Green tycoon gives £5mn to Labour party for election war chest

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British eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince has urged people not to back the Green party in the general election next month, as he revealed he has given £5mn towards Labour’s campaign coffers. 

Vince told the Financial Times he donated £1mn to the opposition party on May 23, the day after the election was called, having given “chunks of £500,000 and £1mn” earlier in the spring. “I know the figure has now reached £5mn,” he said. 

He said he understood the Greens’ appeal to some voters because of their position on issues such as the climate crisis and war in Gaza but added that Labour was the only left-of-centre party with a chance of winning the national vote on July 4.

“It would be a mistake to vote Green, Labour is the only one of the two parties that can form a government that would be green in nature,” he said.

“Voting for a Green MP is a risk because although they may not prevent Labour getting a majority, Labour needs a big majority to implement their green economic plan.”

Vince is one of three businessmen expected to each give Labour about £5mn. The others are supermarket scion Lord David Sainsbury and Gary Lubner, former chief executive of Belron, parent company of Autoglass. The donations from this group will reduce the party’s dependency on contributions from trade unions.

The figures will not show up on the Electoral Commission’s official database for several months because of a lag in its publication schedule.

Vince has also contributed £1mn to a non-party political campaign aimed at getting young people to vote on polling day on July 4. Earlier this week, agency Saatchi & Saatchi launched the “Voting is Hot AF” advertising campaign.

YouGov has found that 54 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds plan to vote Labour in the election compared with only 7 per cent for the Conservatives. 

Vince said he decided to give the £5mn to Labour after the ruling Conservative government lifted the spending threshold for the election by 80 per cent to £34mn.

“That’s an incredible sum of money, it seemed an attempt by the Tories to buy the election, and I wanted to address that funding disparity between Labour and the Tories,” he said. 

The Conservatives have defended lifting the threshold, saying the move has adjusted the cap in line with inflation. 

The Green party is only polling 6 per cent but still threatens to outflank Labour from the left in some areas. Vince said he would be actively campaigning in Bristol Central, where the Greens are odds-on in betting markets to oust sitting Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire. 

Vince, founder of renewable energy supplier Ecotricity, has a high profile in climate circles given his role as a former donor to the environmental protest group Just Stop Oil. 

He said he was “relaxed” when the Labour leadership cut the size of its “green prosperity plan” in February from £28bn a year to under £5bn.

“I understood why Labour did it, I don’t think it’s a sign of any lack of ambition on these issues, it’s about being practical,” he said. “Labour has fantastic green plans,” he added.

The entrepreneur said he had not been offered an advisory job within a future Labour government but said he would be happy to offer his expertise if needed. 

He added he would not give more money to Labour after the election: “This is the extent of the contribution,” he added.

Vince’s determination to donate to Labour has been challenged by his ex-wife who claimed he had kept her “in the dark” about the plans: in March the High Court ordered him to tell her in advance before handing over more money.

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