Tag: current affairs

Former Tory Donor Gave Yvette Cooper £75,000 Donation

The largest single donation to Yvette Cooper’s Labour leadership campaign comes from a former donor to the Conservative party.

Businessman Peter Hearn gave Cooper £75,000 to support her campaign for the Labour leadership. According to the latest listing Cooper made in the register of MPs’ interests, Hearn’s donation makes up over a quarter of the £260,000 she has raised to fund the “Yvette for Labour Leader” campaign.

However, figures given to the Electoral Commission show that Hearn also gave £10,000 to the Conservative party in the run-up to the 2010 election.

Hearn is a multi-millionaire accountant behind PSD Group, an executive recruitment firm specialising in high-level jobs in banking, finance, and other sectors. His donation was registered this month, although the actual donation was made in July.

Since donating to the Conservatives in 2009-10, Hearn has become a major Labour donor: He gave the Labour head office donations worth £279,000 over 2014-15.

Hearn has switched his donations between parties more than once. Before his Conservative donations, back in 2007 he gave Labour £5,000.

Labour headquarters is currently working to make sure the leadership election “is not for those who support other parties and is only for those who support the Labour party”, with many would-be voters complaining they have been wrongly excluded from taking part in the vote.

BuzzFeed News asked the Cooper campaign if they had any concerns about taking money from a man who has switched support between different parties.

A spokesperson for the campaign said that Hearn was a longstanding Labour supporter:

We are very grateful to Peter Hearn and all those who have donated to the Yvette For Labour campaign. To characterise Peter as a Tory switcher is plain wrong. He has been a major donor to the Labour party for several years and a Labour voter all his life.

In 2010 he was so keen to stop the divisive and unpleasant politics of George Galloway that he supported both the local Labour and Conservative candidates fighting to prevent George Galloway’s Respect party gaining his local seat. He is unequivocally a Labour supporter.

Electoral Commission records do show Hearn giving £5,000 to the Tower Hamlets Labour party in 2007. However, they also show that he gave more money, and more often, to the Conservative party in 2009-10.

He helped fund the Conservative election campaign in Poplar, where George Galloway was standing against Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick and Tim Archer for the Conservatives. Fitzpatrick won the seat, with Archer coming second and Galloway third.

Solomon Hughes / Electoral Commission

Hearn’s political donations are registered at the Electoral Commission under a variety of spellings – Peter Hearn, Peter J Hearn, and even a misspelled Peter Hearne. The Electoral Commission confirmed to BuzzFeed News that all these donations are registered to the same address and that they are all from the same man.

Thanks to Solomon Hughes who wrote the above article originally published on the Buzz Feed News blog on August 21.

We Don’t Need Chilcot To Tell Us Blair Lied

Embedded image permalink

In his book The New Rulers Of The World, the renowned investigative journalist John Pilger (p.65-67) describes his stay at Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed Hotel shortly before the allied invasion of Iraq in March 2003:

“I met an assistant manager who had been at the hotel since the 1980s, and whose sardonic sense of western double standards was a treat. “Ah!, a journalist from Britain”, he said. “Would you like to see where Mr Douglas Hurd stayed, and Mr David Melon [sic] and Mr Tony Newton, and all the other members of Mrs Thatcher’s Government…These gentlemen were our friends, our benefactors.”

He has a collection of the Baghdad Observer from ‘the good old days’. Saddam Hussein is on the front page, where he always is. The only change in each photograph is that he is sitting on his white presidential couch with a different British government minister, who is smiling or wincing.

There is Douglas Hurd, in 1981, then a Foreign Office minister who came to sell Saddam Hussein a British Aerospace missile system and to ‘celebrate’ the anniversary of the coming to power of the Ba’ath (Redemption) Party, a largely CIA triumph in 1968 that extinguished all hope of a pluralistic Iraq and produced Saddam Hussein.

There is Hurd twice: on the couch and on page two, bowing before the tyrant, the renowned interrogator and torturer of Qasr-al-Nihayyah, the ‘palace of the end’. And there is the corpulent David Mellor, also a Foreign Office man, on the same white couch in 1988.

While Mellor, or ‘Mr Melon’ as the assistant manager preferred, was being entertained, his host ordered the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja, news of which the foreign office tried to suppress…..As the subsequent inquiry by Sir Richard Scott revealed, these celebrities of the Baghdad Observer knew they were dealing illegally with the tyrant. “Please give Mr Melon my greetings”, said the assistant manager.

Twenty seven years later, ‘Mr Melon’ can be heard presenting a phone in show alongside Ken Livingstone every Saturday morning on LBC Radio. I phoned the programme a few weeks ago to remind Mellor of this unfortunate episode in his career. Needless to say, I was cut off immediately.

In Chapter 13 of his book, Web Of DeceitBritish historian, Mark Curtis highlights – with reference to the views expressed in the Scott inquiry mentioned above – that elites do not think the public are entitled to know what the decision-making processes are that give rise to their decisions.

They are especially keen to deflect criticism away from the ruthless and violent nature of the British state towards the perpetuation of the myth that British foreign policy is historically predicated on the idea of benevolence. This involves the promotion of high and noble principles – democracy, peace, human rights and development – in its foreign policy.

Any critiques of Britain’s role in wars within the mainstream media are normally marginalized or presented within narrow limits which show “exceptions” to, or “mistakes” in, promoting the rule of basic benevolence. Curtis believes that overall:

“People are being indoctrinated into a picture of Britain’s role in the world that supports elite priorities. This is the mass production of ignorance. It actively works against our interests, which is precisely why the ideological system is critical to the elite, who essentially see the public as a threat…. As the chapters on Kenya, Malaya, British Guiana, Iran and others have shown, the reality of British policy is systematically suppressed” [1].

Has anything fundamentally changed since BBC founder Lord Reith wrote of the establishment: “They know they can trust us not to be really impartial”? [2] Why did the British and American mass media fail to challenge even the most obvious government lies on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the invasion in March 2003? Why did the media ignore the claims of UN weapons inspectors that Iraq had been 90-95 per cent “fundamentally disarmed” as early as 1998? [3].

What Curtis convincingly shows is that Blair’s contempt for international law in relation to Iraq is part of an historical continuum. As Caroline Lucas put it: “By imposing regime change in Iraq… Tony Blair is not so much following the US as continuing a national tradition.”[4].

After studying declassified British government files, Curtis concluded that:

“British ministers’ lying to the public is systematic and normal…In every case I have ever researched on past British foreign policy, the files show that ministers and officials have systematically misled the public. The culture of lying to and misleading the electorate is deeply embedded in British policy-making” [5].

Just as the public didn’t need the Scott Inquiry to tell them that the Thatcher government illegally sold weapons of mass destruction to Saddam that were used to deadly effect against the Kurds, so we don’t need £10 million (and counting) of our money wasted in a whitewash of an inquiry into Blair’s deceptions in relation to Iraq.

All that is required is a cursory glance at the contents of the Downing Street memo which provides the public with an invaluable record of a meeting in July 2002, between Blair and Sir Richard Dearlove. The memo reveals that Dearlove, director of the UK’s foreign intelligence service MI6, told Blair that in Washington military action was now seen as inevitable

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy [6]. In other words, what this memo shows is Blair knew that the decision to attack Iraq had already been made; that it preceded the justification.