Glamorous come to aid of the party

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The Independent Online
Labour's great and glamorous gathered at London's Hilton Hotel last night for a pounds 500-per-head fundraising dinner which was expected to raise up to pounds 250,000 for the party's election effort.

Among the 450 guests who paid to attend the function were Bianca Jagger, Sinead Cusack and Lord Attenborough. A further 120 dined for nothing at the expense of the party.

Despite Tony Blair's recent attempts to distance himself from the acting fraternity, the turn-out was better than ever. Michelle Collins - Cindy from EastEnders - and Tracey Brabin - Tricia from Coronation Street (pictured), represented the soaps while Paul McGann and Tim Piggot-Smith weighed in for the heavier end of the profession.

The dinner was the fifth such annual event held by Labour, and was the biggest so far. Last year's dinner raised pounds 200,000 after Eric Cantona's football shirt was auctioned for pounds 17,000. Both Tony Blair and John Prescott - whose wives, Cherie and Pauline also attended - were scheduled to make speeches, while Richard Wilson, star of BBC's One Foot in the Grave, hosted an auction.

Football shirts worn by Alan Shearer of Newcastle and Robbie Fowler of Liverpool fetched pounds 9,000 and pounds 3,500. Also in the auction were a Virgin Airways flight to Washington for tea at the White House - which went for pounds 5,000 - one of the first rides on the Millennium Wheel and a signed book of Ted Hughes's poems.

Mirror Group Newspapers, part-owner of The Independent, was one of the sponsor of the dinner and occupied one of the tables.