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This CH campaign is an excellent idea. £100 grand is still quite a sum- others have suggested £25 grand. But it might help stop the worst of the cronyist sleaze quagmire.

Anything we can do to downsize top politicians and make them more accountable to us is to be welcomed.

PS Let's also make sure they don't use this a s an argument to get more taxpayer funding. There are conflicts of interest, and then there are CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.

Yes, I was barely conscious, priviledge of the retired, but it did wake me up! First though, we should carefully examine our own wardrobes/cupboards/ backyards/ to make sure we arn't handing TB a cheap debating point. Never forget. He is a practised, sleazy lawyer, who wants to stay in power. How much have we borrowed? Did we put it in the public domain? Have WE been sneaky about anything Nulab could get us for? How many Purchased Peers or Loaned Lords have WE got. Be very, very sure that some little researcher over at Nulab HQ is going over our stuff with a fine tooth comb as I speak. It will then go into that big file TB lugs onto the table every time he gets up at PMQs, and he is ready to pounce. I will now go into Batty Old Trout mode. Put TB and DC's charts together, take the midpoints, (computer prog, I aint no Einstein) and the result is a map of their relation ship. I should do it properly, and send it down, but it may fall at the first hurdle! Any way, theirs is a first magnitude catch you before you catch me sort of communication. If I had done it 102 days ago, DC might have been waiting for TB to pull his "flip-flop" gag. As it was, he fell into it. So we MUST have all our own "fess ups" carefully looked at before we strike. Then, and only then, we can go for the jugular, hopefully, without immediate comebacks.

The nature of party funding and the trading of peerages for cash stinks to high heaven. The Conservative Party should take a stand on this issue.

Come on, Editor. Surely you aren't that naive? We're just as guilty on the hidden loans front as Labour is, and maybe even moreso. That's why the leadership is keeping quiet. To try to gain political capital would be hypocritical and would stink to high heaven of rank opportunism, neither of which sit well with Cameron's Conservatives.

I do not support any artificial limit on donations to parties. If such a limit were in place and it applied to new parties, then James Goldsmith could not have achieved what he did with the Referendum Party in the 1990's. Without his money the Tories would not have offered a referendum on the single currency, the Labour Party would not have followed suit and we would very likely now be in it.

It's not how much a donor gives that matters it's what a party is prepared to do that counts. There will always be a battle for influence in which wealth and position will be big factors. There is no way that this will change. Wherever any limit is set there are ways round it. How can you stop a wealthy man placing advertisements independently of a party in the national press, unless you are in favour of further suppression of free speech? How will you stop the owners of newspapers from using their papers for political campaigns?

If parties cannot raise monet from voluntary donors then the alternative is that we get state funding which is far, far worse. It would lead to a sterile politics in which party members were largely irrelevant and "the state" would decide which parties were worthy of funding and how much they were entitled to.

Conservatives must stand up for the rights of the individual to use their money as they see fit. It is socialists who want to control everything.

There should be no legal restrictions on donations or loans by individuals, voluntary organisations or companies. Freedom to donate is linked to freedom of association must be protected.

There should be restrictions on honours given to individual donors or officers/directors of organisations that donate.

Have to agree with Selsdon, a free society does not limit political activity and it is a slippery slope. The politicians will use it as an excuse and start calling for state support and the taxpayers will be forced to fund them.

Any £100,000 limit will be circumvented by multiple donations routed through fronts as in Washington.

Transparency is the important thing - we need to see who gave what.

I agree with Seldson Man, there should be no limits on donations (however they are structured) but, the big but, is that the source of all income should fully declared for public scrutiny. Raise as much as you want, but you must let us know about it.

With each passing day this issue is becoming sleazier and sleazier for New Labour, but the Tories (and LibDems) are impotent to criticise.

It is a damning indictment of the state of British politics today when the opposition party cannot hold the government to account over a major and growing sleaze issue because it has its snout in the very same trough.

This issue will contine to grow, and it will drag the integrity of the Tories down with Labour unless they bite the bullet and swap secret loans for transparent funding.

"There should be restrictions on honours given to individual donors or officers/directors of organisations that donate." - Selsdon Man.

I do not agree, as this will put off those who genuinely deserve an honour from donating. Keep the honours system separate from government and donations and loans public; then let the public judge each case on its merit.

DC in his piece today says that we need to restore integrity to British politics and we all know he is right.

Selsdon is also right that an aritficial limit only encourages idiots like Dennis McShane to call for State funded parties.

We should, as Annabel says, 'fess up' to our position. My feeling (and hope) is that the tory party may have loans but that the officers of the party know about them and they have gone through the accounts in a proper manner.

If not we should be ashamed and admit to it; then ensure that we are totally open about donations/loans or any other funding tool - why should somebody be embarrassed to give/lend us money?

I'd never encountered Jack Dromey before (so young) but he then turned up on two programmes within an hour. He was on Tory Tory Tory expressing the merits of trade unions and socialism and then appears on the news as Labours treasuer. Perhaps that explains why he went public. Must detest all these millionaire businessmen buying honours.

When the Labour Treasurer says he did not know about the loans, does this mean that they were recorded in the party accounts as income ? If so, the accounts are wrong and need to be adjusted. Or were they not recorded in the accounts at all ? If so, what happened to the money ? Either way this looks like serious fraud to me.

Isn't Jack Dromey Mr Harriet Harman?

As with Browns PFI arrangments, if this sort of behavior went on in a company, the serious fraud office would be down on them like a ton of bricks. The whole thing stinks of sleaze.

Labour's Enron moment
Unfortunately, it is looking increasingly like Politics Enron moment.

The core issue is not about cash-for-honours (sleazy though it is)or even registering loans in accounts (though of course this is very serious in itself) it is about political parties deliberately side-stepping the aims of transparency of political funding using a vehicle outside
Electoral Commission rules.

Remember, these appear to be not real loans, but quasi-donations, made in a loan structure but (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) not really expected to be repaid as they can be renewed in perpetuity.

Who will be the first party to show an ounce of integrity and accountability to us the British people and to call for immediate and full declaration of the source of all party income?

This could all be resolved in a matter of days. It needs no cross-party agreement, committees or rule changes. There can be no legitimate reason why parties seek to mask the source of these loans, to the public can scrutinise who is bankrolling them.

However, don't hold your breath.

If such a limit were in place and it applied to new parties, then James Goldsmith could not have achieved what he did with the Referendum Party in the 1990's.
He could have set up the Referendum pressure group/think tank/campaign though.

I would echo Chads views on this issue.I hear on the BBC that Labour backbenchers are calling for an investigation into party finances even if it uncovers anything damaging to the Labour party.Ours should be doing the same.Our current policy of silence leaves our party wide open to attack.

There's a clamour for the conservative party to state something loud and bold on this. Rather than diving into announcing that we are 'whiter than white'. It's probably a good idea if the Conservative party has a good look at its own loans and donations to make sure that we are sleaze free on this issue.

I agree with Selsdon Man. I think it is quite reasonable that an individual or a business should donate money to the political party of their choice, as to how much, I don't have a definite opinion - some people/businesses are richere than others. HOWEVER, ALL of these transactions should be in the public domain, and absolutely, most definitely NOT be made in exchange for public 'honours'.

Like many who have posted before me, I agree with Selsdon Man, there should be no legal restrictions upon funding. I cant see how it would effectively be enforced and dont like the extended state control. However I would very much support a move by Cameron to attempt to get a cross party voluntary agreement to cap donations.

Blair facing tough questions on hidden-loans-for-peerages at his monthly news conference looked very much on the back foot. This could be VERY bad for Labour.

Ed Vaizey MP has just been on The Daily Politics. He hopes the Conservative Party will move to full transparency on loans and that the Conservative Party will get ahead of the curve on this issue.

I seem to be in a minority re a cap on funding - at least amongst those who have posted here but I'm glad we're pretty much agreed on loans transparency.

I think there is something profoundly undemocratic about an individual being able to give hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds and distort the electoral geography as a result.

It is much better that power is widely shared in a democracy rather than in the hands of a few.

Until there is a cap on donations I don't believe that the Conservative and other parties will do the necessary work to connect with people around the country and produce a new grassroots army.

As I have written before: "At the moment there is nothing to stop a UK citizen or other permissible donor making unlimited donations to political parties. Imagine if the late James Goldsmith hadn't just funded the Referendum Party for the 1997 General Election but had set up a £200m endowment that would have allowed it to campaign in perpetuity? That would have been perfectly legal under existing rules."

Tim, caps will not stem the flow of money coming in, just divert them elsewhere.

Now this could be argued to be a good thing in the sense that , for example, conservative think tanks independent of the party etc would get more funds, but on the negative side it will lead to even less transparency.

If Joe Bloggs wants to give £5million to one party, as long as the public is fully aware of this donation then we can judge for ourselves whether he is wielding unfair influence and voice our concerns directly by withholding donations, resigning, not voting etc.

This is really important. For example, if you look at the little New Party, one may support its agenda, but a quick check on the Electoral Commission site shows it has received all its donations, for all time, from a single source. One man's play thing? Well, maybe, maybe not, but thanks to disclosure, we can judge for ourselves.

