Sir Keir Starmer reacted to Labour’s disastrous result in the Hartlepool by-election by demoting Angela Rayner and promoting Rachel Reeves. The move, according to the FT, was “designed to get the Labour party back on the front foot after disappointing local election results and a weekend of bitter infighting”.
Like many of Starmer’s “forward” moves, this appears like a backwards step.
Grace Blakely (and others) pointed out that “the only places where Labour gained seats (in May 2021) were those represented by candidates who actively call themselves socialists”.
Starmer, in direct contradiction of the evidence, decided to give greater prominence to Reeves, an Oxbridge graduate who worked for the Bank of England, HBOS and interviewed for Goldman Sachs. Reeves is so far to the right that in 2013, while shadow work and pensions secretary, she declared that Labour would be “tougher” than Tories on benefits and doubled down on this in 2015, stating “we’re not the party to represent those who are out of work”
As if this was not enough to send a shiver up socialist spines, data just released by the Electoral Commission reveals that Reeves has received £38,890 for the “provision of research and writing services” from key donors embedded in anti-Corbyn factionalism, in particular the ironically named “Labour Together”.
What the EC data shows us is that since the end of 2019, Reeves has registered only two donations:
Labour Together (1/2/21)- £13,520
Trevor Chinn (6/4/20)- £25,370
*Update: Reeves registered a donation from Labour Together dated 1/3/22 for £25,121.
This makes a new total of £64,011.*
If you dig a bit deeper it turns out Labour Together has, in turn, received donations from just two private individuals since the end of 2019:
Trevor Chinn (2021)- £60,000 + Trevor Chinn (2020)- £46,500
Martin Taylor (2021)- £50,000 + Martin Taylor (2020)- £120,000
Yearly Subtotal (2021): £110,000
Yearly subtotal (2020): £166,500
Overall total: £276,500 in 16 months.
But who are Labour Together, Trevor Chinn and Martin Taylor, and what does their potential influence at the very top of the Labour Party mean for what’s left of The Left?
Who Are Labour Together?
Labour Together argue for unity rather than factionalism:
The challenges we face are so complex that it will take the best of all the Labour traditions to build a coalition for change.
Beyond faction and personality, what we need is a new approach to politics.
Not a Labour populism but a new political culture that rips up the rule book and requires all of us to behave differently.
This can be built on Labour’s values of tolerance, fraternity and respect, and will help Labour achieve our purpose of a more just world. It is Labour’s responsibility to bring the country back together, but first we must bring Labour together.
Hits all the right notes doesn’t it?
The website lists “some of the MPs who are helping to co-ordinate our projects” as: “Jon Cruddas, Lisa Nandy, Steve Reed, Shabana Mahmood, Jim McMahon, Bridget Phillipson, Wes Streeting, Marsha de Cordova, Alex Norris, Thangam Debbonaire, Darren Jones, Holly Lynch, James Frith, David Lammy and Jack Dromey.”
Does the track record of these MPs suggest that “togetherness” has always been on their agenda? The fact that 12 of the 15 openly supported Owen Smith’s leadership challenge to Jeremy Corbyn in 2016 would suggest otherwise.
The current board of Directors of Labour Together are: Jon Cruddas, Lisa Nandy, Steve Reed (all Labour MP’s that were instrumental in undermining Corbyn’s leadership), Trevor Chinn (millionaire instrumental in funding MPs and pressure groups working to undermine Corbyn’s leadership) and Hannah O’Rourke (former Parliamentary researcher to Tristram Hunt). Not sure about you, but fraternity and tolerance aren’t the first words that spring to mind.
These are the key agents of Labour (definitely not a faction) Together, but who funds the organisation?
On their website, Labour Together claim that “we are not a membership body or a faction so we are funded by donations small and large from activists, trade unions and members who recognise our network needs to exist.”
Although the site does advertise for donations and links to the EC page for those interested in their donors, as we stated above, since the end of 2019 Labour Together have only registered donations from two sources, both private individuals, Trevor Chinn and Martin Taylor.
