Pro-Starmer ‘party within a party’ which has Croydon North MP on its board and links to ‘campaign guru’ David Evans somehow overlooked huge payments from a businessman and a Mayfair hedge fund manager
An influential Labour Party group which has Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE as a director has been hit with a £14,250 fine by the Electoral Commission after failing to declare more than £800,000 in donations within the required period.
The unironically-titled Labour Together has strong links to party leader, Sir Keir Starmer. So the Commission’s findings will make uncomfortable reading for the former Director of Public Prosecutions, after Labour Together was said to have committed “multiple breaches of electoral law” over a five-year period.
Labour Together has been notified of the fine just days before what seems likely to be an even more controversial than usual party annual conference, where Starmer is expected to try to push through a move away from One-Member-One-Vote over future leadership selections.
Also likely to be on the agenda is David Evans, Starmer’s controversial choice as General Secretary, who could have his appointment challenged by the trades unions.
As Inside Croydon reported in February, the Electoral Commission began its investigation into Labour Together last December.
It has found that Labour Together had “failed to deliver donation reports within 30 days, inaccurately reported a donation and failed to make an administrative appointment after having received the donations”.
According to Business Insider, “The overdue donations were first published in February 2021. Analysis of the figures by Insider suggested only £165,000 of £970,492 donated between October 2015 and January 2021 were declared on time.
“Since February 2021, Labour Together has declared a further £120,000 in donations from its two main backers, Martin Taylor and Trevor Chinn.”
Taylor is a Mayfair hedge fund manager who, completely legitimately, has donated more than £600,000 to the Labour Party. Since October 2015, Taylor has given Labour Together £806,992. In March 2020, during the Labour leadership contest, Taylor donated £95,000 to Starmer’s campaign, again completely properly.
Chinn has given Labour Together £245,500 since August 2017. He donated £50,000 to Starmer’s leadership campaign.
Labour Together is seen as the Blairites’ response to Momentum, the member-based organisation that was established to support Jeremy Corbyn when he was party leader.
With right-wing front-benchers on its board of directors, such as Reed and Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, Labour Together’s review of the party’s 2019 General Election performance was described by the New Statesman as a “blueprint for Starmerism.”
A former managing director of Labour Together is Morgan McSweeney, who was Starmer’s chief of staff until June 2021.
Between October 2007 and November 2009, McSweeney had worked as “director of communities” for the Croydon-based consultancy, The Campaign Company, owned by David Evans.
Immediately prior to that, McSweeney had been “head of the leader’s office” at Lambeth Council, where the leader at the time was… Steve Reed.
Business Insider reports, “Companies House records for the company behind Labour Together show McSweeney was secretary from July 2017 to April 2020, when Starmer became leader of the Labour Party.
“In June, McSweeney was moved to a ‘strategic role’ after the party’s consecutive losses in two Parliamentary by-elections.”
The Electoral Commission has also issued a £1,820 fine to the Labour Party for failing “to deliver accurate quarterly donations reports”.
Tonight, a spokesperson for Labour Together told Business Insider that the failure to declare nearly £1million was “an administrative oversight”.
It was, they said, “entirely unintentional”.
Labour Together says that they are now “fully transparent and compliant with regards to our donations”. Which is nice.
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