Labour targets City law firms in £100,000 fund-raising initiative

THE LABOUR party is targeting City lawyers in an initiative designed to draw on what it views as an as untapped source of funds.

The Society of Labour Lawyers, which has been asked by party headquarters to raise at least £100,000, will hold a series of seminars in the New Year attended by front bench Labour MPs.

Entrance fees, charged at the market rate for commercial seminars, will go to Labour.

The initiative will be unveiled at the society's AGM at the Law Society in December, which will feature a speech by Peter Mandelson, the party's campaigns coordinator.

Although there are many high-profile Labour supporters in the legal profession, very few of them work in the City.

The initiative is the latest of a series of Labour campaigns to woo the City, which includes the setting-up of the 1,000 Club, a group of senior figures in business, including Rodger Pannone, senior partner at Pannone & Partners, who have made £1,000 donations to the party.

Stephen Gare, head of intellectual property at Rowe & Maw, is a Labour supporter who would consider attending one of the seminars if it promised to be interesting.

He said that attititudes to Labour had thawed in the City but he would be surprised if many lawyers would be persuaded to donate to Labour.

James Goudie QC, chair of the Labour lawyers' group, added: “I certainly think that the monolithic and universally hostile position of the City towards the Labour Party has changed in recent times.”

But Shailesh Vara, the McKenna & Co solicitor contesting Clare Short's Birmingham constituency, said: “City lawyers turning up to these seminars would be like turkeys voting for Christmas by supporting the higher taxes which will pay for a Labour government.”

Terence Kyle, managing partner of Linklaters & Paines, said that his firm does not ally itself with any political party. “You can't remain independent if you support a party.”