Labour alleges ‘cash-for-access’ as City financiers put £3m in Conservative pot

Labour alleges ‘cash-for-access’ as City financiers put £3m in Conservative pot

Tories hit back over £2.6m given by unions to opposition as donations continue rise with election only a year away.

The Conservatives received more than £3m in donations over three months from City financiers who bought the right to private dinners with David Cameron, according to figures which also show Labour got £2.6m from trade unions.

With a year to go until the general election, the first quarter of this year saw some of the biggest single donations to parties for years. On Thursday night both major parties criticised each other for being in thrall to big money, with Labour accusing Cameron of taking “cash-for-access” and the Tories claiming Ed Miliband is still too reliant on funding from unions.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze, who was knighted last year and has faced scrutiny over his companies’ tax affairs, gave £1.5m to the Tories – their largest cash gift since 2008.

In terms of declared donations, the Conservatives far outstripped Labour with £6.7m compared with the opposition’s £4.4m. Much of the Tory funding came from the City, especially hedge funds, which were given a £150m tax break in last year’s budget.

More  than 20 major donors to the Conservatives have had dinner with Cameron and senior cabinet ministers over the last three months, including Hintze, Andrew Law, a hedge fund boss, George Von Opel, heir to an automobile fortune, Alexander Temerko, a wealthy businessman in the energy sector, Christopher Rokos, a hedge fund boss, and Sir Paul Ruddock, another hedge fund manager who was knighted in 2012. Their contributions make up around half the total donations for the quarter.

They are members of an exclusive donors’ club called the leader’s group, in which members pay £50,000 a year to join Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches.

Michael Dugher, shadow cabinet office minister, said the Conservatives were “increasingly bankrolled by a small number of millionaire bankers and dinner donors … half of the many millions rolling in to Tory coffers during the last quarter came from a wealthy elite who have exclusive access to the top table. These are the same millionaires who have been given a tax cut by the same Tory government which is failing to address the cost-of-living crisis facing families.”

  • The Guardian, 

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