By Tim Montgomerie
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ConHome's owner Lord Ashcroft has been in the news over the weekend. The Sunday Times reported (£) that the former party treasurer and close friend of William Hague "has told friends he has given enough money and is unwilling to devote further resources to securing an overall majority in 2015." Lord Ashcroft will speak for himself but my understanding is that it's no secret that he thinks the next election represents an uphill struggle for our party - people only need to read the commentaries on his opinion polling. It's also true, however, that he hasn't ruled out giving to the party's central funds. What, I suspect (I don't know), is more likely is that he'll support individual candidates in individual seats, especially where those candidates have produced the kind of battleplans that he encouraged them to have when he ran the party's target seats operation.
If he has decided to stop giving to the party it won't be a huge blow to Lord Feldman's fundraising. Party funding is more diversely based than at the start of David Cameron's leadership and this chart from the Spectator captures the fact that his Lordship has not been making big donations for some time.
By Tim Montgomerie
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I am delighted to report that Lord Ashcroft was given a new role in the Prime Minister's reshuffle and it's very much a round-peg-in-round-hole appointment. Regular readers of ConHome will know that our proprietor is fascinated by military history and valour. He has also been a consistent supporter of charities concerned with the welfare of former service men and women. The decision of the PM and Defence Secretary to appoint him as the Government's "Special Representative for Veterans’ Transition" is therefore very appropriate. Michael will work across all government departments to review the help that military personnel receive as they move from uniformed to civilian life. He will audit that help and make recommendations for how it might be improved. The Government intends the appointment to be a signal that it is serious about the military covenant - which it enshrined in law as one of its first acts.
Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Defence, commented:
“This is an important new appointment which is further confirmation of this Government’s commitment to looking after those who give so much to protect and serve the United Kingdom. Lord Ashcroft has a long-standing and deep interest in the Armed Forces and a track record of support for veterans.”
> The Sun welcomed the appointment this morning.
> Lord Ashcroft has also been appointed to the Privy Council. Other new appointees were Greg Barker, Hugh Robertson, Andrew Stunnell, Paul Burstow and Lord Wallace.
This huge subsidy of the union movement was uncovered by Lord Ashcroft.
"To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have given funds to the Trades Union Congress; and, if so, how much in the past five years."
Baroness Wilcox, a BIS minister, answered:
"The Government provide funding to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to support a number of programmes but do not keep a central record of expenditure. The main sources of direct government funding over the past five years have been from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for International Development. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills provided funding to the TUC for the Union Learning Fund (ULF) and unionlearn, the TUC's learning and skills organisation, to support trades unions in working with employers to raise skill levels in the workplace. The department also provided funding via the union modernisation fund and strategic partnership fund to support modernisation projects to help trades unions respond to technological, economic and other changes in the workplace. The total amount of funding provided from 2005-06 to 2009-10 in respect of these programmes was £69.8 million. The Department for International Development provided funding to the TUC to support the Partnership Programme Arrangement and the Strategic Framework Partnership Agreement. The total amount of funding provided from 2005-06 to 2009-10 was £2,186,780."
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