Who wants a Tory babygro for Christmas?

Last-minute (and disastrous) gift ideas from the political parties

I wonder who buys these things. There must be someone, right now, walking around wearing a T-shirt with the slogan Big Government = Big Problems on it. That's a Tory one, obviously. As is the slightly more direct: "Release Your Inner Tory" T-shirt, which appears to depict a lock and chains exploding as said "Inner Tory" bursts out of the stomach of the unsuspecting wearer. It's like something out of Alien.

Other gift ideas from the Conservative Party include the Tea for Change mug, the delightful "Bye Bye Bureaucracy" poster, and the must-have Blue is the New Green bag. And then, of course, there's the babygro with "Future Prime Minister" printed on it in bright green capitals. Perhaps this is an unwitting reference to the youthful looks of Cameron and Osborne. Or maybe they're thinking that even Cameron isn't young enough and they should start pitching to the über-youth market NOW by recruiting the under-twos. Either way, the idea of buying one of these for a baby is pretty horrifying.

So how does Labour match up? The list of items is rather short, it has to be said. Compared to the Tories' endless array of dodgy garb and kitchenware, the Labour offerings are paltry.

There's the standard diary, tie, pin badge, postcards, and then my personal favourite: the NHS mug. This comes with the helpful instruction: "Ideal for post-campaign session cup of tea!" No novelty babygros for Labour, then. Just slightly sanctimonious messages hinting at the value of our health service. Happy Christmas!

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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