Any doubts that might have persisted as to whether Owen Smith MP was indeed the establishment candidate in the recent Labour leadership election must have been quickly washed away by the revelation that Smith received nearly £1 million in donations to his campaign. Steve Jones looks at the well-funded right-wing forces hoping to regain control of Labour.
Any remote doubts that might have persisted as to whether or not Owen Smith MP was indeed the establishment candidate in the recent Labour leadership election must have been quickly washed away by the revelation that Smith received nearly £1 million in donations to his campaign. According to data unearthed by Heat Street online reporting, this was the largest amount ever raised far for a party leadership election campaign by some distance – a whopping £808,905.
The rich and powerful normally quibble over every penny when it comes to paying workers. However, when their self-interests are at heart then money is no object.
So who splashed the cash? Step forward David Blunkett, former Labour minister under Blair, with £2,000. Also step forward Greg Dyke, former BBC boss and FA chairman, who also gave £2,000 – very generous for a man who called for a Lib-Dem vote in 2005 and later in 2009 did work for the Tories, leading a review of the UK’s creative sector.
Peer Lord Oakeshott, who was listed as a Lib-Dem for many years, gave the Smith campaign £10,000. Another old chum of Blair, TV producer Charlie Parsons gave £70,000. Former banking boss Sir Victor Blank chipped in with £10,000. The Hull-based firm Allamhouse gave a splendid £100,000; this firm is owned by Assem Allam who has repeatedly called for a new party to be formed if Corbyn continues as Labour leader. This amount was matched by one Georgina Black, an individual whose precise identity and reason for donating such a large sum – either on her own behalf or as a representative for others – remains unclear. Her donation was the largest given by any individual.
Although unions GMB and USDAW gave support to Smith, the bulk of union cash went to Corbyn, who gained virtually all his campaign funds from trade unions, union members and individual Labour members and supporters, raising £254,634 in donations, support and loans.
So how did this all work out? Smith’s £808,905 got him just 193,229 votes; or put another way, he spent over £4 for every vote gained. This compared to well under £1 spent on gaining each vote by the Corbyn campaign.
This latest data adds to a growing picture of support from wealthy backers for the various right-wing organisations and fronts functioning inside Labour. Many of the names mentioned above also appear in the donors lists of the various groups now seeking to undermine Corbyn and push Labour back towards Blairism.
They are doing so for a purpose. The aim is make Labour “safe” again for big business – as a trusty “2nd XI” to come into office when the Tories are out of favour: a form of Tweedledum–Tweedledee politics; what the Spanish call “turnism.” We need to demand a break from this establishment stranglehold so that Labour represents the millions and not the millionaires.