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Wes Streeting, Peter Kyle and Jonathan Reynolds leave Starmer’s first cabinet meeting. (Photo: Alamy)

Declassified Exclusive: Labour’s top team has accepted over £600,000 from pro-Israel funders.

Pro-Israel lobbyists have donated to 13 out of Labour’s 25 cabinet members since they were first elected to parliament, Declassified can reveal.

The list of recipients includes prime minister Keir Starmer, his deputy Angela Rayner,  chancellor Rachel Reeves, foreign secretary David Lammy and home secretary Yvette Cooper.

Jonathan Reynolds, who will oversee arms exports to Israel as UK trade secretary, is another beneficiary, alongside Labour’s election mastermind Pat McFadden, whose responsibilities now include national security.  

Some of the donations were provided by Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), a lobby group which takes MPs on “fact-finding” missions to the region.

Reeves, McFadden, Reynolds and technology secretary Peter Kyle were recently listed as vice-chairs of LFI.

Other major funders include pro-Israel businessmen Gary Lubner, Trevor Chinn, and Stuart Roden.

The total value of the donations amounts to over £600,000.

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Vote For Genocide Vote Labour.
Zionist Keir Starmer is quoted "I support Zionism without qualification." He's asked whether that means that he supports Zionism under all circumstances, whatever Zionists do.
Zionist Keir Starmer is quoted “I support Zionism without qualification.” He’s asked whether that means that he supports Zionism under all circumstances, whatever Zionists do.


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Aides to Rachel Reeves and Wes Streeting took Israel lobby funding. (Photo: Stefan Rousseau via Alamy)

Israel is quietly financing assistants of British MPs, Declassified has found.

Israel has paid for at least a dozen UK parliamentary staff to visit the country on special delegations in the last five years.

A further 18 staffers have accepted funding or hospitality from pro-Israel lobby organisations in Britain such as Labour Friends of Israel and We Believe in Israel.

Several worked for MPs in Keir Starmer’s front bench team, including shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting and shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson.

Our investigation found how the Israeli embassy in London, its ministry of foreign affairs and associated lobby groups seek to influence not only MPs but also their assistants.

Declassified previously revealed that one in four British MPs in the last parliament accepted funding from pro-Israel lobby groups or individuals. 

Israel lobby organisations have also sought to gain backdoor influence by funding, meeting, and providing hospitality to ministers’ special advisers, known as SPADs.

Special advisers are exempt from the Civil Service Code’s requirement of political impartiality. 

Governmental departments are therefore [not?] required to publish the gifts and hospitality that they receive.

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden accepted funding from CFI when he was David Cameron’s SPAD in 2014. 

Dowden was a prospective parliamentary candidate for Hertsmere at that time.

CFI paid for a special adviser to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to travel to Israel that same year, while in 2015 another four Downing Street special advisers received hospitality from CFI.

The group has continued to lobby SPADs in the prime minister’s and deputy PM’s office, as well as the leader of the House of Lords.

Zionist Keir Starmes is quoted "I support Zionism without qualification." He's asked whether that means that he supports Zionism under all circumstances, whatever Zionists do.
Zionist Keir Starmes is quoted “I support Zionism without qualification.” He’s asked whether that means that he supports Zionism under all circumstances, whatever Zionists do.


Labour’s Otherworldly Manifesto

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Zionist Keir Starmes is quoted "I support Zionism without qualification." He's asked whether that means that he supports Zionism under all circumstances, whatever Zionists do.
Zionist Keir Starmes is quoted “I support Zionism without qualification.” He’s asked whether that means that he supports Zionism under all circumstances, whatever Zionists do.

Keir Starmer’s party is set to win by a landslide, but its ambitions are simultaneously unrealistic and uninspiring

AUTHOR: Keir Milburn

“Stability is Change!” This seemingly paradoxical, almost Orwellian statement is the principal slogan of the Labour Party’s current parliamentary election campaign. Labour leader Keir Starmer used the slogan at the party’s manifesto launch, and it provides a key prism for understanding the manifesto and its weaknesses.

