Big business continues to snub Tories

THE TORIES are struggling to win back corporate donors, despite a drive to cut their reliance on wealthy individuals such as the party treasurer, Michael Ashcroft, according to figures soon to be published.

The number of companies giving to the Conservatives in the last financial year was still far lower than before the general election, the list will show, and many of those who have remained have cut their donations.

The news follows a revelation in yesterday's Independent that Mr Ashcroft has been rejected for a peerage amid criticism about his tax-exile status.

William Hague was jubilant yesterday at an overall increase in the number of Tory donors giving more than pounds 5,000. But party officials admitted that regaining the support of business was still a problem. They still want to broaden further their base of support, thus lessening the influence of rich men who have kept them afloat over the past two years.

The Conservative leader backed Mr Ashcroft and said the Tory accounts to be published shortly would show progress. "There will be many, many more donors from many different sources and a much wider range of donor," Mr Hague said.

Corporate donation figures for 1998-99, compiled by Labour Research, show that the cereal firm Weetabix cut its donation to the Tories from pounds 274,000 in 1997-98 to pounds 25,000 in 1998-99.

Tarmac, the construction giant, reduced its gift to pounds 40,000 from pounds 50,000 the previous year, while the property company Slough Estates cut its gift from pounds 42,000 to pounds 36,000, and the engineering firm IMI paid pounds 25,000 compared with pounds 40,000 the year before.

Among the biggest corporate donations to be disclosed by the Tories is pounds 100,000 from Wittington Investments, the vehicle of the Irish businessman Garry Weston, which owns 90 per cent of the Fortnum and Mason store. The company made an identical donation in 1997-98.

Labour Research found that the number of company donations to the Tories dropped from 351 at the time of the 1992 election to 120 in 1997-98, with many deserting because of the party's anti-euro stance. However, the Birmingham steel firm Ash and Lacy has been loyal, despite the pro- European stance of its group managing director, Howard Marshall. The firm gave pounds 7,000 in 1997-98 and pounds 5,000 in 1998-99.

Among the individuals who gave to the party were Mr Ashcroft, who is probably the biggest single donor, and the Monaco-based Scots businessman, Irvine Laidlaw, who gave pounds 200,000.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games