Stars for a minute

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HOW narrow is the dividing line between being a professional footballer, seeking the best salary for your ability, and being a self-seeking prima donna?

That line has been firmly tested over the past couple of months.

First we had the one man strike at West Ham by their star play maker Dimitri Payet, demanding he be sold for a mega million fee.

Then we had striker Chris Martin do much the same at Fulham, although on this occasion he simply wanted to return to his parent club Derby County.

And then we saw striker Ross McCormack conduct a one man training strike at Aston Villa. His actions forced Villa manager Steve Bruce to publically reveal that the Scot had been dropped from the first team squad for “continually missing training”.

But these examples are not a new capitalist madness in the beautiful game we all love.

Back in 1998, Dutch striker Pierre van Hooijdonk staged a very public one player strike, claiming Nottingham Forest had made “broken promises” to sell him if he helped them earn promotion from Division One.

And more recently in September 2011, during a Champions League clash with Bayern Munich, Argentine star Carlos Tevez ignored Roberto Mancini’s orders and refused to come on as a substitute for Manchester City.

Crazy eh!

So how refreshing is it that one of our own stars has the dignity and professionalism to show others how to behave.

The transfer speculation surrounding Dale Stephens dominated the Albion’s close-season.

The Seagulls turned down several bids of up to £8million from Premier League side Burnley for the midfield star.

Then as the transfer window closed, Stephens took to Twitter to explain that although he had been “reluctant” to submit a transfer request, he wanted an opportunity to play in the top flight.

“I’m 27 and recognised this could by my final opportunity to do so, which is why I feel disappointed my chance was taken away,” he posted.

Many Albion fans feared that Stephens might sulk, rebel or simply refuse to train as a result of his rejected transfer.

But how wrong they were.

Since last August, Stephens has proved to be one of our key players. His work ethic is exemplary and his importance to the team is pivotal.

Small wonder that the Albion have not lost a game this season, when Stephens has been in the team.

On 22 October, after scoring the winner for the Albion against Wigan, he underlined his professionalism saying: “I enjoy playing for this club and enjoy playing for this manager and I remain fully committed until the end of the season.”

But Dale Stephens’ situation opens up a reality for many professional footballers, and maybe casts some light on the actions of Payet, Martin and McCormack.

It has always been the case that the career of a professional footballer is short.

For while many may sign for a club as a schoolboy, their proper career doesn’t usually take off until they turn 20. And for most it is all over by the time they reach 35 – Inigo Calderon, Bobby Zamora and Gordon Greer are good recent cases in point.

So what do they do for the next 30 years of a normal working life?

Some stay with the club in an executive or coaching capacity (Guy Butters and Paul Watson) and some take up TV or radio punditry (Adam Virgo), but for others the future is less clearly defined.

For all players the onus is to earn as much as they can, while playing at their top level, to pay for a lengthy retirement.

Last season, average Championship earnings were £6,235 a week (£324,250 a year) while in the Premier League first-team average salaries were around £1.7 million.

Meanwhile, the average basic pay in League One was £69,500 and £40,350 in League Two – not much more than the national average.

That means top-flight players earned over five times as much as Championship players, almost 25 times as much as League One players, and around 42 times as much as League Two players.

Small wonder that players like Dale Stephens want to play in the Premier League before age and declining fitness determines that their career is over.

Thirty years ago, a top-flight footballer earned on average £25,000 per year, or just two-and-a-half times as much as the average household income of £9,788.

By 1995-96, a top-flight player earned six-and-a-half times as much as an ordinary family, and by 10 years ago it was more than 20 times as much, or £686,000 versus £33,000 per year.

Now it’s more than 40 times as much.

So spare a thought for my boyhood Albion heroes of the late 1960s.

Charlie Livesey was already a star with Chelsea when he joined the Albion in 1965. He was the Dale Stephens type dynamo of that era.

At the time the average weekly wage for a footballer in the third tier was just £20.

