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Politics

David Miliband: Should You Judge A Man By The Company He Keeps?

I was very heartened when I read that Souse footy legend Jamie Carragher had given £10K to Andy Burnham’s Leadership campaign fund. A celeb with an interest in politics and a man keen to show his support for the Labour Party in public. His choice of Burnham results from Andy’s campaign being based in the North West, something that appeals to many of us who feel that there is too much of a London centric bent to things. How much work outside London has Diane Abbott put in, failing to turn up or even send a speaker to the Hull Hustings and she was the least interested in the eventually aborted “By the Grassroots For the Grassroots” event in Brough this month.

Andy’s celeb backer led me to look into who else was getting involved donation wise in this campaign.

A simple search produced a rather worrying set of backers for front runner David Miliband.

David has raised £324,000 of donations his campaign – more than six times the amount his brother raised who comes in second on the wonga front.

First up. Anthony Bailey.

Bailey is a lobbyist. His clients include BAE Systems, the arms firm embroiled in many bribery scandals.

Bailey’s clients also include the reactionary customer of BAE, Saudi Arabia, and he has represented other countries with dubious human rights regimes like Syria and Morocco and oil firms like Shell. His main lobbying vehicle is his company Eligo International.

Bailey loves to emphasise his relationships with European royalty. He brought together his arms trade, lobbying and royalist businesses together in one grotesque package when he launched Painting and Patronage – a BAE-funded promotion of the paintings of Prince Charles and Saudi Prince Khalid.

And he likes to impose his personal religious beliefs on the rest of us. Bailey is a keen promoter of religious academy schools, especially those linked to the Anglican United Learning Trust, a distinctly dodgy organisation who are enthusiastically anti Trade Union in their outlook and dealings with staff in their schools.

Since 2003 he has encouraged anti-abortion politics by acting as patron of the "all-party parliamentary pro-life group."

Modernising Miliband isn’t only funded by royalist anti-abortion arms trade lobbyists.

Next up comes a £50,000 donation to Miliband’s Labour leadership campaign fund  from David Claydon, a leading British banker.

Claydon became a Morgan Stanley managing director in 2005, where he stayed until he joined Union Bank of Switzerland this May.

Both Morgan Stanley and UBS were deeply involved in the financial crisis, both losing hundreds of millions of pounds thanks to overextended loans. UBS is also one of the government’s advisers trying to privatise Royal Mail.

David Sainsbury bankrolled the SDP. Now he is paying £63,000 to Miliband’s leadership campaign. Parry Mitchell, who made his millions in the leasing business, helped found the SDP in 1980. He stood twice for the party, in Ealing and Acton in 1983 and Salisbury in 1987. He gave £10,000 to Miliband’s campaign. Miliband is the SDP’s plan B.

But not all Miliband’s cash-rich pals have skeletons in their closet and film producer Duncan Kenworthy, who  gave £25,000 is exactly the sort of inspirational self made character who hasn’t forgotten that social responsibility comes with wealth. He doesn’t work for arms dealers or bankers – he made his money co-creating Fraggle Rock and producing Four Weddings And A Funeral.

My research also uncovered some rather anodyne, management speak bollix coming from David’s recent utterings to the Fabian Society; “ "We need to engage honestly with our strengths and weaknesses so we can fashion a Labour ethic for our time that helps us define our priorities and rebuild trust with the electorate." Meaningless waffle that could just as easily apply to a company selling toilet paper. But this takes the biscuit; “We need to  understand how we find ourselves in this position and to break its dynamics and generate a different outcome." Aaargh.

Whilst I am glad that we haven’t indulged in intercine warfare in this campaign, I want to see more of a debate where we actually point out when we think things are going a bit dodgy in the Labour Party. We became far to “relaxed” (to quote a phrase) about money and glamour, with lobbyists and the general flotsam and jetsam surrounding Westminster. Time to break out, time to get real and time to get grounded.

On the evidence of having seen David speak twice, joined a phone in (cringe worthy) and the above connections I am alarmed by the prospect of a Party led by David Miliband.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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