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8 July 2010

David Miliband steams ahead in donations race

Blur drummer and Lord Sainsbury help ex-foreign secretary amass £185,000 in donations.

By George Eaton

The Labour leadership race may still be too close to call, but when it comes to donations, David Miliband is streets ahead of his rivals.

Figures released by the Electoral Commission today show that Miliband Sr raked in an impressive £185,000 in June, with Ed Balls trailing on £28,000 (he picked up £15K from the novelist Ken Follett) and Ed Miliband in third place on £15,000. Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott didn’t receive any donations over the £1,500 declaration threshold.

Miliband’s war chest includes £20,000 from the top Labour donor, Lord Sainsbury (plus £11,188 for office use), £10,000 each from the film-maker David Puttnam and the IT mogul Parry Mitchell, and £6,000 from the Blur drummer, Dave Rowntree. And there’s more — his reported total excludes 94 smaller donations under the £1,500 threshold.

Miliband’s fundraising powers help him in two ways. Not only do they allow him to run a well-resourced campaign, they also suggest that, if elected, he could attract and retain the sort of big-money, big-charisma donors Labour has conspicuously lacked in recent years.

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In a nod to his Marxist roots, Miliband has pledged to contribute one-third of his donations to a “fighting fund to help Labour win seats back at the next election”. It’s the sort of smart gesture that shows he is much more than the Blairite clone of popular imagination.

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