In his four years with the Albion, Livesey made 146 appearances, scoring 37 goals, before being released aged just 31, in April 1969.

He finished his career at Crawley Town then returned to the East End of London where he became a humble painter and decorator. Charlie died in 2005, aged 67.

Nobby Lawton was a similar midfielder – ironically born in Newton Heath, Manchester, just a few miles from where Dale Stephens later grew up.

He began his football career as an amateur with Manchester United. Following the Munich air disaster in 1958, he gave up his job with a local coal merchant to sign professional forms.

By the time he signed for the Albion from Preston North End in 1967, aged 27, wages had climbed to £30 a week.

Lawton was Livesey’s natural replacement at the heart of midfield and scored 14 goals in 112 appearances before dropping down to the Fourth Division to play for Lincoln City in 1970, and retiring two years later, aged 32. He returned to Newton Heath in 1977 to work for an export packaging firm.

Nobby Lawton died in April 2006, aged just 66.

Today, while Dale Stephens will hope for a much longer and healthier life, his career expectation is the same as it was for Charlie Livesey and Nobby Lawton, all those years ago.

It’s a long retirement.

 

A Sublime Day in May

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MY paternal grandfather’s abiding passions were his vegetable garden, barley wine, horse racing and Newcastle United Football Club – not necessarily in that order.

But one thing was certain, enter his living room any time after 4.40 on a Saturday afternoon – once the BBC tele-printer was running – and there was complete silence, as he waited for the Newcastle result to come in.

Grandfather, or Pop as he was known, was born and raised in Throckley, seven miles west of Newcastle upon Tyne, the son and grandson of coal miners at the village’s Maria Pit. He was Geordie to the bones.

He had moved south in 1933, during the Depression, with my gran, my dad and his three siblings, to find work and a better life.

With his health failing, aged 86, he returned north early in 1979, following the death of my gran. He wanted to live out his final years on his beloved Tyneside.

All my life he had regaled me with deep passion about the pre-war Newcastle teams (particularly the 1926-27 First Division champions) and the three times post war FA Cup winners, with the legendary centre forward Jackie Milburn – the uncle of Bobby and Jack Charlton.

So we come to the evening of Friday 4 May, 1979, and I am sipping a large whisky with Pop at his comfortable new home on Tyneside and talking excitedly about the reason I am staying with him for the weekend.

I am enthusing about my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion and their end of season fixture at St James Park against his beloved Magpies.

He smiles, asks me to pour him another whisky – this time with a splash of ginger wine – and whispers: “Don’t get carried away lad, your team haven’t done it yet, they still have to encounter the Mags on God’s own soil.”

I went to bed that night with a huge grin on my face.

Saturday 5th May was our big day.

But strangely, it wasn’t the last day of the 1978/79 season.

A snow laden winter had left many clubs playing catch-up with their remaining fixtures, and we were going into our last game at Newcastle, at the top of a remarkably tight Second Division table, with just one point separating the top four clubs.

A win would secure us promotion to the First Division for the first time in our history against a Newcastle side in ninth place, with little to play for, bar pride.

So that morning, in bright sunshine, but with a chill wind in the air, I hopped the local train into the city.

At the station I met an old friend Pete – a Geordie with whom I had gone to many Newcastle games, while we were at university together in West Yorkshire. He had a black and white scarf wrapped around his neck and was grinning widely.

“Why aye, Nic, let’s do some beer,” he enthused, “There are quite a few pubs that open at 10.30.” And so we began a two man pub crawl for the short distance between the city station and the Newcastle ground.

We eventually reached The Strawberry, an infamous drinking hole outside the Gallowgate End of St James Park. It was (and still is) a pub for home supporters only.

“Keep yer trap shut inside,” Pete winked, “Or I am not responsible for taking you to hospital!”

The Gallowgate End or “Gallows Hole” was an historic place of public execution in Newcastle. In 1650, 22 people – including 15 witches – were hanged in one day.

