Braintree Tories' major cash boost

MORE than £20,000 in corporate and individual donations was given to Braintree Conservatives in the first quarter of the year towards the successful campaign of Brooks Newmark to unseat sitting Labour MP Alan Hurst, accounts published by the Electoral Commission revealed last night.

By Graham Dines

MORE than £20,000 in corporate and individual donations was given to Braintree Conservatives in the first quarter of the year towards the successful campaign of Brooks Newmark to unseat sitting Labour MP Alan Hurst, accounts published by the Electoral Commission revealed last night.

Of this, £13,406.20 was received from former national party treasurer Lord Ashcroft via his firm Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd.

The peer, who gave a total of £250,000 to candidates in 33 marginal constituencies in the run-up to the poll, also donated £3,198 to help the successful Tory campaign in Harwich, where Douglas Carswell unseated Labour's Ivan Henderson in May 5's General Election.


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The published figures cover only the first three months of the year and Lord Ashcroft is estimated to have funded three-quarters of the Conservatives who took seats on May 5. The peer rejoined the party's governing board last week - despite reports of an election rift with leader Michael Howard.

Accounts lodged with the Electoral Commission show that in addition to the Ashcroft cash, Braintree Tories received corporate donations of £2,000 from Red Fig Ltd of London SW8, and £3,000 from the United and Cecil Club of Queen Anne Street in Westminster.

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Individual registered donations were £4,000 from Michael Lewis and £1,050 from Jonathan O. Parker.

The Labour campaign in Braintree during the same period received donations of £1,500 and £1,000 from Braintree Labour Club of Collingwood Road, Witham.

Lord Ashcroft gave £7,000 to the Suffolk West constituency of Richard Spring, which also received £5,000 from Malabar Capital Ltd of London W1 and an individual donation of £2,000 from Piers J Pottinger.

An individual donation of £1,100 was received by Waveney Tories from Bernard H Reader, while North Essex Tories received individual donations from Eric Wright (£6,000) and John M Jenkins (£1,500)

In all, the Tories received £8,050,707 during this "phoney war" period.

Labour managed £9,144,704 but that included £2 million from science minister and former supermarket boss Lord Sainsbury, bringing his total contribution to Labour's coffers to £13.5m since 1996.

Liberal Democrats received £4,164,971 in cash and gifts over the same three months, the party's best period of fund-raising. More than half of the cash came in four donations from finance company 5th Avenue Partners, which gave £2,419,064.

Other large donations included £290,000 from City fund managers Carrousel Capital, £250,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd and £10,000 from former BBC director general Greg Dyke.

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