ Elite Education Cost A Packet

Given Sir Keir spent most of PMQs trying to hammer the government over tax benefits for private schools – “trickle-down education” is apparently the soundbite of the day – Guido thought it was worth taking a look at those sitting on Starmer’s own frontbench. After all, the parents of 600,000 kids struggling to pay fees might be entitled to think it is some cheek to put VAT on the schools they themselves attended…

  • Keir Starmer attended Reigate Grammar School, which, as Guido reported, became a fee-paying independent school whilst he was studying there. When Keir joined in 1974, the school had been a state grammar for 30 years. In 1976, however, it went private – and according to their website of ‘notable Reigatians’ Starmer remained a student there until 1981. Today his old school charges £20,000 a year.
  • Party Chair Anneliese Dodds attended Robert Gordon’s College. The independent Aberdeen school currently charges fees of almost £14,000 a year…
  • Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey went to Guy Fawkes’ alma mater, St Peter’s School in York. St Peter’s School is an independent school where fees currently cost almost £20,000 a year…
  • Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Louise Haigh was a student at Sheffield High School. Fees are currently almost £15,000 a year…·
  • Shadow Leader of Commons Thangam Debbonaire went to two independent schools – Bradford Girls’ Grammar School and Chetham’s School of Music. Bradford Girls Grammar School didn’t end its fee-paying status until 2011…

The backbenches are also packed with those more than familiar with private education: John McDonnell skirts over his days at St Joseph’s College. Jeremy Corbyn, the independent Member for Islington North tries to forget he went to a prep school until he was 11. Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry and Shami Chakrabarti in the Lords all sent their children to independent schools. Still, “trickle-down education” is a nice headline…

mdi-timer 30 November 2022 @ 16:00 30 Nov 2022 @ 16:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Debbonaire Invites Mogg to Join Anti-Tax Labour, Bone Asks Government to Believe in Conservatism

Debbonaire joking that Mogg has become a socialist for supporting tax cuts, and Mogg claiming Debbonaire is now a Brexiteer for saying VAT should be slashed from energy bills. Meanwhile Peter Bone asked whether the government had tried believing in conservative views:

Our political discourse is backwards. Has someone tried turning it off and on again?

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Labour Calls on Claudia Webbe to Resign
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Labour Calls for PM to Rule Out Peerage for Paterson
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Thangam Debbonaire Calls on Rees-Mogg to Resign
mdi-timer 7 November 2021 @ 09:03 7 Nov 2021 @ 09:03 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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