Billionaire steps in to bail out the Labour Party

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LAKSHMI Mittal, the Indian-born billionaire has donated £2m to the Labour Party, it was revealed yesterday.

The fifth richest man in the world, who owns the largest steel corporation, said he appreciated the work that the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown had done in Britain ‘to improve the overall prosperity and prospects of the country since coming to office in 1997’.

Blair said: ‘I am delighted that Mr Mittal, who is one of the world’s most successful businessmen, has made such a donation.’

Recently, Mittal has been trying to stage a takeover of Corus, formerly the state-owned British Steel Corporation. In 2005, he also gave Labour £2m.

For the 2001 general election, he donated £125,000, prompting a political row because Blair later wrote a letter to the Romanian government backing Mittal’s bid for a lucrative contract there.

Hot from his profuse expression of gratitude to Mittal, at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday Blair defended the decision of Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to scrap the Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO’s) probe into corruption allegations concerning a BAE Systems’ deal with Saudi Arabia.

At the end of last year, Goldsmith said that the continuation of this investigation was not in ‘the public interest’. It is clear that the Blair-Brown regime stepped in to protect the British multinational, BAE Systems.

Meanwhile, the Labour government has ignored the damning report into the US activities of the country’s biggest production company, British Petroleum (BP).

The report, from a panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker, found that there were ‘material deficiencies’ and systemic problems in the way BP ran its five oil refineries in the US. The inquiry followed an explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery in 2005, that killed 15 workers and injured another 170 people.

The silence of the government on the activities of this premier British company should come as no surprise. BP has had a presence in government circles since 1997, when the ‘new’ Labour leadership ennobled former BP Chairman Lord Simon and made him a trade minister.

The Labour Party has seen its membership more than halved since 1997, from 400,000 to less than 200,000, and it was revealed to be £24m in debt at the end of last year.

This is because hundreds of thousands of workers have left the Labour Party and some of the trade unions, that founded the Labour Party, have either been expelled, like the RMT railworkers’ union, or have quit, like the Fire Brigades Union.

Today, Blair and Brown are privatising education, council housing and the National Health Service. Manufacturing jobs are being axed, students face top-up fees, council housing is being destroyed and Tory anti-union laws are still being used against the trade unions.

Millions of workers are fighting the Labour government to defend jobs, services and basic democratic rights. They will not give a penny for Labour Party funds and are demanding their unions do the same.

Blair and Brown always boast that the Labour Party is ‘the party of business’. We can see exactly what they mean today, with millions poured into their party’s coffers from the super-rich, because they are privatising public services and handing them over to huge business corporations, and stepping up their attacks on the working class.

When the likes of Mittal consider that the Labour Party, under its present leadership, is serving their interests, it is time for workers and their trade unions to fund political representatives that will serve the interests of the working class.

The trades unions, through the Trades Union Congress, must set up a special fund and support their own political representatives in the course of the struggle to remove this Blair-Brown government and replace it with a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies.