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Miliband bites back as Tories hit by donor row

Ed calls for party to focus on beating Tories

UNDERDOG Ed Miliband urged Labour to stop squabbling and “take this lot apart” yesterday as it emerged vulture fund donors have helped fill an enormous election war chest for the Tories.

Addressing an audience of journalists and party faithful at the University of London’s Senate House, Mr Miliband confronted criticism of his leadership head-on, saying: “I am willing to put up with whatever is thrown at me, in order to fight for you.

“Our task, the task for every person in this party, is simple,” he said. “To focus our eyes on the prize of changing this country.”

He launched a vitriolic attack on the free-market economics of the Con-Dem government, promising that under a Labour government: “No vested interest, whoever they are and however powerful they are, from banks to energy companies, should ever be able to hold our country back.

“Decent public services are the foundation of who we are as a country,” he said. “And above all Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.”

But he also showed signs of pandering to xenophobia in response to the rise of Ukip. “It isn’t prejudiced to worry about the effects of immigration. It is because of the real impacts it has.

“I am the son of immigrants. It is 70 years next year since my grandfather was killed by the nazis. And I know the contribution my family has made to this country.

“But I also know that it is not enough to say immigration benefits our country as a whole.”

Mr Miliband’s fighting talk came as new figures from the Electoral Commission showed Labour is set to fight next year’s election firmly as the underdog. In the third quarter of 2014, the Conservative party raked in £6.76 million, while Labour’s total was just £3.19m.

The Liberal Democrats reported £2.75m, the SNP £1.57m and Ukip just £98,387.

But while Labour’s biggest donation was from shopworkers’ union Usdaw, Tories took cash from a series of greedy bosses.

Addison Lee owner John Griffin gave half a million to the party, while JCB Research, a front for construction giants JCB and its owners Sir Anthony and Mark Bamford, gave £278,000. Tory co-treasurer, copper magnate and self-described “God squad” member Michael Farmer gave £302,980.

And hedge fund donors, including Brevan Howard which is among the vultures suing Argentina over the results of its 2001 debt crisis, have contributed £1.34m in the most recent quarter alone.

Parliamentary candidates in marginal constituencies rallied round Mr Miliband yesterday as the man to lead Labour to victory, while supporters took to Twitter to deploy the #6monthstowin hashtag.

Catherine West, who will take on Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone in the London marginal of Hornsey and Wood Green, described the Labour leader as “modest” and “in good humour” at the speech. “He’s fighting back,” she said.

But an opinion poll on Wednesday showed that recent plotting against Mr Miliband has taken a toll. The Tories took the lead with 32 per cent as Labour trailed on 29 per cent. Ukip took 14 per cent, ahead of the Lib Dems on 9 per cent and the Greens on 7 per cent.


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