24/10/2010 - Why would a super-capitalist back Labour Leader “Red Ed” Miliband?

TWO RECENT Solidarity articles – Introducing Charlie Whelan: Spin Doctor, NuLabour Insider and potential Leadership Kingmaker and Labour Leadership Contest: Were We Spot-On? – have looked at the former political director of Unite, Charlie Whelan.

Here we examined his influence in the Labour Party and the recent Labour Leadership contest.  Although Whelan thought that Ed Balls was “the best man for the job” he had to toe the union line.  He did his job well – as the Unite-backed Ed Miliband became the eventual winner.

After the leadership election, Whelan was interviewed by the Times.  Here he noted that “the union vote turned out for Ed Miliband”. 

Commenting on this Times interview, the Guardian (of 9/10/2010) also confirmed the role Unite – and Whelan - played in the election: “canvassers for Ed Miliband had used a database of contacts that the Unite union had created before the general election to bombard voters with emails and text messages.”

However, Unite wasn’t the only establishment union to back Ed Miliband. 

According to the Sun, several large and powerful unions held secret talks in London soon after Labours defeat at the general election in May.  They included “GMB general secretary Paul Kenny, Unison boss Dave Prentis, CWU leader Billy Hayes and Unite chiefs Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson.”

All were opposed to bookies favourite David Miliband, who was deemed to be the Blairite/NuLabour candidate.  They wanted a more Leftist candidate at the head of the Labour Party.  Thus, planning their leadership election strategy, they “decided to back either David’s brother Ed or ex-Schools Secretary Ed Balls”.

Once “Red Ed” Miliband was chosen, the unions rolled into action.  They put their money where their mouths were - around a third of the donations raised for his leadership election bid came from them.  They campaigned extremely hard as well.  

For instance, the GMB and Unite sent letters to members urging them to vote for Ed Miliband.  According to most media reports the GMB spent around £120,000 on its campaign.  This included printing and posting 610,000 ballot papers to members.  The full-colour envelopes were overprinted with the slogan Vote Ed Miliband.

Unite spent £200,000 on Ed Miliband promotional material sent to its 1.1 million members.  Another £20,000 was spent on texts. 

The GMB also spent £28,000 way back in July backing the Miliband campaign.

However, along with money from the unions, Ed Miliband was happy to accept - according to The Irish Times of 25/09/2010 - “a considerable donation from a hedge-fund manager, Lawrence Staden, who has made millions from currency speculation”.

To get an idea of what type of person Miliband is willing to do business with, here’s how the Sunday Times Rich List for 2009 described Lawrence Staden:

“Staden, 47, is managing director of GLC, a London-based hedge fund manager. A Cambridge-educated mathematician, Staden launched GLC in 1992. It is now a $1 billion hedge fund and all its funds made money in 2008. He owns all of GLC, which made £455,000 on £16.1m sales in 2007-08. It has a strong balance sheet and should be worth £25m on its funds under management. Staden’s past salaries take him to £35m.”

Now a super-capitalist like Lawrence Staden is no mug.  He’s not going to fund “Red Ed’s” campaign to see any future Labour government seize or nationalise his assets. 
Curiously, this is not the first time Staden has helped out the ‘socialists’ of the Labour Party.  According to the Mail Online (20/10/2010) “Mr Staden donated £30,000 to Labour in 1995 and he gave £100,000 in April this year.”

The same report goes on to quote a spokesman for Mr. Miliband saying “Any money that is donated to Ed's campaign is gratefully received. No deals have been done, no promises have been made, no back-scratching.”

If this is the case, it begs the question why would a multi-millionaire like Staden support a so-called ‘leftist’ like Miliband?