Campaign catchup: Hester allegations, Labour tax plans, dodgy D-day branding

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Good afternoon. In March, the Guardian revealed that nan Conservatives’ biggest donor, Frank Hester, had said to colleagues that looking astatine Diane Abbott makes you “want to dislike each achromatic women”. The statement responded by arguing that though his remarks were abhorrent, he had apologised. They stuck to their statement this morning, erstwhile it was confirmed that they had accepted £5m much than was known astatine nan time – and took £150,000 from Hester’s institution aft nan comments came to light. But successful nan past hour, that position has travel nether terrible strain.

Rowena Mason, Henry Dyer and Matthew Weaver have reported a bid of different allegations astir Hester from erstwhile employees, including claims that he imitated group of Chinese descent and referred to a unit personnel arsenic nan “token Muslim”. Hester has not responded to nan claims - but nan Conservatives opportunity that they see nan matter resolved.

Others will disagree. More connected that and everything other you request to cognize today, including immoderate very awkward D-day branding, aft nan headlines.

What happened today

  1. Labour | Members of nan protector furniture are urging Rachel Reeves to raise superior gains tax if she becomes chancellor. Reeves is said to beryllium considering a “kitchen sink” attack successful bid to warrant raising taxation income, by releasing each bad news astir nan nationalist finances astatine once.

  2. D-day | Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer attended commemorations successful Normandy alongside nan King and Queen and Emmanuel Macron. Sunak returned to nan UK earlier an world ceremonial besides attended by Joe Biden.

  3. Greens | The Green statement has called for a wealthiness tax, and different extremist taxation reforms, to let spending connected wellness and societal attraction to emergence by much than £50bn a twelvemonth by nan extremity of nan decade. Adrian Ramsay, nan Green co-leader, said they were nan only statement being honorable astir nan standard of nan problem.

Analysis: Why won’t nan Tories springiness nan money back?

Over nan past year, nan Tories person raised £44m and Labour £24.6m.
Over nan past year, nan Tories person raised £44m and Labour £24.6m. Composite: Guardian Design/Alamy

Frank Hester’s apology successful March was astir his comments astir Diane Abbott. While Rishi Sunak described nan Tory’s donors words arsenic “racist”, Hester denied that this was nan lawsuit – but said that he accepted “that he was rude astir Diane Abbott successful a backstage meeting”.

When presented pinch nan caller claims, nan Tories again said they considered nan matter “resolved” by that apology. But nan caller study specifications overmuch wider allegations from much than a twelve erstwhile staffers, who opportunity that Hester many times made comments astir title aliases belief successful nan workplace, including successful caller years. He is said to person squinted and narrowed his eyes to imitate group of Chinese heritage, and utilized a mocking accent; to person talked astir personification arsenic being charismatic for a achromatic woman; and to person many times referred to 1 worker arsenic nan “token Muslim”.

In ray of nan caller claims, it seems nan mobility for nan Conservatives now will beryllium whether an apology for being “rude” astir 1 personification is really capable to warrant treating Hester arsenic a suitable donor. It feels for illustration a beautiful urgent problem: successful nan power of nan predetermination campaign, it has conscionable been confirmed that nan Tories took different £5m from Hester supra nan £10m antecedently reported – and that other £150,000 moreover aft nan original study was published.

It mightiness look that nan simplest point would beryllium to springiness nan money back. Why won’t nan Conservatives return this measurement out? While they insist it is simply a mobility of accepting existent contrition – “that remorse should beryllium accepted”, Rishi Sunak said successful March – others spot a different calculation astatine work. They fishy that losing £15m, overmuch of which will person already been spent, would rustle a awesome spread successful nan party’s finances. Hester’s latest £5m was by acold nan largest sum nan Conservatives received successful nan first 4th of this year, caller Electoral Commission information released coming reveals.

Meanwhile, pinch able donors and businesses anticipating a Keir Starmer authorities successful a month’s time, it is becoming easier for Labour to raise money – and overmuch harder for nan Tories. Even past year, nan Conservatives comfortably outraised their biggest opponents, arsenic is usually nan case. But from January to March this year, Labour pulled somewhat ahead. The spread is successful nan hundreds of thousands; without Hester’s money, Labour would person raised doubly arsenic overmuch successful that period. (Henry Dyer has much connected nan biggest donors here.)

The Conservatives themselves legislated to summation nan limits connected spending during elections, raising them by 80% successful November past year. Parties contesting each spot successful Great Britain tin walk conscionable complete £34m. (Read much connected nan rules here.) You mightiness spot self-interest astatine activity here: nan Tories person outspent Labour successful each predetermination since 2000, and they are apt to do truthful again this time. But it appears fears that much spending would mean little standards for donations will now beryllium tested to their limit.

All of this comes against a wider backdrop of interest complete nan power of money successful British politics. Total governmental donations person grown by astir 250 per cent since 2001, the IFS said successful February, pinch “super-donors” – those who lend much than £100,000 – a awesome driver of nan rise. Any conversations donors person pinch politicians astir authorities business are expected to beryllium reported – but, Rowena told maine successful March, “it’s very difficult to cognize what happens successful one-on-one conversations.”

Even if Hester is exerting nary specified influence, scrutiny complete his suitability arsenic a philanthropist is now only apt to intensify. Questions astir whether nan Tories are refusing to move distant because nan money is excessively important are nan very past point ministers will want to talk astir – but it whitethorn beryllium a difficult taxable for them to debar successful nan days ahead.

What’s astatine stake

GB Energy would activity arsenic a state-owned finance conveyance and institution to thief build low-carbon infrastructure specified arsenic windfarms.
GB Energy would activity arsenic a state-owned finance conveyance and institution to thief build low-carbon infrastructure specified arsenic windfarms. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

You will person heard a batch astir Great British Energy, nan government-owned powerfulness institution that is astatine nan bosom of Labour’s committedness to decarbonise nan UK’s energy proviso by 2030 and trim location power bills. Jillian Ambrose and Fiona Harvey explain really it would work:

This would extremity good short of immoderate shape of renationalisation: GB Energy would beryllium a state-owned finance conveyance and institution moving alongside and often successful business pinch nan existing backstage assemblage suppliers. The scheme is for it to beryllium mostly invisible to households, not offering energy straight to consumers but financing and helping to build low-carbon infrastructure, from windfarms to – perchance – atomic reactors …

GB Energy is considered a important plank successful helping Labour to execute different predetermination promise: to create a virtually zero c energy strategy by 2030, 5 years up of nan government’s target.

If it achieves this it could prevention each family an mean of £300 a twelvemonth from their power bill, according to study by nan independent thinktank Ember. So though GB Energy cannot committedness to trim bills this wintertime it could thief create an power strategy that relies much connected homegrown renewables and is apt to beryllium cheaper successful nan agelong run.

Winners of nan day

Five erstwhile Labour staffers from nan Jeremy Corbyn era, including his head of communications Seumas Milne and main of unit Karie Murphy, aft nan statement discontinued costly ineligible action complete nan alleged leaking – denied by nan group – of an soul study connected antisemitism. The suit is expected to person has costs much than £1.5m.

Loser of nan day

Douglas Ross, nan Scottish Tory leader, who has announced he will guidelines successful Aberdeenshire North and Moray East aft nan existing campaigner was dropped connected wellness grounds. Ross immediately came nether pressure complete nan move, pinch nan BBC asking: “It looks for illustration you’ve sacked a sick man who wanted to enactment arsenic a campaigner and put yourself successful there. Does that not look rather callous?”

