Swraj Paul stays loyal as donors talk of ditching Labour: report

May 17th, 2009 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 17 (IANS) Major donors of Britain’s ruling Labour Party say they will withdraw their financial support over a deepening parliamentary expenses scandal, a newspaper reported.
Only Indian-born industrialist Lord Swraj Paul pledged to continue donating, the Observer newspaper said.

A number of MPs from all major British political parties have, over the past 10 days, been disciplined for claiming dubious expenses, following leaks published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Shahid Malik, a minister, stepped down Thursday after being found to have claimed home loan interest for a mortgage that had already been paid off.

A poll published Sunday on the website PoliticsHome.com shows that the scandal has driven more than a quarter of voters to change the party they support. The main beneficiary is Ukip, followed by the British National Party and the Greens.

The Observer spoke to 10 prominent donors and only one - steel magnate Lord Paul - pledged to maintain financial support for a party that it said was already heavily indebted.

Moni Varma, a millionaire rice importer who has given nearly 30,000 pounds to the party, said he will no longer contribute.

“If this happened in business or any other walk of life it would lead to prosecution,” he said.

Asked if he was considering withdrawing support, he said: “Yes, I am disillusioned. They are going downhill. They were a good party for Britain, but now I don’t know.”

Sir Gulam Noon, Britain’s curry king who has donated more than 530,000 pounds but was interviewed by police before being cleared during a “cash for honours” affair, said that he was undecided.

“I was interviewed by police for lending money, so those who take it from the public purse should certainly be interviewed. There has been some outrageous behaviour from members of the Labour party,” he said.

However, Paul, who heads the Caparo Group, pledged to remain a financial supporter but he too admitted that “all hell has broken loose”.

“Public anger is so overwhelming that MPs even in safe seats are going to have to account for themselves to their local parties and to their public.

“Constituency parties will be looking at this and wondering whether they can win an election if their MP has been revealed to be behaving badly,” he said.

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