Dodgy millionaire funding has become a way of life for New Labour

Submitted by AWL on 1 December, 2007 - 1:08 Author: Gerry Bates

After the "cash for peerages" row, the New Labour party of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair is now deep in another scandal about dodgy funding from millionaires, one which has already brought a police investigation and forced the resignation of Labour Party general secretary Peter Watt. Labour's affiliated unions should tell their representatives on the Party's National Executive to demand an emergency Executive meeting to decide on and install proper measures of accountability.

As in the previous scandal, Labour Party treasurer (and TGWU deputy general secretary) Jack Dromey says he was kept in the dark about the donations made to the party through stooge intermediaries by businessman David Abrahams. According to BBC News, Peter Watt consulted the "officers of the National Executive Committee" before resigning, but the Executive as such has had no say in the matter.

It has also been revealed that Abrahams made donations to candidates in Labour's deputy leadership campaign through similar stooge intermediaries. To add to the murk, it is apparently not at all clear from the publicly-available accounts of Abrahams' companies where he got the money to make such large donations.

The unions should certainly demand a thorough review. But by now it is like polishing a pigsty. The shady millionaire-funding connections date back to John Smith's period as Labour leader (1992-1994), and grew enormously in Tony Blair's first years, 1994-7, when millions of pounds in murky business donations were pumped into making the "private offices" of Blair and other New Labour leaders into more lavishly-staffed outfits than the Labour Party's own headquarters.

Those millionaire connections are now a way of life, not an aberration, for New Labour's top people.

Socialists, and those unions which are prepared to make some political stand for working-class interests, must also work to unite the left to build a new movement for working-class representation, drawing in local Labour Parties where they can. Any idea that the New Labour gang can be straightened out by pressure and lobbying is an illusion, especially now that it has protected itself by getting the unions and local Labour Parties (at the Bournemouth Labour Party conference, at the end of September) to ban themselves in future from putting political motions to Labour Party conference.

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