Shadow Chancellor Under Sleaze Investigation

Labour has hardly shied away from gunning for the Tories on sleaze, not least over Flatgate and Greensill. Leading the charge has been Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, who has accused the Conservatives of sleaze no fewer than 31 times on TwitterIt’s awkward, therefore, that four days ago the Commons sleaze commissioner launched an investigation into Reeves for improper registration of donations and other support…

Paragraph 14, of course, reads:

“Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders.”

Back in March 2021 Reeves was out and about suggesting the government’s delay in publishing the ministers’ register of interests was over potential “conflicts of interests”. Over to Kathryn Stone…

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Political Donors Meet Politicians Shock

As it is silly season the papers are full of the shocking news that people who give wads of cash to political parties get invited to meet politicians. They may even eat and drink with them whilst talking about politics. Labour has a “Chair’s Circle” where donors who part with a minimum of £5,000 join “the highest level of giving within the party“. Donors get to go to dinners with Shadow Cabinet members, VIP events at party conference with the highlight being a “Chair’s Circle welcome reception, hosted by Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner”. Don’t all rush…

UPDATE: Amanda Milling has hit back at Labour. In a letter sent to Anneliese Dodds, Milling highlights Labour’s donor access hypocrisy:

“Indeed in the past year the Labour Party has taken just over £1.2 million from Unite. Due to Labour infighting, this has fallen by over £4.5 million since August 2019.

Over the weekend I read that the Labour Party is now seeking donations from billionaire businessmen, such as Lord Sainsbury and Sir Trevor Chinn.

I would also like to remind you that the Labour Party runs its own Chair Circle Membership group and the Rose Network whose members can pay a fee to get access to Sir Keir Starmer, yourself, and other senior Labour Party Shadow Cabinet members. On your website it states that: “As a Rose Network member, you’ll be invited to a programme of events, including live webinar discussions with key politicians””

She concludes by asking whether Labour would prefer political parties to be funded by taxpayers instead…

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Scottish Police Launch SNP Fraud Probe

Today Police Scotland has launched a formal investigation into SNP fundraising after assessing a fraud allegation since March. In the words of The Herald, The development is a huge blow to Nicola Sturgeon”, not least because the person ultimately responsible is the SNP chief executive, and her husband, Peter Murrell. Guido has a feeling the move by Police Scotland would be headline news were it about Boris…

”Police Scotland has now received seven complaints in relation to donations that were made to the Scottish National Party.

“After assessment and consultation with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, we will now carry out an investigation.

“Enquiries are continuing and anyone who has any information which may assist with this investigation is asked to contact police.”

The development is also a swansong for Wings Over Scotland, who announced their closure two months ago. The blog came back online today to report the development, though his loyal readers will know the site had been investigating the apparent disappearance of £600,000 raised from supporters for the past 15 months. As Wings summed up in April:

“The money was supposedly to be “ring-fenced” for spending ONLY in a future indyref, and the party gave explicit and hotly-stated guarantees at the time of the first appeal that the money would definitely NOT be spent on party business.

But when the party’s 2019 accounts were published they showed that the SNP had less than £100,000 in the bank at the end of that year, and total net assets of less than £272,000. The £600,000 from the fundraisers was nowhere to be found, and the then-party treasurer’s feeble insistence that it was “woven through” the accounts in some unspecified way satisfied only the most gullible.”

This summary was followed by a much more detailed investigation days later. Guido looks forward to following this one closely…

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Newly Ennobled Lord Cruddas Donates £500,000 to Tories

Peter Cruddas, the billionaire City tycoon, has donated £500,000 to the Tories after Boris Johnson overruled advice from the official Appointments Commission and made him a peer. Lord Cruddas – a long-time Tory donor – gave the the Conservative party the donation on February 5th, three days after his appointment to the House of Lords. Boris Johnson overturned the advice, describing concerns as “historic” and praising Cruddas’s “outstanding contributions in the charitable sector”. According to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, this is the first time the organisation’s advice has been ignored. Cruddas has given over £3.5 million to the Tories on top of the £1.5 million he gave to the Vote Leave campaign – which he co-founded.

The Appointments Commission advised against Peter Cruddas’ nomination due to a supposed “cash for access” scandal that was in fact a stitch up – of which he was cleared. In 2012, the Electoral Commission ruled that there was no evidence that rules had been broken and Cruddas won £180,000 in damages from The Sunday Times. Guido can’t understand why – given he was cleared – that the Appointments Commission raked over the old story… 

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Tories Raise More Than Labour By 3 to 1 in Q1

Tories: £4,724,776

Co-operative Party: £8,000

Green Party: £1,800

Labour Party: £1,494,267

Liberal Democrats: £564,135

Renew: £111,671

Women’s Equality Party: £10,000

Anti-Brexit party Renew brought in more than £111,000 before its founder gave up last week. Following its new hardline anti-Islam, pro-Tommy Robinson direction, UKIP did not report any donations in Q1. The Tories are significantly outgunning Labour should anyone fancy that October election…

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Mystery of Owen’s Missing £13,000 of Crowdfunding

Owen Jones launched a crowdfunding campaign during the general election called the ‘Stop a Tory Landslide Fund’. The Crowdpac page used to solicit donations records that a healthy £28,258 was raised. The clear impression from that page and the accompanying video is that the cash was to be urgently put towards the campaign: “We will donate this money to Labour MPs who are under threat from the Tories to help them keep their seats… time is running out.” An impressive crowdfunding effort…

So imagine Guido’s surprise to see that Labour MPs received only £15,000 from Owen’s Stop a Tory Landslide Fund during the second quarter of the year. The official data, released by the Electoral Commission this morning, records only three donations from Stop a Tory Landslide. These were to Lancaster and Fleetwood, Nottingham South, and Ealing Central and Acton CLPs, who each received £5,000. What happened to the remaining £13,258?

Political donations are so closely monitored that there must be an innocent explanation for this. Maybe the missing money is yet to be donated, being held back for the next election. After all, Labour is in ‘permanent campaign’ mode – although donors were not told that by Owen at the time. Or maybe the crowdfunding page is overstating the actual amount raised. Perhaps Owen can help clear it up…

UPDATE: Guido is happy to report that Owen says “The rest was donated to the campaigns, not CLPs, of Clive Lewis and Rosena Allin-Khan, who’ve declared on Register of Members’ Interests.”

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