Why do so many Labour donors seem embarrassed about giving to the Labour Party? David Abrahams did it through his employees. Wendy Alexander's leadership campaign, where she had to beat nobody, raised £17,000 through attracting several donors of £995, just under the £1000 mark where they would have to be declared.
One of them as revealed in the Herald today was Jersey based (and thus not allowed to contribute) but did it through a Glasgow company. To compound matters, this is no different from the case of Abraham, or I believe front organisations like the Muslim Friends of Labour, which have served the effect of keeping anonymous people who are embarrassed at the idea of donating to Labour openly.
Both Abrahams and the Labour Party have maintained that the arrangement of third parties hiding the true donors was all above board. But as Calum Cashley points out, even a cursory reading of Electoral Commission guidelines would have knocked that on the head at an early stage:
Donations from an agent of the donor
4.29 If the original source of the donation is someone other than the individual or organisation that transfers the donation to the party, the individual or organisation making the transfer is acting as an agent for the original donor. Where a person acts as an agent in making a donation, they must ensure that the party is given all the relevant information as listed at paragraph 5.5 (Section 54(6)). Transferring a donation to an agent rather than directly to a party must not be used as an attempt to evade the controls on permissibility and transparency.
On Newsnight Scotland yesterday, Labour figures were deriding what they said were the SNP's attempts to bring a Scottish angle to the Abrahams row. That's been put to rest to by the Wendy Alexander revelations, and should also be by the Muslim Friends of Labour angle that contributed £300,000 to the party's Scottish elections campaign this year. It is also plain to see that if Labour funds in London had been bolstered by Abrahams' money, the grant they give the Scottish branch of their party taints their performance in the Scottish elections of 2007.