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Blair Donation to Calderdale Labour

From James Baker

Friday, 13 March 2015

Despite us asking him several times the Labour candidate Josh Fenton-Glynn has refused to say whether or not he has accepted a donation for his campaign from Tony Blair. This is despite Calder Valley supposedly being on the list of places that got the cash.

So far a number of Labour PPCs have rejected the cash on principle, will Josh do the same? These money are profit's form Blair's lucrative PR work that has seen him giving advice to places like Kazakhstan, and his talking circuits where US neo-cons pay to listen to him speak.

Many of us who opposed the Iraq war are still waiting for the Chilcot report, and think Blair should be facing charges in the hauge for his war crimes. Is Josh happy to take his blood money?

From Andy M

Sunday, 15 March 2015

3 so far?

There were no strings attached and the report isn't out yet. I'd take the donation as its meant; an attempt to heal the rift between him and Ed Milliband and to pull together for the election.

From Andrew B

Sunday, 15 March 2015

I'm awaiting a response to this with great interest, it will be particularly interesting to hear/read the thoughts of local people who, as James says, opposed the Iraq war.

I have a suspicion that it may go quiet, that it be generally seen as OK to accept this money to see the back of Craig Whittaker.

A PPC who can't/won't respond to the electorate before the election doesn't sound to me like someone I would like to be left trusting after the election, I'm not sure we should be gambling with 5 years of ignorance.

From Eleanor Land

Sunday, 15 March 2015

If we are questioning donations can someone tell me whether the Lib Dems have paid back the £2.4 million donation from a convicted fraudster yet, I believe he is called Michael Brown. They have had since before 2010 to do this.

From Adrian Riley

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Money is insensate and has no morals. If it can be morally 'tainted' then we had all better watch which hands have handled our money before we receive any.

How do we in every day life differentiate between 'blood money' and money that has been honourably earned?

Should we question each and every person we come across who gives us money, to avoid receiving from people who may have done terrible things? Should we personally refuse welfare or income from any government whose policies we think have led to unnecessary bloodshed?

I only ask these questions because money is not as simple a commodity or transaction as James Baker makes out. I suspect we all make choices that fudge the issue because none of us can do without the stuff!

From Michael Prior

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The point is that Blair led us into a war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and is still continuing, on the basis of lies about weapons of mass destruction. This action has never been properly repudiated by the Labour Party. Its leader weasels out by claiming that he would (might) have opposed it had he been in the country but has never directly condemed it.

Perhaps Mr Fenton-Glynn would like, first, to openly repudiate the action of the Labour government and, second, to refuse to accept money from the liar and possible war criminal who helped start the war.

From James Baker

Monday, 16 March 2015

All parties have had suspect donations in the past I don't claim Lib Dems have always been whiter than white.

I just want to know if the person who wants to represent me has accepted money from Tony Blair the man whose illegal war I opposed.

He won't even answer, he could at least defend his actions. Perhaps arguing that it's worth taking the money to best his opponent etc. To simply not say though doesn't seem very open or transparent.

People ought to have a right to know whether he has accepted Blair's money or not. The man (Blair) profited from giving PR advice to various dodgy regimes after he ceased to be PM. In my eyes he's a war monger.

From Eleanor Land

Monday, 16 March 2015

I wonder if you can answer my question, James, about donations to your party, in the same way that you expect Josh Fenton-Glynn to answer yours. My question is have your party given back the donation they received from a convicted fraudster, pre 2010, and if they have not perhaps you could explain why.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 16 March 2015

Josh Fenton-Glynn is doing himself no favours in a swing seat by saying nothing. In the grand scheme of things it probably makes no difference whether he takes Tony Blair's money, but by refusing to comment he risks being labelled as just another slippery operator who can't give a straight answer to a straight question. When there's such a high tide of public exasperation with and distrust of politicians, his silence suggests very poor judgement. Disappointing.

