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As the Labor Party gears up for its biggest fundraiser in a decade, I It can reveal wealthy businessmen that the party believes will help the party attract more wealthy financial backers and increase its pre-election war budget.
Gary Lubner, owner of Autoglass and outgoing boss of Bellron, has already put his money in as a Labor donor.
The South African has donated £142,000 to the party last year and is expected to play an even bigger role in Labor’s finances ahead of next year’s general elections.
Additional donations worth hundreds of thousands of pounds are likely, according to people close to Lubner.
One of his first two donations to Labor has already been put to good use, with £42,000 being paid to an employee in the office of Shadow Prime Minister Rachel Reeves.
However, his most valuable contribution to this cause was not financial, but his ability to persuade other key stakeholders to follow his lead and support Sir Kia Starmer’s move to power. be.
“Mr Gary is one of the people to watch,” said a Labor official. “He will play an important role in the near future.”
A person close to Mr. Lubner stressed that the role does not constitute a formal fundraising position within the party. However, they are clear about his future commitments.
The fact that Lubner is Jewish is also a coup for the Labor Party, which is still dealing with the aftermath of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Semitic issues.
“We’re not going to say that the Jewish business community has reached out to us, and that’s right,” said a Labor official. “This has been a long and delicate road that is difficult to even come back from, but at least we are back on the road and making some progress. You can see the signs.”
Other prominent Jewish businessmen have also shown renewed interest in the Labor Party, including a city attorney who previously said Corbyn “poisoned the Party and had no interest in people like me.” Including Ian Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt returned to the party last year with three donations totaling £9,700.
But perhaps the biggest sign Labor may have hopes of regaining support from the Jewish community is the return of Jonathan Goldstein to the camp.
A former Jewish Leaders Council chairman and real estate investor, he was one of the key speakers at the “enough is not enough” demonstrations against anti-Semitism in his party, but now faces the Blair and Brown administrations. supporters are returning to the Labor Party of Sir Keir Sturmer.
Goldstein, who is also co-owner of Chelsea FC, has publicly endorsed Sturmer after inviting the Labor leader to the directors’ box at Stamford Bridge.
This is against the broader background of success in the fight to get business behind Labor’s backs. As the Conservative money machine continues to deposit large sums of cash at CCHQ, Labor has finally convinced the public that the Corbyn era is behind them and is once again a business-friendly option for big donors, Labor said. I believe.
Jonathan Reynolds, Labor’s shadow business minister, told i. “It’s no exaggeration to say that there is as much interest in the Labor Party from big business as there was in 1997 or 2001.”
But Mr Reynolds believes Mr Sturmer’s party is in some ways better positioned than Mr Blair’s new Labor party at this point in the election cycle.
“The difference is that back in 1997, the party had to convince companies that they could trust Labor,” Mr Reynolds said. “This time companies are coming to us saying they share our philosophies on workers rights, the environment and the business environment.
“After 13 years of turmoil, businesses are excited about the opportunities and stability that a Labor government will provide.”
Other senior Labour insiders have also shown confidence in winning big business not seen since the New Labor era, and there is evidence that this is more than just wishful thinking.
A tangible success was the return of Lord Sainsbury, one of Britain’s largest political donors, to the Labor Party. The former supermarket tycoon, who backed the Liberal Democrats’ anti-Brexit stance with a record £8m donation in 2019, gave the Labor Party £2m in February, the first multi-million dollar donation since 2016. given to the Labor Party.
And further evidence of Labor’s success came last fall’s party convention, which sold out a “business day” for the first time since 2010, with ministers like Reynolds now jam-packed at breakfasts with multinational executives. I have a diary.
A Labor Party insider told i: “Shadow cabinet cadres engage with business leaders not only because they know it is politically wise, but because they recognize the scale of the task they will face if Labor wins. I have a heartfelt desire to
“The solutions to the challenges facing this country can only be solved through a genuine partnership between business and the next government.
“Leaders want dialogue with the private sector to demonstrate effective policies. There is also the recognition that it cannot be done.”
The return of large private supporters has also reduced the Labor Party’s reliance on trade unions, and thus the influence of trade unions over the party.
But with more donations from the ultra-rich, there is always the danger of further controversy. One area that could raise eyebrows is Labor’s efforts to put beer giant Green King on the Starmer election train. I understand that the parties have been courting the company for several months with some success.
But given that Green King is owned by Chinese conglomerate CK Asset Holdings, which was founded by billionaire Li Ka-shing, the move echoes allegations that Starmer is snuggling with China. It can make the party vulnerable.
Lee retired from the company’s day-to-day operations in 2018, handing over responsibility for the $100 billion empire to his son, Victor Lee.
Mr Reeves said in February that he believed Britain was still “overly dependent on China” and that national security “must always come first, whether it’s communications or energy”.
The Labor Party’s badmouthing of Green King may suggest there is some kind of double standard on Reeves’ part, especially given that the ultimate Chinese owner has global telecommunications interests. unknown.
The group is also a major buyer of London property, so there could be thorny issues around Starmer’s policy of preventing foreign buyers from monopolizing investments in the UK housing market.
With the return of Sainsbury and others, I believe Labor is on track to return to Blair-era funding levels.
Labor raised £7.3m (equivalent to £13.4m today) for 1997, when the party returned to power after a landslide victory in 18 years. This was enough to banish John Major from Downing Street, even though the Conservatives raised £13.1 million, now £24 million.
Both parties were hit hard ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘End Brexit’ election in December 2019, largely just two years after the 2017 poll. It depends.
Under Corbyn, Labor had just £5.4m in bank deposits (now £6.4m) compared to £19.4m (now £23.2m) for the Conservatives.
Heading into the next general election, which is widely expected sometime in the second half of next year, I believe Labor can close the gap significantly with the Conservatives.
Labor’s claims aren’t outlandish if the latest available numbers support them. In 2022, Mr Sturmer raised £7.2m compared to £4.9m for the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats were well behind with £1.4 million, while the Scottish National Party managed to raise just £538,339.
Last year, political parties across the UK raised a total of £51.5m in donations, especially in the last three months of 2022 as donors moved away from the chaos of the premierships of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. , the Labor Party benefited.
But the Conservatives are confident the figures will signal a turn in their direction when the Electoral Commission releases its latest figures for the first quarter of this year next month.
The Conservative Party is poised to raise more than £10m in donations over the three months to the end of March, but party officials say new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has eased tensions both within the party and among former donors. I believe.
As for the Liberal Democrats, which are aiming to return donations to Lord Sainsbury’s levels, they are focusing on funding the Blue Wall, which they see as having the best chance of overthrowing the narrow Conservative majority.
One Liberal Democrat activist said the funding for the 2019 general election was £16m, but between now and next year’s election the party is likely to raise between £8m and £10m.
A Liberal Democrat official said: “Donors recognize the magnitude of the opportunities for the Liberal Democrats in the upcoming elections and are offering large sums of money.
“New donors include both disaffected ex-Conservatives and a large community of new donors from the business world.”
Labor may be amassing its fortunes as the race for every penny from every potential political contributor heats up, but it will require more scrutiny of where that money is coming from. It will be