Rotten borough latest

A friend of The Blogger’s with a good head for figures has produced a very handy spreadsheet listing every donation handed to the Labour Party by a local ‘Labour Group’ since records started in 2001.

‘Labour Groups’ are the ones that organise themselves, often inside our town halls, as highly secretive and unaccountable unincorporated associations for fundraising and donation purposes. And very interesting information this spreadsheet yields too.

We’ve not had time to go into it in too much detail yet. But the spreadsheet indeed confirms that the two donations made this year from ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ to the Bristol North West Constituency Labour Party are the only ones to have ever been made by them using this secretive and underhand method ideal for anonymity and total non-accountability.

Moreover – to give you some sense of proportion here – The Blogger can confirm that their donation – £10k in total – is the largest gift from one of these unincorporated Labour Groups to a Labour Constituency Party to have been made this year.

We can also confirm that Labour’s national network of unincorporated associations – working for the grassroots of a party that promised to clean up sleaze in politics and be “whiter than white” – have between them donated almost £1m since 2001 to the Labour Party.

And because this vast amount of cash has been funneled into the Labour Party through these secretive and unaccountable devices that do not have to keep public accounts or financial records of any kind, this means there’s no way of knowing where any of this money really originated.

This seems extraordinary. A group of people responsible for high-finance, high-stakes stuff like granting planning permission, handling waste, procuring major capital projects, awarding multi-million pound contracts to private sector firms and handing political power at both local and national levels to their associates appears to have been provided with an entirely anonymous, secretive and unaccountable conduit for laundering funds into their political party. You couldn’t make it up could you?

The Labour Party, however, while brazenly running these funny money associations for itself, has been getting its knickers in a twist over certain other unincorporated associations recently. Between April 16, 2003, and March 14, 2006, the Conservative Party received 52 donations from the Midlands Industrial Council (MIC), an unincorporated association, totalling £968,690 – a little less than the Labour Party has raised through its network of town hall ‘Labour Groups’.

Hazel Blears, when she was the Labour Party chairman, even slammed the MIC as an example of Tory ”secrecy” on funding. She’s also described the MIC as a “shadowy” organisation about which little is known and has said:

“If David Cameron continues to remain secretive about such an important source of funding for the Conservative Party then the Electoral Commission should consider the use of its supervisory powers to investigate the Midlands Industrial Council and its donations to the Conservatives.”

Indeed they should and while they’re at it perhaps the Electoral Commission should consider the use of its supervisory powers to investigate this sleazy and unaccountable network of ‘Labour Groups’ – many seemingly operating with impunity from inside our town halls where their hands are actually on the levers of power – and their generous, inexplicable and apparently unaffordable gifts to the Labour Party.

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