A roundup of progressive news…
- Tories have taken £62,000 from Russia-linked donors since war began – openDemocracy
Citing new filings, openDemocracy reports on how the Conservative Party has accepted tens of thousands of pounds from donors linked to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.
Martin Williams and Peter Geoghegan’s article points to reports that show the donations have included £50,000 from Lubov Chernukhin, who is married to Vladimir Putin’s former deputy finance minister. Her donation to the Tory party was made on March 4, just eight days after Russian troops entered Ukraine.
Lubov Chernukhin’s husband had business dealings with oligarchs who are now under sanctions in the UK and earned up to £42m year.
The March 4 donation, brings Chernukhin’s total donations to the Conservative Party and MPs to more than £2.2m since 2012.
OpenDemocracy’s report looks at the mounting criticism Conservatives have faced in recent months about their reliance on funding from Russian-linked donors. The piece concludes by posing the question – are “dark-money think tanks bad for British democracy?”
2. By sticking with Johnson, the Conservatives have picked an epic fight with themselves – Byline Times
Jonathan Lis writes for Byline Times on the impact last Monday’s bruising vote of no confidence, in which more than two-fifths of Tory MPs think Boris Johnson is no longer fit to lead their party or country, will have on the Conservative party.
The article looks at how Johnson’s demise is his own doing, and how, even now, he is unable to take responsibility. Considered a liar by the public who want him to resign, Lis contends that Johnson is “unquestionably Labour’s greatest electoral asset.”
Though as the author notes, politics is always more important than one individual, and the article looks at the wider problems for the Conservative party, including how it stands for nothing.
“… the problem is simply its drift and confusion on policy and ideology,” writes Lis, in an interesting piece on the in-fighting among the Tories who still cannot conceive life after Boris Johnson.
3. Britain is funding apartheid – Tribune Magazine
As June marks the 55th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, Peter Frankental, director of Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs, writes for Tribune Magazine on how Britain is ‘upgrading’ its trade agreement with Israel and doing nothing to stop the impact of goods made in illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. According to Frakental, it’s a decision to be “complicit in Israel’s apartheid regime.”
The piece talks of how the UK’s approach to what is one of the longest military occupations in recent history, has been “disingenuous.” Frankental continues on how Britain’s commitment to international law is about to be tested again as it “enters into negotiations with Israel on a Free Trade agreement to ‘upgrade’ an existing Trade and Partnership Deal.
The existing trade deal with Israel is a post-Brexit continuity agreement that replicates the terms of the EU trade agreement, but according to Frankental, EU rules are ‘flawed’ and the UK, in the author’s words, “needs to significantly improve on the current EU-Israel arrangements, plugging the gaps that allow settlement goods to come with phoney ‘Made in Israel’ labels.”
4. Johnson plans to sacrifice yet more of our social housing stock to save his job – LabourList
LabourList’s Elliot Chappell explores how Johnson’s revival of the idea to extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants, is little more than a ruse to salvage his premiership.
Chappell refers to the 1.4 million fewer social homes in England than there were in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher first introduced Right to Buy. Additionally, more than 1.1 million households are currently on waiting lists for such housing and the number of people in temporary accommodation has more than doubled in the past decade.
As Chappell writes: “People need genuinely affordable places to live. That should be the focus of any government. Instead, Johnson has revived the spectre of Thatcher to shore up support from his backbenchers by suggesting his government take another bite out of our depleted social housing stock.”
5. Renters could miss out on energy bill support while landlords pocket the money – Morning Star
The Morning Star reports on Citizens Advice’s warnings that more than half a million people could miss out on receiving support for energy bills because landlords may pocket the money. The advice body contends that around 585,000 private renters may miss out on promised government support, including the £150 warm home discount and the £400 energy grant the government has promised from October.
Only those who pay energy suppliers directly will receive the £400 payment. For renters who don’t pay suppliers direct, the landlord will get the money, and, according to the Morning Star’s report, there is no legal requirement for them to pass it on to their tenants.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward