A 'mystery' donor who has given nearly £600,000 to Labour has been revealed as a hedge fund manager.
Martin Taylor, who is said to have had at least one meeting with Ed Miliband, was registered as making large contributions to party coffers.
But his identity had remained unclear until now as Electoral Commission records of all donations above £7,500 merely
gave his name. And with a common name like Martin Taylor, the records made it near impossible to trace who the donor actually was.
The news is likely to provoke questions for Miliband as he has previously criticised the Tories for being over-reliant on hedge fund moguls.
Taylor has given Labour £591,800 since October 2012, six donations to the party's headquarters and two to his constituency Labour party of Greenwich and Woolwich in southeast London.
In a statement, Taylor insisted there was "no mystery" surrounding him.
"This Martin Taylor is me. I am a born and bred Londoner, who also happens to be a hedge fund manager. And I am proud to support the Labour Party.
"This may seem a bit odd to many people. It is commonly believed that everyone in the financial sector supports the Conservative Party, in a quest to pay ever lower levels of tax. So why do I support Labour? There are several reasons.
"Firstly, I believe very strongly that everyone should contribute to society and that those who are lucky enough to earn a lot should contribute more than others. This principle has become particularly important since the global financial crisis in 2008 threw Western economies into recession, reduced living standards and sparked a wave of cutbacks in government spending; cutbacks that have hit those with the least hardest. When times were good governments endeavoured to reduce taxes for everyone and also increase spending on health, education and the elderly.
"But now in harder times the current government has cut taxes for the richest by reducing the top rate of income tax from 50% to 45% while cutting spending elsewhere to fund it. This means damaging the most vulnerable in society - such as the disabled for instance, who have disproportionately suffered at the hands of the ‘bedroom tax’ - to directly benefit the better off. I believe this is not fair. Labour’s commitment to both reverse this tax cut for the wealthiest and abolish the bedroom tax will right this wrong.
"The NHS has suffered from enormous financial strain over the past few years and vital improvements, such as reducing GP waiting times, are needed (PA) The NHS has suffered from enormous financial strain over the past few years and vital improvements, such as reducing GP waiting times, are needed (PA)
"Secondly, I believe policies that will benefit society as a whole need to be properly funded. Labour will do this. Nothing better symbolises the common good than the NHS. It has suffered from enormous financial strain over the past few years and vital improvements, such as reducing GP waiting times, are needed.
"These do not come for free. That’s why I support Labour’s proposed ‘Mansion Tax’ which will be levied on the owners of houses worth more than £2 million.
"The owners of such houses have experienced a massive inflation adjusted tax cut over the last thirty years as their annual property taxes have fallen in real terms since local rates were abolished in the late 1980’s. These owners have also been the primary beneficiaries of the house price boom that has taken place since then. I therefore believe it is only fair that these lucky households (myself included) now pay a little bit more to help the NHS in its hour of need.
"The final reason I support Labour is my family history. My dad was a local Labour councillor in Lewisham, South East London for over thirty years and my mum rose to be the head teacher of a Comprehensive school. They taught me daily about fairness.
"That is why, as someone who is lucky enough to be paid very well for doing a job I love - and who has always been UK domiciled and fully pay UK tax on all of my income, whatever its source – it is natural for me to support the political Party and the party leader, in Ed Miliband, who are patently committed to this principle."
A Labour Party spokesman said "We are grateful to people from all walks of life who support the Labour Party and our better plan.
"Unlike David Cameron and the Conservatives who increasingly rely on the money of an exclusive group of donors - the same people who they have rewarded with tax breaks - Ed Miliband will enter Downing Street owing nothing to anybody."
A Labour source denied the charge of hypocrisy to the Times. “Labour is not opposed to hedge funds,” he said. “We’re against being in the pockets of hedge funds and then rewarding them with tax breaks.”
Sir Alistair Graham, the former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: “Recent events surrounding donations to political parties suggest a review of the current legislation is long overdue. There is a need to tighten the rules to ensure the fullest transparency about donors who are making donations over a given sum (say £5,000 compared with the current £7,500), so the public can know where exactly the money is coming from and what it is intended to achieve.”
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