Page last updated at 21:10 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Blair gives cash to Labour Party

Tony Blair
Tony Blair has earned an estimated 12m since leaving office

Tony Blair has joined the ranks of wealthy Labour donors, Electoral Commission figures show.

The former PM, who has earned up to 12m since leaving No 10, gave 7,500 to the party in September this year.

His ex-ministers David Blunkett and Stephen Byers also donated money in the same three-month period.

Labour received more than 5m in private donations over the period, outstripping the Conservatives, who received 4,060,633.

This breaks a run of 10 quarters when the Conservatives have beaten Labour in the funding stakes.

Labour also converted 2.25m loans into gifts - 2m from former science minister Lord Sainsbury and 250,000 from businessman Sir Gulam Noon, helping it to escape the financial crisis it was facing.

The figures also included the 1m donated to the party by author JK Rowling.

Trade union support

The Liberal Democrats received just under 600,000 in private donations over three months - among them 10,495 each from Sir Elton John and David Furnish. And the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust announced it would provide a grant of up to 1.3m over the next 18 months.

The final months of Tony Blair's premiership saw a police investigation into allegations Labour donors had been offered honours in return for cash, although all concerned denied wrongdoing and no charges were brought.

The ex-PM is estimated to have earned about 12m since quitting as PM, from public speaking engagements, a 4.6m book deal and about 2.5m for advising two banks.

As our recent accounts show, much has already been done to improve the Labour Party's finances. We will continue working to ensure the party's financial position remains sustainable
Ray Collins,br>Labour general secretary

He made his donation to Labour ahead of the party's conference in Manchester, which saw Gordon Brown launch a political fight back after months of dismal poll ratings and leadership rumblings.

Mr Blair's one-time spin doctor Alastair Campbell also gave a total of 12,500 in the three month period and some of Mr Blair's closest political allies from his time at Number 10 also poured cash into the party coffers.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett gave 5,000 and ex-Transport Secretary Stephen Byers gave 2,000.

Other Labour figures to donate cash to the party in the three month period include former Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson and culture minister Barbara Follett.

Wider base

Celebrities included on the register of donors include Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a longstanding Labour donor, who gave 7,500 and Nancy Dell'Ollio, former partner of ex-England manager Sven Goran Ericksson, who donated 15,000.

Among unions, Unison gave two large donations of 735,000 and 362,625 in the period covered, in addition to smaller gifts and Unite donated 303,352.

Apart from Lord Sainsbury and Sir Gulam, property developer Sir David Garrard has agreed to convert some 300,000 of his 2.3 million loan to a donation. The remainder will be interest-free until July 2010, and then charged at 6.5% while new repayment terms have also been negotiated on millions of pounds of other loans.

Labour Party general secretary Ray Collins said the agreements reached were "a major step forward in our plans to put the Labour Party's finances on a stable long-term footing".

"As our recent accounts show, much has already been done to improve the Labour Party's finances. We will continue working to ensure the party's financial position remains sustainable."

Meanwhile the Conservatives received significant gifts of 100,000 from Michael Clare, founder of retail chain Dreams, 54,000 from spread betting mogul Stuart Wheeler and 96,000 from businesswoman Holly Bellingham.

A spokesman for the Conservatives said: "The vast bulk of Labour's donations have come from just eight rich individuals. By contrast the Conservative Party has widened its donor base with donations from 260 individuals and companies."

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