As a result of the work of @nw_nicholas and @gian_TCatt, who have been raising the issue for years, the #ToryDirtyMoney hashtag has been trending over the last few days, with a series of graphics and allegations about the involvement of HSBC and other individuals and organisations in improper funding of the Tory party.
It all sounds damning – but also highly complicated, even byzantine. Here’s an example of one of the graphics in circulation showing how the allegations are said to link together:
Something so complex is not going to draw the attention it deserves – or the public outrage it deserves if the allegations are proven.
But a remarkable letter sent just yesterday by Scottish MP Roger Mullins to the Electoral Commission’s Chief Executive of Party and Election Finance makes a part of the matter unmistakably clear and comprehensible:
Mullins’ letter is crystal clear: at HSBC’s AGM last week, shareholders alleged that the bank had loaned a huge sum of money – reportedly £214 million – to a company run by the then-Tory treasurer.
And that over five million pounds of that money was ‘laundered’ into Conservative party coffers.
According to Mullins, these allegations were not refuted at the meeting.
Mullins’ questions are a masterpiece of piercing relevance:
- was the donation properly declared to the Electoral Commission?
- are companies – especially struggling companies – allowed to donate borrowed money to a political party?
- will the Electoral Commission launch an immediate investigation into what would be, if proven, a potentially huge breach of election rules
- if the £5m was not properly declared, what does that say about the Tories’ declarations – which may already result in the prosecution of 30 or more Tory MPs and election agents – of their election spending?
One question is, of course, missing – because it’s not one the Electoral Commission would be able to answer, at least publicly:
How can the country even think of electing a party that has already been fined for breaching electoral rules and is now accused of enormous fraud?
That’s certainly the question you, I and every voter need to be thinking hard about.
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