Chief of staff, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Communities Secretary ran or run company that failed to declare 83% of almost £1 million in donations within statutory period – and same company wrote ‘blueprint for Starmerism’
Labour Together, a company run by figures close to Keir Starmer – including his chief of staff, his chief foreign affairs spokeswoman and one of his main leadership campaign donors – is under investigation by the Electoral Commission for alleged failures to declare donations within the legally-required timeframe, including some not declared for a period of more than two years.
Electoral law requires all declarable donations to be registered within thirty days – yet, according to Business Insider, only £165,000 of more than £970,000 was declared within the statutory period. Some donations recorded in December 2020 had been received as early as June 2018. Before its December 2020 declaration, the company had not made a donation report since July 2018, according to BI.
The company is also alleged to have failed to declare a new ‘responsible person’ within 30 days. Both of these would be breaches of PPERA – the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 – if the investigation against the firm is upheld.
Keir Starmer’s chief of staff Morgan McSweeney was Labour Together’s company secretary, resigning only when his new boss was elected Labour leader. Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy and Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed are still listed as directors on the Companies House website.
Sir Trevor Chinn, who donated £50,000 to Starmer’s leadership campaign, is also a director of the company. Keir Starmer has been criticised for not declaring Chinn’s donation until after voting had closed in the leadership contest.
Labour Together’s links to Keir Starmer are not only through his staff, front bench and donors. The company produced a report claiming Labour’s ‘toxic culture’, ‘dithering’ over Brexit and the supposed unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn were the cause of the 2019 general election result – a claim welcomed by right-wing pressure group Labour First as a ‘blueprint’ for incoming acting general secretary David Evans to use to ‘overhaul’ the party. The document became known as the ‘blueprint for Starmerism’.
Even though Keir Starmer was directly responsible for much of the public’s perception of the party’s Brexit position in 2019 and the Labour right was guilty of the vast majority of the ‘toxic culture’, Evans and Starmer subsequently declared war on the left – and threw Corbyn out of the party, still refusing to reinstate him even after the NEC, under legal advice, decided Corbyn had no case to answer.
An Electoral Commission spokesperson told Business Insider:
The donations to Labour Together published this week were reported to us as part of an on-going investigation into the members association.
Labour Together is currently under investigation for potentially failing to deliver donations reports within 30 days of accepting reportable donations, and for potentially failing to register a responsible person within 30 days of accepting a reportable donation. The outcome of the investigation will be published on our website when it has concluded.
Acting Labour Together director Hannah O’Rourke told BI that the failures to declare were an ‘oversight’:
We are now fully transparent and compliant with regards to our donations, and are cooperating fully with the Electoral Commission to assist them in their ongoing inquiry. This was an oversight on our part and we proactively approached the commission to put it right. We are in the process of working with them to ensure this does not happen again.
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