Tories rolling in dough shocker

Isn’t it strange how sometimes two pieces of information arrive simultaneously that just go together to confirm a prejudice?

This afternoon, Guido’s post on Tory fundraising came to the top of my feedreader. The pithy title contains all you really need to know – Tories Raise More Cash than All Other Parties Combined – but if you’re a fan of pie charts, you might want to give Guido the clickthrough.

Guido’s story is that of all the reportable donations given to all the parties in the Electoral Commission’s third quarter, 55% of the moolah went to the Blues.

This report from Guido came hot on the heels of a couple of bits of information about Conservative fundraising efforts in Ealing, which has caused a bit of a stir in the local papers. An email arrived with a copy of a Tory letter, and a letter in the Ealing Gazette, which I reproduce below:

Tory Fundraising in Ealing

Tory Fundraising in Ealing

It’s that key phrase in the fundraising letter that’s caused the concern: “Unlike other political parties, we rely heavily on the generosity and goodwill of local people.”

When the Lib Dems write a fundraising letter, we frequently include a para that says “The Tories can rely on big business for donations, and the Labour party gets regular cash from the unions. The Liberal Democrats rely on local people like you to keep us campaigning.” At one point in the last electoral cycle, some wag added “and Formula 1 bosses” into the spiel to represent a controversial donation, but it’s still broadly true. Both Labour and the Conservative parties receive substantial donations systematically from groups of people with cash to spare; the Lib Dems and the smaller parties not represented in Parliament have to fight harder to earn donations, and by and large they come from individuals not organisations.

We’re long since used to the other parties stealing our clothes when it comes to learning from the campaign strategies we spent decades developing. But it is offensive to see the Tories trying to plead poverty and mislead voters about how much money they are pumping into campaigning.

It’s just so easy to catch them out, too: pop over to registers.electoralcommission.org.uk and choose “Register of Donations to Political Parties” From there, just enter “Acton” into the accounting unit and see how the flow of cash goes in the Ealing Central and Acton. Of the £177,461.25 donated to political parties over the last few years, £167,595 was donated to the Conservatives. And whilst some of the names of individuals can easily be linked to local Tory luminaries – Barbara Yerolemou is the current Mayor of Ealing, for example – the local connection of many of the rest of the generous donors is difficult to find. Anthony “Deep Pockets” Shlesinger, for example, doesn’t apparently feature on the local electoral register and his company, Spudulike, is not represented within the constituency.

So, just a word to active Lib Dems – in almost all cases, the other parties are raising more money than us locally. If you’re planning a mailing to members, perhaps a bar-chart might help with the fundraising effort?