Millionaire stars chip in for Labour

THE TRADE unionists who once exclusively bankrolled the Labour Party have now been joined by a colourful mix of media moguls, City gents, shopkeepers, leading figures from the arts and comedians.

The Labour Party annual report to be submitted to next month's party conference reveals that while the traditional representatives of the old working class, such as the Transport and General Workers Union, still give vital funds to Labour, their influence is being diluted by a cadre of the "rich and famous" who have been converted to Blairism.

The party has named its donors offering Labour in excess of pounds 5,000 under its new code of ethics. Top of the "rich list" is Lord Sainsbury of Turville, head of the family supermarket chain. With a fortune estimated at more than pounds 3bn he is the richest man in Britain and is the party's most generous supporter.

A former backer of the Social Democratic Party, Lord Sainsbury, ennobled by Tony Blair, is believed to have given Labour pounds 3m, including pounds 1m this year. Not to be outdone, supermarket competitors Safeway and Tesco also provided sponsorship funds to Labour in 1997. Likewise, Sainsbury plc has also underwritten party events.

Another Labour Party million-pound man is the super-rich restaurateur Robert Earl. The owner of the Planet Hollywood chain and a former acolyte of Thatcherism, he came to the Labour Party's rescue when a gaping hole was left in its bank balance by the Ecclestone affair.

He replaced the pounds 1m that had to be returned to Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One racing, after the Government was accused of favouritism for allowing motor racing exemption from the blanket ban on tobacco advertising in sport.

Top media figures now backing Labour include Lord Hollick, who controls the Express Newspapers Group, the publisher Lord Hamlyn, and Felix Dennis, the hippie radical who first found fame at the Oz trial in 1971 and went onto make a fortune with his magazine company. Greg Dyke, head of Pearson TV, is once again on the list of major donors, as is Melvyn Bragg, who was made a Labour life peer at the beginning of the summer. The two men backed Tony Blair with pounds 80,000 of their own money when he ran for the Labour leadership in 1994 and have been in the Prime Minister's inner circle ever since.

Elements of "corporate Britain", once the most trenchant supporters of the Conservative Party , now also feel comfortable enough with New Labour to help it out financially. Ronald Cohen, a thrusting venture capitalist, and David Goldman, the software tycoon, both feature on the donors list. Representing Asian business acumen is Nathu Ram Puri, an engineer-capitalist.

Fashion-conscious New Labour also has a surfeit of celebrity glamour among its donors. The "A-list" names include the boss of Creation Records, Alan McGee, the man behind Oasis and latterly a critic of "Cool Britannia", a phenomenon that New Labour strategists eagerly exploited for political gain.

His successive donations have led to him to being appointed to serve on a Government task force on the music industry, along with multi-millionaire popster Mick Hucknall. Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant, Rochdale's soul diva Lisa Stansfield, Pete Townshend, Peter Gabriel and the actors Jeremy Irons and Richard Wilson are also on the donor lists. The world of sport is represented by Manchester United's manager, Alex Ferguson, who once worked in the bastion of Old Labour, the Clyde shipyards, and Alan Sugar, chairman of the struggling Premier League club, Tottenham.

Cross-dressing actor Eddie Izzard and fellow comedian Ben Elton also gave at least pounds 5,000 each. It is a long way from the days when Len Murray and Jack Jones hob-nobbed at Number 10.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Frozen out: despite being filmed in Iceland, 'Fortitude' is set further north, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
tvGerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
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: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore