|Special report: Team Cameron’s big Jewish backers
Bernard Josephs and Leon Symons
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Prominent members of the Jewish community are playing a major role in financing David Cameron’s bid for power, a JC investigation can reveal.
The biggest Jewish donor to the party while Mr Cameron has been leader is gaming magnate Lord Steinberg, who has donated £530,000, plus a loan of £250,000. Hedge-fund owner Stanley Fink has donated £103,000, even though he was a declared supporter of Mr Cameron’s leadership rival, Liam Fox. A further £250,000 has been loaned by philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield.
During Mr Cameron’s campaign to lead his party, Jewish figures gave his team (as opposed to the party) additional donations of more than £60,000. According to the JC’s inquiries, direct donations to “Team Cameron” in the leadership battle came from philanthropist Trevor Pears (around £20,000), Bicom chair Poju Zabludowicz (£15,000 plus £25,000 to the party), Next chief executive Simon Wolfson (£10,000 plus £50,000 to the party), former Carlton TV boss Michael Green (£10,000) and Tory deputy treasurer and key Cameron fundraiser Andrew Feldman (£10,000 through his family firm, Jayroma).
Beyond the donors, a small but influential group of Jewish Conservative officials and politicians were also key players in Mr Cameron’s campaign for the leadership. Among them was party treasurer and managing director of Cavendish Corporate Finance, Howard Leigh, who stressed that Mr Cameron was preparing a new policy on political financing.
“He is preparing to cap donations at £50,000, combined with some state financing,” Mr Leigh told the JC. “The aim is to prevent people from buying influence. We think a £50,000 cap is reasonable.”
Mr Leigh worked closely with Mr Feldman in running the so-called “Team Cameron,” and both will now be charged with broadening the party’s donor base. Mr Feldman is a close friend of Mr Cameron, whom he met as an undergraduate at Oxford University.
Other senior figures around the leader include Oliver Letwin, head of policy. A former shadow Home Secretary and shadow Chancellor, Mr Letwin is, like Mr Cameron, an Old Etonian.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who seconded Mr Cameron’s bid to become Tory leader, decided early on that he was the man “of the future.” He backed his campaign, he told the JC, because “I saw that he had great leadership qualities.” As a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, he said, he would be taking the Cameron message to supporters around the UK.
Although he is popular with Jewish Tories, Mr Cameron’s criticism of Israel’s actions in Lebanon sparked doubts about his stance — voiced particularly by Tory donor and former party treasurer Lord Kalms.
However, Conservative Friends of Israel chair Richard Harrington stressed that the leader had given LFI “every possible access” and had met CFI officials several times.
The Key Players
Andrew Feldman - Destined to be charged with raising money for the new-look Conservative Party, Andrew Feldman (circled, at the left of the picture), 40, met Mr Cameron (circled, right of picture) at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is a close friend and tennis partner of the leader.
Said to be a member of the Tories’ so-called Notting Hill set, he lives in West London with his wife and two children. Mr Feldman attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s school, and, after qualifying as a lawyer, entered the family’s ladieswear firm, Jayroma. Having acted as fundraiser for Mr Cameron’s leadership campaign, he is now deputy treasurer of the party and is in Mr Cameron’s economic-policy group.
Michael Green - Michael Green, former chairman of Carlton Television, gave financial support to David Cameron’s leadership campaign but would not discuss details.
“I am a big supporter of David Cameron but I want to make it clear that I have not supported the Tory Party. I have supported David Cameron’s quest to become leader,” he said.
Lord Steinberg - Lord Steinberg — formerly Leonard Steinberg — became a life peer in 2004 and is a major donor to the Conservatives. Raised in Belfast and educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the 70-year-old Baron Steinberg of Belfast was a founder of Stanley Leisure plc, the gaming company, serving as executive chairman from 1957 to 2002 and non-executive chairman since then. He is a former deputy treasurer of the Tory party and is a founder and chairman of his family charitable trust. His political interests are listed in Dod’s, the parliamentary guide, as Northern Ireland, tax and gambling, and Israel.
A donor to David Cameron’s leadership campaign and to the Conservative Party, Simon Wolfson, 38, will be continuing a family tradition when he becomes an adviser to Mr Cameron on improving economic competition and wealth creation.
The son of Lord Wolfson, who was chief of staff to Margaret Thatcher, Mr Wolfson, chief executive of the Next clothing chain, is one of the youngest advisors to be appointed by Mr Cameron.
Along with MP John Redwood, Mr Wolfson will jointly chair the advisory group that will seek to reduce red tape and improve education and skills in the workplace. It will also examine the country’s transport infrastructure.
Grant Shapps MP
As vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and seconder to David Cameron’s campaign, backbencher Grant Shapps will find the next few months extremely busy as he tours the constituencies to persuade Tories of the virtues of the new leadership.
Speaking to the JC, he acknowledged that there would be doubts in some quarters but he has no doubt that the party has chosen the right man.
“I persuaded my colleagues at the parliamentary level and I shall now have to do the same thing all over the country,” said the MP for Welwyn Hatfield. “The thing that people will like about David is that he is very optimistic.”
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