The Westminster Accounts

Sky News and Tortoise Media have created an extensive record of financial interests in Westminster since December 2019, when the current parliament was formed.

Sky News

Sky and Tortoise have gleefully focused on individual MPs who “accepted thousands of pounds in donations without knowing the source of the funds”.

As shocking as all that is, the thing that jumps out at me, are the amounts of money each party receives, and where those donations come from.

Since 2019 The Conservative Party have raked in a staggering £76 million in donations. More than double The Labour Party’s £32.4 million. Which is more than double the The Liberal Democrats’ £15.1 million. Think about this for a second, the Conservatives received over £24 million more than all the other opposition parties combined, combined! That’s a stark financial illustration of the fight for power in the United Kingdom. It’s like Ukraine fighting Russia without the support of the United States or Europe.

The other thing that interests me is where this money comes from. When Unite the Union donates £8.8 million to The Labour Party, they’re using the money they got from their 1.4 million members. That’s 1.4 million people given a voice by Labour. In that same period JC Bamford (JCB) gave The Conservative Party £3.3 million. That’s one person’s interests, Anthony Bamford, given a voice by the Conservatives.

Please don’t try and tell me donations don’t buy influence. Why would anyone give money if it didn’t benefit them one way or the other? I’m not talking corruption, bungs, manila envelopes under the table, although I’m certain that happens. I’m talking funding those who align with your interests. I know that’s a really obvious thing to say, but it’s never framed that way if and when it’s reported.

This same pattern plays out when you look at all party donations. Very wealth individuals donate to the Conservatives, while unions with millions of members donate to Labour.

One party represents the voice of millions, the other just a few.


Ashes in the Snow (2018)

The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 lead to the Soviet annexation of the Baltic region in 1940. This was followed by political repression and mass deportations, under the so-called Serov Instructions. Hundreds of thousands, entire families, were forcibly removed from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and sent to work in Siberian labour camps. It’s a sad film about a period in history we should all know more about. Powley is compelling as the 16-year-old Lina, an innocent finding the strength to survive Soviet brutality.

What the Russian revolution would have looked like on social media


I was recently asked to think of ideas for a video game. Project1917 has potential. I love the way the history of the revolution unfolds, with contemporary comment and breaking news, organised into a Twitter style timeline.

It’s an engaging way to understand the history of the revolution. It also has the potential to explore alternative histories. What happens when you change something? We could end up with a vast array of alternate histories.

It makes me think of Len Dayton’s SS-GB, postulating a United Kingdom occupied by Nazi Germany during World War Two.

There’s also Alan Moore’s comic book Watchmen, speculating an alternative history emerging from the discovery of superheroes in the 1940s. Their presence allows the United States to win the Vietnam War, changing the political landscape of the United States.

The thing that’s interesting about both these examples is the way they use changed historical events to fuel a drama. There is something to be explored in taking real historical events, adding or subtracting an element, and dramatising the outcome.

Terry Gross talks to Carole Cadwalladr about links between Brexit and the Trump campaign

A must listen interview. Terry Gross talks to Carole Cadwalladr about links between Brexit and the Trump campaign, giving a comprehensive outline of the still unravelling story, detailing how data and the dark money are dissolving democracy around the world.


Senior Tory MPs accused of accepting money from former Soviet states

I’d be interested to see where this goes, especially considering the Treasury Committee are launching a new inquiry into economic crime.

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