Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/471/1991
Labour's super-rich friend
THE ARREST of Tony Blair's aide Ruth Turner, on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in the cash for honours investigation, has bought the whole question of funding of political parties into the limelight again.
You don't need a police investigation to see that New Labour has become reliant on donations from rich people. The rich get treated well by Blair's party and show their appreciation. Many businessmen who give to Labour seem to get juicy government deals. Often it's less a case of loans for lordships as cash for contracts.
Labour recently received a £2 million donation from Britain's richest tycoon Lakshmi Mittal. In 2002, Mittal gave £125,000 to Labour's election campaign. Later, he got a letter of support from Blair backing him in his successful bid to buy up a former state steel plant in Romania.
Mittal was 'worth' under a billion pounds then - now he's worth almost £15 billion. Starting with exploiting workers in India and Indonesia, he has extended his empire to USA, China and Africa through mergers and takeovers.
He can afford £2 million. He paid over thirty times as much, £65 million, for the world's costliest house in London. That's £20 million more than the annual budget of Liberia, a country where Mittal recently did a deal that will add greatly to his fortune but will give little or nothing to the people of that impoverished country.
Mittal pays some tax (though not much) in Britain but his firm is registered in Netherlands Antilles, which offers offshore operations on a tax-exempt basis. With people like him backing New Labour, the policies are going to be friendly to millionaires and tax avoiders.
Trade unionists and socialists need to start to build a new party for the working class. It would give a political home to those voters who feel New Labour has abandoned them and those who reject mainstream capitalist politics where every party kowtows to the interests of the Mittals of the world.
In The Socialist 25 January 2007:
War and terrorism
Socialist Party news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis