Labour shouldn’t accept money from big donors.

Some people ask “what’s actually the issue with Labour taking money from large donors?” and I say this: it may seem benign and meaningless, but it fundamentally alters the character of the project for the worse.

When Labour accepts money from unions, it’s being backed up by collective organisations by and for working people and their interests in the workplace. When Labour takes small donations from members and voters, it’s relying on the goodwill and solidarity of working people who know that Labour will fight for them as a collective. And when Labour wields the door knocking ability of a people powered grassroots movement, we know they’re For The Many, Not The Few.

Now, when Labour accepts money from wealthy donors, lobbyists, or corporations, it’s taking the charity of people with an agenda. Donations have always gone hand in hand with access, and hand in hand with influence. It doesn’t matter how transparent, Labour will not truly be free if it relies on these funds.

Think about this; wealthy donors abandoned Labour under Corbyn for a reason, and now they come back. Would these (in many cases rather odious) individuals of the New Labour years really return if Starmer was anywhere close to carrying on the policy prospectus of the Corbyn years or challenging institutional power in such a way? Of course not.

And there you have it, these funds are a statement of purpose. No worker’s party should be writing to wealthy individuals asking for money, and the fact that that’s even a contentious statement demonstrates we very much remain in Thatcher’s Britain.

The funds are an assertion of purpose; proof Labour plans to shift to the right, unless pressured otherwise. I cannot swallow or accept it, and no socialist or true progressive plausibly could. If you take their money, you’ll never challenge their influence, plain and simple.

The solution? Commit to radical policies that’ll improve people’s lives, which’ll energise the small amount grassroots donors of the Corbyn era, and attract more union funds. Corbyn’s Labour didn’t go underwater for this reason: it knew who it was for. Starmer’s Labour is falling into a financial black hole and doesn’t have a clue who it’s for, while begging wealthy donors for financial help.

So long as it accepts big money, Labour will be for the Few, and not The Many.

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Toby Lipatti-Mesme

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Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.