Monday 25 August 2008

Labour - dodgy donations

I was interested to see that Glasgow Council has had wee whispers with Manchester Airports Group plc about buying out Glasgow Airport. Glasgow Council is, you'll remember, one of only two councils in Scotland with a Labour majority administration.
Manchester Airports Group is publicly owned - 55% Manchester Council and 5% each for Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan Councils. There's been some change in political control in recent years but these councils used to be overwhelmingly Labour controlled with a bit of LibDemmery on the side.

Any assets held by Manchester Airports Group (including Manchester Airport, East Midlands Airport, Bournemouth and Humberside Airports and any cash they generate), then, belong to the public in the areas of those councils. That will be why the Group has a policy against giving money to political parties stated in its accounts every year.

Strangely, though, the Group used Labour's 1998 conference to launch Manchester Airport's Green Commuter Plan, and in 2000 Manchester Airport's sustainability strategy was launched at Labour's conference. I wonder how much Labour charged for hosting those two events?

I don't know. What is clear, though, is that the ban the Group has on making donations to political parties didn't cover some payments to the Labour party:

£8,000 from East Midlands Airport in May 2002
£30,000 from M.A.G. in August 2002
£30,000 from M.A.G. in October 2002
£10,000 from East Midlands in January 2003

£78,000 of public money siphoned off into Labour's coffers in under a year. It is, in effect, taking money directly from those councils and dropping it straight into Labour's pocket. Surely that's not right?
There's also Birmingham, 49% owned by councils - gave Labour £8,000 in December 2002 and £9,500 in December 2003.


Just in case there's any smug Lib Dems floating around, though, let me point out that Manchester Airports Group gave the Lib Dems £6,748.02 in August 2001.

It smells of sleaze.

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