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Sunday, August 30, 1998 Published at 00:14 GMT 01:14 UK

UK Politics

'Luvvies' for Labour

All systems go as the number of donors takes off for Mr Blair's party

The Labour party has published a list of its biggest private financial donors.

The BBC's Paul Rowley: "It's like the A-list of New Labour"
Those who gave more than £5,000 include the newly created Labour peer Melvyn Bragg and Sir Cameron Mackintosh, as well as the Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson and the singers Mick Hucknall and Lisa Stansfield.

The report shows the party's recovering from a £4,500,000 debt left over from the last General Election.

Other celebrity donors include comic Eddie Izzard.

Labour's 'luvvies'

[ image: Mick Hucknall: Money was not too tight to mention for political causes]
Mick Hucknall: Money was not too tight to mention for political causes
The names appear on a list of individuals, firms and unions which gave to the party in 1997.

It is the third year the party has published such a list.

Europhile transvestite Mr Izzard appeared at a fringe meeting at Labour's European Conference in Eastbourne last year.

Donors whose names did not appear on the previous year's list include Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant, musician Pete Townshend and Peter Gabriel Ltd.

The report to Labour party members ahead of their annual conference suggests 1997 was a bumper year for gifts because of the election. It names some 100 individuals, firms and unions, nearly double the number who gave over £5,000 in 1996.

[ image: Eddie Izzard: Comedian who has performed in the French language]
Eddie Izzard: Comedian who has performed in the French language
Other showbiz names giving more than £5,000 in 1997 include actor couple Sinead Cusack and Jeremy Irons, comic and author Ben Elton, actor Richard Wilson, theatre director Trevor Nunn's company Awayvale, and Oasis label Creation Records.

Convicted murderer-turned sculptor and youth worker Jimmy Boyle and wife Sarah are listed, having previously appeared in the Scottish party's accounts.

Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg's special adviser Gary Hart, Lord Sainsbury, who became a trade minister in the last reshuffle, film producer Lord Puttnam, and crime writer Baroness Rendell also appear.

A separate list records nearly 40 companies, individuals and unions who gave more than £5,000 in sponsorship of party events or activities, which Labour regards as a commercial transaction distinct from political donation.

'Cocktail' cronyism, say Tories

The BBC's John Pienaar takes a look at Labour's list of benefactors
For the Tories, shadow International Development Secretary Gary Streeter said: "This report reveals more than ever the cronyism at the heart of the government.

"Their list of donors reads like the guest list for a Downing Street drinks party."

He noted it included donors who had become peers since the election, and Lord Sainsbury, who had been given a job in the government.

But Labour responded by saying it would not "take lectures" from a party which had never named its donors.

Tories open books

The Tories plan to publish their accounts for the 1997-98 financial year before parliament returns in October.

They will name for the first time their big donors.

However, only those giving over £5,000 after William Hague became leader and committed the party to publishing the names will be listed.

Previous accounts, extended to cover the election campaign, revealed the Tories spent £26 million on the election over two years, of which £13 million went to Saatchi to pay for advertising.

The Labour report says the election left it with a £4.5 million debt, its biggest ever, which it says will be wiped out by the end of 1998.

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