Monday, 15 February 2010

Tories Face Questions Over Funding

A blogstorm has broken out as political commentators have raised questions about campaign funding in the Conservative party.

Labour councillor John Ennis started the debate by suggesting tory parliamentary candidate Alok Sharma is able to "pay for people to deliver fancy leaflets of airbrushed politicians that actually say nothing about what they are going to do" because he is funded by the "an exiled Tory grandee who doesn't even live in the country."

West Reading independent left-wing councillor Tony Jones picked up on this claim asking:
"with all the fuss about MPs expenses, what should we think if Alok Sharma gets into Parliament with a campaign paid for by questionable money? "
This provided Linda Fort with the opportunity to give Conservative spokesman Paul Swaddle a right of reply.

However he could only state that Belize-based billionaire Lord Ashcroft does not directly provide any funds to Conservative campaigns in Reading.

He then attempted to deflect the attack by attacking the 'cheap political points' made by opponents and the holier-than-thou attitude of Labour activists who are funded by wealth donors themselves.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrats have joined in the debate.

Cllr Warren Swaine notes the "inevitable mudslinging" in the affair is the result of confusion caused by inaccurate details.

To clear up the confusion he corrects the mistakes by identifying from the official record the three millionaires who do contribute to Mr Sharma's campaign, explaining that Lord Ashcroft has provided direct funds to the Conservative campaign in Reading East - not Reading West.

He goes on to describe Labour's 'wallet envy' as an attack motivated by purely partisan interests which follows internal dissent in the trade union movement leading to reductions in their contributions to the Labour cause.

Tilehurst's Cllr Ricky Duveen joins in to say donations from such millionaires who fund party politics for self-advancement should be forced to repay the millions they have spent buying influence.

He comments that fraudulent tax-evaders who fund politics are a "disaster for democracy."


More from on the election trail.


  1. Would that be the same Ricky Duveen who's a member of the Lib Dems who received more than £2million fraudulently obtained money from a man who is now banged up which they refuse to pay back to the people he stole it from? Same old holier than thou double standard Lib Dems.

  2. As I understand it Reading LibDems were not recipients of any donation from Michael Brown, that the LibDems did not solicit the donation, nor did they know at the time it was from a man who would later be convicted of fraud.

    While I think you make a partial point, I would also highlight that Michael Brown has not profited by his donation - in fact it is arguable that his attempt to use the donation as a means to launder stolen money was actually what set in train the chain of events which lead to his arrest.

    But as I'm not here to defend anybody else, may I ask you what you have to say about the substantial individual donors of the past 5 years (including as the two Lords Paul and Ashcroft, who, the above bloggers imply, effectively bought their titles to gain parliamentary privilege and positions of influence)?


"Reading List... is fantastic, it could help revolutinise politics in Reading"
Matt Blackall

Matt Brady

Adrian Windisch

Reading Geek Night

"A bloggers digest of the Berkshire blogosphere"

"An easily accessible collection of Berkshire's excellent blogs"
The Cookham Blogger

"An excellent digest of the thoughts of local bloggers"
Reading Guide