The Labour party received more money in the last quarter of 2014 than the Conservatives, new figures revealed yesterday.
Electoral Commission data revealed that £10.9m was received by Labour between October and December 2014, compared to £8.4m for the Tories over the same time period. The Labour sum includes £3.7m of public money, from a pot that is used to fund opposition parties.
The numbers are a boon to Ed Miliband’s party so close to what is expected to be the tightest General Election battle in decades. However, they also contradict Labour’s claim that it is unable to compete financially with the Tories.
As recently as Tuesday this week, Labour general secretary Iain McNicol sent out an email to party supporters calling for donations, warning – “The Tories might be able buy the election”.
The biggest donations to Labour at the end of last year came from the major trade unions. Unison, Unite, and the GMB all donated over £1m to Labour in the quarter.
The professional services company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was the biggest non-union donor to Labour, providing £386,605 worth of support from junior staff. Labour chair of the public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge, recently said that it was “inappropriate” for her party to take donations from the firm. Her committee has accused PwC of being engaged in tax avoidance. Hodge was out of the country and unable to comment on the figures yesterday.
Labour accused the Conservatives of receiving nearly £2m from hedge funds in the quarter, labelling David Cameron’s party “the political wing of the hedge fund industry”. However, Tory sources questioned whether many of those named by Labour were involved in the industry, including Michael Farmer (sometimes known as “‘Mr Copper”), the Tory peer.
Sir Henry Keswick was also included in Labour’s list of hedge fund donors to the Tories, despite him being president of trading house Jardine Matheson. Labour said it stood by the list, yet the Tories slammed the inclusion of the above names as “incompetent” with a spokesman adding: “With economic illiteracy like this it’s no wonder Labour crashed the economy.”
The Liberal Democrats led the donations to the smaller parties, receiving over £3m in total.
Ukip managed to cross the £1m threshold, with £300,000 coming from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell Media Group.
Fashion designer and anti-fracking campaigner Vivienne Westwood gave the Green party £100,0000.