Sainsbury still funding Progress?

Last June, in the wake of the ‘Corbyn surge’ in the General Election, supermarket magnate Lord Sainsbury announced that he was ceasing his financial support for anti-Corbyn group Progress:

sb prog.png

After Sainsbury’s announcement, Progress – who in 2014 were fined for accepting donations from him when he was not on the electoral register – launched an urgent funding drive to fill the gap. A visit to the group’s website still triggers a pop-up appeal:

prog appeal.png

However, in spite of Sainsbury’s June pronouncement the Electoral Commission website records the following, substantial donation in late September last year:

sbury progress

Major donations to right-wing groups raise again the importance of supporting the independent left media, who do not profit from rich donors.

We contacted Lord Sainsbury’s press office and Progress director Richard Angell to ask whether the peer is still funding the Blairite group. Neither has responded.


Shortly after publication, Mr Angell sent this comment, which he asked to have published in full:

In June, it was announced that Lord Sainsbury was ending his support for party political causes, Progress included, in 2017. Progress received the last of that funding in two quarterly payments on the last day of September and December 2017. This support gave Progress the time to save the organisation, the jobs of its staff and its important work going forward. I want to thank all our members who rallied to save Progress as force for centre-left Labour politics.

2018 is a new financial year, and a new start for Progress. We appreciate 21 generous years of funding from the country’s most successful science minister ever but the future of the organisation is in the hands of its members and supporters from now on. Progress is the most transparent group on the left and declares all donations of £5,000 or more on its website in line with highest standards set out by the campaign group http://WhoFundsYou.org and amounts of £7,500 or more with the Electoral Commission in the normal way.

It’s interesting that the end of funding was announced fully six months early and two large donations were subsequently made. Whether ‘saving’ Progress was a good thing will be a matter hotly disputed by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for the party.

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  1. Along with Sainsbury’s attempt to undermine Fairtrade agreements this is another good reason not to shop there

  2. Donation page says centre.
    Response has centre left and then the most transparent group on the left.
    Three different descriptions, transparent I don’t think so.
    In my view they should be kicked out of the Labour Party.

  3. This type of funding issue demonstrates that the Progress Organisation represents a reputational liability to the Labour Party.

    The Tory party is dependent upon 70 rich donors for funds. This creates a very real risk of corruption for the party, as it pressures the Tories to legislate policies which benefit its donors at the expense of the electorate.

    The Labour Party is a mass membership party and has the opportunity to be self funding, thereby avoiding that risk of corruption.

    This is a key point of difference between Labour and the Tories, Liberal Democrats and UKip, who are all dependent upon rich donors.

    By taking large contributions from rich donors both Tom Watson and Progress leave Labour open to the same suspicion of corruption as the Tories.

  4. So the cancer rot is still with us .On the left centre left moderates…….. all utter bollocks .Progress for the few and not the many .
    Give it up ,the party has moved on , now a centre left representing the many not your elitist establishment rich .

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