Tory donor scandal reveals not just the racism but the massive profits leeched from the NHS and donated to the Tories 

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When The Guardian newspaper on Monday reported the racist comments made by Frank Hester, the owner and sole shareholder of the Pheonix Partnership (TPP), directed against Diane Abbott MP there was a huge wave of public revulsion – everywhere that is apart from the offices of Tory prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Not surprising, given that Hester is the biggest Tory donor who has given £10 million to the Tories in the past year and the man Sunak is relying on to bankroll the Conservatives’ general election campaign.

TPP which specialises in providing computer healthcare technology has secured contracts worth £135 million since April 2020 for providing IT services for the NHS. Hester’s company paid out more than £20 million in dividends to shareholders between 2019 and 2022, with Hester the only shareholder. Hester is reported to be raking in £800,000 a week from the NHS.

Last year, the scale of NHS contracts, awarded by the Tories to TPP was first revealed by the Good Law Project. Good Law Project director Jo Maugham said at the time: ‘Once you see how much Mr Hester gets from an NHS that is desperately starved of money, you can understand why he is so committed to the government that lets him.’

Hester clearly believes that £10 million to the Tories is a profitable investment for his company.

This goes a long way to explain the reluctance of Rishi Sunak and Tory ministers to denounce Hester for the racist abuse he directed at Diane Abbott, when it was revealed on Monday in the Guardian that he told a meeting in 2019, that Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, made him ‘want to hate all black women’.

Hester then followed up this by adding that Abbott ‘should be shot’.

Racist comments and an open incitement to violence against Abbott was initially met with a refusal from Sunak to come out with any condemnation, instead simply saying these comments were ‘unacceptable’.

After all, it doesn’t do to criticise the Tories’ biggest donor. It was only on Tuesday, that Sunak caved in to the massive tide of revulsion over Hester’s remarks, with his spokesman saying that Hester’s comments ‘were racist and wrong’, adding that now he ‘has rightly apologised for the offence caused and where remorse is shown it should be accepted’.

Remorse no doubt fuelled by fear for Hester’s profits and the Tories’ chances of more huge donations!

As for the Labour Party leadership, while Keir Starmer was quick to call for the Tories to return the £10 million donation, he has not been so quick to offer any support to Diane Abbott.

Abbott, the first female black MP elected to Parliament in 1987, and who has suffered more racist abuse and threats of violence than any other MP, remains suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Abbott, along with Jeremy Corbyn, had the whip removed by Starmer under the excuse of being investigated for ‘anti-semitic’ comments – investigations that are going nowhere, but which mean neither can stand as Labour candidates in the election.

Spurious charges of anti-semitism, are Starmer’s preferred method of purging Labour from any hint of socialism.

While claiming the moral high ground in demanding the Tories hand back £10 million, Starmer has not issued any call for TPP or any of the other privateers who are leeching billions from the NHS to have their contracts cancelled.

In 2022, Starmer dropped previous Labour pledges to end private sector outsourcing in the NHS, while the Labour shadow health secretary has called for increased privatisation to cut waiting lists.

Despite all the public condemnation of Hester and useless calls for the Tories to return his donations, the fact remains that Labour stands with the privateers, who are pocketing a fortune at a time when the NHS is drowning after years of Tory cuts.

The only way to drive the privateers like Hester out of the NHS, is for workers to force the TUC to take action by calling a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government.

Replacing bankrupt capitalism with a socialist planned economy is the way to defend the NHS.