By Patrick Brogan
Wonga. Dosh. Bread. Moolah. You get the idea. They say money makes the world go round. If it doesn’t, it can certainly have a massive impact on political outcomes. In Ireland, we just had a Presidential Election whereby the participants admitted that a lack of money would rule out most ordinary people of running. It is probably no surprise that the three members of Dragon’s Den were in the chase (another pop-television reference thrown in for good measure). All are wealthy and have a high profile, with one of them already having the experience of running previously. And the bigotry-breathing dragon actually did fairly alright for himself.
This raises a key question; are these people the best Ireland could produce for an important election? No, of course not, but money talks and these people either had the cash themselves or had the backing. Until money is taken out of politics, this will always be the case(y). Those with money will set the agenda and what is discussed and this always revolves around their own selfish wants rather than what is best for society. Perhaps the British referendum on the EU is the best example of this.
Arron Banks is a very rich individual due to his acumen and skills in the world of insurance. A former Tory member, he jumped ship to support the Leave Campaign and UKIP. How he did this has now led to him being in hot water. There is a criminal investigation into his funding of the Leave.EU group after the Electoral Commission referred this matter to the National Crime Agency. Rock Holdings, which is run by Banks, is based in the Isle of Man and donated over £8 million pounds to Leave.EU and other leave campaign groups. Under current guidelines, this is illegal because only companies registered in the UK or Gibralter can contribute to such votes.
Some have suggested that this money initially came from Russia and was then used by Banks complex web of companies to mask it. In one sense, it doesn’t matter if this money came via Russia. What this highlights is that elections are an auction sold-off to the highest bidder. However, there is evidence to suggest Banks does have deep ties to Russia, including his missus being from there and allegations she may have been a spy in the past.
Banks has been sketchy about his dealings with Russian officials in the build-up to the referendum. He said he met with Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovanko in London only once. He later admitted there were three other occasions when he met him. Indeed, more troubling is his dealings with Russians who were later kicked out of the UK after the Novichok attack in Salisbury. It is claimed that those people offered Banks gold and diamonds to swing the referendum. Banks claimed this was a private business deal that had nothing to do with politics and a deal he turned down.
Indeed, a lot of this is conjecture and seems to smack of Hillary Clinton’s desperate attempts to avoid any recognition that Hillary Clinton cost Hillary Clinton the election. THE RUSSIANS DID IT!!! While I don’t doubt either the will or ability of the Kremlin to influence Western elections, I would like to see some hard evidence before pointing the finger.
Rather than oligarchs in Russia causing the separation of the EU, perhaps the British media should look to the ones a little closer to home. Most of the high-profile campaigners and contributors come from the monied class. The really monied class. Nigel Farage is a City-boy. And Banks fits that mould. And he is as effective at making money as he is combative.
Much of what he does seems to be driven by ego, much like that other Alt-Right darling Donald Trump. The story goes that he was a regular contributor to the Tories before turning to the Leave/UKIP side. He was donating £100,000 to them before William Hague was quizzed about this and the former Tory leader claimed he didn’t know who Banks was. After this slight, Banks upped the donation to £1m which quickly snowballed into £8m. A man driven by a slight and social embarrassment impulsively led the charge for Britain to break away from Europe.
I have always suspected that something other than Russia was behind the Leave campaign. I think it was the City-boys trying to keep the EU from regulating the City of London. The City is awash with corruption and there are numerous incidents of this, including money laundering for drug cartels. That’s where the old City-boy Farage fits in. What about Banks?
Well, the burrow of tax-havens comes under the control of the City of London and the Isle of Man is part of this. Banks stated in the interview in the above link that he has very little business dealings outside of the UK so leaving the EU would not impact him too much. However, EU oversight of the Isle of Man certainly would.
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