Fact Service February 2015

Issue 8

Party donations in 2014

Conservative Party headquarters received almost two and a half times the sum the Labour Party received at its HQ in 2014, according to a Fact Service analysis. Payments in kind and donations to constituency parties are not included in the analysis.

Total cash donations to the Tories came to £24.63 million last year, according to the analysis based on party filings with the political watchdog, the Electoral Commission. Three-quarters of their cash came from 268 rich individuals who gave a total of £18.6 million. In addition, 86 companies donated over £5 million — accounting for 20p in every £1 received at its HQ. Just over £1 million was received from eight other sources, including £802,000 from the lucrative national Tory draw.

Thirty of the rich individuals bankrolling the party gave over £100,000 each. Last year, the average annual salary of a full-time worker was just £27,195, so this elite 30 were each giving over at least three and a half times the average worker’s salary as a gift to the rich person’s party.

The individuals include Mike Gooley, founder of the Trailfinders travel firm, who gave £1 million last year and hedge fund boss Sir Michael Hintze who gave £1.5 million. The third person to have given over £1 million last year was corporate adviser James R Lupton.

Fifteen out of the 86 companies donating to the Tories gave over £100,000 each in 2014. They are headed by long-time donor, construction equipment group JC Bamford through two subsidiaries JCB Research and JCB Sales with donations totalling £803,500 last year.

In 2014, mobile phone group Lycamobile gave £398,870 in total, while Tony Gallagher’s property group Countrywide Developments gave £305,000.

The Labour Party received £10.1 million at its headquarters. Fourteen trade unions gave a total of £6.54 million, which accounted for 65p in every £1 received. Three unions gave over £1 million each: general union Unite gave £1.76 million in affiliation fees and donations; shop and distribution workers’ union Usdaw gave £1.54 million; and the GMB general union £1.34 million.

Fifty six individuals gave the party a total of £2.61 million in 2014, accounting for 26 pence in every £1 received. Property developer Sir David Garrard donated £629,570; another developer Andrew Rosenfeld, who died this February, gave £200,000.

Well down the financial pecking order, the Liberal Democrats received £4.83 million in cash donations last year from two main sources. Donations from individuals totalled £2.77 million. The largest sum of £950,000 came from the academic George G Watson who died in 2013 and bequeathed the money to the party in his will.

The Lib Dems received just over £2 million from 19 corporate sources, but three donors accounted for the lion’s share of the total. Rumi Verjee, who brought Domino pizzas to the UK gave £522,500 through Brompton Capital; the political reform group, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust £491,800; and Ferring Pharmaceuticals £476,537. The latter company is owned by the Dr Frederic Paulsen Foundation through intermediate holding companies in Switzerland and Curacao. It suggests that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems have been taking a leaf out of the Conservative’s book of creative party funding.

Outside of the three main parties, UKIP received £1.6 million from individual and corporate donations. Its largest cash donation last year of £300,000 came from Daily Express owner Richard Desmond through his Northern and Shell company. Disaffected Tories giving to UKIP include Stuart Wheeler — £231,000, hedge fund manager Crispin Odey — £22,000, and Yorkshire industrialist Paul Sykes — £21,266.

Cash donations to party HQs in 2014

Number Total cash donations
Conservative Party
Individuals 268 £18,596,189
Companies 86 £5,005,847
Other 8 £1,025,500
Total 362 £24,627,536
Labour Party
Individuals 56 £2,608,613
Companies 14 £929,919
Trade unions 14 £6,544,844
Other 3 £27,025
Total 87 £10,110,401
Liberal Democrats
Individuals 47 £2,774,251
Companies 19 £2,043,537
Other 1 £7,500
Total 67 £4,825,288