From Josh Fenton-Glynn

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

There has recently been a large amount of hysteria stoked by local political opponents over whether I accepted a donation from former Labour Party leader Tony Blair.

The moment Blair's cheque reached my campaign headquarters I made sure it was sent, uncashed to the national party. In fact my campaign is being funded by local supporters all furious at the damage that this Tory coalition government is doing to our nation and community.

I am struck by the irony of  the Lib Dems raising the issue of campaign funding when their former chief fundraising officer was exposed this week in an alleged cash for access sting. This is not some minor party functionary, but someone who headed up their fundraising team, and one who was forced to resign as a candidate in one of their target seats.

It is also worth noting that the Lib Dems are still refusing to return a tainted £2.4 million donation from convicted fraudster and conman Michael Brown despite the desperate pleas of those he swindled.

I have chosen not to publicise this as it would only have fed a media storm of those who want to keep this government in power. I have always tried to focus my campaign on things that affect the lives of people in Calder Valley. The average Yorkshire family is over £2,000 worse off thanks to this government, hundreds of people are queuing at foodbanks in this constituency and Michael Gove spent millions on building free schools despite our two outstanding local high schools falling apart. And there is still a real threat to our local A and E services.

Over the last two years I have spoken to thousands of local people on the doorstep and those are the real world issues they raise with me that I will be fighting for if elected on May 7.

From Ian M

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

So to be perfectly clear Josh, when the cheque arrived you did not rip it up and put it in the bin or return it to sender, you in fact sent it to the National Party!

Can you clarify for the avoidance of doubt, what will happen to this cheque when it arrives with the National Party? Will it be cashed? Will it be destroyed.

I'm sure you can see that this may be taken as you accepting the money, just in a roundabout way!

From Richard Pierson

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Really glad to hear you aren't accepting this tainted Blair donation, Josh. It is good to know we have a local man with sound principles standing for election.

From Eleanor Land

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

I am glad Josh has clarified that he has not taken money from Tony Blair. Perhaps we can now get back to the important issues faced by local people.

From Michael Prior

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Mr Fenton-Glyn does need to clarify his ambiguous response. Could he tell us the name to whom the cheque was made out? If something like Calder Valley Labour Party then the national party will not be able to cash it and he might as well have just torn it up. If just to Labour Party then the central office will presumably just add it to its coffers.

Will Calder Valley constituency receive additional funding from central sources because of this donation? It is, of course, nonsense that his campaign is funded wholly locally. Like all seats, particularly those Labour might win, money comes from the central party.

Still, I am sure that after the election, he will be happy to open the books to show all funding sources. Won't he?

Just to clarify the reason for his sending on the cheque. Was it because he regards Blair as a tainted source? And does he condemn Blair's actions in getting us into war on the basis of lies?

From James Baker

Thursday, 19 March 2015

All parties (and all large organisations) suffer from individuals acting improperly and we recently had the Northern Labour MP Jack Straw in trouble over his affairs. That's not an excuse but Josh's attempt to smear the Liberal Democrats is unfair.

With regards to the sting of the former fundraiser, the Party had not received the donation in question and if we had it would have been subject to a series of checks and procedures to ensure it met all legal requirements.

This was a simple question about something local, if you had replied initially it wouldn't been a story. I'm glad if the donation has been reused as someone who got pepper sprayed whilst peacefully protesting Blair's illegal war I couldn't countenance anyone accepting his blood money.

If the cheque was passed on to the national party to cash then that's not so good as others have pointed out they supply some of your campaign materials.

From Eleanor Land

Thursday, 19 March 2015

James, I have asked you a question about the money your party received from Michael Brown. Sadly you have not provided an answer. If you wish to criticise other local politicians for not answering questions, I would have thought it would be a good idea to take your own advice and answer my query.

