Funding the Tories: Payback time for David Cameron

Francis Carr Begbie


There are not many people who think their mantel would be improved by a bronze bust of British Prime Minister David Cameron, but Ukrainian oligarch Alexander Temerko appears to differ. He shelled out an eye-popping £90,000 for such a figurine at a Conservative Party fund raising auction in London in 2013. It was a small fraction of the £474,555 he has poured into the party coffers — an investment that has paid off many times over.

For he now has the ear of the Prime Minister and enjoys membership of the PM’s “inner circle” Leadership group. Co-incidentally his offshore wind energy company benefited from at least £4.5 million of taxpayers’ cash through the Department for Business’s Regional Growth Fund and, last but not least, his generosity did not hurt his application for British nationality, which was granted.

This last must have been a relief because it effectively puts him beyond reach of the Russian authorities which have been trying to get him extradited to face fraud charges over the dismantling of the oil giant Yukos. This was in the lawless Wild West atmosphere of 1990s Moscow  when Temerko was at the centre of a network of what has been described as a Jewish oligarch mafia.

He was in a good place to benefit as deputy chairman of the Yukos under his friend and oligarch boss Mikhail Khodorovsky.  Then Khodorkovsy fell afoul of Vladimir Putin and was imprisoned for fraud, and Temerko took over the running of the oil giant.

In 2004, however with the authorities closing in, Temerko fled to the UK. A British court rejected an extradition attempt as politically motivated. Ever since, Temerko has devoted himself to cosying up to the Conservative Party and not just on his own behalf. Bronze busts and fund raising dinners apart, Mr Temerko also allegedly exercises a discreet influence by directly supporting Members of Parliament who also happen to be supporters of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI).

Four of Temerko’s MPs have been identified.  Three of them, James Wharton, Michael Ellis and Guto Bebb can be seen departing for Israel in the picture below from the CFI website. The trip involved military briefings about Iran’s military capacity. Of particular interest is the Welsh MP Guto Bebb who has made three trips to Israel since 2011, all paid for by CFI, and has also been a guest at an AIPAC function in Washington D.C where he listened to speeches from the Israeli Prime Minister and defence minister.

In a remarkably forthright article in the Jewish Telegraph, Bebb, who is a Welsh-speaker, was quoted as saying that he is “an example of what lobbying politicians on behalf of Israel can achieve.”  Bebb has come under harsh criticism for not being more open with his constituents about these activities. He responded through his lawyer. He says he has never discussed Israel with his generous benefactor Temerko. And if  you believe that…

Alexander Temerko and his wife are possible holders of tickets for one of the most prestigious events on the London social scene — the Conservative Party’s black tie winter fund-raising ball This year’s glittering event on Monday (February 9) will be an extra special affair.  With the election on May 7, the party fundraisers will be keen to squeeze every last penny out of their wealthy benefactors.

As usual, the £15,000-a-table event will be packed with the usual figures from the landed aristocracy and traditional industries such as brewing and building. There will be Gulf royals, more Russian oligarchs, shipping tycoons, oil magnates, lobbyists, PRs and dot-com billionaires.

But most of all, the event will be dominated by the financiers of City of London and especially the hedge fund industry which now dominates party contributions. Studies published this week showed that 29 of Britain’s richest 50 donors came from the hedge fund industry.  With grass roots membership at an all-time low, never has much power been in so few hands.

Labour and the media have made much of the Conservative’s dependence not just on big business but on the hedge fund industry in particular. In particular, they have not been slow to mention the tax breaks that Cameron has gifted to his friends, incongruous in this time of austerity and deep welfare cuts.

But there is another pattern that the media will be working hard not to see. For a community which is less than one per cent of the British population to make such a vast contribution to our ruling party is very significant. So much so that it takes a journalistic contortion of almost Monty Pythonesque proportions to say there is nothing of interest here.  Sure enough, the media have risen to the challenge. The vast influence that the Jewish community have in Conservative Party funding is ‘strictly verboten’ in public discourse.

But the nature of the Jewish benefactors seems to be changing radically.  The old style post-war high street retail tycoons were often ostentatiously patriotic British.  These would have included Lord Steinberg who started with a single betting shop in Belfast and called himself not only a Northern Irishman but an Ulster Unionist. Another typical example would be Lord Stanley Kalms who built up his father’s chain of electrical shops in the forties and, being staunchly anti-Europe, finds himself out of step with today’s party. (He has left the Conservatives and now apparently votes UKIP).

The new Jewish money is much more likely to be represented by mysterious and shadowy transnational personalities with different passports for various tax jurisdictions. An insight into all this can be gleaned from the seating arrangements for a similar fund raising event last summer which makes fascinating reading. The Prime Minister chose to share his table with three Jewish financiers who would be unfamiliar to most Conservative voters: Nicholas Berggruen, Darko Horvat, and Sir John Ritblat.

 

Wikipedia describes investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen as the “homeless billionaire” because he prefers to live in hotels rather than a home. He is much exercised by global governance issues through his own foundation through which he mixes with the likes of Tony Blair, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. He is a member of a string of transnational elite bodies including the Council the Foreign Relations, Harvard University’s Global Advisory Council to the Pacific  Council on International Policy.

