Over at The Bristol Blogger there’s a rather interesting story developing.
BB noticed that ten grands-worth of donations were made to Bristol North West constituency Labour Party by Bristol Labour Group. Because BLG is an unincorporated association, it seems that no accounts need to be published; so the riddle is, where did the £10,000 which the BLG funnelled into BNW originally come from?
As BB notes:
Due to boundary changes, the Bristol North West seat, currently held by Labour’s Doug Naysmith, is likely to be a marginal seat at the next election and the Tories appear to be throwing considerable resources into the area for their well-connected parliamentary candidate Charlotte Leslie.
Now it seems the Labour Party are doing the same for their London-based Oxbridge lawyer candidate, Lambeth councillor Sam Townend (Blogger Passim). No problem there really. If the Tories have the mysterious Lord Ashcroft throwing money at marginals why shouldn’t Labour do the same?
Well the difference is, although we might not like it, at least we know who the Tories’ money has come from. We don’t with this Labour donation…
…while everything may well prove to be above board in this particular case, the process that Holland is running for donating money to Bristol’s Constituency Labour Parties is easily open to abuse. How do we know – given the current climate in the Labour Party – this unincorporated association isn’t being used as a conduit by an individual donor wishing to hide their identity?
The story got even more interesting on Tuesday when BB started asking questions about the use of supposedly unpartisan council officers by the council’s Labour group:
The purpose of this office and the staff is to provide support services to Labour councillors on Bristol City Council – who are apparently known as ‘the Bristol Labour Group’. However, legally, this office and its staff can only work on council business. The staff and the facilities provided by the taxpayer should not be used for either private purposes or for working on party political or campaigning activity, such as say, fundraising and party donations.
Obviously then this office and its staff, despite sharing a name and address, can’t have anything to do with ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ that gave a cash donation to the Bristol North West Constituency Party can it? Because that would mean that council officers and council facilities would have been used for party political activities and party fundraising matters.
But it gets even juicier… One of the Labour group’s support officers, Laura Protheroe, is apparently the partner of Labour councillor Fabian Breckels, whilst the other, ‘political assistant’ Roger Livingston, seems to have got himself into something of a pickle by way of an indiscreet email:
> Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2007 14:20:58 +0100
> From: roger.livingston@…
> To: Member of the public@…
> Subject: Re: Letter from your constituent Xxxx Xxxxx
> If you bGoogle “Xxxx Xxxxxx” with the quotes she appears to have signed every green petition going. Can’t quite link her direct to the Greens. But need to be on the safe side.
> Happy to draft a reply. (My own view is that I don’t believe man has caused global warming – I think it’s got more to do with the sun. And I’m still not convinced ANYTHING we do will make a difference. Al;so am anxious that this huge diversion of cash towards anti-global warming measures might have been better spent on the poor – who are still right on our doorstep.) However….. will draft reply.
> Could do with with the PLP briefing on global warming – could you send it to me?
Yes, that’s a (‘non-political’) council officer apparently discussing with a Labour Party councillor doing background checks on the political affiliations of a member of the public who has contacted their elected representative.
Yes, that’s a council officer apparently debunking climate change scientific theory in a mere 23 words.
Yes, that’s a council officer apparently pressing the wrong button and sending his rather impolitic musings to the very member of the public he is talking about in such an offhand manner!
You couldn’t make it up, etc.
Anyhow, BB continues to dig away, but if you have any useful information I’m sure s/he would be grateful for your assistance. Especially if you know where the ten grand came from.