Tory donors go on strike... Perhaps Sunak should dip into his own pockets?

Follow the money, the saying goes. 

But the money isn't following the Conservative Party in this election campaign. Tory donors are on strike.

The Conservatives are not only being massively outgunned financially by Labour, but also by Reform UK and the Liberal Democrats, according to new figures.

Election latest: More bad news for Tory campaign

The slump in donations, compared with the millions pouring into Tory coffers during Boris Johnson's 2019 campaign, suggests massive disillusionment in Rishi Sunak among Tory tycoons and millionaires.

Why throw good money after bad? That's a question the Conservatives' former big money donors must be asking themselves with Mr Sunak's campaign appearing to lurch from one crisis to another.

And the party's dismal showing in opinion polls, along with blunders like the prime minister's D-Day fiasco and now a scandal over insiders accused of betting on the election date, suggest the funding gap will get even worse.

The latest figures from the Electoral Commission, generally a fairly toothless watchdog, are the first since Mr Sunak's calamitous snub to D-Day veterans and also confirm that Nigel Farage's comeback has boosted Reform UK's finances.

The figures are staggering

Usually, league tables of donations to political parties put the Tories way out in front. Not this time. Donations between 6 and 12 June reveal the Conservatives are in fourth place. That's relegation form.

In that week, Labour received a breathtaking £4,383,400, largely due to a £2.5m cheque from Lord Sainsbury of the supermarket dynasty. That means £5.3m in donations rolled in during the first two weeks of the campaign.

A big Blairite, Lord Sainsbury is a long-time donor who stopped giving when Jeremy Corbyn was leader. But now he's back. Big time. Labour's other big donor, Autoglass windscreens tycoon Gary Lubner, gave £900,000.

At election time, the general secretaries of the big trade unions usually get their cheque book out and hand over six or seven-figure sums. But between 6-12 June the only union donation was £100,000 from the train drivers' union Aslef.

That means Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party is relying more now on millionaires than union barons for its election fighting fund. The Labour leader says the party's changed. Well, this is certainly a very significant change.

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But at what price? Are the millionaire donors buying influence on Labour's tax policy: capital gains tax, wealth taxes and so on? And what will the tycoons' millions mean for Angela Rayner's workers' rights proposals?

The Conservatives' election war chest, meanwhile, is almost bare and their finances as dire as their opinion poll ratings: just £292,500 in 6-12 June and only £882,000 in donations in the first two weeks of the campaign.

The resurgent Reform UK raised £742,000 in donations, largely from two £250,000 donations from a company called Britain Means Business, which just happens to be run by Richard Tice, the former leader.

Mr Tice may have been elbowed aside by Mr Farage, who's replaced him as leader, but he's still personally bankrolling the party, which claims to have received £1.5m since Mr Farage bounced back.

Reform UK has also benefitted from a showbiz donation from celebrity supporter Holly Vukadinovic - the pop star and former Neighbours actor Holly Valance - who had a hit with Kiss Kiss and donated 50,000 smackers.

Even the Liberal Democrats, with £335,000, received more than the Conservatives, including £100,000 in the will of late party donor and former lawyer John Faulkner. That should pay for more silly Sir Ed Davey stunts.

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But for Mr Sunak, facing a donors' strike, perhaps he should tap up his millionaire heiress wife Akshata Murty. Between them, according to The Sunday Times rich list, they're worth £651m, more than the King.

Or perhaps not. What was that about throwing good money after bad?