From Steve Sweeney

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hi Mike, to make it perfectly clear I discussed the Blair donation with Josh and I returned the cheque to the Labour Party when I received it. I have no idea, or interest in what they did with it, and assure you that we have not received any further funding from the party centrally.

Your assertion that the local Constituency Party receives the majority of its funding from the Party centrally is way off the mark. The reality is that the local membership has contributed more to the campaign than Central Office. Indeed, since the last General Election the constituency has donated around 10 times to the Party centrally than we have received from them for Josh's campaign.

I cannot speak for other Constituency parties regards their funding as I, like you, do not have that information. All our funding, as with all political parties, is provided to Electoral Services after the election and is a matter of public record.

We could have provided you and Cllr Baker with this information, as we did to anyone who asked, but let us be honest you raised this on social media as you did not want an answer. You just wanted to try and score political points.

Personally I remember well the opposition to, and campaign against, the Iraq war and the prominence of the local Labour Party members in that opposition. I also recall the role Josh played in that campaign.

Josh is running an election campaign on the issues facing people today and not on making apologies for the actions past Party Leaders made when he was still at School.

What is important is replacing Craig Whitaker with an MP who will represent local people and throwing out this appalling government not spending time on irrelevant trivia brought up by the LibDem candidate who has nothing politically to say.

Steve Sweeney Chair Calder Valley CLP

From Michael Prior

Friday, 20 March 2015

Mr. Sweeney is being very disingenuous in his reply.

First, I never stated that "the local Constituency Party receives the majority of its funding from the Party centrally" just that it receives some money. There is nothing wrong with this, all national parties including the one with which I am associated, the Green Party, get some funding from their central office. This funding is not necessarily cash. For example, I recently received through the mail as, presumably, did all electors, a leaflet extolling Mr Fenton-Glyn. This was published by Mr Sweeney but the return address on the envelope was "Labour Central" at a Newcastle address. Did the local constituency pay for this?

As Mr Sweeney knows we are not yet in the 'short campaign' preceding the General election which only begins on 30 March though we are in the 'long campaign' which began in December. Just what the constituency party has sent and received since 2010 is irrelevant to the expenditure and donations of the 'campaign'.

Second, his assertion that "I returned the cheque to the Labour Party when I received it. I have no idea, or interest in what they did with it" is confusing. Did the cheque come from the office of Tony Blair or was it forwarded from Labour Central Office? Did they cash it? Why did he not simply tear it up?

Of course, I am making a political point about this matter. This is the run-up to an election and I am entitled to raise concerns about the treatment of donations by the local Labour Party from someone whom many regard as a war criminal. I am glad to hear that Mr Fenton-Glyn was opposed to the Iraq war when at Calder High. No doubt he took part with my son in the mass walkout organised at the time. (I take it that this is what Mr Sweeney means in his rather oblique reference). But is he now able to state that he would urge current members of Parliament who were in office in 2003 (for example, Ed Balls) to repudiate their decision then to support the war as, so far, none have. It does still matter.

I understand that Mr. Sweeney would like the electorate to forget about the Labour government under Blair and then Brown and focus on the current government which is, as he says, appalling. But it just isn't that simple.

According to the Electoral Commission here, to return a donation,

  • If you know who the donor is, you must return it to them.
  • If the donation is from an unidentified source (for example, an
    anonymous £100 cash donation), you must return it to:the person who transferred the donation to you; or the financial institution used to transfer the donation.
  • If you cannot identify either, you must send the donation to the Electoral Commission who will pay it into the Government's consolidated fund.

I hope you didn't break the law in sending the cheque to Labour headquarters. Still I won't tell

From James Baker

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Was Josh really still at school when the Iraq war happened? I know Labour folk would like to white wash the war and their record in government from history but for some of us this is recent memory not something that occurred whilst the Labour candidate was still a child.

