The super-rich socialists bankrolling Labour: Sir Keir charms posse of wealthy backers


Labour’s efforts to win over business leaders are bearing fruit – in some circles at least. 

Having spent more than a year wooing chief executives, entrepreneurs and private equity moguls, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Labour has marshalled an eclectic line-up of donors.

One high-profile backer is South African-born Gary Lubner, a windscreen tycoon who made his fortune running the firm behind Autoglass.

Other notable supporters include Sir Victor Blank, a former chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers and of Lloyds Bank when it launched its disastrous rescue of HBOS in the financial crisis.

Red alert: Eco-warrior Dale Vince once claimed his sky mining firm could turn carbon in the air into diamonds

Red alert: Eco-warrior Dale Vince once claimed his sky mining firm could turn carbon in the air into diamonds

Little-known recruitment mogul Peter Hearn – whose hundreds of thousands of pounds in handouts have been made through an obscure investment vehicle – is another.

The rich backers have been charmed by Sir Keir Starmer’s brand of socialism despite the threat of huge tax rises.

However, even with support from business people and its traditional bankrolling by the unions, the party is still lagging behind the Tories in the donation stakes, if not the polls.

The Electoral Commission revealed last week that donations to the Conservatives reached £12.3 million during the first three months of 2022, compared with Labour’s £5.9 million.

Lord Waheed Alli: The media mogul

Lord Waheed Alli is spearheading Labour’s General Election fundraising efforts

Lord Waheed Alli is spearheading Labour’s General Election fundraising efforts

Age: 58

Net wealth: £200 million

2022-23 donations: £1.2 million

A well-known player in left-wing circles, Lord Waheed Alli is spearheading Labour’s General Election fundraising efforts – and he has made some hefty donations himself.

He handed Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband £10,000 earlier this year. Two months ago he made an interest-free £1.2 million loan to Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh.

He made his name in TV and was the brains behind The Big Breakfast and Survivor through his media production firm Planet 24.

After selling to Carlton Communications – now ITV Studios – he founded Silvergate Media alongside Viscount Astor, the stepfather of Samantha Cameron. That business was sold to Sony Pictures Television for £148 million in 2019.

Less happily, he chaired online fashion firm Koovs. Once dubbed the Asos of India, the AIM-listed business inflicted major losses on shareholders after entering administration in 2019.

Fran Perrin: The retail heiress

Heiress: Fran Perrin is the daughter of Lord Sainsbury of Turville

Heiress: Fran Perrin is the daughter of Lord Sainsbury of Turville

Age: 45

Net wealth: £512 million

2022-23 donations: £500,000

Fran Perrin, the daughter of Lord Sainsbury of Turville, has come back into the fold of Labour donors having previously severed ties with the party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Her £500,000 donation to Labour last year was one of the largest in 2022. She also gave Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting £20,000 in 2021.

Her father, Lord Sainsbury, was one of Tony Blair’s biggest backers in the 1990s but the retired retail tycoon distanced himself from the party after its election defeat in 2010. 

He recently resumed giving to Labour with a £2million donation. 

As well as being a philanthropist in her own right, Perrin also previously held Government advisory roles under both Blair and Brown.

Anthony Watson: The Insta-banker

Jet set: Anthony Watson is a modern-day financier with a glamorous lifestyle to match

Jet set: Anthony Watson is a modern-day financier with a glamorous lifestyle to match

Age: 47

Net wealth: £315 million

Donations since 2019: £72,500

Possibly the only millionaire Labour donor with a six-pack, Anthony Watson is a modern-day financier with a glamorous lifestyle to match.

Nicknamed the ‘Insta-banker’, he launched the Bank of London in 2021.

Watson, a former Nike and Barclays executive, unashamedly flaunts his luxury lifestyle on social media, with pictures of himself on private jets and the ski slopes.

Recently he has handed tens of thousands of pounds to several of the party’s MPs, including Dawn Butler, Peter Kyle and Wes Streeting.

He also appointed New Labour architect Lord Mandelson to his bank’s board two years ago.

Another Labour politician, Baroness Margaret McDonagh, serves as an independent non-executive director.

Watson was made LGBT adviser to the party in 2018.

Dale Vince: The eco-warrior

Controversy: Dale Vince has been a big donor to eco-extremist group Just Stop Oil

Controversy: Dale Vince has been a big donor to eco-extremist group Just Stop Oil

Age: 61

Net wealth: £100 million

Donations since 2013: £1.5 million

Having made his millions as the founder of Britain’s first green energy firm, Ecotricity, Dale Vince has recently turned his ambitions to politics.

The former New Age traveller has given the party £1.5 million since 2013, which has sparked controversy as he has also been a big donor to eco-extremist group Just Stop Oil.

He gave £10,000 late last year to deputy leader Angela Rayner. 

The vegan green energy entrepreneur is also the chairman of Forest Green Rovers football team, recently relegated to League Two.

John Armitage: The hedge fund billionaire 

Remainer: Former Conservative donor John Armitage switched his political allegiances post-Brexit

Remainer: Former Conservative donor John Armitage switched his political allegiances post-Brexit

Age: 63

Net wealth: £1.83 billion

2022-23 donations: £27,500

A former Conservative donor, John Armitage is a Remainer money man who switched his political allegiances post-Brexit. He built his fortune through Egerton Capital, an investment firm he launched in London almost 30 years ago.

His six years of backing the Tories came to an end back in 2020.

Armitage’s change in tack led to him making a donation of £12,500 to Keir Starmer last year, while also handing Wes Streeting the sum of £15,000.

This is far less than the £3 million he gave the Conservatives, but Armitage has already said he won’t turn back to the blue side unless Kemi Badenoch is elected leader.

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