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The BBC's Nick Jones
"Mr Soley hopes the contributor will come forward and agree to be identified"
 real 56k

Labour MP, Glenda Jackson
"Weasel words, weasel words"
 real 28k

Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle
"It is in all our interests, including the prime minister, that this information is in the public domain"
 real 28k

Daily Telegraph political editor, George Jones
"They are trying to slip this under the wire"
 real 56k

Liberal Democrat party chairman, Malcom Bruce
"They are clearly contavening the spirit of their own law"
 real 28k

Health secretary, Alan Milburn
"I have got no idea whether a donation of that sort has been made"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 2 January, 2001, 11:40 GMT
Pressure over Labour's 2m gift

The Labour party is facing mounting internal pressure to disclose the source of a reported 2m donation.

The money is allegedly a contribution to the party's campaign fund for the general election, although there has been no official confirmation of any donation.

However, Labour figures including parliamentary party chairman Clive Soley, former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle and MP Glenda Jackson have called for details of the donation to be released.

The row comes ahead of a 16 February deadline for political parties to identify all donors giving over 5,000 - part of a new law introduced by the Labour government.

It would be better for everybody if the donor were to come forward

Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Clive Soley
Mr Soley told the BBC he hoped the donor would agree to be identified.

He said that having brought in the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act, Labour should be seen to be honouring the spirit of the legislation.

"I believe we should be seen to be as open and accountable as possible.

"It would be better for everybody if the donor were to come forward."

The regulations follow an inquiry by sleaze watchdog Lord Neill's committee on standards in public life.

Peter Kilfoyle, who resigned from the government to become a "friendly critic" on the backbenches, said failure to reveal who is behind the gift would haunt Labour.

Let the person stand up and be counted for a very generous donation

Former defence minister, Peter Kilfoyle
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the onus was on party officials to release details of the "huge" donation.

"Within the traditions of the Labour party we do believe in transparency and we have always seen ourselves as a cut above certainly the Tory party in this regard."

Ordinary party members are alarmed that Labour is happy to take large anonymous donations, Mr Kilfoyle added.

"If this is a bona fide donation - if it has been made - confirm it and, of course, let the person stand up and be counted for a very generous donation."


Glenda Jackson said transparency was a basic Labour principle and called the party managers' stance "an absurd situation".

Shadow cabinet office minister Andrew Lansley called for Labour to come clean over the donation.

"The Labour Party should now tell us from whom this donation has come," he said.

"Not to do so would be hypocritical given the legislation to require such disclosures from February."

Andrew Lansley
Andrew Lansley: Labour should not be hypocritical
Liberal Democrat party chairman Malcolm Bruce warned that the party risked undermining the regulations it had brought in.

"It is Labour who are bringing in the new rules and they have the moral obligation to see that they are observed," he said on Today.

"I think anybody would judge that a donation of this size - 2m - is not something that a party can ignore and could well be seen as buying influence."

Labour's general election manifesto promised that the party would "clean up politics, decentralise political power throughout the UK and put the funding of political parties on a proper and accountable basis".

But the government faced criticism when it emerged Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had given Labour 1m in 1997 before the May election.

It was alleged the gift, one of the biggest single donations to a British political party, influenced the government's decision to seek an exemption for Formula One from a European tobacco advertising ban.

Labour followed Lord Neill's advice and returned the money.

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See also:

01 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Labour under fire over 2m gift
27 Jul 99 | UK Politics
Political donations shake-up
21 Apr 98 | Party fundraising
Party fundraising background
15 Apr 98 | Politics
Party funding in the spotlight
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