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Saturday, 23 February, 2002, 13:21 GMT
Activist defends Labour donations
Conference scene
Manifesto matters will be on the agenda
A leading Labour activist has publicly defended his party's record on accepting large cash donations from wealthy individuals and corporate firms.

The party's general secretary David Triesman said donations were not given in return for political reward and Labour should be proud of its links with "newer benefactors".

His comments at the Scottish Labour conference in Perth came as controversy continues over the party's links with business tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.


Neither the unions as our great historical benefactors, nor some of our newer benefactors, tie their support to getting political reward

David Triesman
Labour general secretary
Opposition parties are demanding an inquiry into Labour's links with Mr Mittal after Tony Blair wrote a letter in support of his company LNM, which was bidding to buy Romania's state steel industry

Addressing delegates on Saturday, Mr Triesman said: "There are no policies for cash - not for anyone.

"That is not the goal of anybody who supports the party in a serious way."

Mr Triesman said that big donors backed the party because they supported its aims and defended Labour's "historic" links with, and funding from, unions.

He said these links had come under "pernicious" attack and warned "the Thatcherite attack" was back on the agenda of Labour's opponents.

Aspirations

The general secretary also said his party had "quite rightly" accepted the support of many in the business community.

"Ten years ago they would not have seen their aspirations coinciding with many of ours," he said.

"The fact is we have earned the right to be seen as the party of productivity, of wealth, creation and growth.

Delegates
The conference is being held in Perth
"That is the accomplishments of Gordon Brown and the prime minister."

Mr Triesman said that he had never met a "single donor" who had sought some kind of personal advantage and insisted that they believed in Labour's "vision of social justice".

He told activists: "They have accepted the principle of 'for the many, not for the few', and they take pride in helping.

"Neither the unions as our great historical benefactors, nor some of our newer benefactors, tie their support to getting political reward - nor would it be tenable to do so.

"No honourable government could possibly accept that."

See also:

23 Feb 02 | Scotland
Labour wins key policy vote
23 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Ministers 'to see donor list'
22 Feb 02 | Scotland
Liddell resumes 'nat-bashing' role
22 Feb 02 | Scotland
PM pledges 'reform and investment'
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