News

Some of the political backings made by business leaders and celebrities

14 min read

07 May 2015

In comparison to the US, UK elections are far from being a star-studded affair. However, that does not mean political parties do not use their backing, as well as that of high-profile business leaders, to encourage votes.

Labour

Numerous leaders in the City of London have spoken out in favour of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s pledge to reform the UK’s “non-domicile” tax laws.  

While plans to introduce a bankers’ bonus tax hasn’t been well received, his initiative to get rid of non-dom status has found growing support among business leaders. Among those backing Miliband’s proposal are Land Securities chairman Alison Carnwath, BAE Systems chairman Roger Carr and former Dragons’ Den investor Duncan Bannatyne.

Labour peer Lord Charles Allen, of Global Radio, and former minister Lord Myners have also sung the party’s praises. And Simon Franks, co-founder of LoveFilm, has joined Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, in declaring his public backing for Miliband and his team. “I can tell you after working with Labour for over a year that these guys are very focused on creating a vibrant economy,” he said. 

Vince, on the other hand, donated £250,000 to Labour to fight “the existential threat” of a Conservative government. After the announcement he added: “I think Cameron has turned out to be Thatcher with knobs on.”

The Hobbit actor Martin Freeman starred in an election broadcast in order to support the Labour Party. In the video he said the Conservative party will take the UK “on a rollercoaster of cuts” and that they have “sod all to offer the young”. The video also features Dr Who’s David Tennant.

Comedians Jo Brand and Steve Coogan have also given the Labour party their vote.

And when actor-turned-activist Russell Brand interviewed Miliband it reportedly swayed him from not voting at all to voting Labour. He urged his fans to do the same, claiming “this bloke will listen to us”.

Other supporters include JK Rowling, Delia Smith and Paul O’Grady.

UKIP

UKIP has been hailed as a champion of small businesses by people including Tanya Brasted, who runs the Florist Shop, Martin Appleyard, of North Coates Butt Gun Club and David Armstrong, of Centurion Fire and Security.

The former leader of the British National Party has also endorsed UKIP because he believed it would increase the chances of an EU referendum.

Perhaps nothing beats TV sports presenter Des Lynam, who recorded himself singing a re-written version of “Send In The Clowns” after the Conservative party called UKIP “a bunch of fruitcakes, loonies, waifs and strays”. 

Lynam said: “I was delighted to cast my vote for Nigel Farage’s team in Sussex where I live. I feel they have something to offer the country as a whole, and Sussex.”

Jamie Oliver may also be a UKIP supporter, having said he was a fan of the way the leader was “stirring things up”. He stated: “They have got my interest, and I will listen to them.”

During an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time, footballer Joey Barton called UKIP “the best of four ugly girls”. 

Scottish National Party

With pledges to increase the minimum wage and raise taxes on the wealthy, SNP has also managed to attract some high-profile members of the business community. This includes millionaire chairman of cash-and-carry firm United Wholesale Grocers, Mohammed Ramzan, who defected from Labour.

Read more about the election:

Ramzan said: “I am delighted to be supporting the SNP at this year’s election. I have been a businessman in Glasgow for over 35 years and I have always wanted what is best for the city.

“Unfortunately, under the current Labour administration the city has not moved forward, there is a lack of ideas and innovation, and they now spend more time squabbling among themselves than trying to help ordinary Glaswegians.

“That is why I will be supporting real change under the SNP.”

Manhunter star Brian Cox quit the Labour and joined the Scottish National Party  in the same month. He claimed that SNP was the only party “taking forward the values of social justice”. 

Scottish actor Brian Cox also joining the SNP, as well as fellow Scotsman Martin Compston. The Monarch Of The Glen actor said: “Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives all have a track record of broken promises: introducing fees of thousands of pounds a year south of the border and failing to protect young Scots from the worst impacts of Tory cuts. Only the SNP can be trusted to stand up for Scotland’s young people.”

Read on to find out who supports the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats…

Liberal Democrats

Among its heavy-weight supporters are Peter Bennett-Jones, founder of television production company Tiger Aspect; Helen Pitcher, chair of consultancy Advanced Boardroom Excellence; Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks; Richard Pym, chairman of Allied Irish Bank; and Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams brewery.

Reed said: “I have always found Nick to be particularly impressive and think he both is and would be a great leader. He brings an intelligent and compassionate balance and strong sense of justice to proceedings, which can otherwise get quite tribal and hysterical. I have a lot of respect for politicians generally as they do a tough job and get a lot of stick for it.”

In a recent programme for ITV2, TOWIE star Joey Essex accompanied Nick Clegg for part of his campaign tour around the UK. Although he hasn’t revealed what the actual verdict may be, he admitted that Clegg has the sharpest clothes.

“Nick Clegg is probably the best dressed,” Essex said. “He has a different colour tie to his suit, which is a start. [And he] loves a selfie.”

Daniel Radcliffe, famously known as Harry Potter and 12th wealthiest young person in the UK, said: “If all the people who liked the Liberal Democrats voted for them you could change politics overnight and we could have a proper three-party system.”

Arguably Clegg’s biggest supporter is comedian John Cleese, who even went as far as to lend a helping hand to boost voters in Bath ahead of polling day. He addressed the people from behind the bar of the Green Park Brasserie.

“I feel more at home behind the bar,” he said. He looked like Basil from Fawlty Towers as he told party supporters the Lib Dems were the fairest party.

“The reason I support the Lib Dems is they are decent, fair-minded intelligent people, they are not all just about money like the Conservatives,” he said. “A Lib Dem MP and council will look after our culture and heritage as well as our economy. It is not just about money and the economy, there are far more important issues like why is there such a big divide between the rich and the poor in this country? Why does a tiny majority of rich people own the vast majority of wealth?”

Before the seven-way debate between Clegg’s biggest challenge was how to get ahead of UKIP. It was said that Clegg rehearsed with colleagues playing rival politicians. Cleese wanted to play Nigel Farage in the rehearsals. 

Conservative

Conservative supporters include Bob Dudley, the American boss of BP, Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of Prudential and Lord Rose, the Conservative peer and former boss of Marks & Spencer. 

Rose told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that companies were “reasonably happy at the moment”.

“Clearly they would always want something else, but it’s a question of choices we have to make,” he said. 

The Apprentice’s Karen Brady has also voiced her opinions:

Julian Fellowes, who created ITV hit show Downton Abbey, is also a Conservative member. He even used to pen speeches for ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith.

According to Fellowes supporting the Conservative Party proved a stumbling block at first.

“I chose to become an actor when the business had been swallowed up by champagne socialism,” he said. “I experienced real prejudice because of my politics. I couldn’t get an audition for the RSC or get into the National, even when a director asked for me. RSC casting director Gillian Diamond actually said, ‘We think your kind of actor is better off on the other side of the river.’ That was one of the most patronising remarks I have ever received in my life. It was disgraceful and anti-arts. I was also kicked off a TV series because the star, who was a Labour voter, wouldn’t work with me.”

He suggested that thanks to the “charming” Cameron, Brits can now vote Conservative without “people assuming that you have no talent”. 

“Most of my friends in the business are Labour; that’s the way it is,” he said. “Nevertheless, they no longer feel I need medical intervention.”

Simon Cowell first announced his support of the Conservative party to the public in 2010. He claimed Cameron was “a man of substance” with “the stomach to navigate us through difficult times”.

Composer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and horse-racing pundit John McCririck are well-known and long-standing Conservative supporters.