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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Tories top donations list
Polling station
Party spending peaks at election time
New figures show the Conservative Party received more than 12.4m in donations in the two months leading up to the general election - more than twice the total given to Labour.

The windfall is shown in details of funds received by British political parties published by the Electoral Commission on Tuesday.

Major donors
Sir John Paul Getty (Con): 5m
Stuart Wheeler (Con): 2.45m
Sir Alan Sugar (Lab): 200,000
Lakshmi Mittal (Lab): 125,000
Lord Jacobs (Lib Dem): 60,000
Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (Lib Dem): 207,000
Between April and June Labour received more than 5.3m and the Liberal Democrats just under 840,000.

An earlier report from the commission, published in May, showed that Labour attracted more than four times as much cash as the Conservatives in the first few months of the year.

Early-year contrast

Between February and March, Labour received 2.4m compared to the just over 600,000 given to the Tories.

The latest figures show both cash donations and other help, such as offices and staff, during the vital lead-up to the general election, which despite receiving less financial help Labour won by a second successive landslide victory.

Lord Ashcroft
Ashcroft: Praised for treasurer role
Conservative coffers gained a post-election boost when multi-millionaire Sir John Paul Getty said he would give the party 5m in the wake of its heavy defeat at the polls.

Stuart Wheeler, millionaire owner of spread betting firm IG Index, was another major donor - giving 2,450,000.

Labour received 3.8m of its funds from trade unions, the largest amount (just over 1m) coming from the Communication Workers' Union.

There was celebrity backing too, with comedian Eddie Izzard donating 10,000 and actor Richard Wilson 6,500.

One of the Electoral Commission's duties is to monitor donations but so far it has found no irregularities.

Ashcroft role

David Prior, the Conservative Party's acting chairman, said the figures showed that the party had succeeded in widening its funding base.

All large donations, April to June
Conservatives: 12.4m
Labour: 5.3m
Lib Dems: 840,000
UKIP: 690,000
British National Party: 2,500
Green Party: 11,337
Plaid Cymru: 5,928.30
SNP 46,192
Co-operative Party: 87,386.75
He praised especially the role of the controversial Tory peer Lord Ashcroft as party treasurer, as well as the work of party workers.

"We are particularly grateful to Lord Ashcroft for his work in bringing up to date our fundraising activities and increasing the number of small donors."

The commission reports only includes donations above 5,000 to central party funds or more than 1,000 to constituency offices.

Mr Prior said as well as the larger donations published by the commission, the party had raised more than 2m from some 3,392 donors between April and June.

Drive for openness

Full details of the amounts given by individual donors are revealed in the commission's report, which is aimed at making political funding more transparent.

The Electoral Commission's quarterly report was an innovation introduced by Labour as part of an attempt to make political party finances more transparent.

Labour boasted that it had the broadest base of funding of any party.

A spokesman said: "We are grateful to all our donors including those that do not appear in this report and make up the largest proportion of our income with their small donations."

But the differences in party wealth may strengthen Lib Dem calls for limited state funding of parties to ensure a "level playing field".

UKIP coffers rise

The report also records a funds boost for the UK Independence Party, which received more than 690,000 in the pre-election months, compared to just 1,100 in the figures covering the beginning of the year.

Much of its donations came from Yorkshire-based advertising agency, the Charles Walls Group Ltd.

The group gave the party more than 560,000 worth of advertising.

UKIP's biggest donor was Sir Jack Hayward, chairman of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, who gave 50,000 while Eurosceptic millionaire Paul Sykes gave 13,000.

See also:

04 May 01 | UK Politics
Labour outguns Tories on donations
09 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Sleazebusters named
19 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Election leaflets may be pulped
16 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Political funding law in force
01 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Labour under fire over 2m gift
21 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Tory 5m donor sparks influence row
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