Caps won't encourage the small donors back, only a manifesto they believe in will

As has been generally noted, the notion of legislative caps on donations goes against political freedom, and the reality is that they would be too easy to circumvent anyway.

That said, I think the Conservative Party is putting itself in a very vulnerable position by accepting loans that may or may not be called-in. I would like us to change our internal rules in order to ban this high-risk funding. This is a matter of self-interest and I couldn’t care less whether Lib-Dems and Labour follow suit.

If loans have to be at the commercial rate, Why does New Labour arrange them with dodgy businessmen?

What a great quote from the Electoral Commission that sums up these loans perfectly:

"There remains a fundamental question in the mind of voters, as to why - if loans are really on commercial terms - parties are borrowing from supporters rather than commercial lenders,"

From ePolitix

I'm with Lord Ashcroft on this. Anyone should be allowed to give as much as they want. Corruption, as always, should be punished but I believe it's possible to give £1 million a year without demanding favours or peerages in return. Didn't Mr Cameron say we should trust people? I rather have someone giving £1 million on something he or she believes in than spend it on another enormous mansion or ferrari.

Its very interesting hearing Blair saying "the buck stops here" with cash for peerages. If further infomation comes out, will he be held to that statement?

I agree with Chad (who agrees with me): wealthy donors should send their money to think-tanks and activist groups like Reform, the Taxpayers' Alliance, ConservativeHome and the Young Britons' Foundation. The Party will only waste it!

They have borrowed £l.5 million. Are they having to pay interest on this? When does it have to be paid back? How are they going to afford it if they are so short of funds?

Q&A: Cash for peerages row

Tony Blair has been accused of providing "peerages for cash". He denies nominating them in return for donations or loans to Labour. Here is our guide to the affair.


Channel 4 has reported that loans total is about £12m for Labour last year - so there is more to be revealed. DC has promised same openess as Blair but I would have hoped we would have rung round "donors" to get permission to reveal loans openly - go further than Labour.

Issue is twofold - selling the honour (and seat in HoL) & influence over policy. We are open to attack on first if large donors seem have been "rewarded" but as we aren't in power and DC doesn't seem to be influenced by donors are probably OK on second. Openess & transparency plus ordinance on maximum level of direct contributions to party are where we should aim.

Pace Donal, Chad etc but donations to conservative activist groups could be perceived as getting round the guidelines. Versions of Committee to Re-elect the President for example - ie a group called Concerned Citizens for a Conservative Government could be created which keeps arms length from the Party, or alternatively if donors were associated with a particular party line groups such as the Taxpayers Alliance could be seen as a Conservative agency. Experience in Germany & France show the degree to which an overly constrictive set of rules drives corruption. Even our comparatively unrestrictive laws have resulted in current loans scandal.

The party needs to become more professional, it needs to invest more in local constituency agents, in better communications with members, supporters and voters, in media training, in market research & polls. For that it does need our cash and cash from rich donors - and what better way to prove we will not waste money in government than to employ the people and methods that maximise return on my, your membership fees and donations! You can't employ the best on the cheap but you can show members & activists you aren't wasting their money by providing services to them, their constituencies - and results in elections.

Ted is quite right - we need donors, large and small and we need to be open about them.

There does seem a reluctance to stick the knife in on this and yet I trust it's an area where we actually have nothing to hide and can go further than Blair can. Also from what I am told loans to us have been interest-free and therefore declared to the Electoral Commission. I trust none of the dodgy "commercial" loans have been obtained and if so let's get it all out in the open and show we can walk the walk on transparent funding.

This is a mess of Bliar's own creation but DC shouldn't be afraid to go for the jugular over it. Fear over tory sleaze won't wash. We had liars, sexual incontinents and a ridiculous farce over one backbencher and a brown envelope - this Labour stuff is in a different league.

I am disappointed with the behaviour of our party once again. We've had to wait for Blair to act before we ended our deafening silence on our own loans and have just matched his pledge on revealing the identities of those who provide FUTURE loans.The inference being yet again that we have something more to hide about what we have been up to until now.
If we want to be taken seriously as a decent honest sleaze free party we have to be open and transparent in our dealings.This is far far more important in restoring our credibility with the electorate than some of the gesture politics the leadership has been indulging in.

With all three parties, and by implication their leaders too, caught in this loans issue and not resolving it satisfactorily (ie full disclosure of past and present loans - as the public will see anything else as sleaze, and hiding the truth), I wonder if the calculated winner will be Brown as he not just turns the knife on Blair, but presents himself as "white knight" of transparency.

This has been such a poor performance by the Tories, that it leaves the door open for Brown to take the "moral" media high ground by distancing himself from it when if the party had nothing to hide, it could really have flipped public perceptions of which party is the sleaziest.

