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

 

Manifesto: the General Election choice is simple

Choice blog

NEXT month’s General Election is a pivotal moment and will change our country for a generation and beyond.

The choice is simple.

We have the “strong and unstable” Tories who are hell bent on turning our country into a Little Britain for the powerful and rich and let the devil take the hindmost for the rest of us.

Or we have a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government dedicated to serving and helping the “many and not the few”.

If we, the electorate make the wrong choice, I fear deeply for our collective futures.

For decades our country has been sleep walking into a world of personal greed, arrogance and self-importance with totems such as million pound homes, winner takes all, designer clothes labels and reverence to the aristocracy.

Human kindness, gentleness, peace, society and social justice were jettisoned for a winner takes all mentality and a scapegoating of the homeless, those claiming benefits, the disabled, Muslims, asylum seekers and the poor in general.

Once again, the choice is simple.

We must not again elect a UK government compiled of self-seeking rich Tory elitists who care more about their mansions and banking friends than about people.

And their shopping list for change is truly terrifying.

Over the next few years an unshackled Theresa May Conservative government will:

  • Bungle a Hard Brexit in which we will lose all the social and economic benefits and safeguards we have collectively fought so hard to preserve for the past 45 years.
  • Rip up the Human Rights Act, which underpins our legal system and protects all our basic freedoms and those of persecuted minorities.
  • Spend £200billion on replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons, which at the push of a button could wipe out millions of lives and pollute our planet for tens of thousands of years.
  • Make £12.8billion of cuts to welfare, leaving the poorest, the oldest and the weakest in our society facing the bleakest of futures. In turn this will ensure the need for a food bank in every town and extend child poverty ensuring suffering and a loss of opportunity for millions.
  • Begin a phased end to council housing, thus pushing up rents in the private sector and making families homeless. Once again – as under Thatcher – we are already seeing a surge in rough sleeping and begging.
  • Will enact tougher sanctions on migrants and refugees whether from Europe or beyond.
  • Involve the UK in further illegal wars in the Middle East and trigger an increase in racism and Islamophobia.
  • Back a return of the barbaric blood sports of fox hunting and deer coursing.
  • Extend zero hours contracts, thus massaging the unemployment figures and leaving thousands of the poorest people without any job security.
  • Legislate for more private schools and academies which will imbed the class system even deeper in our society, rather focus on improving our state schooling system.
  • Escalate and accelerate the privatisation of the NHS, so medical care will depend on wealth and power rather than need.
  • Then redraw constituency boundaries so these same corrupt capitalist elitists stay in power for another 20 more years.

But under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is offering a real and radical alternative which gives renewed hope of a better future.

Over the past two years this gentle political firebrand has packed out meetings and hustings the length and breadth of this country with his simple messages of fairness, compassion and change

His messages have caught the hearts and minds of millions.

Now those messages are wrapped up in Labour’s pledges for this General Election and will be spelt out fully in the party’s manifesto, which will be launched next week.

Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 Pledges to Rebuild and Transform Britain are quite simply breath-taking and wonderful:

  1. Full Employment – a publicly-owned National Investment Bank and regional banks will back up £500bn of investment across energy, transport and housing.
  2. A Secure Homes Guarantee – over a million new homes in five years will be built, with at least half a million council homes, through its public investment strategy.
  3. Security at work – people will have stronger employment rights “from day one in a job”, an end to “exploitative zero hours contracts”, repeal the Trade Union Act and the creation of new sectoral collective bargaining rights. Ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when people are played off against each other.
  4. A secure NHS and social care – an end to any NHS services being outsourced to private health providers.
  5. A National Education Service – universal childcare to give all children a good start in life, allowing greater sharing of caring responsibilities and removing barriers to women participating in the labour market.
  6. Action to secure our environment – an expansion of green industries, using the National Investment Bank to invest in public and community-owned renewable energy.
  7. Put the public back into our economy – people will have “a real say in their local communities with increased local and regional democracy”.
  8. Cut inequality in income and wealth – the tax system will become “more progressive” so higher earners are “fairly taxed” and people on lower incomes will have their pay boosted through a higher minimum wage of £10 an hour.
  9. Action to secure an equal society – Labour will take action to tackle violence against women and girls, racism and discrimination on the basis of faith, and secure real equality for LGBT and disabled people.
  10. Peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy – human rights and social justice will be built into trade policy, while international treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament will be honoured as it encourages others to do the same.

A brave new world indeed, and those Corbyn led Labour pledges are forever true.

Fairness, compassion and equality can finally overturn the scourge of capitalist greed.

Hope is renewed.

The choice is simple: vote Labour.

 

Celebrities flock to provide new Red Wedge for Corbyn

celebsblog

THE right wing press loves to depict Jeremy Corbyn as a dour, out-of-touch “retired geography teacher” who is more at home pottering on his allotment than connecting with real people.

Oh, how wrong they are!

Corbyn’s leadership election campaigns in 2015 and 2016 gave the electorate a glimpse of the man’s universal appeal.

And anyone who has met him or heard him speak publicly, will attest to the 67-year-old’s contagious charisma and genuine human warmth.

Small wonder therefore, that celebrities from the world of acting, music, sport, and elsewhere, are flocking to support him in his bid to become the UK’s next Prime Minister.

An unlikely quartet of multi-millionaire snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan, Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, Welsh diva Charlotte Church and the Modfather himself, Paul Weller, are leading a 21st Century Red Wedge for Corbyn.

This new Wedge kicked off last December with the hugely successful Concert for Corbyn at Brighton’s famous Dome auditorium.

The People Powered concert was a real return to the days of Red Wedge and Rock Against Racism, when musicians publicly stood up for political causes.

In the case of Red Wedge, a collective of musicians spearheaded by Paul Weller, Jimmy Somerville and Billy Bragg, the aim was to support the left leaning Labour Party of Neil Kinnock in their battle against Margaret Thatcher and her far right Conservative government.

Red Wedge was launched in November 1985, with Bragg, Weller, Strawberry Switchblade and Kirsty MacColl invited to a reception at the Palace of Westminster hosted by Labour MP Robin Cook.

Red Wedge was not officially part of the Labour Party, but it did initially have office space at Labour’s headquarters.

And it organised a number of major tours.

The first, in January and February 1986, featured Bragg, Weller’s band The Style Council, The Communards, Junior Giscombe, Lorna Gee and Jerry Dammers, and picked up guest appearances from Madness, The The, Heaven 17, Bananarama, Prefab Sprout, Elvis Costello, Gary Kemp, Tom Robinson, Sade, The Beat, Lloyd Cole, The Blow Monkeys, Joolz and The Smiths.

It was mind-blowing in its style and political swagger – particularly with under 25 electorate.

But after the 1987 election produced a third consecutive Conservative victory, many of the musical collective drifted away and Red Wedge was formally disbanded in 1990.

Billy Bragg remembers the days clearly: “I suppose the Wedge came about because we all kept meeting at benefit gigs for Nicaragua or whatever. Those were the darkest days of the Thatcherite 80s, as well. There was a feeling that something had to be done.”

Paul Weller added: “The MPs we’d meet around the country were more showbiz than the groups. It was an eye-opener; it brought me full circle in how I feel about politics. It’s a game. I’ve very little interest in it. I’m not talking about what’s happening to our planet or our country, but about organised politics.”

But the last few years have seen an upsurge in radicalism in both music and politics as the economic conditions for the poorest in particular reach crisis point.

Now the people are hand-in-hand with celebrities speaking their minds about Theresa May, the Conservative government, austerity, homelessness, the NHS and the greater Establishment.

Last December’s Concert for Corbyn was organised by music journalist Lois Wilson and the Brighton branch of Momentum; and it persuaded Paul Weller, to take part in his first direct support of a politician since the days of Red Wedge.

The Dome was sold-out and the organisers smartly utilised both the bar area and main auditorium for a ‘revue’ type affair.

Edgar Summertyme Jones and Kathyrn Williams played to an enthralled bar; and later Ghetto Priest and his band delivered one of the sets of the evening; a superb concoction of dub, grime, percussive African-fusion, and rock, that had the audience tapping away, many with big smiles on their faces.

With many bands to get through and short turnarounds, there was very little time to relax before the quirky three-piece all-girl band Stealing Sheep took to the stage in fetching polka dot onesies.

Guitars dominated concert hall proceedings, beginning with The Coral founder Bill Ryder-Jones, who claimed on stage that he personally got the call from JC to appear.

Paul Weller, ever the rebel, puffed on a cigarette beside the stage, ready to go on with a collection of musician friends, put together for this occasion, including an exceedingly rare live gig for the wheelchair-bound Robert Wyatt.

He, Weller and Steve Pilgrim alternated songs, based around keys, guitars, drums and the double bass of the legendary Danny Thompson.

A personal highlight was Steve Pilgrim dedicating his anthem Explode the Sun directly to Jeremy Corbyn.

Meanwhile, Wyatt, like Weller, opted for a series of lesser known songs, such as Mass Medium, which originally appeared on his 1985 Old Rottenhat album, a song that Wyatt introduced saying the whole press had turned into gutter press.

Jeremy Corbyn followed them on stage and delivered a short speech; a mix of his politics and the importance of music in general.

The final words were left for The Farm front man Peter Hooton who said if he had to plant a flag in a field, he would want Corbyn on his side.

Prior to playing the Dome gig in December 2016, Weller said: “When Red Wedge came to an end I said I would never get involved in party politics again.

“’I’m doing the gig because I like what Corbyn says and stands for. I think it’s time to take the power out of the hands of the elite and hand it back to the people of this country. I want to see a government that has some integrity and compassion.”

Billy Bragg is with Weller on this.

Last August (during Corbyn’s second successful leadership campaign) he accused the Murdoch owned Times of twisting his words in a report claiming he thought Jeremy Corbyn was unable to reach enough of the electorate to become an effective political force.

In response to the Times article Bragg said he had “joined the long list of people stitched up by the Murdoch papers”.