The last hanging took place in 1844, only three decades before the first ball was kicked inside St James Park!

So I drank my pint quietly, to avoid becoming a 20th century execution!

Then, merry with beer, Pete and I shook hands and wended out respective ways to either end of this legendary football stadium. What followed, was the stuff of real legends.

The weather was sunny and dry as the game kicked off, in front of 28,434 fans.

The first 10 minutes was all Brighton as we attacked the Leazes End, where our 2,000 plus fans were gathered. We were dominating, and suddenly from a left wing Williams’ corner, skipper Brian Horton snuck between the Newcastle defence to bullet a header into the net. (1-0 Albion).

With Rollings and Cattlin immense in defence, Horton running the midfield, and Peter Ward inspiring, Albion began bossing the game. A few minutes later Ward let Maybank in with a clear shot on goal, but Teddy shanked it wide.

That was the key for Newcastle to up their game, and they twice came close to an equaliser.

But they hadn’t counted on Peter Ward, whose sublime mazy run through their defence and a directed shot, which somehow managed to cross the goal line, doubled the lead. (2-0 Albion).

Our football was expansive as the rain started to team down.

It was end to end stuff, before Ward fired at goal and Gerry Ryan poked in the rebound from a Newcastle defender. (3-0 Albion).

But the Magpies were not about to give up and they began to put steady pressure on our goal before the half-time whistle blew.

We were almost there… just 45 minutes to make history.

The second half was rocky in comparison as Brighton nerves made their way around St James Park. But the clock was ticking and when Alan Shoulder pulled one back for Newcastle, it was too late for a comeback.

As the final whistle blew, the moment (and the game) was savoured. We went wild as our heroes in yellow ran towards us, manager Alan Mullery ran onto the pitch, hugged Horton and joined in the celebrations.

Tears flowed, voices shouted, cheers echoed, hugs were exchanged and smiles enveloped every face.

We were promoted to the top flight for the first time in our history!

But it had gone to the wire: with a game in hand, Palace won the title with 57 points, we were second on 56, just ahead of Stoke on goal difference and Sunderland fourth on 55 points.

After the game I tried to find Pete for a celebratory pint, but in the days before mobile phones, and amid thousands of cheering supporters, the task was impossible.

A few days later, he telephoned me at home to say; “Where were you afterwards? We were all waiting for you in The Strawberry!”

But later that sublime Saturday evening I arrived back at Pop’s home, to be greeted with a smile, a handshake, a “well done, lad” and a very large whisky.

Pop sadly passed away, two years later.

I will never forget him, or that day.

 

Fans United Will Never Be Defeated

AA Wrexham 3

Ken Richardson’s fire

Stoked the Doncaster ire

It only took a spark

To ignite his moment in the dark

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Bill Archer made a killing

From his crooked Goldstone shilling

But the battling Seagulls now fly

Under a blue and white sky

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Alex Hamilton’s wrecking ball

Swung the Racecourse call

As the evil ball came down

Wrexham’s fans saved their ground

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Roland Duchatelet’s sleight of hand

Unites the Valley stand

The fans now deal their own CARD

As they clear him from their yard

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Karl Oyston sues football fans for fun

But his regime is now undone

Under the famous Blackpool lights

Here come the Tangerine Knights

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

The numerological mystery of Seven Up

Numbers

THE late John Lennon was pre-occupied with the number nine and throughout his life it held an almost supernatural significance.

It was present at his birth, prevalent throughout his life and omnipresent at his death.

John was born at 6.30am on Wednesday 9 October and, although officially announced dead at 11.15pm in New York on 8 December, due to the time difference, it was actually 9 December in Liverpool, the place of his birth. The time of his birth, 6.30 also adds up to nine, as to the letters of Wednesday, the day of his birth.

