Tony Blair: Tony's Friends

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This contains details of the various Friends of Tony - multi-millionaires like Lord Levy, the Labour Party's chief fundraiser and Lord Falconer the man Blair put in charge of the Dome.

It also features figures from the internal hierarchy of the Labour Party, like General Secretary Margaret McDonagh and unelected Government Ministers like Lord Simon and Gus Macdonald.

In this section you will find all those who revolved around Tony Blair's New Labour 'Project', including those with power and influence at the highest level, yet who remain in the background. Philip Gould (the focus group guru) for example, had no formal position in the Government or Party, yet is one of Tony Blair's most influential advisers.

Professor Jonathan Charkham Non-Executive Director, Great Universal Stores (catalogue shopping group, including Argos, Burberry, Kays and the Experian credit check agency). Former adviser to the Governor of the Bank of England.

The 58 business leaders who wrote to the Times in May 2001

On Monday 14th May 2001, 58 business leaders wrote a letter to the Times newspaper calling on business as a whole to support the Labour Party. So far only 20 of the names have been released, and they are listed here. More names will be added as they become available.

All 58 are Chairmen or Chief Executives. Seven of the companies are in the FTSE 100 list of top firms. Several of these business leaders have been knighted or ennobled by the Labour Government, including Lord Simpson former Chief Executive of arms manufacturers Marconi and Government adviser Lord Haskins. Several others are former Thatcherites, including Sir Alan Sugar, Ken Gilkes of Stort Chemicals and Gulam Noon of supermarket curry makers Noon Products.

The letter signed by this group of rich company bosses (including Gordon Crawford, whose personal wealth is estimated at £1.3 BILLION) praises the Labour Government for providing "the economic conditions for businesses to grow and generate wealth" and because it has promoted a "spirit of enterprise in the British people". Since the 1997 election, the gap between the incomes of rich and poor people has risen every year. In 2001 it has reached its highest level ever - even worse than when the Tories were in power. The Labour Party's business friends would like us to believe that Margaret Thatcher's discredited 'trickle-down' economics are still at work today - as the rich get richer, some of the money is supposed to end up in our pockets. What is really happening is that the money is being taken out of our pockets and going straight into the bank accounts of the rich. Since the Labour Government took office the share of national income held by the top fifth of households has risen to 45%. The poorest fifth had just 6%.

  • John Parker Chairman of the Lattice Group, owners of Transco (the former British Gas network) and Spectrasite Transco (who build mobile phone masts). He was paid £225,000 in 2000
  • Ian Smith Group Commercial Director of Exel. He sits on the DTI's Competitiveness Commission. Exel Tankfreight were members of the Fuel Supply Task Force.
  • Peter Harper Deputy Chairman of Lonmin, the re-branded Lonrho platinum and gold mining company, the 3rd largest platinum producer in the world
  • Gordon Crawford Chairman of London Bridge Software, credit risk software specialists. His personal wealth is £1.3 billion.
  • David Potter Chairman of Psion, computer manufacturers.He was paid £193,000 in 1999.

Other names on the list include: Lord Swraj Paul, owner of Caparo Industries, a steel manufacturing business.

Russell Chambers, of investment bank Wit Soundview Europe

The founder of Noon Products, suppliers of ready-made curries to supermarkets. His personal wealth is £45 million. He is a former Tory supporter

Chairman of Tinsley Foods (one of the UK's biggest privately-owned chilled food companies) and Chairman of Whole Earth (organic food company)

  • Lord HaskinsChairman of Northern Foods and Express Dairies, ennobled by Blair in 1998
  • Chris Wright Chairman of Chrysalis. His personal wealth is £155 million.

The 6 Bioscience Bosses who wrote to the Times in May 2001

  • Dr Paul Drayson Chief Executive of Powderject, a pharmaceutical company. Former boss of Trebor and Genisys Development. On 24th May 2001, 6 bioscience industry leaders wrote a letter to the Financial Times newspaper in support of the Labour Party. The letter praises the Labour Government for providing funding and business training for the bioscience industry and "above all the Government's sustained investment in the science base has given our research community the resources and facilities they require." Once again a series of very wealthy executives are thanking the Labour Party for pumping public money into research and development programmes which will increase profits for their companies and their investors.

Several of the names on the list are well-known donors to the Labour Party - Sir Chris Evans and Sir Ronald Cohen were also both knighted in the 2001 New Years Honours List. Sir Chris Evans sits on at least 4 Government Task Forces, including Lord Sainsbury's research team on how "biotechnology clusters" could be developed (Mark Ferguson was also a member). Herman Hauser led a group of entrepreneurs in 1998 that had been pressurising Government ministers to approve the development of university science parks on greenfield sites, which led to Gordon Brown announcing a re-examination of planning regulations, and ultimately to a seat for him on Lord Sainsbury's Clusters Policy Steering Group (along with 2 other Task Forces).

Sir Ronald Cohen is Chairman of the Government's Tech Stars Steering Committee Task Force and a member of the DTI's UK Competitiveness Committee. Dr Paul Haycock, another Director of Apax Partners, is a member of the Government's Biotechnology Action Group. Mark Ferguson has been a member of several Government Task Forces as well as the one mentioned above, including the DTI's Genome Valley Steering Group and Materials in Healthcare Advisory Group. Robert Mansfield is a former Chairman of the Bio Industry Association, a lobbying group for companies involved in GM food. In 1999 the DTI helped pay their costs on a trip to America accompanying Lord Sainsbury who was researching a report into Biotechnology.

The Labour Government has many rich friends in the biotechnology industry, and the industry's bosses in turn have the ear of the Government. In particular Lord Sainsbury, the Science Minister, has made millions out of GM food research and continues to pursue close links with many of the bioscience businessmen. The Government has been a strong supporter of genetic research despite its huge unpopularity due to fears of its unpredictable effects if released into the environment, and the manipulation of DNA for financial gain.

  • Ronald Cohen Chairman of Apax Partners, an international private equity company which manages $7 billion of investment. Knighted in New Year 2001.
  • Christopher Evans Chairman of Merlin Bioscience. He is known the "Biotech King" and has connections with a large number of biotechnology companies. His personal fortune is estimated at £100 million. Knighted in New Year 2001.
  • Mark Ferguson Chief Executive of Renovo, a biotechnology company. He has received more than £300 million in grant funding for his projects.
  • Herman Hauser Chief Executive Officer of Amadeus Capital Partners.
  • Robert Mansfield Chief Executive of Vernalis, a bio-pharmaceutical company. A former Director of SmithKline Beecham, he was paid £432,900 in 2000.

References and Resources