Sir Trevor Chinn is a millionaire entrepreneur and long-term donor to the Labour Party. He has had numerous roles in equity and investment and has been Chief Executive of the RAC. He was a major contributor to Tony Blair’s Labour Leader’s Office Fund and donated directly to Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign. Total donated to Labour Together since 2015: £235,500.
Martin Taylor is a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager and significant Labour donor since Ed Miliband’s tenure. He also donated directly to Keir Starmer’s leadership bid. Total donated to Labour Together since 2015: £754,992.
But what other activists, trade unions and humble Labour members have donated to Labour Together between the group’s inception and the current era of Chinn/Taylor monopoly?
Lord Clive Hollick is a millionaire Labour Peer, media executive and former investment banker. He was Chief Executive of United News and Media and credited with redirecting the political support of The Express and Daily Star towards Tony Blair’s New Labour. He has a long association with the Labour Party, working as a SPAD to both Margaret Beckett and Peter Mandelson. Hollick co-founded the New Labour think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and donated directly to Keir Starmer’s leadership bid. Single donation to Labour Together: £10,000.
Sir Paul Myners is the former Chairman of the Guardian Media Group and Marks & Spencers. He has also served on the Board of the Rothschild’s owned RIT Capital Partners Ltd. He was Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury under Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Myners is a director of the strategy firm Edelman where other senior staff have included Chuka Umunna, Anji Hunter and Luciana Berger. Myners also, you guessed it, donated to Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign. Single donation to Labour Together: £25,000.
Simon Tuttle is a former senior executive in private equity and is now a trustee of Reprieve and Chair of Hope Not Hate. Has been donating to Labour since 2017, most recently £20,000 to Lisa Nandy in 2020. One donation to Labour Together: £10,000.
Richard Greer is an investment banker and Non-Exec Chairman of Myanmar strategic Holdings Ltd. Not much is publicly known about Greer but he has been donating to Labour since at least 2007. Two donations to Labour Together totalling £10,000.
Sean Wadsworth is a co-founder and former Chief Executive at Nigel Frank International which was purchased in a multi-million pound deal by the backers of Spotify and Airbnb. Wadsworth is the current Chair of W Series that promotes and organises female motorsport competitions. Again he does not have much of an online footprint. Apart from Labour Together his only other registered donations were to Owen Smith’s leadership campaign. Single donation to Labour Together: £10,000.
In total these seven men have donated £1,055,492 to Labour Together since 2015. These would be the “large” donations. But what about the “small”?
There is no Electoral Commission record of any other individuals, organisations or public/private entities of any description having donated to Labour Together. Ever. Labour Together do not disclose details of what amounts of funding they have received from any other sources, so it is impossible to say what the respective percentages of their total annual income are made up by “small” and “large” donations.
To clarify, none of this is any way inherently corrupt or illegal, but the question remains as to what reasons seven hugely wealthy private donors recognise that the Labour Together “network needs to exist”….
What conclusions can we draw from the fact that Rachel Reeves has such strong associations with Labour Together and its only recent funders, who’ve pumped a quarter of a million into the group in the past few years alone?
To get the full picture of how this all fits in to the Contra-Corbyn network, we recommend our in-depth study of Starmer funders, in which Chinn and Taylor appear again and again, funding (it appears) any internal opposition to Jeremy Corbyn and the left.
What other conclusions can we draw from the fact that Starmer, in a bid to tackle “bitter infighting”, promotes an MP apparently aligned with the same centrist factional forces that instigated the bitter infighting, an MP who publicly “refused to work for (Miliband’s) left-wing successor Jeremy Corbyn”?
We’d suggest that anyone with an interest in the traditional vision of Labour as a party “for the many, not the few” – a party built from the worker’s grassroots voices up, not a party dictated down to from the ivory towers of wealth and power – should be hugely concerned about the continuing rise of Reeves, Labour Together and their millionaire funders.
Don’t make the same mistake as the Trojans, look inside the horse before you open the gates.
Follow Sean Rankin on Twitter: @ClydesiderRed
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