There is little doubt that the UK electorate is in the mood for change. The widespread, off-stated consensus in the country is that nothing works. The National Health Service is so chronically underfunded that doctor’s appointments are difficult to get and long waiting lists proliferate. The trains are shockingly expensive but utterly unreliable.

The list could go on and on, but the image most frequently used to sum up the situation comes from the failure of the privatized water services. A lack of investment in infrastructure accompanied by the looting of those companies for huge shareholder dividend payouts has led to the near constant release of untreated sewage into the UK’s river system. It flows from there onto our beaches. The British are quite literally swimming in shit!

These problems are identified quite clearly in the Labour Party manifesto, but the diagnosis of their causes and therefore their solutions proves much less convincing. Labour may have a plan to win in July, but how it will govern in the interests of its voters is anybody’s guess.

The totality of Labour’s spending pledges amounts to just 0.2 percent of GDP, smaller even than the Conservative pledges of 0.8 percent and dwarfed by the previous two Labour manifestos, which promised 2.1 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. Even the pro-market Institute for Fiscal Studies called Labour’s plans “tiny, going on trivial”.

These policies do not point to stability, not least because they do not address the 18 billion pounds of government spending cuts that the Conservatives have already baked into the government budget going forward. The effects of implementing such cuts on government services — which have already suffered so badly under 14 years of severe austerity — makes it hard to imagine that Labour will stick to this commitment. It seems likely that money will be found to prevent the worst of these cuts through technical changes in accounting between the government and the notionally independent Bank of England.

Beyond this paddling, however, the need for investment in the UK is huge. Both public and private investment in the country has collapsed since 2008. It has the lowest business investment in the G7 and ranks just twenty-eighth out of the 31 OECD countries. In the face of this, Labour, hamstrung by self-imposed fiscal rules on bringing down government debt and pledges not to raise the main forms of taxation, are promising so little investment that their plans seem unbelievable.

Until last February, Labour was promising to immediately strengthen workers’ rights through a New Deal for Workers, and to spend 28 billion pounds per year to decarbonize the economy through its Green Prosperity Plan. The Labour Party’s current openness to corporate funding and lobbying, including the imposition of over 30 parliamentary candidates with corporate lobbying backgrounds, has led to a dramatic watering down of these pledges. The Green Prosperity Plan has been reduced to just 3.5 billion pounds, but the form that spending will take reveals another logic or worldview which may come to the fore as crises mount.

The word “securonomics”, an ugly portmanteau favoured by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, makes an appearance in the manifesto, introducing the idea that public investment should support and de-risk private investment in strategically key sectors. The chief vehicle for this will be a National Wealth Fund “capitalised with £7.3 billion over the course of the next parliament”. What precisely this will look like has yet to be determined, but The National Wealth Fund “will have a target of attracting three pounds of private investment for every one pound of public investment”. This is an explicit return to and acceleration of the kind of public-private partnerships that lost legitimacy in the UK during the fallout from the disastrous Public Finance Initiative under New Labour.

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Labour in ‘cash for access’ scandal over meetings with £150k donor

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Original article by Ethan Shone republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves have engaged heavily with the financial services industry
 | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Labour top brass including Keir Starmer gave Bloomberg ‘exclusive’ look at party’s financial plan at private meeting

Labour leader Keir Starmer, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and four other senior party figures met with a major media and financial information conglomerate weeks after it donated £150,000 to the party – sparking concerns of “cash for access” from transparency campaigners.

The meeting between Labour and the Bloomberg group, which took place in Edinburgh on 8 December last year, was described as “suspicious” and “highly unusual” by two Labour sources.

The private roundtable event came shortly after the US business conglomerate, majority owned by American businessman and politician Michael Bloomberg, made its first donation to Labour in seven years. The donation was made by a Bloomberg subsidiary called Bloomberg Trading Facility Limited.

The party used the meeting to offer Bloomberg and others in attendance “an exclusive dive” into its flagship financial services policy document, which was published the following month, according to a social media post by a person involved in coordinating the event.

