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Labour Trails Conservatives in Donations With Election in Sight

(Bloomberg) -- The UK’s poll-leading Labour Party said 2023 was its “best fund-raising year ever,” even as it trailed the governing Conservative Party in the latest figures published by the Electoral Commission.

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Rishi Sunak’s Tories got £48 million from donors, the data showed, compared with £31 million for Labour. Still, Keir Starmer’s party, which leads by about 20 points in national polls ahead of a general election expected in the second half of the year, received £13 million from individual donors — a record.

Still, the biggest donations went to the Tories, led by £10 million left to the party in supermarket tycoon John Sainsbury’s will.

“This is an election funded by the super-rich, without historic precedent,” said Steve Goodrich, Transparency International’s head of research and investigations and a former senior policy adviser at the Electoral Commission.

Labour’s figure included the £1 million from Ecotricity, the clean energy company founded by Dale Vince, which was the biggest single donation from a company in the party’s history. Sunak’s party has tried to gain political capital from Vince’s links to Labour, as the prime minister tries to win over voters skeptical about environmental policies and efforts to tackle climate change.

For Labour, it was the first year in which donations from companies and individual donors outstripped those from labor unions.

Still, Goodrich pointed out that the figures did not include smaller donations, given the Electoral Commission only requires parties to report those over £1,500 to local party branches, or over £7,500 to political parties directly.

“We’re only seeing half the picture,” Goodrich said. “Labour is historically better at large numbers of small donations.”

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