Financial Services sector now Labour Party’s second biggest cash funder

Above: Ed Miliband / BBC

Hedge funder Martin Taylor’s £600,000 donation to Labour’s election war chest means the party has now raised at least £1.5m from the financial services sector this Parliament, a Bureau analysis has found.

Using Electoral Commission records and Companies House data, the Bureau has established that the sector is now the second biggest source of cash funding for Labour outside trade unions.

The research shows the property sector at the top of the list, with £2.1m raised from individuals or companies involved in those businesses since May 2010.

Other sectors to feature in the list include manufacturing, arts and entertainment and retail. However, business donations to Labour are small in comparison with those made to the Conservatives. While Labour has raised £10.6m from companies and individuals since 2010, the Tories have raised £73.6m.

The following is a list of Labour’s top 25 cash donors since 2010 from outside trade unions. It was compiled by using Electoral Commission records and by matching individual donor names with the names of any companies they might have a connection to and which also appear as donors.

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Top of the list are Andrew Rosenfeld and David Garrard, who have given £961,440 and £689,570 respectively since the last election.

The pair were longtime business partners and made their fortunes at property developers Minerva Plc, before Garrard retired and Rosenfeld, who died last month, moved into telecoms.

Until recently nothing was known about Labour’s third largest private cash donor, Martin Taylor, but after a Bureau investigation last week his identity was revealed as a hedge fund manager with Nevsky Capital. He has given £591,800 to Labour since 2010.

The fourth highest donor to Labour was William Haughey. The longtime Labour supporter, who runs Glasgow based refrigeration contractor City Refrigeration, gave £396,500 over the last parliament. The bulk of this, £360,400 was given to Scottish Labour, with small amounts going to the central party and one gift of £1,100 to Morley and Outwood, the constituency of shadow chancellor Ed Balls in March 2014.

Following this were the £280,000 of donations from hairdressing empire Toni & Guy and associated companies. The company was founded by the teenage Mascolo brothers just seven years after they arrived in the UK, and the surviving founder Toni Mascolo remains an ardent Labour supporter.

Bloomberg was the most generous donor from financial services. It gave £270,875 to Labour. In the last parliament it has also given £235,000 to the Lib Dems and £125,000 to the Tories.

After Bloomberg the most generous donor was Fostermco, controlled by ‘Labour Luvvie’ Michael Foster. The celebrity agent, who represents radio star Chris Evans gave £261,028. He is currently standing for the party in the Cornish seat of Camborne and Redruth.

Related story: Labour’s ‘Martin Taylor’ question: Who is Miliband’s £600k donor?

Bloomberg was not the only donor that has given to several parties.

Political Animal Lobby is a campaign group set up by animal welfare campaigner Brian Davies. It gave £250,000 to Labour and also £3,000 to the Conservatives in The Wrekin, where the MP Mark Pritchard is known for his work on animal welfare issues.

Another individual who gave to parties other than Labour was Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott. He is a former Lib Dem peer who is a close ally of Vince Cable but he now describes himself as a “non-party social democrat”.

Electoral Commission records show he has given £170,000 to Labour, though this is of a total £300,000 commitment. He has also pledged £300,000 to the Lib Dems to be spread across 15 specific candidates.

Betterworld Ltd has also given to more than one party. Controlled by ethical businessman Henry Tinsley, former chairman of chocolatiers Green & Blacks, it gave £145,000 to Labour, £2,500 to Green MP Caroline Lucas and £2,500 to the Lib Dems. Before the last election Henry Tinsley made other donations, telling the Daily Telegraph he did it to counter the effects of ‘Ashcroft money’, the sizeable donations made by former Tory Treasurer Lord Ashcroft.*

Our list of top 25 Labour donors includes some of the party’s most prominent public supporters, such as businessmen Lord (Alan) Sugar (£163,827) and Assem Allam (£216,900). The latter is a Hull businessman, who produces marine generators. He is also the chairman of Hull City FC and gave Labour money through his companies Allamhouse Ltd and Allam Marine Ltd.

Other familiar names include thriller writer Ken Follett (£137,050) and Labour peer and frozen food tycoon Gulam Noon (£114,500).

Related story: Labour’s mystery £600k donor Martin Taylor revealed as Mayfair hedge funder

Also represented were lawyer Stephen Kinsella (£132,366), cash and carry firm United Wholesale (£131,115) and clean energy firm Ecotricty (£120,000).

Multi-faith campaigner Sigmund Sternberg gave £107,000. After emigrating to the UK from Budapest he became a successful businessman and philanthropist.

The list also included bequests, from Olga Hefford, who left the party £246,183, and Margaret Louisa Evans, who bequeathed £115,320.

One of the donors is a core part of Labour’s funding history. The Lionel Cooke Memorial Fund, which gave £152,000, was set up in 1956 and its original directors included Hugh Gaitskell. Following the turmoil after the creation of the SDP it supported the newly founded party and David Owen became a trustee. After the collapse of the SDP the party returned to the Labour fold and gave financial support to Tony Blair.

