The Tory Party’s ‘friends with benefits’ give lie to G...

The Tory Party’s ‘friends with benefits’ give lie to Grant Shapps’ membership spin

28 September 2014

Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, has dismissed Grant Shapps’ use of ‘friends’ to artificially boost Tory membership, by revealing the hedge fund donors - the Tory’s true friends with benefits - who have stood to gain from government policies.

Later today Grant Shapps is expected to announce an increase in Tory Party membership'; however, this number is inflated by using a ‘wider measure’ to include ‘friends’ of the party as well as student society members. Figures from the Electoral Commission reveal that in reality the only ‘friends’ who benefit from Tory polices are hedge fund bosses and Tory donors, which have raked in profits from tax cuts, the sell-off of our NHS and subsidies to shale gas fracking.

Len McCluskey Unite general secretary said:

“Tory party membership is in terminal decline and so Shapps is forced to use so-called ‘friends’ to boost the figures. The Tory’s true friends with benefits are the hedge fund managers filling Conservative coffers.

“It seems no coincidence that many Tory polices, from the sell-off of our NHS to tax cuts for fracking, benefit the hedge funds. We should never forget that the Conservatives govern on behalf of the millionaires, not the millions.

“Unite, which represents over 1.4 million members, continues to fight for the interests of all working people – by campaigning for a living wage, the abolition of zero-hour contracts and, most importantly, an end to the Tory’s sell-off of our National Health Service.”

Beneficiaries of Tory policies include Michael Hintze, who has donated more than £1,700,000 to the Conservatives since 2010. Hedge fund bosses like Hintze, benefited from the abolition of stamp duty reserve tax in George Osborne’s 2013 budget, which saves hedge funds an estimated total of £145 million a year.

Hedge fund bosses Paul Ruddock, Sir Martyn Arbib, Robin Crispin Odey and Michael Platt have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds between them since 2010. Together they own the controlling share of Circle, one of the largest private health firms to take advantage of the Tory’s Health and Social Care Act. Aside from taking over the first fully privatised NHS hospital, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, Circle have won a £120 million contract to provide musculoskeletal services in Bedfordshire.

In 2013, Osborne announced a 50 per cent tax break for the fracking industry. One man who stood to benefit was Tory donor Howard Shore. Shore Capital is the broker and adviser to fracking company Union Jack. Another firm about to make its fracking debut is the BG Group. Australian oil giant Dart Energy owns a 49 per cent share in BG and is a former client of Crosby-Textor, the lobbying firm founded by David Cameron’s election strategist, Lynton Crosby.
Hedge Fund Boss Donations Since 2010       
Michael Hintz - £1,792,450       
Alexander Knaster - £400,000       
Howard Shore - £543,427.00       
Robin Crispin-Odey - £94.000.00       
Paul Ruddock - £340,801.00       
Martyn Arbib - £206,600.00       
Michael Platt - £125,000.00       
Source: Electoral Commission 25/09/2014        


For further information please contact Pauline Doyle on 07976 832861 or Niall Sookoo on 07768 931287.

Notes to editors:

All figures are sourced from the Electoral Commission
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

Twitter: @unitetheunion
Facebook: unitetheunion1