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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition