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29 November 1999

Tory corporate support at all-time low
The Conservative and Labour Parties are both increasingly reliant on wealthy individuals like Michael Ashcroft for their cash, a survey about to be published by Labour Research magazine reveals. While for Labour this is a pro-active policy with the aim partly to reduce its reliance on trade unions, for the Tories, who have received ?3 million from their treasurer Ashcroft since Hague became leader, the dependence is a response to the drying up of company political donations.

According to Labour Research, corporate support is at an all-time low, with just 38 companies donating a total of ?605,315.

This is the lowest number of Tory donations ever found by Labour Research, which each year scrutinises some 3,000 company reports to detect company donations. Last year 100 companies gave a total of ?2,470,881.

The 38 companies donating this time around axed their total donations by nearly 40% on the previous year. The biggest cut came from cereals group Weetabix, which gave just ?25,000 in the latest year compared with the previous year's gift of ?274,000. The other notable reduction was that of magazine group Haymarket, now chaired by the former deputy prime minister and present Conservative MP Michael Heseltine, which slashed its ?50,000 donation in election year to ?1,000.

Other companies completely axed their donations, including five who had made donations of over ?100,000 each. These were Lord Harris of Peckham's private investment company, Harris Ventures (?224,085 in the year to September 1997) (the company did, however, resume donations in the year to March 1999); Eddie Healey's property group Stadium Developments (?150,000 donation in the year to September 1997); travel group Trailfinders (?100,000 in the year to February 1998); and two long-time supporters, P&O and Hanson (?100,000 each in their respective financial years ending September and December 1998).

Notes to editors

The list of company donations to political parties is published in the December 1999 issue of Labour Research magazine. A company must declare a donation if it produces a directors' report and makes a donation of over ?200. The price of a single copy of the magazine is ?2.70 (?3 including postage).
The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 88 years ago. More than 2,000 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership are affiliated.
For further information contact Neal Moister on 0171 902 9818.

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