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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Behind the scenes at the Tory fundraising drive

When it comes to fundraising the Tories are clearly in a different league to the other parties. This is evident by this story in the Times about last night's fundraising ball.

They say that the elegant black-and-white ball, stuffed with would-be donors, was attended by 16 of the 17 Tory cabinet ministers. Also present were the party’s strategy chief Lynton Crosby and the former Obama campaign guru Jim Messina. Missing from the Great Room at the Grosvenor House hotel in London was George Osborne, who was at a meeting of G20 finance ministers:

In an attempt to depart from stereotypes, full-length gowns and dinner jackets were banned and the dress code was downgraded to lounge attire. Amid tight security, a swathe of senior Tories swept in to welcome guests paying up to £15,000 simply to be seated near them. Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, and Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, were among the most high-profile names.

They continue:

The Tory party spared no expense, plying guests with champagne and red Bordeaux. A smoked salmon with horseradish starter was followed by a main course of confit of lamb neck with celeriac and haggis jus. For dessert, panna cotta with rhubarb and mint oil was served.

Beyond the banquet, the real prize of the evening for guests was the proximity they enjoyed to members of the government. More powerful politicians came with higher price tags. While £5,000 bought a table with a junior minister, £15,000 was needed to secure a member of the cabinet. Individual tickets ranged from £500 to £1,500.

City tycoons and hedge fund managers, accompanied by their spouses, were set to dominate the guest list, although there were celebrities and businesswomen too, with Nancy Dell’Olio, the television presenter Kirstie Allsopp and Baroness Brady in attendance. Henry Angest, a Swiss-born banker, and Ian Taylor, an oil billionaire, were among generous party donors expected to be present.

Andrew Law, the multimillionaire chief executive of the trading and investment firm Caxton Associates, who has donated £1 million to the party, was also there. His wife Zoe Law, a celebrity make-up artist, presided over a board of 63 people as the event’s chief organiser. It is understood that a quarter of the organising committee are based in finance, while at least seven have attended private dinners with Mr Cameron.

They say that details of the auction lots were closely guarded but the most expensive, which sold for £200,000, was a bronze maquette of Margaret Thatcher by Antony Dufort, a replica of the lifesize version that sits in the Commons.  The star lot though was an opportunity to go shoe-shopping with Theresa May, the Home Secretary.
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