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Donor or not, I remain a Labour man: Lord Swraj
London, Jul 20 (IANS):
Published on 20 Jul. 2009 11:43 PM IST
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Steel magnate Lord Swraj Paul Monday clarified that he will continue to support Britain’s ruling Labour party despite government-backed legislation that would stop him from funding the party. “I have no doubt that Gordon Brown is the best prime minister and Labour the best party for the UK. Gordon has given an international lead on how to tackle the current financial crisis,” the Indian-born Paul told IANS. The founder and chairman of the Caparo Group of industries made his comments after a British newspaper said Sunday Paul was unhappy about a proposed Bill that would stop Britons who have non-domicile (non-dom) tax status from funding political parties. Paul, who enjoys non-dom status, has funded the Labour party for more than 20 years. Paul is among several so-called non-doms who have bankrolled the two major political parties - Labour and Conservatives - and, to a lesser extent, the Liberal Democrats. “My position is simple: I follow the law, whatever the law is,” Paul told IANS in a comment on the article carried by The Observer newspaper - a Labour-supporting paper that described his move as dealing a “crushing blow” to the ruling party’s fortunes ahead of general elections due by June 3, 2010. Paul said the newspaper report was premature, as it was based on a Bill that was only published Monday - and will take its time to become law. “This is not law yet - a lot of work will go into it. Only recently a clarification has come on the rights of non-doms. “Every case is different, but as an affected party, I may not necessarily speak on the Bill,” said Paul who is the deputy speaker of the House of Lords, Britain’s upper chamber of parliament. Labour has also benefited from the largesse of two other Indian-origin industrialists - steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, the world’s eighth richest man, and Sir Ghulam Noon, known as the Curry King for his frozen foods and catering empire. While Noon has also opposed the Bill, saying he will stop funding Labour if it becomes law, Mittal has refused to comment so far. The opposition Conservative Party, which leads Labour in a string of opinion polls and is a strong bidder in the runup to the 2010 elections, targeted the issue of ‘non-dom’ donations within months of Brown becoming prime minister in June 2007. However, the current Bill has been moved by a Labour member of the House of Lords.

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