Some of the donors could not be confirmed. The Bureau can confirm that the donor John Reid is not the former Labour Home Secretary, now Lord Reid. Also unidentified are Alan Massie and Richard Greer. As the Bureau could not positively confirm the identities of these donors we are unable to publish any details about them. The Bureau contacted both individuals but we did not receive a response. Labour officials are either unwilling or unable to confirm the precise identities of private individuals.

The Bureau also came across this problem when we tried to identify Martin Taylor last week. It has prompted calls for greater transparency around the issue of party donors.

The Bureau also analysed which business sectors are funding Labour.

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Property was the most generous sector, mainly due to the large gifts given by Andrew Rosenfeld and Andrew Garrard.

However, the donations from Martin Taylor mean that Labour now also derives significant funding from the financial services sector, with £1,564,493 since May 2010.

But even that total pales in comparison with the sums donated to the Tories from the same sector. The largest single Tory donor, hedge funder Michael Farmer, has given the Conservatives £4.2m since the last election.

Politics was another key source of income for Labour. This group stretched from the grassroots of the party to the highest echelons, including everything from local councillors to former PM Tony Blair, who gave £5,770. This does not include a controversial £106,000 pledge that he made to the party since the publication of the most recent Electoral Commission records.

We also analysed the source of cash donations to Labour by type of donor.

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Cash support from the unions remains the key source of income for Labour, accounting for £43.7m, or 76% of all cash gifts. Donations from private individuals are second on the list, with £7.5m, or 13% of the total. And cash gifts from limited companies and limited liability partnerships accounted for a combined £3.1m, around 5.5% of donations to Labour.

Labour’s remaining donations came from ‘unincorporated associations’, which includes such things as clubs and members groups. Small amounts were also given by trusts and by the Labour-affiliated Co-operative Party.

Excluding the public funds that Labour receive as an Opposition party for such things as policy development, the Tory war chest is significantly larger. The Tories have raised £86.2m in this last parliament so far, while Labour has secured £67.7m.

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Their cash donations also differ, both in terms of size and where they come from. The Tories have raised £80.2m in direct financial support since the last election, whilst Labour has raised £57.7m.

The Tories do not raise a penny from trade unions and rely heavily on individual and corporate support.


A core element of cash support to the Tories was from unincorporated associations. This includes such groups as the United & Cecil Club, a private members’ group that the Bureau revealed last year was flooding cash into key Tory marginals.

Related story: Low profile United & Cecil Club funnels cash to Conservative must-win marginals

Bidding for victory?

Auctions at dinners organised with well known MPs are a popular way of raising money for all parties. In February 2014, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls’s campaign war chest was boosted after a donation to his marginal Yorkshire constituency from a well known figure in the betting industry.

The donation of £2,600 was made by former Gala Bingo boss Neil Goulden (pictured below) after he bought a copy of the National Minimum Wage Act signed by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock at a fundraising auction in Balls’s constituency.

The purchase of the signed copy was treated as a direct donation to the Morley and Outwoood constituency, which Balls is hoping to hold in May’s general election.

It was registered with the Electoral Commission in February 2014 when Goulden, who is a long time Labour supporter, was chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).

Labour leader Ed Miliband has previously railed against the proliferation of betting shops on British high streets.

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Since the last election Goulden’s total cash support for Labour – including to Ed Balls’ constituency – amounts to £36,600, according to Electoral Commission data. Additionally, he also have £20,000 directly to the office of Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna in June 2013, a decision that caused controversy for the Labour frontbencher. He (Umunna) was accused of hypocrisy by the Tories because he had been campaigning for fewer bookies in his Streatham constituency, south London.

Goulden, who stood down as ABB chair in April 2014, is currently a Low Pay Commissioner and told the Bureau he has never lobbied Labour or Ed Balls about gambling policy.

He said: “I’m a huge supporter of Ed Balls and the Labour party and he’s in a marginal constituency and I want to see him returned to Parliament. I’d like to see him as the next chancellor of the exchequer. I bought a signed copy of the national minimum wage act by Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Neil Kinnock so that resulted in a donation.

“The National Minimum Wage Act is close to my heart as I have been on the Low Pay Commission for the past eight years. I believe it to be the most important piece of legislation since the formation on the NHS. I no longer have any connections to commercial gambling in the UK and have not since January 2014. Also I have never been a lobbyist (just an operator) and I have never lobbied Labour over gambling.

“In fact I don’t agree with their policy on gambling but don’t see it as an important issue, as I am more interested in their policies on health and housing etc.”

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by either Goulden or Labour over the donations.

A spokesman for Balls said: “Mr Goulden is a Labour party member and long standing donor to the Labour party. All donations are declared in the usual way.”

* Following an email from Henry Tinsley this article was amended on March 25 to correct that he was not the founder of Green & Blacks. He was the chairman after the company was sold by the founder. Additionally, he gave £2,500 to the Greens (Caroline Lucas) and not £12,500 as we reported. We apologise for the errors.