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Editorial: When it comes to parliamentary politics, money talks

YESTERDAY’S Morning Star reported on a survey conducted by Declassified UK. It revealed the extent to which pro-Israel lobbyists have provided more than £1 million in financial donations and free trips to Israel to MPs and political parties since the start of 2020.

The cash-splashers include pro-Israel lobbying outfits based in the US, Australia and Israel itself (including that country’s Foreign Ministry). The Conservative Friends of Israel have transported enough Tory MPs to Tel Aviv to warrant their own airline.

Labour MPs and their staffers have also enjoyed the largesse of Labour Friends of Israel, some of whose members worked hand-in-glove with Labour MPs, the Israeli embassy and BBC reporters to smear Jeremy Corbyn and other pro-Palestine campaigners as anti-semites.

However, this particular deployment of foreign money to promote the policies of the genocidal Israeli government is but part of a wider problem.

As the Guardian newspaper reported on the same day as the Morning Star, wealthy capitalists and their companies have forked out £69m to the two main parties over the past 12 months alone, split almost 50-50 between them. This alone is a deeply corrupt feature of what we are frequently reminded is “our free democracy.”

Free, that is, unless you want a buy the services of an MP or an entire political party.

But on closer inspection, it is also the case that some of the most generous of these purchasers are from overseas, rather like the media mogul — Rupert Murdoch — who, more than anyone else, has propelled standards of political reporting, debate and honesty in Britain into the gutter.

Some donors appear to have stronger links with the US, Egypt, Singapore, Lebanon and west Africa than with Britain.

Presumably, their ownership of luxury mansions and high-price apartment blocks in London and elsewhere has enabled them to join the electoral register and thereby comply with Britain’s electoral law on donations to political parties.

It is not a xenophobic or chauvinistic point to insist that non-nationals and non-residents should not be permitted to influence political life in England, Scotland and Wales through the power of money.

Let’s hope the Electoral Commission is upping its game when it comes to investigating the sources and eligibility of political donations to the Conservative and Labour parties. Until now, it has been extraordinarily rigorous in enforcing the regulations in the case of even the smallest anti-EU organisations.

There appear to be no legal restrictions when it comes to buying, treating or influencing a Westminster MP, other than reporting requirements.

Which brings us to the major source of financial corruption in British politics, namely the donations, directorships and consultancies handed out by capitalist monopoly corporations and their multimillionaire directors.

The source of their wealth is the mental and physical labour performed by their workers. Yet the latter have no say when it comes to corporate donations.

Contrast this to the strict requirements placed on trade unions to seek the consent of their members by secret ballot to make political donations.

Likewise, there should be strict limits on the amount of dosh that millionaires and billionaires can dish out to their hired politicians in any given period.

Perhaps an incoming Labour government could give these matters some serious attention after July 4.

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