MINISTER "BUYING" LABOUR AND CORRUPTING POLITICAL PROCESS
Even senior members of Blair's ruling Party are dismayed at the corrupt relationship between Lord Sainsbury and Labour:
'Mark Seddon, a member of Labour‚s National Executive Committee, claimed such donations were causing Labour to lose members amid criticism from the grassroots that the party was now "in the pockets of the powerful and the rich".
He told the Today programme: "In any other country I think a government minister donating such vast amounts of money and effectively buying a political party would be seen for what it is, a form of corruption of the political process." (from the Times article below)
As reported below Lord Sainsbury has just written a cheque to the Labour Party for £2.5 million to keep it afloat. He is the government's most prominent backer of GM technology in agriculture.
Lord Sainsbury's personal, political and financial interests span biotechnology,
food retailing, and driving UK government policy in relation to technology
and trade. He is simultaneously
* the multi-billionaire Science Minister in charge of promoting biotechnology
at the UK's Department of Trade and Industry
* a member of the cabinet biotechnology committee responsible for national policy on GM crops and foods
* a major personal investor in GM agricultural biotechnology
* a leading member of the UK supermarket giant 'Sainsbury' family (former chairman and major shareholder of J Sainsbury plc - personal and immediate family annual share dividend estimated at £36 million in 1998)
* a multi-million pound donor to the Labour Party (giving Labour its biggest single donation in September 1997 and much more since) and made a life peer by Tony Blair 3 October 1997
Money may not buy you happiness but can it buy you influence?
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Sainsbury faces inquiry over £2.5m gift to party
April 02, 2003
London Times, 2 April 2003
By Melissa Kite, Political Correspondent
LORD SAINSBURY of Turville faces being called before an inquiry into the extent of his multimillion-pound donations to Labour.
The billionaire Minister for Science was accused by politicians on all sides yesterday of colluding in a form of political corruption after Labour announced that he had made a £2.5 million donation.
The gift is believed to be the largest single donation in the party‚s history and takes his contributions to Labour since 1999 to £8.5 million.
Lord Sainsbury, a junior minister at the Department of Trade and Industry since 1998 and a peer since 1997, is among a list of possible witnesses at the forthcoming inquiry by the Electoral Commission, which is to make recommendations to Parliament on future arrangements for party funding. It will launch its investigation in May.
But sources close to the commission, which has the power to recommend action on single big donations, said it was likely that major donors such as Lord Sainsbury would be called.
Theresa May, the Conservative Party chairman, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The fact that Lord Sainsbury is a government minister ˜ - he was appointed by the Prime Minister and, indeed, he is in a ministerial position where he's making decisions which could have commercial consequences - "I think raises real questions about this particular donation.
"Politics is better in this country if political parties are funded by large numbers of people rather than relying on large donations from a smaller number of people."
Mark Seddon, a member of Labour‚s National Executive Committee, claimed such donations were causing Labour to lose members amid criticism from the grassroots that the party was now "in the pockets of the powerful and the rich".
He told the Today programme: "In any other country I think a government minister donating such vast amounts of money and effectively buying a political party would be seen for what it is, a form of corruption of the political process.
"This was a criticism of the Conservatives when they were in government and increasingly people are looking in at the political parties and saying, 'Why don't they have more members?' " The Labour Party should instead raise funds by appealing for members while political donations should be capped and banned altogether for ministers, Mr Seddon added.
In a statement yesterday, Lord Sainsbury said: "In our democracy political parties have to raise funds to campaign and put their policies to the electorate, and as a proud supporter of the Labour Party I am happy to be in a position where I can make a contribution to its ongoing work."
David Triesman, the party's general secretary, said: "As a member of Labour's audit committee, Mark Seddon should be aware that the largest area of growth in the party's income last year was indeed from individual members and supporters making small contributions.
"The Labour Party has the broadest base of funding of any party, with the largest proportion of our income coming from small donations."
A Labour spokesman said there was no particular significance in the timing of the donation. The party has a £6 million overdraft and a £4.5 million mortgage on its London headquarters.
Lord Sainsbury has made other large charitable donations, reflecting
his interests in technical education, mental health and Third World development
through his charitable trust, the Gatsby Foundation.
[Sainsbury/Gatsby background from NGIN Genetic Network News - Issue 4]
Lord Sainsbury's financial links to JIC
"When ngin challenged the independence of the John Innes Centre (see GNN3) and drew attention to the big corporate investment from Zeneca and DuPont and the JIC's other corporate sponsors (Monsanto etc), the JIC replied that it guarded its independence from industry jealously and it pointed to the extent of its public and charitable funding. That funding is coming into question.
The JIC's 'charitable funding' is, in fact, critical to the work of its Sainsbury Laboratory. The Sainsbury Laboratory‚s main grant comes from a Sainsbury family trust, known as the Gatsby Foundation. A key contributor to this trust is one Lord Sainsbury, the current Science Minister, the former boss of the supermarket giant and a major Sainsbury‚s shareholder.
The Gatsby Foundation has laid great stress on encouraging the genetic engineering of plants and crops, mainly through grants to the JIC (over 2 million pounds last year alone) as well as through grants which link in overseas countries to JIC-based plant biotechnology projects. As Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury appears to have been encouraging exactly the same kind of collaborative links.
Now the shadow Trade and Industry spokesman, John Redwood, has dawn
attention to Lord Sainsbury's financial connections with the Gatsby Foundation
and its big investments in genetic engineering. He and others, like Friends
of the Earth, also note Lord Sainsbury's history of business investments
in biotech companies and are asking: is this really the man
to make decisions on behalf of the British people about the genetic engineering
ngin bulletin archive