On this serious issue concerning trust and transparency, the opposition has failed to hold the government to account and has left the door open to Brown to attack back.

The only way Cameron can avoid this is to go further than the government and declare the source of all past and present loans to the Electoral Commission, but I assume there is little chance of that happening.

It seems that almost every week there is a story so amazing or depressing that I must be in a dream until reality sets in as true to form the opposition misses a relentlessly open goal.

Funding issue first up on Question Time tonight. 'Capping' has been mentioned a few times.

It comes across as Conservatives have something to hide - not what we want from Cameron's Conservatives. The moment the issue arose Mr Maude & co should have been clearing the decks to get our stuff on the table - just think how much harder Mr Blair would have found this morning press conference.

Now it looks like we have secrets to be dragged out from us.

I agree with Chad (who agrees with me): wealthy donors should send their money to think-tanks and activist groups like Reform, the Taxpayers' Alliance, ConservativeHome and the Young Britons' Foundation. The Party will only waste it!

Actually I think the donations Lords Ashcroft and Steinberg made to local associations are the most effective method of funding the Party - modest donations in the grand scheme of things, but significant to an individual association, and backed up with a genuine plan to spend it.

Even a low four-figure sum would be of enormous benefit to many associations particularly in our cities.

For the second time in a row we have refused to put up a spokesman on Newsnight to discuss this issue.Predictably therefore our party has been absolutely slaughtered by Roy Hattersley (who was also very harsh about Blair),probably for the first (and hopefully last)time I feel forced to agree with him.
I would hope that our party high command feel as ashamed of themselves as I do of them.

Party funding should be declared - end of.

Any source of funding should be named - a gift that can be sold on, a donation or a commercial loan from an individual or bank.

WF Deedes sums it up best in the telegraph
"How similar to Africa we are becoming .... Our top men enjoy privileged residences at nominal charges, our ministers get a new fleet of limos. Our top man spends a colossal sum on a residence for his retirement.

Cronies who give or lend money to enable the Government to stay in office are rewarded with higher status and are distinguished by garments decorated with ermine. Election results have become more suspect, because so much cheating goes on.....

You know, every time Cameron says "We have changed", Brown will be able to throw this back in his face.

Without full disclosure of past and current loans, the party is in danger of derailing the camcon project.

It would probably not be unfair to believe that the Tories must be hiding something really murky and dishonest for them to judge it better to sit on their hands on tough it out, rather than do the right thing and come clean.

I wrote earlier in the week about the choice of Dodgy Dave or Come-Clean Cameron, and it is becoming increasing obvious which has been chosen.

Poor old Paticia Hewitt hung out to dry this morning! Thought she sounded a tad unconvincing. Why dont we go through our accounts as I have suggested before. They surely cant be worse than Labours, even in the 80s/90s??? It would have been old Con, not Cam Con, so on balance, does not the moral high ground then revert to us? I cant post any more till Monday, as my computer man is upgrading my anti virus. Too techno phobe to do it myself, so box of tricks goes across town. See you sunday?

"Actually I think the donations Lords Ashcroft and Steinberg made to local associations are the most effective method of funding the Party - modest donations in the grand scheme of things, but significant to an individual association, and backed up with a genuine plan to spend it."

I tend to agree with this, Iain - while declaring an interest as part of a target seat campaign team that benefited from this particular funding stream!

The need to have a genuine business plan on behalf of the campaign in order to secure a donation from Ashcroft for me is something that teaches us a key point in securing the help of the grassroots supporters and donors that the Editor is rightly in favour of.

Especially at the level of local association membership renewals, potential supporters will be more willing if they can see very clearly what their money is doing in building the next Conservative government under David Cameron. Very specific local campaigning projects on the ground, or in neighbouring target seats, particular capital investments by local parties that greatly benefit our campaigning infrastructure - these are the things to which I believe local parties should be asking people to donate.

I was looking back at some of the history of this scandal and found this spun under the guise of "making the system more open"


No wonder he can shift £14m along the sides

Can anyone find, a single reference to any of this affair on the official website of the Her Majesty's official opposition, i.e. conservatives.com?

Not one single word of critcism? Not comment? This is not opposition.

I've searched and searched for the Tories position on this but nothing.

This is possibly the biggest sleaze issue to hit Blair, could be the catalyst to bring him down, but there's nothing but tumbleweed from the Conservatives.

The BBCi piece says that the Conservative Party shows all loans on the balance sheet - at full value. So we aren't hiding loans or only declaring the interest or whatever fudge the Labour Party use.

As for donors - well we know many already and the Guardian disclosed amounts last year and the fact we were looking to convert some of them:

So lets step up to the plate and also show we haven't anything to hide, followed the rules but are now going to be as open as we can be.

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