Dozens of leading Tory donors have been given honours after donating huge sums of money to the Conservative party, an investigation has revealed.
The party was accused of “cronyism” and faced calls for a probe after an analysis by the OpenDemocracy website found that one in five people in the elite Tory “Leader’s Group” had benefited from gongs such as peerages and knighthoods.
In all, 36 out of 200 members of the group – membership of which costs a recurring donation of £50,000 a year to join – appear to have benefited after making large donations.
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Major Tory donors who were appointed to the Lords include hedge fund manager Michael Farmer, who donated more than £6.4m to the party since 2010. Others given seats in the legislature are City financiers James Lupton (who donated £3.3m) and Alexander Andrew Fraser (who gave £3m), as well as recruitment tycoon David Brownlow. Aeronautics millionaire Michael Bishop and Next chief Simon Wolfston were also made life peers.
The Leader’s Group has raised £130m for the party in the last decade.
One illuminating exchange, which took place at the birthday celebration of Tory donor Rami Ranger at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in July 2017, appears to shed light on the mentality of some of those in attendance with regards to peerages.
At the party, attended by cabinet ministers such as Sajid Javid and David Gauke, Conservative business minister Richard Harrington read out a letter from then prime minister Theresa May praising Mr Ranger.
The next speaker, crossbench peer Lord Paul chimed in: “The only thing which I can’t understand, with all Rami has done, for Britain, for India, and for the world, [is] why we are waiting so long to have him as a colleague with us in the House of Lords. Maybe the minister can take that message, that instead of a letter, we need the peerage for Rami!”
Another crossbench peer Lord Bilimoria, who has himself previously donated to the Tories, added: “You have reached the age of 70… 70 also happens to be the average age of a member of the House of Lords. The stars are aligned, Rami Ranger, Lord Ranger, we await, your seat awaits you!”
Lord Ranger was made a peer in September. He told publication India Today at the time that Theresa May “gave me the peerage to make sure that I support the party”.
Labour’s Jon Trickett said: “Under the Tories, the honours system has become a way for politicians to reward establishment cronies and repay favours.
“Instead of honouring the already super wealthy and well connected, we should be recognising the people who truly make our communities better. A Labour government will clean up politics so it works for the many, not just a privileged few.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson told The Independent: “Party donations do not play any part in the honours selection process.”