Eleanor I've answered you twice. Here it is for a third time - no the party hasn't returned money that the electoral commission deemed it was legal to accept that it later transpired was from a fraudsters. Locally We have bugger all locally to spend on our campaign we print most of our leaflets ourself in Hebden Bridge. Like the Greens we don't have any Tory Lord cash croft or Trade Union/Blair cash.

Steve - yes we asked Josh on twitter the question and he didn't reply. Then he accuses his opponents of whipping up a storm. I think that's unfair as if he had simply replied it wouldn't have been a story. Instead he ignores folk for days (whilst still tweeting his promotional stuff) then has brass neck to accuse others of creating story.

It's still not clear who cheque was made out too. Did Labour central still get the donation? There are plenty of Labour leaflets carrying national imprints too coming through letter boxes.

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 21 March 2015

It seems to me Lib Dem cllr James Baker is saying that is morally OK for his party to keep a £2.4 million donation of money stolen from investors by a convicted fraudster.

But somehow that is morally more acceptable than an attempted donation from a former PM who has never been convicted of a crime.

The attempted Blair donation has been rejected by Josh which should be an end to it.

When the Lib Dems do the right thing and return that donation of stolen money - which no doubt paid for a good few leaflets - to those investors then we can have a mature debate about party funding.

From Eleanor Land

Saturday, 21 March 2015

James I am afraid you have not answered my question, which is why have your party not paid back the money they received from Michael Brown, to the people he defrauded.

As far as I can gather the donation was OK'd by the Electoral Commission before they were aware that Brown was a crook. I would expect your party to have paid back this criminally obtained money. There are innocent people out of pocket because of this debacle, and I'm afraid it does not show your party in a good light if it is willing to see them lose out, in order to line your party's pockets.

From Steve Sweeney

Saturday, 21 March 2015

James, personally I don't think putting things out on Twitter is counted as asking a question I view it as publishing in the same way that HebWeb is. As I said anyone who actually asked about the cheque was told that we had sent it back. The reference to Josh and Calder High walkout was from Mike and not me. By that time I think Josh had left school.

It is a shame that the LibDem candidate has failed to learn from these disastrous forays into being the world's policeman in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc and is still arguing that bombing Syria would have been a good thing.

From Caroline M

Sunday, 22 March 2015

I would like to say I am pleased Josh did not take the donation. I've read this thread and it does exemplify much of what I find really unappealing about party politics.

The comment by James Baker looks to be criticising Josh for the age he happened to be in 2003 - I don't understand what the point of that is meant to be.

I was involved with Calderdale Against the War and I remember sitting with Josh in a service station when we got coaches back from one of the London demonstrations. I also remember school students here (I don't know if that included Josh) were pretty articulate and active in opposing the war - it was not less real for them, and they had no lesser right to express their view just because they were at school.

I have voted Labour sometimes but often have not. I don't know Josh well at all although our paths have crossed, but I will vote for him because he seems OK, and I want this government out.

From Mike Prior

Monday, 23 March 2015

Obviously Mr. Sweeney does not want make any further comment on why he apparently broke electoral regulations over Mr Blair's donation. Fair enough, let's just let it lie.

But if Mr Fenton-Glynn had left school at the time of the Iraq war then as he is "not on making apologies for the actions past Party Leaders made when he was still at School" can he tell us what these actions were for which he is too busy?

From Luke Fenton-Glynn

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Mike, I'm not in any way involved with the financial affairs of Josh's campaign. The only information I have on how the cheque was dealt with comes from this discussion forum. Nor am I in any way an expert on the regulations governing campaign finance. The only information that I have on that comes from the document that you previously posted a link to.

However, I think it's worth pointing out that, in that document, the paragraph before the one that you quoted states:

"if you are given a cheque, you receive the donation on the date that the cheque clears."

So if the cheque was never cashed, then the donation was never received. So the protocol on how to 'return' the donation presumably doesn't apply.

See also:

HebWeb News: Election: Labour candidate challenged over Blair Donation (13 March 2015)


HebWeb Election Section