The City’s contibution to the Conservative Party has more than doubled since David Cameron became its leader.
The latest research from the Bureau details for the first time the full extent of Square Mile donations given to the Tories. It reveals that the percentage of donations from companies and individuals connected to the financial services industry has now reached more than half.
Last year City money made up 50.8% of all Conservative Party donations, a leap from 25% five years previously, when Cameron and Osborne took over the helm.
The City has donated a total of £42.76m since 2005. Last year City money accounted for £11.4m, compared with £2.75m when Cameron took over.
The revelation comes as the Chancellor’s move to increase a levy on banks was criticised for being inadequate.
Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg, a leading authority on political party funding at the University of Liverpool, said: “The findings raise issues about how influenced and impartial the Conservatives are as they set about reforming and regulating the banking industry. It is admittedly difficult to prove that because parties access money from specific sources that there is a feed through into the policies they adopt. Yet, given we have just experienced a blowout in the financial system, and are witnessing an ongoing struggle over its regulation, the scale of Conservative Party funding from the City must be an issue – not least for a party committed to ‘taking big money out of politics’.”
The Bureau used data from the Electoral Commission and Companies House to chart the ever-rising tide of money flowing from the City into the Conservative Party.
Our research also shows that 57individuals from the financial services sector made a donation of more than £50,000each last year.
This level of funding would entitle them to membership of the Leader’s Group.According to Conservative Party donor literature published on the party’s website members of this group are given numerous opportunities to meet “David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches”.
In the past two years, individual donations from bankers, hedge fund managers, private equity financiers and insurance executives have increased sharply reaching 58.5% (£9,150,064) of total individual contibutions.
Ten individuals alone have given more than £13m since 2005 out of a total central office funding of £101m. The top donor is David Rowland who first made his money through property investment before investing more widely.
There are six hedge fund managers among the top ten individual City donors, and two of the top ten – Stanley Fink and George Magan received peerages last year.
There is no evidence to suggest that any individual has used their influence to demand a relaxed approach to bank, hedge fund or private equity remuneration, tax or leverage limits.
Bankers and financiers who were deeply linked to the global financial crisis have also been bank-rolling the Conservative Party the figures reveal.
These include Jeremy Isaacs, the former head of Lehman Brothers in Europe and Asia, who has given £190,000.
A small group of powerful financial public relations leaders has also contributed nearly £500,000 to the Conservative Party. These include Finsbury and Pelham PR.