Progress, Labour’s Blairite party-within-a-party, has now raised over £2.8million to fund its activities. Its annual income is now well in excess of the maximum ever achieved by the Militant tendency (which raised £283,818 in 1986 according to its published fighting fund totals) and it doesn’t finance the production of a weekly newspaper. Although it is understood that Ed Miliband has privately urged Progress to avoid factional activity within the party, they continue to promote candidates for internal party elections and to provide training for their supporters in parliamentary selections.
At present, Progress offer superficial support to Labour’s leader, and is careful to invite some MPs who backed him in the leadership campaign to participate in their events. However, few can doubt where Progress would stand should Ed experience another period of bad media coverage like that to which he was subjected prior to the riots and phone hacking scandal.
|Progress Donors||Total Donation|
|Lord David Sainsbury||£1,827,500|
|Lord Michael Montague||£875,500|
|Sir Frank Lowe||£50,000|
|British Retail Consortium||£6,511|
|Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd||£5,875|
|Lord Patrick Carter||£5,000|
(Source: The Electoral Commission)
The principal Progress patron is Lord David Sainsbury who has been a donor since April 2004 and continues to fund Progress at the rate of £260,000 a year. His donations of over £8.4million to the Labour Party stopped when Ed Miliband became leader. Lord Sainsbury took over financing Progress when funding from a trust set up by industrialist Lord Michael Montague dried up.
In addition to their funding of Progress, Ad-man Sir Frank Lowe had given £300,000 to the Labour Party while Tony Blair was leader, and Lord Bhattachaya, an engineer and academic, gave it £400,000. Lord Patrick Carter founded and ran private health care provider Westminster Health Care and was made a peer by Tony Blair. Of all the donors, Jon Mendelsohn is the only one who could be better described as a Brownite rather than a Blairite.
In examining Progress funding, it is important also to link it to Movement for Change, the “community organising” outfit created under the auspices of David Miliband’s leadership campaign. It too is funded by Lord Sainsbury, and has received £225,000 so far this year in addition to funds channeled through the David Miliband leadership campaign.
Although Ed Miliband agreed to his brother’s request to back the Movement for Change, it continues to work very closely with Progress and be run entirely by backers of David Miliband’s leadership bid, including Blair McDougall, national director and James Purnell’s former special advisor.
In spite of the association with now disgraced Maurice Glasman, ex-Blue Labour guru who is no longer a frequent visitor to the Leader’s office, the objectives of Movement for Change seem politically neutral. However, it is hard not to see the enthusiastic and evangelical young people by whom we were accosted when entering last year’s party conference as a bunch of Midwich cuckoos, being groomed to become the next generation of Blairite clones in the parliamentary Labour Party.
(See this for information on Bell Pottinger’s sponsorship of Progress)