Several of his songs reflected his interest in his favourite number: # 9 Dream, Revolution 9 and One After 909, the latter being written at 9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, his grandfather’s house where he was reared in his early years (Newcastle has nine letters, as does Liverpool).

As John once said: “I lived in 9 Newcastle Road, I was born on the 9th October. It’s just a number that follows me around, but, numerologically, apparently I am number six or three or something, but it’s all part of nine.”

  • Numerous events in his life took place on the 9th:
  • The Beatles played at the Cavern Club for the first time on 9 February
  • Brian Epstein saw the Beatles for the first time on 9 November
  • The Beatles played in the south of England for the first time on 9 December
  • The Beatles EMI contract was confirmed on 9 May
  • The Beatles made their Ed Sullivan Show debut on 9 February
  • John first met Yoko Ono on 9 November
  • John and Yoko’s son Sean was born on 9 October

Combinations of numbers that also added to 9 also intrigued him. He travelled on the No 72 bus to the art college. John and Yoko had an apartment on West 72nd Street and their original Dakota Buildings apartment was No 72. Other combinations that formed the number 9 and which added to his obsession were 18, 27 and 126.

When John was shot he was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital – on 9 Avenue (Roosevelt also has nine letters, as does Manhattan, the district in New York where he lived and died).

Bizarre coincidence, or something beyond our understanding?

I strangely share John Lennon’s strange fascination with numerology.

My personal number of fate is seven, and like John’s #9, this number has followed me all my life.

I was born at 7am on 1 February, as was my eldest daughter. My eldest son was born on 25th June (2+5=7) also at 7am!

The house where I was born was 7 Atkinson Drive, the next house was 17 New Barn Road and the next 17 Westway Close and so on.

When I left home to go to university my first hall of residence room was D27 and my first flat was 7 High Street.

But it is with specific years when the number 7 becomes of immense significance to me.

  • 1967: I started grammar school and also attended my first Brighton and Hove Albion football match – a passion which has stayed with me all my life.
  • 1977: I graduated from university, moved back to mum and dad, who lived at 52 North Road (5+2=7) and met my lifelong friend Jayne, who sadly died three years ago aged 57.
  • 1987: I narrowly missed being killed in a high speed crash on 7 September, then on 17 September was diagnosed with high grade malignant cancer of the right shoulder and on 27 September underwent radical surgery to remove the cancer before undergoing seven weeks of life-saving radiotherapy.
  • 1997: I lost my career and passion in national newspaper journalism… my last day at work in the job of my dreams at The Scotsman was 7 July.
  • 2007: At the start of the year my house was repossessed and I was penniless. Then later in the year was left minutes from death from a vicious assault on 7 September.

So what awaits me in 2017 … and to be frank, what is all this numerology about?

Maybe Chaos Theory has the answer?

Chaos Theory is about how complicated the world is and something which can only be understood through numbers.

The world is so complex that one small change, even a seemingly tiny insignificant change, has enormous consequences (The Butterfly Effect).

Imagine you typically catch a plane to go home at the weekend, but this time you decide to go by rail. On the train, you meet a person you end up falling in love with and marrying. What made you change your mind and go by rail? Who would you have married if you hadn’t have gone by rail?

Is there is a way to find order out of this chaos?

You can’t ignore chance, and are numbers determining our fate?

Numerology is any belief in the divine, mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events. It is also the study of the numerical value of the letters in words, names and ideas.

It is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts.

Pythagoras and other philosophers of the time believed that because mathematical concepts were more “practical” than physical ones, they had greater actuality.

St Augustine of Hippo (AD 354–430) wrote “Numbers are the Universal language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the truth.” Similar to Pythagoras, he too believed that everything had numerical relationships and it was up to the mind to seek and investigate the secrets of these relationships or have them revealed by divine grace.

I am a deist – I believe in some higher spiritual power, but exactly what that is, I have no idea.

Do you John Lennon, and shall I ring you on your usual number?

My own number begins 077 and ends in a 7!