Labour did not deny that the meeting was connected to the donation, with a spokesperson telling openDemocracy: “It is standard practice for the Labour Party to meet with the private sector.” The party did not reply to openDemocracy’s query about whether Bloomberg was given exclusive access to the flagship financial services policy document. Bloomberg declined to comment for this story.

The Edinburgh event was facilitated by Sovereign Strategy, a lobbying firm that has represented Bloomberg for almost two decades, which promises to get its clients’ “messages heard at the highest levels of government”, according to the firm’s website.

Lobbyists often hold such events to introduce their clients to Labour frontbenchers so they can try to shape the party’s policy on issues relevant to their businesses.

But two Labour sources, who spoke to openDemocracy on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation for appearing critical of the party’s leadership, said the Edinburgh meeting was “highly unusual” and “suspicious” due to the sheer number of senior politicians present.

Starmer and Reeves were joined at the event by shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds, shadow City minister Tulip Siddiq, as well as Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Daniel Johnson MSP, the party’s business spokesperson in Holyrood.

Other comparable meetings are typically attended by only one or two shadow ministers. openDemocracy has analysed more than 200 meetings attended by Labour frontbenchers in the past year based on publicly available data and triangulation through multiple sources, and found the Edinburgh meeting involved far more senior figures than any other.

The meeting took place less than two weeks after Bloomberg Trading Facility Ltd, a subsidiary of Bloomberg LP, donated £150,000 to Labour – with the conglomerate becoming one of the party’s top corporate donors for all of 2023 in a single day, according to Electoral Commission records.

A Bloomberg company last made a cash donation to the Labour Party in late 2016, when it gave the party £60,000. The firm has since handed the Conservatives £260,000, most recently donating £100,000 in June 2022.

Simon Youel, the head of policy and advocacy at not-for-profit advocacy group Positive Money, told openDemocracy that voters should be worried by the timing of the meeting – which took place as Labour finalised a key document to set out its policy on the financial services sector.

“What is most concerning is that weeks after this meeting, Labour published a plan for financial services that reads like a love letter to Big Finance, with much in there that could have been written by the industry itself,” Youel said.

Labour spent months drafting its financial services report, bringing in a staffer from City consultancy Oliver Wyman to put it together. After its publication in January, Reeves and Siddiq threw a lavish, no-press-allowed reception in the City of London’s famed Guildhall to thank the industry for its contributions.

In a since-deleted LinkedIn post, a Sovereign Strategy staffer said the roundtable discussion had a focus on the “outlook for the financial services industry and an exclusive dive into Labour’s launch of the financial services review”.

Youel added: “Rachel Reeves herself has acknowledged New Labour’s errors in relying on an under-regulated financial sector to generate wealth, yet the party seems set on repeating the mistake of letting the City of London dictate policy-making, which inevitably the public will again be left paying the price for.”

In a video from the event, Starmer can be heard telling the attendees: “What you now see is a Labour Party that is fundamentally different to the Labour Party that fought the last general election. Unrecognisably different. And very obviously pro-business.”

The video, which Labour released on the day of the meeting, made no reference to who was at the event or what was discussed.

Bloomberg holds a unique position within the financial sector, providing hardware, software, data and advisory services to all manner of financial services institutions.

Its computer systems, Bloomberg Terminals, are used by banks, institutional investors and financial analysts all over the world to access high-level investment data and place financial transactions. The company also has a news division and TV channel that employ over 2700 journalists in 120 countries, according to its website. Its eponymous billionaire founder and majority owner, Michael Bloomberg, is a fixture in US politics and one of the richest people in the world. He was mayor of New York City for 12 years, before running for President as recently as 2020.

Youel said that access to frontbench politicians could give Bloomberg a “value-add” for its clients, raising “serious concerns around cash for access in our democracy”.

The roundtable was also attended by investment manager Baillie Gifford, Aegon Asset Management and NatWest Group. For several months in 2022, NatWest provided a member of staff to Jonathan Reynolds’ office, valued at £13,800.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Donations from corporate entities are declared in line with Electoral Commission rules. Labour is proud to engage with the financial services sector as we develop policies to grow our economy after 14 years of Tory chaos and decline.”

Scottish Labour refused to provide any additional details about the meeting, with a spokesperson saying only that the party “meets with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues”.