Darko Horvat is often described as a mysterious Slovenian billionaire who became wealthy through that country’s utilities privatisation. He is reported to split his time between London and Switzerland and seems to control his Slovenian businesses through a Dutch holding company. He is a frequent figure in the Israeli press. He attended the 80th birthday party for Shimon Peres and may be the third richest man in Slovenia, but there is no entry for him in Wikipedia.

Sir John Ritblat is a more traditional Jewish property man.  His son Jamie puzzled many when he was able to buy up the Olympic Village complex for a “knock-down” price months after making a £50,000 donation to the Conservatives.

The new faces are also much more likely to involve themselves aggressively in Israeli and Jewish affairs.  A good example of these joint nationals would be Mick Davis who ran the South African mining group Xtrata. In Britain he heads up something called the Jewish Leadership Council and United Jewish Israel Appeal charity which focuses “on strengthening Jewish identity and a connection to Israel” such as warning about the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain.

Another hedge fund figure who has the interests of Israel close to his heart is London-based Russian emigre Alex Knaster one of founders of the Genesis Wealth Fund whose co-founders include a close friend of Putin in Moscow and another friend of Michael Bloomberg in New York.

One of the largest donors to the Conservative Party is Baron Stanley Fink known as the godfather of the hedge fund industry who has stumped up in excess of £3 million for the party. In addition to contributions to central funds he also runs a whole stable of Conservative MPs to whom he makes personal donations. They are all members of Conservative Friends of Israel.  On a much criticised visit to Israel during Operation Cast Lead, one of Fink’s sponsored MPs Andrew Percy tweeted that Israel “acted as we would.” On that same visit was another MP to whom Baron Fink had contributed funds, Harrow MP Bob Blackman who is also a member of Conservative Friends of Israel.

Personal contributions to individual MPs as well as massive sums to Conservative Central Office is also the route preferred by one of the wealthiest hedge fund owners, billionaire Sir Michael Hinze — apparently a Catholic envoy to the Vatican! —  who is both British and Australian. Like Alexander Temerko, he targets Conservative candidates in  marginal seats such as Tower Hamlets.  Since 2002, Hinze has donated about £3 million to the party.

This includes the sum of £1.5 million Hinze was able to give the Conservatives last year. He was able to afford this easily as one of his companies came to an agreement with the taxman after  a longstanding dispute.

Several prominent members of the government have received substantial personal donations from Hinze.  These include Chancellor George Osborne, Home Secretary Theresa May and David Davis MP.  Hinze was implicated in one scandal when it was revealed he was channelling funds to a lobbyist who is a close friend of then Defence Secretary Liam Fox. This male friend turned out to be the beneficiary of three financiers who supported Israel. He boasted that he was capable of achieving meetings “at the highest level of the Israeli government.” This episode showed how easy it was to get around the transparency regulations which are supposed to monitor political funding.

The “close male friend” was also in receipt of funds from another Jewish hedge fund figure, Michael Lewis. Lewis, who is South African and British, is also on the board of another organisation which supports Israel in Britain, BICOM or the Britain Israel Communications Research Centre. This was set up in 2001 by yet another billionaire called Chaim “Poju” Zabludowicz, a Finnish national who the Sunday Times ranked as the 57th richest individual in Britain. The Zabludowicz family fortune was begun by his father Shlomo, an Israeli arms trader.

Since 2009, Zabludowicz has reportedly tripled his original £314,000 to BICOM but made only investments in the tens of thousands to the Conservatives either personally or through a corporate entity called Tamares.

Zabludowicz is also a member of yet another pro-Israel group, the Jewish Leadership Council. In the wake of the slaughter of more than 1000 Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, there was widespread anxiety about the effect this was having on Israel’s image abroad. In June 2011 both the Jewish Leadership Council and BICOM met with the government  at a conference to discuss a strategy on this.

The Jewish Leadership Council is another fascinating group where Jewish Conservative supporters and Jewish Labour supporters, such as Tony Blair’s right hand man Lord Levy,  get together and discuss strategies over common interest — namely Israel and Jewish interests in Britain.

The JLC, as previously mentioned, is headed up by a South African mining mogul called Mick Davis who is not shy about wading into both Israeli politics and admonishing the British government for presiding over a huge increase of anti-Semitism since Operation Protective Edge. If the Board of Deputies is the Mr Nice of political lobbying, then the JLC is definitely Mr Nasty.

Of course no mention of Jewish political finance would be complete without mentioning that Cameron himself is a creature of Jewish finance in Britain.  His only job outside politics has been as a PR flunkey for a Jewish businessman who funded his party leadership campaign. Today the party’s fundraising efforts are in the hands of one of his university friends, Lord Feldman amongst many others.

Whatever else one might say about this group of donors, the Conservative Party is clearly in the hands of a globalist elite with no ties to or concern for the traditional people of the UK. Indeed, this group is likely more closely tied to Israeli interests than the interests of the traditional people of the UK.

The party’s war chest is already bulging with £19 million, a record sum and nearly a third more than the Labour Party. With the polls in his favour, Mr Cameron has every reason to feel quietly confident and to be grateful to the foreign plutocrats on whom he has conferred so many favours in these times of austerity.

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