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Arms firms, oil companies and private healthcare among firms sponsoring this autumn's Labour conference

WEAPONS manufacturers, oil and gas companies, private health firms and major banks are among the sponsors at this year’s Labour Party conference, news site Open Democracy has revealed.

US spy-tech firm Palantir and International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, will also pay to have a presence at the annual conference in Liverpool.

Environmental and anti-weapons campaigners have condemned the party for allowing the firms to sponsor fringe events hosted by the New Statesman Media Group.

Campaign Against Arms Trade media co-ordinator Emily Apple said their presence was disgusting and disappointing.

She warned: “Accepting sponsorship from these companies sends a bleak message to anyone thinking a future Labour government will adopt any kind of ethical stance towards the arms trade.”

Greenpeace UK policy director Doug Parr urged Labour not to allow “these self-serving climate-wreckers the opportunity to launder their political reputation.”

He said: “The next government must have bold policies and a strong commitment to tackling the climate crisis, not another one that ends up in the back pocket of polluters and dodgy operators.”

Labour MP Clive Lewis warned hosting some of these firms signals that “the same palms are going to be greased” after the list of sponsors was uncovered by OpenDemocracy last week.

“I do not think that organisations like Palantir and others are necessarily the kind of organisations that Labour in the year before a general election should be cosying up to,” he told the site. 

“I think it's entirely possible to be on the side of entrepreneurs … without necessarily having to get into bed with big oil companies, big corporations or the likes of Palantir — and the Labour Party should be really clear about that.”

Boeing and Babcock, manufacturers of missiles or missile compartments, are among the sponsors. The latter recently signed a deal with Israel Aerospace Industries and will hold a talk alongside Labour shadow minister for defence procurement Chris Evans and shadow international trade minister Nia Griffith. 

Palantir, whose owner has donated to Donald Trump’s political campaign, will sponsor a talk on Ukraine.

Energy firm SSE, which has been accused of misleading the public over “green investments,” Cadent Gas, Offshore Energies UK, National Gas, Ovo Energy and housing developer Taylor Wimpey are also listed as sponsors.

Left Labour campaigning group Momentum told the Morning Star that “Labour conference should be a democratic space where Labour members and trade unions come together to make policy in the interests of the many.

“Under Keir Starmer, however, party democracy is under attack while lobbyists for immoral industries like Big Oil and weapons manufacturers are welcomed with open arms. We need a return to real Labour values.”

Labour and the New Statesman Media Group have been contacted for comment.

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