Donations to Tories dwarf Labour

THE Tories will fight the next election with a huge war chest of cash, after raking in twice as much as Labour in donations.

David Cameron’s party reported donations totalling £10.5m in the last three months of 2009, dwarfing the £4.9m raised by Labour.

Sir Nigel Doughty, founder of private equity house Doughty Hanson & Co and owner of Nottingham Forest FC, gave the Labour party £1.01m, making him the biggest donor of all.

Labour also secured the second-largest donation, after Lord David Sainsbury boosted the party’s coffers by £1m.

But his cousin Lord John Sainsbury, who donated £500,000, decided to lend his support to the Tories, as did the vast majority of individual donors.

Hedge fund grandee Stanley Fink, who this week resigned as co-treasurer of the Tory party, gave £501,640 to help David Cameron win the general election.

Joseph Bamford, chief of heavy machinery maker JCB handed £400,000 to the Conservative Party, while the former boss of airline BMI Michael Bishop gave them £335,000.

Brown’s party continued to rely heavily on trade unions for funding, securing donations worth £1.7m from Unite, Unison and the GMB.

Conservative party chairman Eric Pickles criticised Labour’s decision to accept money from Unite, the union that represents British Airways cabin crew who recently voted in favour of strike action.

“As millions face air travel misery, we now discover that the union behind it is bankrolling the Labour party,” he said.

The Liberal Democrats raised £1.06m in the final quarter of 2009, while donors gave 587,973 to other parties.

Labour strategists yesterday said they would use their financial disadvantage as a campaigning tool.

They plan to portray themselves as the underdogs on the side of the “mainstream majority” and the Tories as a party dripping with cash.