Uncomfortable performance as Starmer fudges on donor question yet again
On Tuesday, Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer’s latest donor update was finally published in the parliamentary register of MPs’ financial interests.
It was an anodyne list that immediately triggered comments that it could not be a complete list, or else Starmer would not have needed to avoid publishing it personally, as his two rivals in the contest have done.
During his appearance on last night’s Andrew Neil programme, Starmer’s response – which again failed to answer the question directly – suggested that this assessment has substance.
Challenged by the interviewer to say why he wouldn’t simply publish a list or name his top five donors, Starmer did not say that he had named them in his parliamentary declaration.
Instead, as Neil noted, he ‘hid behind process’ in a winding response that was painful to watch:
Neil repeatedly asked for the five biggest donors – if they were already on the parliamentary website, Starmer could have said so. Instead, while he said that nobody had given ‘more than £100,000’, he clarified only that ‘one of’ his biggest donors was already on the Parliament site and covered the rest by referring to crowdfunding, unions and unnamed individual donors – with some apparently declared to Parliament since Tuesday but not yet published.
As of the time of writing, Starmer’s most recent entry in the register shows Unison as the next-largest donor, with £10,321.
That Starmer did not say his two largest donors are on the Parliament page and that the one of his five largest who is shown is barrister Robert Latham with £100,000 means logically that four donors giving between around £11,000 and £100,000 (since he said no one has given more than £100,000) are still undeclared.
Since, as Neil noted, the donors declared so far come to only around £125,000 in total, that could mean that as much as £400,000 in donations – more than three times the amount so far declared – are not yet in the public domain.
Starmer’s postal campaign alone, which saw members receiving a large format poster of him with the words ‘Integrity, Authority, Unity‘, is widely believed to have cost hundreds of thousand of pounds.
Yet votes are being cast daily in ignorance of who is funding him.
The question posed by the SKWAWKBOX last week remains unanswered: if Starmer does not think the identity of those still-missing donors would damage his election chances, why hasn’t he declared them?
There is nothing in Labour’s rules forcing him to wait for the Parliament page to get round to it – or preventing him from simply publishing a full list on his campaign page, as Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy have already done.
Starmer’s unwillingness to do so is certainly damaging his campaign. If he thinks that damage is less than will be done by disclosing his donors’ identities, that is worrying indeed.
Keir Starmer’s campaign was contacted for comment about his declaration and remaining funders on Tuesday but did not respond.
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