Tories raise 26 times more than Labour from big money donors in first week of election

Governing party showered in cash by property companies and super-rich as Corbyn says they 'own the Conservative party'

Jon Stone
Thursday 21 November 2019 16:21 GMT

The Conservatives raised 26 times as much cash from big money donors as the Labour party in the first week of the election campaign, official figures show.

Boris Johnson's party raked in a staggering £5.67 million in large donations over £7,500 in a single week, compared to just £218,500 from Labour.

Private hospital owners, the family of a Russian oligarch, and numerous property developers are among donors who flocked to fill Tory coffers in the first week of the campaign.

But the numbers do not show the full picture of the parties' election finances, because Labour says it has raised vast sums in smaller donations from ordinary supporters – which do not have to be registered with the Electoral Commission.

The Liberal Democrats and Brexit Party also both attracted more support from large donors than Labour, taking £275,000 and £250,000 respectively in the first week.

Seven of the Tories' donors contributed more to Conservative coffers than all of Labour's large donors – which were mostly trade unions – combined. The figures related to the period from 6 to 12 November 2019.

On Thursday Jeremy Corbyn told activists that he welcome the opposition from "the super-rich, the tax dodgers, the bad bosses and the big polluters" to his party because it showed that they were scared he would change things.

"A third of Britain’s billionaires have donated to the Conservative Party," he said.

"They own the Conservative Party. But they don’t own us. They don’t own the Labour Party. The people own the Labour Party ... so I accept that the opposition and hostility of the rich and powerful is inevitable."

Property developers and landlords in particular showered the governing party in cash. Electoral Commission figures show Countrywide Developments Ltd donated half a million pounds in the first week, while European Land & Property Limited gave £200,000. Others included Broadland Properties Ltd and Edwardian London Management Services, which both donated £50,000 each.

Jeremy Corbyn said on Thursday that billionaires 'own the Conservative party'

Among other notable doners was Lubov Chernukhin, a banker and wife of Russian oligarch Vladimir Chernukhin, who gave the Tories £200,000. She had previously reportedly donated £135,000 to the party to have dinner with Theresa May. The single biggest donation to any party came from John E Gore, a super-rich Broadway theatre producer to gave a million pounds to the Conservatives in the first week of the campaign.

Another registered Tory donor was Yoginvest Ltd, whose sole officer according to Companies House is millionaire Nick Leslau. The Evening Standard reported in 2016 that the businessman's "latest venture is Secure Income Reit, a tax-efficient property investment firm that .... owns the freeholds to a £1.6 billion portfolio" including 19 private hospitals.

On the Labour side, Unite the Union gave five separate donations in the first week of the campaign, totalling £123,000 – making it the party's biggest donor. The biggest non-union Labour donor was Ecotricity, the renewable energy supplier.

Household names that donated to the Tories included Pets Corner, which has around 150 pet supply stories around the UK, and Harbour Hotels, which owns 13 boutique hotels, most in the south of England.

A Labour spokesperson said: "While the Conservative party is in the pockets of vested interests and the super-rich, we are proud that that the Labour Party is funded by hundreds of thousands of people donating what they can afford to build a fairer society."

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