Kaye was born in Russia, the son of wheat merchant Zelman Kagarlisky (1877/8–1926; his name was also spelled 'Zalman Kagarlitzky') and his wife Chassia Annie (1885/6–1943), a botanist. The family came to England when he was young, settling in London. Emmanuel was educated at Richmond Hill School, leaving to work for a small engineering firm at the age of 15. In 1934 his mother changed the family name to 'Kaye'.
Kaye was a member of the CBI council from 1976 to 1989, and its financial policy committee from 1985 to 1992. Once a strong supporter of the Conservative party, he was persuaded by Lord Levy to contribute substantially to Tony Blair's Labour Leader's Office Fund before the 1997 General Election. Kaye was associated with the Labour Friends of Israel.
Among major beneficiaries of his philanthropy was Emmanuel College, Cambridge, which made him an Honorary Member in 1994. He was Vice-Chairman (1981-5) and Chairman (1985–99) of the Thrombosis Research Trust.
- Labour Party PLC: New Labour as a Party of Business—lengthy extract from David Osler's book about Labour fundraising and the Labour Leader's Office Fund
- Pierce, Andrew (18 November 1997). "Blair's chance to raise cash for Pounds 1m refund". The Times. Missing or empty
- Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, Kelly's Directories, 1969, p. 1122
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 10th June 1967, p. 6277-6278
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 7th June 1974, p. 6793-6794
- Who was Who
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