27 September 2003
Labour becoming party of choice for wealthy donors
Over 40 per cent of the Labour Party's funding now comes from wealthy individuals, according to an analysis of Electoral Commission figures by Labour Research magazine.
The share of Labour's financial support coming from personal gifts in the previous year accounted for just 32 per cent.
Party political funding figures provided to the Electoral Commission include any donations of over ?5,000 from individuals and others such as companies and trade unions.
Labour Research compared the figures for the year July 2002 to June 2003 with the previous year and found that individual gifts to the Labour Party had jumped by more than half from ?3.14 million to ?4.75 million - a rise of over ?1.6 million.
And Labour is becoming the party of choice for benefactors wishing to make their mark on the political process. In the year to June 2003 Labour received more than four times as much money from individuals as the Conservative Party, which received just ?1.15 million from that source.
The 2002-03 Labour Party figures were swollen by gifts from a number of benefactors who donated money in that year but had not done so the year before. These include venture capitalist Sir Ronald Cohen, who handed over ?250,000, property developer Sir David Garrard, who donated ?200,000, Sunderland football club chair Bob Murray, who gave ?125,000, and curry king Sir Gulam Noon, who gave ?100,000.
Another boost came from science and technology minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville, whose gift in 2002-03 was ?2.5 million compared with ?2 million in 2001-02.
It all means that the percentage share of Labour funding contributed by trade unions has fallen from just over 65 per cent in 2001-02 to 56 per cent a year later.
And, with big unions like the T&G and GMB general unions among a number of unions reviewing their financing of the party, that figure could shrink further.
Meanwhile the decline in support for the Tories from both wealthy individuals and companies means they are now heavily dependent on the public purse for their financial survival. Public sources include "Short money" and "Cranborne money" which is provided to opposition parties.
Conservative funding from such sources rose by more than ?1 million over the two years over the period analysed from ?2.93 million to ?3.95 million. Public money now provides the Conservative Party with 60 per cent of its income as notified to the Electoral Commission. In 2001-02 the proportion was only 49 per cent.
The Liberal Democrats also rely heavily on public sources of funding. In 2002-03, public money accounted for ?0.78 million - or 62 pence in every pound of funding arriving at Liberal Democrat HQ.
Notes to editors
1. More details of the funding of the three main parties are published in the October 2003 issue of Labour Research.
2. Figures filed with the Electoral Commission generally only include donations of over ?5,000 to the parties centrally, although there are exceptions. And they do not include individual membership contributions or fund-raising efforts such as income from conference stands
3. Labour Research is published by the Labour Research Department, an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 90 years ago. More than 1,800 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.
4. Labour Research Department press releases are also available on the LRD website at www.lrd.org.uk
5. For further information contact Neal Moister on 0207 902 9218
Download: Labour Research October 2003 (pdf file, 145k)