Who's playing footsie with the Russians?

17 March 2018, 20:36 | Updated: 17 March 2018, 20:42


Jeremy Corbyn was accused of being an "apologist for Russia" after suggesting that it might be the actions of a responsible government to acquire some actual evidence of wrongdoing before it starts hostilities with a despot in charge of more nuclear weapons than any other on earth.

That's not capturing the mood of the nation, intoned the press. We want punishment first, evidence later, they said.

He's thwarting The Will of the People!

I know that it is suddenly fashionable to attend to the mood of the populace by those that hankered after us getting out of the EU but they would not be saying that if they had lost the referendum, and it isn't really the basis of a coherent government strategy.

If we went to enact the will of the people at every turn, then we would be at war with Germany, in expectation of them beating us in the forthcoming World Cup, and Ant would be Prime Minister and Dec would be the Secretary of Defence.

I think the Russians probably did poison their ex-spy but I can’t prove it and neither can the government.

We don’t even know how they were poisoned, or where, so how can we possibly know with great certainty who poisoned them?

We can assume the Russians did it, but then we assumed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could deliver catastrophe to London in less than 45 minutes or your money back.

We assumed the world's economy was going great guns 5 minutes before the start of the biggest recession in history.

We assumed that the American people would elect a stable genius...but assumptions ain't necessarily so.

The story of the poisoning has curiously morphed into the story of Jeremy Corbyn's failure to back the government in leaping to expensive conclusions and of being too enamoured of the Russians.

He is a communist after all.

Well, he isn't, as far as I can tell and neither is Vladimir Putin.

If either main political party can be accused of cosying up to Russia, it is surely the Conservatives who have more evidence against them.

It is true that Labour have more money coming in from unions than any other source but that is hardly a surprise. They are supposed to be the party of the working man and woman.

Yet this fact is constantly touted by the press as being somehow suspect. In May 2017, the Telegraph reported that Labour’s General Election campaign was being funded almost entirely by union donations. Disgraceful!

Compare the amount brought in by both parties during the election campaign last year.

A record £40m of donations poured into British politics in the three months before the election.

The Conservative party raised almost £25m while there was only £9.5m for Labour.

Furthermore, the bulk of Labour's income came from unions but most of the Tory party's funds came from wealthy individuals and companies.

There was £1.5m from JCB, the company linked to a Conservative peer who also helped fund the Brexit campaign.

A hedge fund manager, a theatrical impresario, and the founder of the giant Addison Lee taxi firm all gave over £1 million each.

Political donations of over £7,500 must be registered by name. Eleven percent of those donations to the Tories came from people with fancy titles.

Which sounds as though it would be more likely to enact the will of the greatest number of people -  a party funded by organisations that represent millions or bankrolled by a few vastly rich individuals?

The Unite union represents 1.4m people – Sir and Lady Bufton Fortescue-Smythe represent only themselves.

But it is worse than that.

While the Labour leader is accused of being too close to the Russians, it is the Conservatives who are surfing on a tide of roubles – three million pounds worth since 2010.

In 2015 an analysis by Deutsche Bank suggested that since the mid-1970s much of the new money that has washed through the Tory supporting City of London has come from one country in particular: Russia.

They said a good deal of the £133bn of dodgy money that comes through London's banks is related to Russia.

But don't take their word for it - in December 2017 our own National Crime Agency said as much as £90bn of criminal money is laundered through the UK each year.

In 2016, the Financial Times said an insider at a Swiss bank warned Britain’s financial watchdogs that bankers in its UK office were offering services that could facilitate tax evasion and money laundering.

He also told the US authorities. The Americans took it very seriously. The British merely said that they were concerned and then did nothing.

As far back as 2011, the Financial Times reported that Tory MPs’ desire to cut the 50p top rate of income tax is because rich City donors are so close to the party.

The Tories are funded by the banks and the banks are enjoying standing under a waterfall of iffy money coming from Russia.

The leader of the Labour Party isn't the red under the bed.

It is the leader of the Conservative Party that looks embarrassingly pink.