 

Into the gutter with the Daily Mail

Daily Mail

THERE are only a few things in life I really hate, and one of them is the Daily Mail.

It is a poisonous rag which cloaks itself in the clothes of middle class decency while demeaning everything which is good.

And, as a journalist, I find its pretence at factual reporting frightening.

Its so-called news reeks of innuendo and loaded propaganda.

And its agenda is unwavering: preserve Conservative Britain from the rabid threat of Marxism, the Labour Party, Comrade Corbyn, trade unions, the unemployed and working people.

There are many reasons to despise the Daily Mail… its casual attitude towards the truth which it pretends to be both seeking; the way that minorities are ridiculed and blamed; how it randomly chooses which causes to back and which to dump; the way in which “outsiders”, such as recent immigrants are demonised and its gutter trawling for so-called “dirt” on anyone who stands in its way.

My own dealings with the Mail as a journalist were rather more obscure.

I would like to take you back to 1997.

I was at the pinnacle of my career working as the Chief Investigative Reporter for The Scotsman.

A whole world away from the Daily Mail.

In three years, I had broken a series of major exclusive investigations. Among the highlights were the dumping of millions of tons of munitions in the Irish Sea, the deadly legacy of the Dounreay experimental nuclear plant in Northern Scotland and a probable link between pesticides and BSE.

I had also been honoured with two back-to-back awards as Scottish Journalist of the Year and was in line for a third.

I loved my job and the collegiate atmosphere I worked in. I honestly believed I would spend the rest of my working life at North Bridge, with no aspirations other than to continue in my role.

But all that changed when in December 1996, our newspaper was surprisingly bought out by property billionaires and close friends of Margaret Thatcher: the Barclay Brothers.

With the new owners came a new Editor-in-Chief, the infamous Andrew Neil.

There was a corporate intake of breath as we all wondered for the future.

That intake turned into something approaching choking when our much loved editor, Jim Seaton, was placed on ‘gardening leave’ awaiting early retirement and a new editor Martin Clarke was announced.

We all winced… Clarke had trained under Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail and he was well known as a Rottweiler in the newsroom.

Clarke’s editorial demeanour attracted a range of tributes from former colleagues: “vile”, “offensive”, “appalling”, “obsessive”, “childlike” and “foul-mouthed” being among the less flattering.

Like Dacre, whose briefings were called “the vagina monologues” for their reliance on one particular expletive, Clarke went one better.

“He would start by saying, ‘You’re all a fucking disgrace and one of you is going to be fucking sacked this week,” and the terrible thing was, one of us usually was,” said Alexandra Blair, The Times educational correspondent, who worked for him for a year and a half at The Scotsman.

Another reporter who worked under Clarke said: “He once said to me: ‘You’ve got to go and shout at the bastards or they won’t respect you.'”

My stay under Clarke’s editorship was brief… just six months.

I moved on after being told to follow his own loaded agenda, which included one weird instruction to prove that wild deer being pursued by hounds are “no more stressed than a cow in a slaughterhouse”!

The final straw came in a bleak week, which began by Clarke blanking me at a press awards lunch after I had been highly commended as reporter of the year and finished by him standing over me at 10pm on a fourth rewrite of a story, berating my journalism as “fucking bollocks”.

I introduce a clipping of a piece written by Rob Brown in June 1997.

“Senior writers and sub-editors now find themselves being showered with expletives by their new editor Martin Clarke, whose lexicon of abuse is fairly extensive.

“Several executives have resigned in disgust. They included the picture editor Paul Dodds, who quit after being ordered to get better pictures from his “f***in’ monkeys”.

“Also out is associate editor Lesley Riddoch, who suddenly found her articles being repeatedly spiked.

“One of the journalists who has quit in disgust said: “I have worked for some brutal editors in my time, but Martin Clarke behaves like a feudal squire and treats his staff like serfs. Change was certainly needed at The Scotsman, but not this. He is running amok, creating a totally demoralised and demotivated staff.”

