Big donors a problem?

Access to top Tories on of the perks of donating

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Small band of millionaires shoring up the Tories

By Diane Cooke

More than a third of donations to the Tories last year came from a tiny group of super-rich men who enjoy lavish secretive dinners with Theresa May, wrote The Mirror.

Research shows that Britain’s party of government depends on a band of millionaires for survival.

And it comes despite Mrs May vowing in 2007: “To restore public trust we must remove the dependency of the political parties on all large donors.”

Labour analysed donations by the 64 people - 62 of them men - who attended ‘Leader’s Group’ dinners, hosted by the Prime Minister and other senior ministers, in the first half of last year.

The Tory party collected £12.9 million from these donors.

Writing exclusively for PoliticsHome, John Ashmore reported in June that 49 individuals had donated a total of over £5.5m and were all members of the elite ‘Leader’s Group’ of Conservative supporters.

The group was described on the party’s website as “the premier support group of the Conservative party”, with donors getting direct access to senior ministers, in exchange for a £50,000 membership fee.

Other groups open to well-off supporters include the Front Bench Club, the Renaissance Forum and the Treasurers’ Group, which offer varying degrees of access to senior Tories depending on membership fee.

More than a third of the 100 richest people in Britain are also Tory donors, analysis has revealed.

The Sunday Times has published its annual rich list and 35 of those featured - who have a net worth of £123 billion - have collectively given £19 million to the Conservatives since 2001.

Since the 2015 election, 12 have handed over more than £1.3 million and since Theresa May entered 10 Downing Street, three have given more than £180,000.

Prior to the election, Labour’s election co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne said the Rich List revelations cast doubt on Theresa May's campaign theme of ‘a country that works for everyone’.

“The Rich List reads like a who’s who of Tory donors,” he said.

“That so many of the top 100 have donated so much to the Tories, shows you that they really are the party of and for a privileged few, not the many.

“While the Tories have been going cap in hand to the country’s wealthiest tycoons, they have slashed taxes for those at the very top and raised taxes for working people.

The Labour Party's last donor figure for 2017 is around £4m, with the biggest donations coming from Uninion membership, according to the Electoral Commission which publishes quarterly figures.

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