What is wrong with Tony Blair's money? Three Labour candidates reject £1,000 gift from former leader

One candidate said it would be hypocritical to accept the money

Click to follow

Tony Blair is facing humiliation over his decision to donate £106,000 to Labour’s target seats after three candidates rejected his money.

The former prime minister donated £1,000 each to 106 local Labour campaigns last week but his contributions have already been snubbed by Sophie Gardner, the party’s candidate for Conservative-held Gloucester, Sally Keeble, who is fighting the Tory marginal in Northampton North, and Lesley Brennan, who announced she was rejecting the donation at the weekend.

However there is confusion over whether individuals and constituency parties have the power to turn down these donations, with Labour party figures suggesting it was not in their remit to do so. The money was given to Labour’s central office so it cannot be handed back by individual constituency parties, it was claimed. 

Figures in the Scottish Labour leadership were said to be “furious” over Ms Brennan’s decision to announce on Twitter that she was rejecting the £1,000 donation to her campaign to win Dundee East off the SNP and also invoked anger with members in her local party who claimed they were not consulted.


On Sunday she told her 2,000 Twitter followers she had turned down the gift.

Alistair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former director of communications at Number 10, reacted angrily, questioning her ambition. 

Ms Gardner, a former RAF wing commander, said it would be “hypocritical” for her to accept Mr Blair’s donation because of her decision to criticise the Iraq war.

The former prime minister’s donations in Scotland could have limited impact as Ivan McKee, a Scottish businessman and former Labour party member who quit under Mr Blair’s leadership, matched his contributions by giving £1,000 to five SNP candidates. 

“The SNP relies for its funding on individual members and supporters donating what they can,” he said.

“I encourage others to support one of the many local crowd-funding campaigns to ensure we return a strong team of SNP MPs to Westminster in May.”