The Electronic Intifada / April 22, 2020
A multi-millionaire pro-Israel lobbyist donated $62,000 to help Keir Starmer win the UK Labour Party’s leadership election, it was revealed last week.
The donation from Chinn was not registered until five days after Starmer won the election, although it was received in February.
Although there is no suggestion of illegality, Labour members may consider this a violation of their trust.
In 2018, Chinn co-hosted a high-profile celebration of the life of late Israeli president Chaim Herzog, attended by Israeli ambassador Mark Regev. Published photos show that Tony Blair also attended.
The exception to this was Chinn’s funding of anti-Corbyn Labour members of Parliament, including deputy leader Tom Watson, former BICOM staffer Ruth Smeeth and Labour Friends of Israel’s then chair Joan Ryan.
All three played key roles in promoting the smear campaign that Corbyn’s Labour Party was a hotbed of anti-Semitism.
Chinn in 2016 also donated to Dan Jarvis, a Labour lawmaker who was at the time seen as a potential successor to Jeremy Corbyn.
Smith took donations for his campaign from Chinn totaling $33,000, the register shows.
During the 2015 leadership election, which ultimately resulted in Corbyn’s first victory, Chinn funded Liz Kendall, the Blairite candidate who came last with a mere 4.5 percent of the vote.
In 2014, Chinn halted his annual donations to the Tricycle Theatre over its decision to decline funding from the Israeli embassy for a film festival it was planning to host.
“We can’t accept boycotts and whenever one comes along we have to fight it,” Chinn told The Jewish News at the time.
“The Tricycle is going to lose a lot of audience members and a lot of financial support.”
The North London theater ultimately reversed its decision after being threatened by Sajid Javid, then Britain’s culture minister.
Javid later boasted about this threat to the theater, which had been secret at the time. The Israeli ambassador also intervened in the affair, documents released under freedom of information law showed.
Chinn’s $62,000 donation to Starmer’s campaign was the fourth highest amount from an individual donor – not including trade unions and companies.
Public sector union UNISON and service workers union USDAW donated $39,000 and almost $31,000 respectively. Another major trade union, Unite, supported Starmer’s leadership campaign rival Rebecca Long-Bailey.
At more than $123,000 each, the joint-top donors were Robert Latham and Waheed Alli.
Several of these donors from the business world funded Labour before the Corbyn era, and are now doubtless happy to have the party back under their influence after Corbyn’s departure.
Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada; he lives in London