“But, put it to Clarke that he is pursuing a monstrous form of macho management and he professes his innocence with almost schoolboyish sense of hurt.

“Clarke, 32, says the complaints are emanating from only a couple of “malcontents”. Some people, he says, are driven by “personal pique because they never got a job they wanted”. Nic Outterside, head of the paper’s investigative unit, left last week. Clarke says the unit was disbanded because it was “a crock of shit”.

“Others, according to Clarke, have become “malcontents” simply because they cannot stand the new pace in the newsroom.

“I demand a greater level of working than perhaps some people are used to here and I can be robust at times, like all editors,” he says.

“Clarke confirms that he drew up a five-and-a-half page document a few weeks after he took charge recommending that a number of senior Scotsman staffers should be removed from their posts. This “operation review” leaked from the editor’s office into the newsroom, where it was seen as a sinister hit list. Clarke admits to some regrets about that.

“Of course it was bloody unfortunate, but you don’t expect to work in a place where such illegal activities take place. It was stolen from my computer. I’ve worked in some pretty rough newspapers, but nowhere where people are that underhand.”

At the time of writing this blog, Clarke is tipped to succeed Paul Dacre as the next editor of the Daily Mail.

And the art of being underhand is surely what the Mail is all about.

 

Words for Andrea

MY two year battle with cancer in 1987-88 changed me forever.

During that time I became close friends and soulmates with a fellow cancer patient named Andrea Price.

She was quite simply the most beautiful person who had ever come into my life. She tragically died in May 1990, aged just 23.

I often think about her, and how her life might have been if she had survived rather than me.

On the 27th anniversary of her passing, these poems – written at different times – try to address how I feel about her death all these years later.

More can be read about Andrea here.

 

Still Miss You (May 2017)

Twenty-seven years have passed

You were only twenty-three

You died

I cried

And I still miss you

 

Arrived a January baby

You died a May Queen

You inspired

I tired

And I still miss you

 

Your laughter is everlasting

Now you rest in a better place

I went on

But you are gone

And I still miss you

 

You would be 50 now my love

And giving so much joy

I lived

You died

And I still miss you

 

Gone Again (May 2016)

Twenty-six years are gone

Since we laughed out loud

At nonsense

We cried

You died

This is your song

 

One last breath, a whole life

A child born and scars torn

Love knot sealed and tied

Goddess cried, Goddess died

 

Twenty-six years are gone

Since I kissed your sweet cheek

Said farewell

We cried

You died

This is your song

 

One last breath, the sky is grey

The hungry earth, the empty hole

The velvet box is death’s own bed

Eve’s own kin is dead

 

Twenty-six years are gone

Since your soul passed away

To heaven

We cried

You died

This is your song

 

One last breath, a spirit shed

The heavens frown, an angel down

Spirit moaned, lick of flame

Grips the sky, she’s gone again

 

Twenty-six years are gone

Since we commended your body

To the ground

We cried

You died

This is your song

 

Pass in Time  (May 2015)

Whispering quietly

Watching the moon

Counting time slowly

Thinking of you

You were part of my life

And I am thankful for that

But your souls have crossed over

There’s no space for regret

Andrea, Father, Gillian, John

Betty and Stephen, Ramsay and Don

Once you were here

But now you are gone

 

Living life quickly

Dancing till dawn

Singing the chorus

Of each new born song

Fifty years onwards

Battle weary and tired

Now your souls have crossed over

My thoughts are hard wired

Andrea, Father, Gillian, John

Betty and Stephen, Ramsay and Don

Once you were here

But now you are gone

 

Darkness is falling

The water is high

The mist it is rising

And touching the sky

Life’s an adventure

But the road is too short

Since your souls have crossed over

The memories distort

Andrea, Father, Gillian, John

Betty and Stephen, Ramsay and Don

Once you were here

But now you are gone

 

Darkness (May 2014)

Death where is thy sting?

