Was Jeremy Corbyn wrong to mention Russian donations to Tories in the debate over the Skripal poisoning?

Jeremy Corbyn: Overstepping the mark?

I’ll put my cards on the table straight away: I think it was entirely reasonable of Jeremy Corbyn to question the Conservative Party’s acceptance of Russian money in these circumstances.

As I wrote on March 12: “[Theresa May] won’t be returning more than £800,000 that has been donated to the Conservative Party by Russians now living in the UK, even though the provenance of the cash may be questionable.

Instead, I stated, she would propose other measures.

She didn’t.

Instead, she gave Russia until midnight on Tuesday to explain how Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury, or she would conclude that it was an “unlawful use of force” by the Russian state against the UK.

She did not provide conclusive proof that the poison came from Russia, but said evidence had shown that Skripal had been targeted by a “military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia”.

She said: “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

And she promised to return to the House of Commons on March 14 with a full list of retaliatory measures if the Russian government provides “no credible response” by midnight on March 13.

So we don’t know whether the poison really was Russian and we don’t know what Mrs May will do if the Russians don’t respond in the way she expects.

We do know that members of Mrs May’s party – and indeed, members of the government – have been taking Russian money as donations.

But when Jeremy Corbyn pointed this out, it provoked a storm of outrage, not only from the Tories, but also from his critics in the Labour Party.

A row has erupted over Jeremy Corbyn’s response to Theresa May’s latest statement on the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

He said the attack had “appalled the country” and urged decisive action after the PM told the Commons it was “highly likely ” Russia was to blame.

But the Labour leader also criticised the Conservatives for accepting donations from “Russian oligarchs”.

To cries of “shame” and “disgrace” from Conservative MPs, he added: “We’re all familiar with the way huge fortunes, often acquired in the most dubious circumstances in Russia, sometimes connected with criminal elements, have ended up sheltering in London and trying to buy political influence in British party politics.

“Meddling in elections, as the prime minister put it, and there has been over £800,000 worth of donations to the Conservative Party from Russian oligarchs and their associates.”

You can read more of the anger directed at Mr Corbyn in the BBC’s coverage.

Some were equally quick to defend Mr Corbyn’s words. As I indicated at the top of this article, This Writer believes it was entirely appropriate to question the Conservatives’ acceptance of this money. What did it buy?

Others agreed:


But here’s a thought: Perhaps we’ve got it wrong and the Tories are right. What do you think?

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14 thoughts on “Was Jeremy Corbyn wrong to mention Russian donations to Tories in the debate over the Skripal poisoning?

  1. foggy

    Jeremy Corbyn was bang on the money in raising this. It was the right time and place as all UK citizens need to know that the UK government can deal with this situation with full force and transparency, not through fear or favour due to having taken bungs !

  2. Darren

    I don’t see anything wrong myself with Corbyn bringing it up – after all they did dig up his Russian trips from back in the 80’s a few weeks ago (which on a timescale of politics are more than likely now irrelevant) so why not have more recent information.

  3. wildswimmerpete

    Nerve agents are organophosphorous compounds originally based on OP herbicides. The main ones are the G-agents (sarin, tabun, soman, cyclosporin) developed by Nazi Germany. VX was developed by Britain during the 1950s. The agent suspected of being used in the Salisbury poisoning is Novichock (new one), a novel OP incorporating fluorine. May’s remark about “weapons grade nerve agents” is fatuous. ALL nerve agents are “weapons grade” with only very small amounts permitted to be made for medical and pharmaceutical purposes. Nerve agents are very small molecules and easy to synthesise by anyone who has the lab facilities and access to the safety equipment (typically an NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) suit). During Saddam’s reign Irag had a stockpile of sarin, together with anthrax and cyanide.

  4. Barry

    I suppose he argument is whether the Russians are resident in the U.K. and not associated with the Russian government, or maybe we should just have a blanket ban on all foreign nationals being able to donate to a party or indeed be a member or vote.

  5. Pat

    But it was perfectly okay for the Tories to smear Corbyn’s name about his false involvement with a Czech spy…oh the irony ”the only reason these newspapers were publishing these claims was because they fear a Labour government.

  6. Growing Flame

    Corbyn was dead right to raise the issue of Russian money being given to the Tories. Right now, the USA is being torn apart by investigations into the flow of Russian oligarch money into Trump hotel and condominium projects as well as money to the National Rifle Association. The same may be unfolding here.

    We must always know about large scale contributions to political Parties. How else can we assess who the Parties speak for?

    Even more relevant is the issue of further sanctions to punish certain Russian business and political figures. We all know how dodgy Russian money is transferred to London via speculative property deals , yet some would have us believe that there is nothing more we can do with regard to sanctions. The idea of confiscating property belonging to specific Russian oligarchs remains the best idea on the table.

    The only problem is the Tories horror of anything that involves removing excessive money or property from those who did not work for it.

  7. Kate George

    The nerve agent may have been originally developed by Russia but once it’s out there other governments will be examining and developing the same, along with antidotes. So it’s entirely possible that Porton Down (not a million miles from Salisbury) has some….

  8. Rik

    Yes I agree he did right by telling the truth (not because I’m a lefty) He had the guts to tell it as it is. . am looking forward to PMQs tomorrow ..

  9. 4foxandhare

    I’m with you, Mike. Mr Corbyn was absolutely right to bring up the fact of donations to tories from Russia.

  10. NMac

    It is entirely right that Jeremy Corbyn brought this subject up. It highlights the hypocrisy and corruption of the nasty Tories.

  11. paul

    are you aware that that your page is hosting an advert for Potus.gifts? your literally putting money into “the president of the united states”

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      As the adverts are chosen according to the preferences of the reader – in this case, you – are you really sure you want to discuss who’s putting money into the President’s pocket?

      1. paul

        really? cheeky buggers,I was making sure you were aware. could it be because I have been reading articles about him? any idea how to stop this?

Comments are closed.