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Blue-collar Cayzer

SOLOMON HIGHES looks at the ancient stash of 'posh cash' that is funding the Tories' attempts to court the Northern working class

IN a demonstration of the Tory commitment to self-made men and women, a big slice of the Conservative Party campaigning in down-to-earth constituencies is funded by a man who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps — about 140 years ago.

The Cayzer Family Trust funds Tory campaigning in many constituencies. The Cayzer money comes from a simple lad who made his fortune in the 19th century. It has been the fortune for a big family of country-estate-owning inheritors who have been living off his industry ever since.

Charles Cazyer, son of a schoolmaster, was born in London’s Limehouse in 1843, went into the shipping business and eventually became hugely wealthy from his own shipping firm. He used the money from his steamship line to buy vast country estates in Scotland. He was elected a Tory MP in 1892, then later made a hereditary Tory lord.

His offspring and their offspring have all continued to enjoy his wealth, although they have given up shipping. Instead the Cayzer family make money from money.

They gather their cash in the Cayzer Family Trust, which runs as an investment vehicle: the Cayzer Trust in turn owns around half of another investment firm called Caledonia, which allows other non-Cayzers to join their investment in stocks and shares.

The Caledonia name references the family interest in Scotland — and among the investments is a substantial slice of AG Barr, the Cumbernauld-based soft-drinks firm behind the well-known bright orange fizzy Scottish drink Irn Bru.

However, these are just touches of Scottishness. Both the Cayzer Trust and Caledonia Investments are based in a grand Westminster HQ, about four minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace.

Merchant banker Charles Cayzer — or “the Honorable Charles Cayzer” to give his full name, heads the family trust. The Sunday Times “Rich List” estimated his family’s wealth at around £819m in 2020, making them the 172nd richest people in Britain.

The Cayzers have had big arguments over money: There was a huge family row in 2004, with one leading flamboyant Rolls-Royce-collecting Cayzer accusing another top Cayzer of “double-crossing him” over cash. This was settled with an £88m payout to rebel members of the family from the Cayzer Family Trust.

The Cayzer family may argue, but they have been consistently Tory as well as consistently rich for over 100 years, with leading Cayzers being Tory MPs and Lords.

Much of the Cayzer Trust money currently sloshing around the Conservatives has tended to flow to what are seen as “red wall” (Northern working-class) seats, showing that behind the supposed outreach to blue-collar voters, there is a lot of posh cash.

So Tory MP Trudy Harrison took the Copeland constituency in Cumbria 2017, a formerly Labour seat. This year the Cayzer Family Trust has given her local party £14,000 to help her hold the seat. The Cayzer Family Trust also put £7,500 into the Barrow-In-Furness Conservative Party in 2020 to support newly elected Tory MP Simon Fell in another formerly Labour seat.

The Trust also paid £15,000 to the Penistone Conservative Party to support Miriam Cates, the newly elected Tory MP in this typically Labour Yorkshire seat.

Mansfield Tory MP Ben Bradley helps run Blue Collar Conservatism, the Tory group claiming special knowledge of winning over working class voters. Bradley (who was privately educated) also got £7,500 of Cayzer Family Trust cash for his local party in 2020.

Since 2017 the Cayzer Trust has given £175k to the Conservatives, much of it focussed on provincial constituencies with a history of Labour voting.

It’s another demonstration that the Tory aim to be the voice of “traditional” Northern blue-collar workers is funded by some very privileged, very rich people.

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