“Don’t believe the bullshit about me in the Times,” he said, “I’m still supporting Corbyn.”

He then urged his followers to “stay calm”, adding, “don’t let Murdoch sow discord”.

He later said: “I’m a socialist which means my glass is half full. I’m encouraged by the young people being mobilised.”

But while the support of veterans, Weller, Wyatt, Bragg and award-winning film producer Ken Loach may be taken for granted, it is the new celebrity supporters who have caught the eye.

Snooker superstar Ronnie O’Sullivan has been positively verbose on Twitter about his support for Corbyn.

Recent Tweets include:

“I love paying tax. As long as it goes to the right people who need it, like the NHS and education”

And taking a swipe at Donald Trump and the Tories he tweeted: “Everyone should boycott the USA and any other country. Also the bankers who stole the tax payers’ dosh for fiddling the books.”

Ronnie Blog

In an interview last month with the Daily Mirror, O’Sullivan said people should give Jeremy Corbyn a break.

“Jeremy Corbyn is a man of his word,” he added. “He is unwavering in his beliefs whether he is criticised for them or not. I’d like to be his friend.”

And step forth Harry Potter to lend some magical support for Corbyn.

Actor Daniel Radcliffe energetically praised the Labour leader saying it was “just so nice to have people excited about somebody.”

“It seems to be more or less because they are excited about sincerity,” he said. “I think we all suddenly realised that we are so used to politicians lying. Even when they are being sincere, it feels so scripted that it is hard to get behind them.”

Singer and activist Charlotte Church is a well-known Labour supporter and is also 100% behind Jeremy Corbyn.

She called Corbyn: “A cool-headed, honest, considerate man”.

In a post on her blog, she said: “He is one of the only politicians of note that seems to truly recognise the dire inequality that exists in this country today and actually have a problem with it. There is something inherently virtuous about him, and that is a quality that can rally the support of a lot of people, and most importantly, a lot of young people.”

Shia LaBeouf, the actor from the universally acclaimed Transformers films normally delivers lines such as: “Not so tough without a head, are you?”

But for Corbyn, LaBeuf speaks plainly: “I like Jeremy Corbyn. I like him in every way.”

Former Roxy Music keyboardist Brian Eno wrote a whole opinion piece in the Guardian on his support for Corbyn, saying the Labour leader has spent many years sticking to his principles.

“He’s been doing this with courage and integrity and with very little publicity,” Eno said.

“This already distinguishes him from at least half the people in Westminster, whose strongest motivation seems to have been to get elected, whatever it takes.”

Turner prize winning artist Grayson Perry he would back Jeremy Corbyn, as he was “doing something interesting for the political debate.”

“I think he’s gold,” he added.

Comedian Josie Long has shown her support for Corbyn from the start of his 2015 leadership campaign.

“I think people are voting for Jeremy Corbyn because they like and are excited by him,” she said.

“There is so much excitement and so many people are desperate to get involved in a positive way.”

Pop star Lily Allen, is also an ardent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, and has worked hard to highlight the plight of the refugees.

She strongly supported Mr Corbyn’s campaign to remain Labour leader in 2016, stating: “He seems to be the only dignified person in Westminster.”

At a Corbyn rally in Manchester, former Corrie star Julie Hesmondhalgh said she’d left Labour after it “parted company with its principles”, but that recently she’d “started to smell something that smelled like hope”.

She spoke at the event, telling supporters: “Welcome to the vibrant, mass movement of giving a toss about stuff.”

And Maxine Peake, star of Channel 4 drama Shameless, and The Theory of Everything, wrote in The Morning Star, that Corbyn has put Labour “back on track”.

“He has inspired a movement of young and old to fight for education, health, welfare, peace and justice and we will quickly organise and mobilise ourselves in his support”.

But let’s leave the final words to three veteran celebrities

Pink Floyd guitarist Roger Waters has nailed his colours firmly to the Corbyn mast.

“I think it is fabulous that somebody has risen to the surface who could describe themselves as being heir to Aneurin Bevan or Tony Benn or Michael Foot or one of the genuine left wing Labour Party leaders,” he said in a BBC interview, before almost vomiting the word “Blair”!

Celebrated playwright Alan Bennett – the man behind The History Boys – said he “very much approves” of Corbyn.

“I approve of him. If only because it brings Labour back to what they ought to be thinking about,” he said.

And Star Trek’s captain Jean-Luc Picard (actor Patrick Stewart) believes Corbyn can “Make It So” for a Labour victory in the General Election.

“I think that Jeremy Corbyn has begun to find a voice that’s clearly authentic and passionate,” he states with conviction.

“I’m beginning to have a feeling that there’s a route for Labour that might be very exciting for the country. I carried a placard for the first election after the war in 1945, when Clement Attlee got in, and those principles remain my principles.”

Jeremy Corbyn: unfashionable and out-of-touch?

Think again!

  • Further Concerts for Corbyn were planned for Liverpool and Manchester this summer, but Theresa May’s ‘snap’ General Election has delayed those gigs, at least for the time being.