Nicknamed by the media “Parachute” Polly, presumably because of her ceaseless cross country crusading to become an MP, Polly Billington is now focusing her limitless ambition and energy on securing the nomination to be the Labour parliamentary candidate for the South Thanet constituency. A seat many say is likely to be winnable for Labour.
One of “Parachute” Polly’s promises is that, if elected, she will deliver “a green new deal for Thanet”, something which I and many others would love to see. Her green credentials appear to be impeccable. Until 2016, she worked as an advisor to Ed Miliband, who has always championed green issues and is now Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and NetZero.
After quitting her job with Miliband “Parachute Polly” set up UK100 Cities Network Limited (UK100). A company which says that it is a “cross-party membership organisation that supports the most ambitious councils to go further and faster on their Net Zero and Clean Air targets” . Polly says that she is the company Chief Executive and its public face, as can be seen by the many videos and articles she has published.
For the rapidly growing number of voters who worry about the future of our planet and the futures of our children and grandchildren, “Parachute” Polly’s green credentials and promises are confidence inspiring stuff which I believe could easily swing the election decisively in her favour. But not so fast…. there’s some stuff you should know.
The latest UK100 Companies House accounts for year ending December 31 2021 reveal a company of 14 employees with a healthy annual turnover of £1.5 million and financial reserves of £447,430. The accounts say that UK100’s income comes from grant funding, sponsorship and membership fees.
One of those grants which amounts to a whopping 33% of UK100s 2021 income was £456,000 from the IKEA Foundation. The accounts say -
During the year ended 31 December 2021, the company received grant income totalling £1,346,943 (2020 - £711,034) from a number of sources in respect of tackling climate energy and taking action towards Net Zero. This amount included £456,000 (2020 - £nil) which was recognised in respect of the IKEA foundation.
You don’t need to be a full on environmentalist or an aspiring ecowarrior to know that IKEA , which is said to be the largest consumer of trees in the world, has, over the past decade, been the subject of literally thousands of well researched and reputable, online articles and videos which are condemnatory of its business practices.
These articles and videos attack the company for using vast quantities of timber, obtained from highly questionable sources to make its furniture. Its numerous critics accuse IKEA of using Greenwashing techniques to cover up its responsibilities for the decimation of virgin, and often, protected, forests in Russia, Ukraine, Estonian, Latvia, and elsewhere. The charitable IKEA foundation has also been accused by many as being integral part of the company’s effort to greenwash its reputation and its dangerous, planet threatening, activities.
So why on earth would the self-proclaimed green campaigner “Parachute” Polly take almost half a million pounds from the charitable arm of a company which many say, with good reason, is complicit in the deforestation of Europe?
It is inconceivable that as the boss of a company dedicated to the promotion of zero carbon emissions and clean air, she was not aware of IKEA’s appalling sustainability track record. It is also hard to believe that by taking IKEAs cash she was oblivious to the possibility that her company is likely to compromise its independence and credibility and to be seen by many as part of the unprincipled ethically shameful organisations who actively facilitate the greenwashing of IKEA
The question must be asked if Polly, as the company’s Chief Executive, consulted with members of the UK100 network , its sponsors and other grant funders about whether to accept the IKEA donation and the reputational damage it may cause. Perhaps she could tell us.
Although only a guess, I would suggest “Parachute” Polly’s unseemly and unethical dash for IKEAs cash, might have been influenced by her own self-interest and burning political ambition. Why? Well without the £456,000 IKEA grant her company’s £447,430 reserves would have been eliminated, pushing UK100 close to the edge of bankruptcy.
The collapse of UK100 would also put an end to the high
profile public platform afforded to “Parachute” Polly’s as the company’s Chief Executive and spokesperson, The loss of such a high profile and influential position and its associated kudos would undoubtedly hinder and perhaps damage her longstanding quest to become an MP.
But whatever, her motivation might be, my revelation of “Parachute” Polly’s acceptance of almost half a million pounds from the widely criticised IKEA will almost certainly damage, if not destroy, her green credibility.
Perhaps “Parachute” Polly could explain to Thanet Labour Party members and the voters she aspires to represent how getting into bed with a company which many believe to be an international environmental criminal which has decimated forests across Europe, might help to promote net zero carbon emissions and clean air targets and new a green new deal for Thanet?
I used to think that diverting lush cosmetics ,destined for the use of vulnerable people, to sell in a Ramsgate pub to fund an Labour candidate’s election campaign was the pinnacle of political puke making, but now I ask myself if there is no moral, ethical or financial price too high to become a Labour MP?
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