Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Labour Relying on Union Funds to Prop Up Finances

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Labour Relying on Union Funds to Prop Up Finances

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY;PIPPA CRERAR

TONY BLAIR is increasingly falling back on Labour's old trade union paymasters for money to make ends meet.

The latest Electoral Commission records showed today that only five donations worth over [pounds sterling]250,000 were made to Labour - and all of them were from big unions rather than wealthy individuals.

Overall, about 75 per cent of Labour's [pounds sterling]3.8 million funding came from the unions, up from 60 per cent for the same three months last year.

The T&G union made two donations of [pounds sterling]290,000 each, Unison gave [pounds sterling]362,000, Amicus [pounds sterling]457,000, the GMB [pounds sterling]290,000, Usdaw [pounds sterling]234,000 and the Communications Workers Union [pounds sterling]203,000.

That contrasted with Mr Blair's most successful fundraising period when his party cof fers were re gularly swelled with million-pound cheques from tycoons and stars.

At the same time there have been claims that the union barons are exerting their muscle to gain more influence over Labour. Before the election, Mr Blair was accused of buyingoff the unions when he signed the Warwick Agreement promising longer minimum holidays and other longstanding demands.

Recently the Government signalled it was giving in to shopworkers' union Usdawby axing plans to let supermarkets-open longer on Sundays.

The Conservatives, who received [pounds sterling]5.8million in 183 separate donations over the same three-month period, accused Labour of "cronyism".

Tory party chairman Francis Maude said: "Labour is now almost entirely dependent on the unions for funding. In return, they're getting pet policies and bungs with taxpayers' money."

Almost half of the Conservatives' donations came from four wealthy backers, including two million-plus cheques. …

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