You came and took

Her away

And still you haunt me

In my darkest

Dreams

You sit like a cactus

At my window

In smothering

Stillness

In my darkest

Dreams

I wake in the night

Still crying

Cursing the name

Injustice

In my darkest

Dreams

You reach out darkly

And remember

It was you who died

Not me

In my darkest

Dreams

 

She’s Gone (May 2013)

I cupped her face in my hand

Gently

Surveyed her features with my eyes

Lovingly

Brushed her hair with my cheek

Sparingly

Tasted the sweetness of her lips

Deftly

Stroked the coldness of her hand

Sadly

Said goodbye

 

The tax exile millionaires who fund the Tory Party

Pounds

FOUR filthy-rich tax exiles and hedge fund managers are part of a shadowy cabal of multi-millionaire donors to the Conservative Party.

Their millions are the life blood behind the Tories and directs their fiscal policy to protect the super-rich at the expense of the rest of us.

And their millions are behind Mrs May’s snap General Election campaign.

In the 10 years to November 2016, the Tory Party received a staggering £247,426,722 in personal donations from some of the richest people in the world.

Top of these was a single donation of £2,990,582 in November 2001 from tax exile Lord Irvine Laidlaw.

Hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze was a short way behind with a donation of £1,503,500 in March 2014 and fellow hedge fund manager Sir Stanley Fink gave £1,080,500 in February 2009.

But they were all outdone by another tax exile David Rowland whose four single donations in 2009-10 totalled a staggering £3,774,000.

Small wonder that the Tories do not want regulation of the financial sector.

These figures only include those submitted to the Electoral Commission. We have no way of knowing whether these millionaires may or may not have also donated through other associated companies or agencies.

And until the Electoral Commission’s year-end figures are published, we have no way of knowing just how much they have donated this year.

Lord Irvine Laidlaw is a former Conservative member of the House of Lords and has long been one of the largest financial backers of the Tory Party.

Laidlaw was made a life peer as Baron Laidlaw of Rothiemay in 2004.

In 2008 he was described by The Guardian as a “Monaco-based tax exile”.

He was widely criticised in the press for failing to become UK tax resident despite being appointed to the House of Lords.

The BBC said that, in a letter seen by them, Laidlaw “cites a variety of personal reasons” for non-compliance.

Criticism by Baron Dennis Stevenson, chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, on assurances given to the Commission by Laidlaw to become a UK tax resident by April 2004, were followed by Laidlaw taking leave of absence from the House of Lords.

In 2010 following the enactment of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 he stepped down from his seat in the House of Lords to maintain his non-domiciled status and so be able to avoid paying UK residents’ taxes.

Sir Michael Hintze is a British-Australian businessman, steeped in the financial services industry having worked for Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

In 1999 he launched his own hedge fund company, CQS and has been cited as one of the highest paid people in the City of London.

In 2013, Hintze’s CQS received awards for the “Best Hedge Fund Manager Overall,” “Best Hedge Fund Manager in Credit,” and “Best Multi-Hedge Fund Manager” at the Financial News Awards for Excellence in Institutional Hedge Fund Management.

In 2006, at the time of the Cash for Peerages allegations Hintze voluntarily revealed he was one of the previously anonymous patrons who had made loans to the Conservative Party.

His known loans and donations to the party total around £4million.

In the five months to September 2011 he donated £31,000, enough to grant him membership of the Conservative Treasurers’ Group, the second highest rung on the party’s donor’s ladder, which allows its members access to senior Conservative figures through a series of lunches, receptions and campaign launches.

In October 2011, it was revealed that Adam Werritty, a close friend and business associate of then Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox MP, was provided with a free desk by Hintze at CQS’s London base as part of his £29,000 donation to Fox’s charity Atlantic Bridge.

Hintze also supplied a private jet for Fox and Werritty to fly from the United States to London in May 2011.

