Grantham Journal columnist: David Burling, Labour

David Burling - Labour
David Burling - Labour

In my last column, I highlighted my opinion on the way the Labour Party is funded by individual union member donations, and how I felt that criticism of this method of funding by the Conservative Party and its supporters was wildly inaccurate.

After the column was published, I continued to receive the criticism even though they could not demonstrate to me how millions of individual donations from working people were less representative than large donations from wealthy individuals. An important distinction to make, yet one that a significant number of Conservative Party supporters deliberately fail to understand.

They then felt the need to divert attention from this debate by highlighting one donation to the Labour Party to be made in shares, in what has been described as a deliberate attempt to avoid paying tax on the donation.

Now, for starters, there is nothing illegal done here. This is perfectly acceptable under the current tax law to make a donation in this way. The complaint levelled here is that of hypocrisy. The Labour Party criticising the tax arrangements of large multinational companies whilst accepting donations that would be considered “tax-efficient” by a large multinational company.

Firstly, these shares were donated to the Labour Party to provide a steady income for the Labour Party over many years. Tax will be paid on the dividends received year on year as it should be. The complaint of hypocrisy is completely unfounded. The donors tax affairs for themselves.

For the record, Cameron & Co regularly receive donations of a similar nature, even after calling tax-avoiders as “morally repugnant”. This is a government and also a political class that are unprepared to simplify the tax code to make the economy competitive, to make the tax code fair to everyone, yet are prepared to play political games over donations and political funding, continually confirming in the eyes of the public just how disconnected from reality Westminster really is.