Westminster accounts reveal £183 million influencing UK politics

Theresa May in the House of Commons sitting next to Ken Clarke.
Theresa May in the House of Commons sitting next to Ken Clarke.

Research from Sky News and Tortoise has uncovered more than £183 million in donations and ‘earnings’ into British politics during this Parliament.

Both companies and individual capitalists have been funding political parties, All-Party Parliamentary Groups, as well as donating into the campaign funds and constituencies of Ministers and MPs from all parties.

It is still unclear who ultimately provides the money, largely due to the hiding-in-plain-sight methods used to conceal them – multiple layers, websites, and in-person sources.

Corruption follows folly. Staggering sums of cash have gone to a core group of twenty MPs. Theresa May is chief among this group, having ‘earned’ over £2.5 million since December 2019.

Most of this money has come from speaking engagements in various places around the world. On one occasion she took £107,600 for a speech delivered in Saudi Arabia, a country on which she has previously taken a hard stance. Clearly, principles are as thin as banknotes in the world of Parliament.

Beyond individual MPs, party-based donations are good way of understanding how this issue hides in plain sight. The Conservative party have been gifted around £76 million since 2019, and chief among their donors is the construction equipment monopoly JCB. The company’s loyalty to the party has paid dividends, with JCB receiving a £600 million emergency loan during the pandemic.

Property developers have a similar relationship with the Conservative party. An openDemocracy investigation found that the Conservatives received more than £4.5 million from developers between July 2019 and June 2020.

As with JCB, property developer Richard Desmond’s £1 billion Tower Hamlets housing development was greenlit via Westminster despite local opposition; Desmond’s donations stand at around £12,000.

Figures from the Electoral Commission also show that almost £18 million was given to the Conservative party from property sector donors between 2019 and 2021. This analysis only includes all donations over £100,000, not including the mass of small landlords is not included.

If these figures confirm anything it’s the truth of our position – that this is a dictatorship of private property and capital.

The Labour Party receives its political funding differently. All of their top donations still come from Unite, Unison, USDAW, and CWU, most of which have an opt-in political fund donation within their dues applications. This can put the unions in an awkward position due to the oscillations of Labour politics.

And Labour is often happy to collaborate with capitalists. Since 2019 the party received £1.7 million from the Co-operative Group, and varying sums from companies such as PWC and Bloomberg Trading Facility.

Although not all of this is not inherently scandalous, it demonstrates the deep rot at the centre of the bourgeois system.

Grant MacDonald, is a member of the YCL’s Edinburgh Branch

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