The list of companies (and occasional individuals) that have given more than £5,000 in sponsorship to the Labour Party is long.
It is filled with the names of companies which dominate our everyday lives – companies who frequently have directors who sit on the Government’s task forces or advisory groups. There are also companies in the list who appear to have received favourable treatment on issues they are involved with, for example Enron and Tesco. Then, of course, there are the usual arms companies like BAe and Raytheon and their representatives, including Bergmans (PR) and the UK Defence Forum.
In 1995 ‘Multinational Monitor’ named Enron, the US energy company, as one of the world’s ten worst corporations. The Chairman of Enron Europe, Ralph Hodge, received a CBE in 2001.
The Granada Group has many connections with the Labour Party and controls a large part of the ITV network, Granada Motorway Services, Little Chef and the Posthouse hotel chain.
Sir Ian Robinson, Chief Executive of Scottish Power, is Chair of the Scottish Advisory Task Force on the New Deal and was named as a ‘Pathfinder to the Scottish Parliament.’
The Labour Party’s rules on sponsorship are different to donations – sponsorship is regarded as a commercial activity, enabling the Party to accept money from firms based abroad or whose activities might be frowned on by some parts of the Labour movement (like arms dealing and human rights abuse). Boots include on their Board Sir Peter Davis, who is Chair of both the New Deal Task Force and the New Deal Task Force Advisory Group. David Varney, the Chief Executive of BG (formerly British Gas) was paid £474,150 in 1999. He is Chair of the London New Deal Employer’s Coalition. Deloitte and Touche are one of New Labour’s favourite accountants, with several big Government contracts.
Tesco, sponsors in 1997 and 1998, also gave £12 million in sponsorship to the Millennium Dome. Directors of Tesco sit on 6 different Task Forces, the most for any single company – far more than the other supermarket chains. Somerfield, the supermarket chain, paid the Labour Party £38,500 in 1998 to put their name on the security passes for the Labour Party Conference and for exhibition space at the conference. Freightliner Ltd is the largest intermodal rail operator in the UK. They move 600,000 deep sea containers a year from ports around the country and also own a large road haulage fleet.
Mirror Group newspapers sponsored the Labour Party’s centenary dinner in March 2000. The Express was once a Tory tabloid, but Lord Hollick has made sure that it has become ‘The Voice of New Britain’ (and New Labour).
Thomas Cook, the chain of Travel Agents, paid £25,000 for the champagne reception before the (£200 a head) Gala Dinner at the Stakis Hotel, during the 1998 Labour Party Conference in Blackpool. Enron paid for the cocktails at the same event.
The New Statesman, owned by Geoffrey Robinson, also held parties at the 1998 and 1999 Conferences (the 1998 party was paid for by Safeways).
Manchester Airport sponsored the Gala Dinner at the 1999 Labour Conference. The Airport’s expansion to 2 runways, the scene of major environmental protests, will destroy over 1000 acres of Greenbelt land.
The pro-Labour Daily Record is the biggest selling newspaper in Scotland. Family Assurance is the largest tax-exempt friendly (saving) society in the UK.
Railtrack are the owners of Britain’s rail infrastructure (formerly publicly owned as part of British Rail).
The Directors were heavily criticised for receiving bonuses of up to 37,000 (for Finance Director Steve Marshall who had only worked for Railtrack for 4 months) following the fatal Ladbroke Grove rail crash. The Safety Director, Rod Muttram, even received a bonus of £25,000! The Chief Executive, Gerald Corbett, is paid a salary of £398,000.
UPS, the US corporation, were hit by a strike in 1997, the largest industrial action in America for a decade. They kept 58% of their workers classified as part-time, on half the hourly wage of full-time workers, even though 10,000 of them were working up to 39 hours a week, just under the 40 hour limit that would give them a higher wage and full benefits. After the strike UPS agreed to increase part-time pay by 35% and convert 10,000 jobs to full-time.
The Wiggins Group are commercial and residential property developers who own Manston Airport in Kent and have several large developments around the country. First Consulting provide management services to healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, including 22 of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies and the NHS.
Northumbrian Water supply 2.6 million domestic customers in the North East of England. Chris Tavener is a Partner at the city law firm Herbert Smith, where fellow donor Gary Hart (now Special Adviser to Lord Irvine) used to work.
Sponsors of the Labour Party for more than £5,000:
Bell Pottinger, PR company
Cable Communications Association
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
DLA Upstream, PR company
First Software UK Ltd
Manchester Airport plc
McNiff Civil Engineering
One 2 One
SEEBoard, utility company
Severn Trent plc, utility company
UPS (UK) Ltd
Zurich Financial Services (UKISA) Ltd