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.
Read more: Starmer’s Labour is ‘losing members, losing funds, losing staff’
Read more: Grassroots Labour Party members in calls to sack David Evans
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He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy
It’s true that donations to Starmer’s Labour leadership campaign were not in breach of any rules. But, unlike the other candidates, Starmer failed to say where the money had come from (it was mainly from businessmen and hedge fund managers) until after the voting was over.
Unintentional or not Administrative oversight or something else – the fact remains (as Mr White pointed out) – these were not declared until voting had ceased.
The purpose of declaration is so that voters can see who is donating what and to whom. Most people do not even bother to look in reality until it is reported and brought to their attention. But it is a fundamental control to reduce bribery, corruption etc. It is also a good tool for bringing hypocrisy into the open
It would not be good PR to have donations from those involved or likely to be involved in controversial and voter sensitive projects highlighted at voting time (Building developments/ Planning for example) especially if manifesto pledges conflict or appear to conflict with statements to electors.
Still to not follow it due to ”administrative oversight” suggests poor management and a loose set of fiscal standards.
It then makes one want to see exactly what donors do. This creates a (many times wrongful but some accurate) suspicion of wrongdoing.
This is not good news for a Party that professes to want to run the Borough again with a strong leader. One has to take into account it went financially into the ground under said strong leaders from both parties.
“An administrative oversight”. That lasted five years.
Ha Ha. Some have been longer and usually only until proven beyond reasonable doubt –
as opposed to balance of probability. Sometimes even I am amazed at how often criminal criteria is used (misused) selectively in civil matters by those in authority when it suits a purpose. So perhaps euphemistically speaking?