British celebrities in New York launch campaign for Tony Blair

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A discreet campaign has been launched in the United States by notable British expatriates in New York, including former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans and broadcast mogul Howard Stringer, to raise election funds for the Labour Party.

Under the banner of "Britain after the Elections", a letter has been sent to scores of prominent Britons around the US promising different events designed to bolster support for Labour in America including one on Wall Street in February and another thereafter in Los Angeles.

The letter, signed by Mr Evans and several other well-known British expatriates, also solicits for funds|: "It goes without saying that if you wish to help Labour financially - and if you are a British citizen - any contribution will be welcome, however small," the letter says.

The group has asked Alan Parker, the director of the newly-released film Evita, to host an evening of British entertainment in Los Angeles with seats offered at a high price.

Negotiations are underway, meanwhile, to bring Gordon Brown, the Shadow chancellor, to chair the Wall Street event. Glenda Jackson may also participate.

"It's an attempt to level the playing field for Labour," said Mr Evans, who is president of the Random House publishing group. Last autumn, Mr Evans played host to small breakfast of select Britons in New York at which the deputy Labour leader, John Prescott, was the special guest.

Mr Evans, who noted that he had become a "committed Labourite" for the first time in his life, said that the Conservative Party was itself engaged in trying to raise funds from the some two million Britons living in America. He said he had received a Tory solicitation letter.

The activities planned by the group would also aim at explaining Labour policies to Americans, particular those on Wall Street. "It would be a way of talking to American people about what a Labour government would mean so that they would understand that there have been some big changes in the Labour Party since it was last in power," Mr Evans said.

Others who have put their names to the effort include Mr Stringer, who is British and was formerly head of the CBS TV network, the well-known British restaurateur in New York Brian McNally, and film producers David Tereshchuck and Peter Foges.