These disclosures led to the resignation of Liam Fox and the dismissal of Hintze’s then-charity adviser, Oliver Hylton

Sir Stanley Fink is another hedge fund manager and the former CEO and deputy chairman of the Man Group.

He has been described as the “godfather” of the UK hedge fund industry and has been credited with building the Man Group up to its current status as a FTSE 100 company and the largest listed hedge fund company in the world.

In September 2008, he came out of retirement to act as the chief executive of International Standard Asset Management (ISAM) in a partnership with Lord Levy.

In January 2009 he was appointed co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

On 18 January 2011, he was made a life peer, taking the title of Baron Fink of Northwood.

After the resignation of Peter Cruddas over a cash-for-access controversy, Lord Fink returned to the position of treasurer of the Conservative Party. Fink previously donated £2.62milllion to the Tories.

In February 2015 Fink was accused by Labour leader Ed Miliband as having undertaken “tax avoidance activities”.

He responded by stating that he had indeed avoided tax but stated “everyone does tax avoidance at some level”.

David Rowland is a UK property developer who has made a fortune in banking.

In 2009, Kaupthing Bank, affected by the global liquidity squeeze was divided into two entities, a ‘good, healthy’ bank and a ‘bad’ bank.

David Rowland and his son Jonathan, via their investment company Blackfish Capital, acquired and recapitalized the former and now manage the assets, on behalf of the interbank creditors, of the latter.

In the year before the 2010 General Election, Rowland donated £2.8million to the Conservative Party, making him the party’s major donor.

In 2010 he was announced as being the next Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

But following public criticism of his former status as a tax exile, Rowland resigned before taking the position.

Rowland had lived in Guernsey, but returned to full United Kingdom residency in order to make more donations to the Conservatives.

But these four millionaire donors are just the tip of a much darker side of the financing of the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party’s close links with the hedge fund industry, coincides with research which shows that around half of the wealthiest fund managers in Britain have given money to the Tory party.

The based on public disclosures, finds that of the 59 wealthiest asset managers, 27 had made a combined £19million in donations to the Conservatives, with £10million flowing into Tory coffers since the 2010 general election alone.

Labour has previously drawn attention to the government’s abolition in 2013 of a stamp duty reserve tax on investment funds, which it described as an effective £145million “hedge fund tax cut”.

Labour claimed the hedge fund loophole had cost the country £100million a year over a five year period, and others have put the figure higher.

A similar analysis in the Financial Times found that the number of City backers for the Tories doubled during the last parliament compared with the period 2005 to 2010.

The FT found that 35% of all party funding comes from eight of the top 20 donors.

The eight are all from a City background and donated £12.2million to the Conservatives.

The Conservative Party’s top 10 funders:

1 Michael Farmer

Hedge fund: RK Capital Management

Worth: £150million

Total donation: £6,556,092

2 Sir Michael Hintze

Hedge fund: CQS

Worth: £1,055million

Total donation: 3,221,027

3 Lord Fink

Hedge fund: ISAM

Worth: £130million

Total donation: £3,172,007

4 Chris Rokos

Hedge fund: Brevan Howard

Worth: £230million

Total donation: £1,344,850

5 Andrew Law

Hedge fund: Caxton Associates

Worth: £350million

Total donation: £1,226,411

6 Sir Paul Ruddock

Hedge fund: Lansdowne Partners

Worth: £300million

Total donation: £818,783

7 David Harding

Hedge fund: Winton Capital

Worth: £750million

Total donation: £593,765

8 Hugh Sloane

Hedge fund: Sloane Robinson

Worth: £185million

Total donation: £533,500

9 Sir John and Peter Beckwith

Hedge fund: RiverCrest Capital

Worth: £350million

Total donation: £520,996

10 Alexander Knaster

Hedge fund: Pamplona Capital Management

Worth: £1,266million

Total donation: £400,000