A leaked table plan of David Cameron’s Summer Dinner last year shows who sat where, and that the attendees had a combined wealth of £11bn. Business leaders, oligarchs and ministers joined the Prime Minister at a lavish event held at Old Billingsgate Market in the heart of the City of London financial district.
The Prime Minister’s own table played host to wealthy businessmen with a combined net worth of at least £1.5bn, according to the Guardian. It included Howard Shore founder of Shore Capital, who has donated a total of nearly £500,000 to the Conservatives. The former chairman of British Land Sir John Ritblat was also on the table.
Wealthy Russians were in attendance as the guests of David Burnside, a former MP turned lobbyist who has expertise in the country. On his table was Vasily Shestakov, Vladimir Putin’s judo partner and an MP in Russian parliament. BP’s Russian Vice-President, Peter Charow, was also on the table.
On another table, Young Britons’ Foundation’s chief executive Donal Blaney was joined by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow. Blaney has been working on a project to honour the memory of Margaret Thatcher by creating a centre similar to the U.S. Presidential Libraries.
Hedge fund boss Sir Michael Hintze was joined by Conservative blogger Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) and former MP Paul Goodman who edits the Conservative Home website. The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party – the sister party of the Conservatives in Northern Ireland – Lord Trimble was also on the table.
Major donor Poju Zabludowicz, who has coughed up over £300,000 in donations between himself and his company, had the Mayor of London Boris Johnson on his table. Also present was Andrei Borodin who is wanted for a £220m bank fraud in Russia, allegations that he denies and claims are likely to be politically motivated.
The event is evidence that as the general election gets closer, businesses are much more willing to donate to the Conservatives. Over the past few years, the party has haemorrhaged key donors like Stuart Wheeler, Lord Kalms, and Paul Sykes to UKIP, but Cameron has shown that his party can still bring out the big guns when needed.
They are also countering a threat from a Labour Party that is much more left-wing than it was under Tony Blair and which may be able to take millions from the trades unions. Under Labour a law was passed limiting how much publicly listed companies could donate to political parties without a resolution of their shareholders. No such limits exist on the trades unions.