Those of you who still think voting for Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is a good idea need to ask yourselves: who will this party be working for – you, or the big businesses that are buying influence over Labour in advance of the general election?
Solomon Hughes has exposed the increasing influence of some of the worst big businesses on Labour, in Tribune magazine, writing:
Keir Starmer says he wants to clean up politics. Instead, he has facilitated a lobbyist takeover of the Labour Party, where predatory gambling firms, big oil and gig economy giants are buying influence at our expense.
In 2020 the Labour Party issued a press release in which its deputy leader, Angela Rayner, ripped into the Conservative government over ‘reports that lobbyists have been secretly serving as advisers to government ministers and departments’ and other revelations of ‘cronyism’ around ‘businesses and individuals with close links to the Conservative Party’. Rayner said it showed there was ‘one rule for lobbyists and their paying clients and another rule for the rest of us’.
This press release has been deleted from Labour’s website, along with all other pre-2022 notices. But Rayner’s own ‘battle bus’ is now ‘sponsored’ and part-funded by a Labour-connected lobbyist.
According to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, Pentland Communications, a lobbying firm set up in 2018 by Barrie Cunning, paid Labour HQ £6,000 to fund Rayner’s ‘campaigning’, including ‘the provision of a branded vehicle’, a camper van with the slogan ‘Rayner on the Road’. Since August, Labour’s deputy leader has been using it for campaigning.
Pentland represents big housebuilders like Barratt. Rayner’s responsibilities include Labour housing policy. Pentland says it can help firms achieve ‘commercial objectives’ using its ‘good political relationships’. Paying for Rayner’s battle bus can’t hurt those ‘relationships’.
Pentland says other political events are also business opportunities. It tells clients that each party conference also ‘provides a good opportunity’ to meet politicians ‘in both formal and informal settings and have those important conversations’.
Rayner’s apparent reversal shows how Labour has fully embraced the corporate lobbying it denounced as ‘cronyism’ when it applied to the Conservatives. Concerns about corruption have disappeared as Labour pursues the intense lobbying that has come along with its lead in the polls.
The article goes on to suggest that “‘centrist’ politicians denouncing corporate corruption when in the opposition wallow in it when in government”. And it says:
Cameron highlighted how the ‘revolving door’ of ex-ministers and ex-advisers ‘for hire’ is key to lobbying. Labour has gone further, accepting lobbyists as its current officials. Abdi Duale was elected to Labour’s National Executive last September on the ‘moderate’ slate. The same month Duale became a director at FTI, a lobbying firm. FTI also employs former Labour MP Gemma Doyle, a director of key Labour ‘moderate’ group Progressive Britain. FTI offer clients ‘direct advocacy’ with ‘elected and appointed policymakers’. FTI’s recent clients include Palantir, the American spy-tech firm that is chasing contracts in the NHS.
The list goes on and on:
At the last Labour conference, Alice Perry won a seat on the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC). Typically for Labour, this dull-sounding body has significant power: it decides what debates Labour conferences hear. Perry, who was backed by both ‘moderate’ and ‘soft left’ factions, is also a public affairs director for the lobbying firm Cicero. The company tells clients she will be ‘advising on Labour Party engagement strategies’. Among Cicero’s clients are financial firms like Barclays and Blackrock, ‘buy-now-pay-later’ outfit Klarna, and privatisers like Serco.
In 2021 Rachel Reeves attacked the government over public services ‘being outsourced to a large private company like Serco, which has a poor track record and known links to the Conservative Party’. Now Serco hires Labour-linked lobbying firms. Serco executives shared platforms with shadow ministers at Labour’s 2023 conference. Perhaps we all misunderstood, and Reeves really objected to Serco’s ‘known links to the Conservative Party’ because she thought they should have known links to the Labour Party instead.
There are others, but we’ll skip those because the article goes on to state:
Corporations want to take big money contracts from the government while reducing any regulation or tax on their businesses. They want to shape the policy agenda and have turned to the consultants — as well as their own in-house lobbyists — to do so. Lobbying firms that spent years relying on their links with the Tories are adapting to a likely Labour government.
But – and this is important:
Something big is happening inside Labour as well. The party is welcoming lobbyists as the proof of, and route to, its ‘business engagement’. Under Starmer, Labour takes corporate support as a vote of confidence. If ‘business’ supports ‘labour’, then the party must be doing the right thing — and can hope for friendlier treatment by the corporate-run press.
And it could lead to scandal (again):
Labour is, in effect, using lobbyists to run much of its ‘business engagement’.
The last Labour government ran into a ‘cash for access’ scandal in 1998, when The Observer exposed lobbyists with New Labour links helping their clients get close to the new government. This was the first big blemish on Blair’s government. We are very likely to see a re-run of this scandal.
Worst of all is the possibility that the firms and lobbyists cosying up to Labour will use the connections (if the party wins the next election) to suck up government contracts, siphon off the cash and produce poor work.
This happened before, under Tony Blair’s New Labour:
We might end up with firms that suck money out of the public sector for poor work, giving another generation of future/former ministers jobs. The current wave of junior Labour officials taking corporate lobbying jobs acts as a kind of human promise, showing future ministers that they too can look forward to corporate jobs with a Labour government. This isn’t a theoretical risk: it is exactly what happened when the last Labour government embraced PFI and outsourcing. The lobbying and the jobs-for-the-boys-and-girls sweetened a bitter pill — although the former ministers got the sweeteners; we just got the bitterness.
Is that really what you want?
This Writer can’t see any difference between Starmer’s plan for a Labour government and what we already have under the Tories – apart from the possibility that the names of some of the ex-ministers taking jobs with big business will be different.
It seems clear that under a Starmer Labour government, public money will still be thrown away at private businesses who’ll provide no useful service to the public but will give jobs to the ministers who helped them.
So – please – do yourself and all the rest of us a favour.
Get yourself a list of all the candidates in your constituency and their manifestos, and educate yourself about what they are offering.
Then choose to vote for the candidate who offers the best deal for you.
I wrote the following in another article but it fits perfectly here, too:
Do not consider how other people will vote, either in your constituency or the other 649 around the UK. That is not your concern.
It is not for you to worry about which party will get enough votes to actually enact its policies. This will lead you down the usual garden path to voting in a government that won’t do anything at all for the good of the country, like the one we’ve had since 2010.
BE SELFISH. Bizarrely, it might be the only way to get the kind of government that all of us need.
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