They added: “Boosting economic growth is at the heart of our plans to deliver a fairer and more prosperous Scotland, and we are working in partnership with both businesses and trade unions to deliver that.”

Partnership with business
Lobbyist Sovereign Strategy has in recent months strengthened its links to the Labour Party, which is widely expected to win this year’s general election.

Keir Starmer is featured in a brochure published by the lobbying firm in September 2022. The Labour leader is pictured posing for a photo alongside Sovereign chairman Alan Donnelly, a former Labour MEP, in front of a display bearing Bloomberg’s branding.

The brochure goes on to quote a senior Bloomberg executive as saying that the firm has “expanded our influence with key decision-makers”.

Sovereign Strategy also donated £5,000 to deputy leader Angela Rayner “for campaigning activities” last month, according to the register of members’ financial interests. Just over a week after the donation from Sovereign to Rayner, Starmer met with Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire co-founder of Bloomberg, to discuss “Labour’s partnership with business”, .

This donation appears to be a breach of the Public Affairs Code set out by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), a trade body representing UK lobbyists including Sovereign Strategy. A breach of the code could result in a member being reprimanded or their membership of the organisation being suspended.

Section 8 of the code – a set of rules on the proper lobbying of governments – states that PRCA members must not “make any award of payment in money or in kind… to any MP”. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Rayner’s part.

A spokesperson for Sovereign told openDemocracy the donation was made by the company’s chairman in a personal capacity, but was unwilling to provide any further details. A Labour source, however, confirmed the donation was from the company and made by its company bank account.

The PRCA said it was reviewing the information openDemocracy provided.

In January this year, a senior account manager at Sovereign who was involved in organising the Edinburgh roundtable joined the executive committee of Labour Business, an affiliate of the party that focuses on fostering links between Labour and the business community, in January.

The Sovereign staffer in question previously worked for the Labour Party for a number of years in the business relations and endorsements team.

They are one of a large number of former Labour staffers to have left their positions at the party to join Westminster consultancies and lobbying firms the past 18 months, as firms look to beef-up their Labour bona fides in anticipation of a Conservative wipeout at the next election.

Steve Goodrich, the head of research and investigations at Transparency International UK, told openDemocracy: “Parties should scrupulously avoid the perception that they’re offering privileged political access in return for cash.

“The next general election looks set to be the most expensive in modern times so it’s crucial that politicians of all stripes avoid stumbling into quid pro quos in the rush for funds.

“Until we reduce the cost of politics, cases like these will continue to undermine public trust in our democracy, which is already perilously low.”

Original article by Ethan Shone republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

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Continue ReadingLabour in ‘cash for access’ scandal over meetings with £150k donor

Reeves’s new book lifts whole Wikipedia sections

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Rachel Reeves engages in a New Labour tradition of plaguarism in her book. Tony ‘c********r’ Blair and Alastair Campbell engaged in huge plaguarism in drafting the Dodgy dossier and were also found out in short order.

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox.

Shadow Chancellor denies plagiarism, but at least twenty sections are identical to Wikipedia entries or slightly reworded

Rachel Reeves  seriously plaguarised wikipedia in her book. Image thanks to the Skwawkbox.
Rachel Reeves seriously plaguarised wikipedia in her book. Image thanks to the Skwawkbox.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves’s new book is littered with examples of text lifted exactly, or very nearly, from Wikipedia, according to the Financial Times.

The paper identified at least twenty examples, with some exact and others only slightly modified, including this lengthy passage:

Rachel Reeves seriously plaguarises wikipedia. Image thanks to The Skwawkbox.
Rachel Reeves seriously plaguarises wikipedia. Image thanks to The Skwawkbox.

Ironically, a theme of the book is others taking credit for the work of women.

The publisher admitted that sections had been included without modification, but ‘allies’ of Reeves denied plagiarism. Her spokesperson said to the FT:

We strongly refute the accusation that has been put to us by this newspaper. These were inadvertent mistakes and will be rectified in future reprints.

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox.

Continue ReadingReeves’s new book lifts whole Wikipedia sections