UKIP beat Liberal Democrats on donations

UKIP donor Paul Sykes and party leader Nigel Farage Paul Sykes (L), one of the UK's wealthiest men, has said UKIP is the "last best hope for Britain"

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UKIP have reported more in political donations than the Lib Dems in a quarter for the first time, according to the Electoral Commission.

UKIP reported donations of £1.4m from April to June this year - £170,000 more than reported by the Lib Dems.

A UKIP spokesman said it was "a sign that electorally and financially we are now superseding the Liberal Democrats".

The Conservatives reported £7.2m of donations for the second quarter of the year, while Labour reported £3.8m.

The period coincided with May's European elections, in which UKIP got the biggest share of the UK vote, and the party led by Nigel Farage is now aiming to get its first MPs elected at next year's general election.

More than a million pounds declared by UKIP came from a single donor, the Yorkshire businessman Paul Sykes.

The Lib Dems said it demonstrated that UKIP was a one-man party - "one man politically and one man financially".

The Lib Dems said their £1.2m in donations came from more individual donors than ever before.

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£10 pound notes

Analysis, by Arif Ansari

UKIP say these figures show they are superseding the Liberal Democrats electorally and financially as the third party of British politics. The level of donations is certainly significant. It is the first time UKIP have overtaken the Lib Dems.

But there are important caveats. The vast bulk of the cash, just over £1m, came from one donor, the businessman Paul Sykes. He was particularly keen to support the party's campaign for the European elections, and indeed played a role designing the party's posters.

The Lib Dems say that £241,000 of UKIP's donations should have been declared in the previous quarter and, taking that into account, they have not been overtaken. Certainly these accounts show UKIP attracting more money, rather than the Lib Dems attracting less. And the race for cash will intensify for all the parties as they attempt to fuel their general election campaigns.

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Labour v Conservatives

The biggest donation reported during the quarter from an individual for Labour was £629,000 from property magnate Sir David Garrard. It also got £683,000 from the trade union Unison.

The Tories said Labour had now received a total of £34m from trade unions since Ed Miliband became leader in 2010.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said: "We all know what payback they want from weak Ed Miliband: more wasteful spending, more taxes, and more debt than our children could ever hope to repay."

Labour said the figures showed another £2m had been donated to the Conservatives from donors who attended private dinners with David Cameron and other senior ministers, taking the total to £5m this year.

Shadow cabinet office minister Jonathan Ashworth MP said: "When millions are flowing in from hedge funds and exclusive groups of donors, is it any wonder David Cameron stands up for the privileged few?"

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