Funding bids to be Berwick’s MP

The Gazette has taken a look at how the candidates for next year’s General Election are funding their campaigns.

It follows an article in The Guardian which discussed how ‘unknown donors are bankrolling Tory candidates fighting marginal seats’ through ‘glitzy fund-raising dinners’.

The report specifically referenced Anne-Marie Trevelyan, running for MP in the Berwick constituency, saying ‘she has received almost £50,000’.

It goes on to say that according to Electoral Commission records, Alexander Temerko, a Russian businessman with offshore wind interests in the North East ‘has donated almost £9,000 in campaign materials’.

Anne-Marie didn’t have anything to add, although she did point out that she had never received any funds directly from Temerko, as the donations have been made to Berwick Conservatives.

Since the last General Election in May 2010, Berwick Conservatives have also received £4,000 from the Duke of Northumberland; £2,000 in cash, £1,000 in sponsorship and £1,000 in raffle prizes.

Anne-Marie is also listed as an individual in the Electoral Commission records. Since May 2013, she has received more than £38,000-worth of support, such as PR services, printing services, website construction and the like, from Trevelyan Campaign Fund, an unincorporated association.

Labour candidate Scott Dickinson is not registered as an individual and there are no records of any donations made to Berwick CLP (Constituency Labour Party) since around 2008.

This is because under the regulations, donations only need to be reported if they are, or add up to, more than £1,500.

Scott explained that contributions to his campaign are from ordinary members and union affiliates, who have chosen to donate.

“I like our system,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be financed by large energy companies, I much prefer support of individual members and collective members from within a union.”

A similar system is true for the Lib Dems, with smaller donations going to Berwick Lib Dems, not to the individual, as well as some funding from the central party.

In recent years, donations have included nearly £3,000 from Doxford Hall LLP and £11,250 from Sir Alan Beith MP.

Candidate Julie Pörksen said: “I am proud that my campaign to follow in Sir Alan’s footsteps and become MP for Berwick is backed by voluntary donations from members and supporters giving their time and financial help.

“This is a real cross-community campaign – local residents coming together to fight on the issues that matter to us all – dualling the A1, securing local health services and bringing more jobs and apprenticeships to our area – which, unlike the other parties, doesn’t rely on funding from trade unions or big business.”