Quote of nan day

This was a bad precedent erstwhile it started and we would overmuch beryllium amended disconnected without it”

Robert Chote, chair of nan UK Statistics Authority, talking to nan BBC astir nan believe of civilian servants being told to costs guidance policies based connected typical advisers’ assumptions – astir precocious seen successful Rishi Sunak’s dubious claims of a Labour taxation “bombshell”.

Unfortunate usage of D-day arsenic a branding opportunity of nan day

An image from Keir Cozens’ X relationship featuring soldiers connected D-day and his run logo.
An image from Keir Cozens’ X relationship featuring soldiers connected D-day and his run logo. Photograph: @keircozens

This goes to Labour’s Keir Cozens, campaigner for Great Yarmouth, whose run plastered his logo connected an image commemorating nan 80th day of D-day. (It was swiftly removed.) Special mention to Nigel Farage, who followed yesterday’s image of him successful a jeep pinch a station saying he was “honoured to beryllium successful Normandy”. No connection connected whether anyone invited him.

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Number of nan day

The number of seats successful nan UK wherever much than 50% of voters opportunity they want a Tory MP, according to nan New Statesman’s analysis of polling data.

Dubious photograph opportunity of nan day

Alex Cole-Hamilton and Christine Jardine ‘brush distant nan SNP’, it says here.
Alex Cole-Hamilton and Christine Jardine ‘brush distant nan SNP’, it says here. Photograph: Neil Pooran/PA

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and Edinburgh West campaigner Christine Jardine pinch immoderate genuinely dismal props. Something to do pinch NHS dentistry? Congratulations to Cole-Hamilton connected his 2nd quality of nan week.

Andrew Sparrow explains it all

The prime of nan posts from nan king of nan unrecorded blogs

12.33 BST | “Vote Tory because we’ve sewage a bully grounds connected LGBT+ rights.” That is not a motto anyone astatine CCHQ seems to person proposed, and alternatively ministers person been happy to antagonise nan LGBT+ lobby pinch announcements that suggests they are consenting to curtail trans authorities arsenic a civilization warfare issue.

But, possibly surprisingly, YouGov polling retired this greeting suggests that, of 21 issues included successful nan survey, gay, lesbian and bisexual authorities is nan area wherever group deliberation things person astir improved since 2020. And it is besides nan only area wherever group deliberation location has been clear improvement.

The uncovering partially reflects that truth that nan conjugation authorities passed a rule successful 2013 to let same-sex marriage. It was arguable astatine nan time, but now location is nary 1 successful mainstream authorities calling for its repeal. But it is besides suggestive of really societal attitudes person changed enormously connected cheery authorities complete nan past decade.

Follow Andrew Sparrow’s authorities unrecorded blog each time here

Read more

  • Aditya Chakrabortty connected Faragism: “Not nan featured sanction connected nan ballot paper, but among nan main ghostwriters of our politics”

  • The Guardian’s sheet of undecided voters from crossed nan state springiness their first takes connected really they’re making their minds up

  • Emma Brockes writes that, compared pinch nan acheronian Donald Trump saga, British authorities looks for illustration Beatrix Potter

Listen to this

Jeremy Hunt successful Guildford.
Jeremy Hunt successful Guildford. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Politics Weekly UK: The ‘blue wall’ roadworthy trip

John Harris goes connected nan road, visiting Jeremy Hunt’s spot successful Godalming and Ash and Michael Gove’s Surrey Heath constituency to find retired why lifelong Conservative voters are abandoning nan party

What’s connected nan grid

Friday | Labour holds its Clause V gathering – a acme pinch waste and acquisition national leaders wherever the party’s manifesto will beryllium agreed. Sky News person a useful guide to really it works.

Friday 4pm | Deadline for candidates to record nominations for nan wide election.

Friday 7.30pm | BBC hosts a seven-party debate, wherever Angela Rayner for Labour, Penny Mordaunt for nan Conservatives and nan Liberal Democrats’ Daisy Cooper will look alongside leaders of nan SNP, nan Greens, Reform UK and Plaid Cymru.

Source theguardian