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CCHQ spending? Hmmm! Check the Mail on Sunday. Portrait of our leader by Jane Bown. While it would seriously disincline any redblooded woman to throw him out of bed, will it get us the "women's vote"???

Well thank you Editor. Now can we please have the discussion we need to have?

The arms dealer's wife's £100k is a vital indicator precisely because the loan is so small. Had it been £5million, the sleaze would have beene exactly the same but we could more easily understand David Cameron's mindset. But this trivial sum? And set against the £276k a year for part-time 'brand-guru' and long-time personal mucker Steve Hilton? Who then gets DC to promote his private clients?

Am I getting through? A) These guys don't understand money. B) They don't understand ethics. C) This makes it hard for them to run the Conservative Party well.

Today Cameron talks about the gap between the rich and poor in housing. A good theme. But from him? The first thing any decent brand consultant would tell you is you can't have this disconnect between the message and the messenger. You can't simply give lip-service. You can't say one thing and be something else. David Cameron is entirely the wrong person to deliver this particular lecture.

I am profoundly loyal to the Conservative cause. Which is why I say we should not be cheerleaders to his oncoming crash, but save him from himself. For all our sakes.

If you reduce the Tory party to a brand-consultant's whims, throwing out foundation principles on the way, surreptitiously taking bungs from arms dealers while talking green, you are doing exactly what SH's other ghastly CSR-cynical clients are doing. If Cameron fails, and fails by selling us out for this pittance, he and Steve will go on to other roles in life. But our party will be a wreck.

Much is being made of the fact that the party accepted a loan from someone who was born abroad but as duel nationality.
I know it may not be politically correct to ask the question but how many of those Asian businessmen who loaned Labour money were born here or hold British nationality?

So I presume the big businesses David Cameron wants to stand up to don't include the international arms trade.

Perhaps WH Smiths should have had the foresight to bung CCHQ £100K?

Ah yes, WHSmith. So very irresponsible, weren't they, selling chocolate oranges? They should have been selling hand-grenades like the friends of our dear leader.

Jack, the question of nationaility is relevant to the question of breaking the rules, not to the actual origins of people. The even bigger problem with Wafic Said is that he's a Saudi arms dealer. Doesn't it cause you just a little tiny bit of concern, Jack?

It's creepy. Nice pictures in the Mail, nice articles in The Independent, and underneath it all nasty financial doings.

I’ve always been against the weapons trade, but it is a mostly lawful business and lots of Conservatives argue for it. Isn’t it rather hypocritical to treat the resulting wealth, Mr Said and his family with such contempt?

No, it's not, Mark. It's right and proper.

(And an awful lot of it is not a lawful trade. Chocolate, on the other hand, is lawful. A even good for you.)

Jack Nevison
The Party statements are that no laws have been broken - so nationality doesn't come into it in this case as if we had accepted cash from foreigners laws would have been broken.

Said's cash was either from charity auctions or as a resident fro his English wife. The "australian" cash was from someone with dual nationality. Other loans seem to be from EU citizens - who are equivalent to UK ones for these matters. UK Political parties & UK individuals help political actions in many countries.

Auctions are interesting - do we now ask that successful bidders for auctions funding political parties (or political campaigns - Pro or anti hunting for example) can only bid if they fit the criteria set down by the Electoral Commission?

The issue isn't about Conservative loans, its about possible Labour corrupt practices. I agree this party could & should have handled the matter better but issue of our loans is a NuLab smokescreen.

I think you understate the importance of the Sunday Times story, Ted.

Loans/ grants from respectable businessmen are one thing but £100,000 from those who have profited from arms trading strikes exactly the wrong message.

If most people had to name the least savoury possible category of donor I think 'arms dealer' would come near the top of the list.

The loans that Michael Howard took before the last election can't really be blamed on DC. This £100,000 can.

Ted, I don't think 'no laws broken' is exactly the point. I don't think Labour necessarily broke any laws either.

And please remember how important appearances are to these guys. But underneath the appearances, it's worse than ever - money from anybody, and money to friends.

They're constantly telling us that apperances are all that matter, that good principles, and good people, can be tossed aside so long as the appearances are preserved. Everything is being determined by appearances now, not by reality. This is a superficial, vacuous leadership. If they can't even get things right on their own terms, then there's no point to them.

Serving Fair Trade coffee in their offices, fine. Paid for by powerful, shadowy arms dealers, no thank you.

Tim, Bux

Wafid Said isn't "shadowy" - he's well known, supports many charities, funded Oxford University with £30m. He's as much an arms dealer as the Chairman of BAE. He has had a long relationship with this party (not always maybe to our benefit ie Aitken) and has been a friend of Britain. So I can understand why Marland accepted a donation/loan (did he tell DC?) - which was from his English wife wasn't it?

Having said that I'd prefer we didn't accept gifts or loans from people in his position and that we had limits as Tim suggests backed by clear and transparent guidelines. I suppose Dave Cameron can adopt an ethical donation policy - it fits with green policy (the Clean Green Tory Machine)

Then the Camsceptics will complain about our party becoming the provisional wing of the Co-operative movement :-)

I can understand you dislike the new leadership & direction and think they are leading the party to disaster but can you quote me where they say appearances are ALL that matter. I happen to agree with them that appearances matter - which is why I think the mishandling of loans is a black mark - but also that policies and principles matter. Those policies may not be yours, and I disagree with some of the specifics I've gleaned but I think you are going over the top on "vacuous" etc.

A good post Ted.I'm fairly appalled at our leaderships behaviour in the last few days but I do feel that some of the posters here would use any excuse to bash Cameron.

I just hope someone in CCHQ is looking at these threads and realises that its not just the Camsceptics but the Cameroons who are asking for more probity, more transparency.

BTW did anyone see Prescott on Marr this morning? He was his usual incandescent self and he couldn't do more than deny the innuendo but strangely I found I believed his basic honesty, however incoherently expressed, more than that of most politicians in that position. However bad he is as a minister (and he is bad) there was the irreductible core of a good man under the prickly oversensitive bluster. He even in passing admitted he'd made mistakes and been pilloried for them , that he lived a privileged existence.

From his comments I wonder just how much more this fiasco has damaged Blair than we realise, how many more ministers will worry about their charcters being impugned by association.

The first line of the ST article says "accepted £100,000 from the wife of". She raised her hand at an auction. We've all been to similar charity fundraising auctions in the City when items go for ridiculous sums to drunken hedge fund managers trying to show their virility, or CEO's trying to make a point that their company really isn't insolvent despite all of the rumours. That is a perfectly legitimate way to give, and so is this. Will Associations have to record who sticks £5 in the raffle at the next Cheese and Wine do? This was not a loan.

So what if someone wants to pay £50k for Boris Johnson to come and clean their bathroom or £80k for a weekly guest column on this blog? She did not - and I'm sure everyone is getting as sick of hearing me say this as I am of saying it buy a law-making vote in our second chamber. That is still the scandal. This is a non-story, but it is being spun into a destructive one. This is all smoke - there is no fire under us yet. Unfortunately the public will tar us all with this brush because Labour stooges like the ST will keep dripping innuendo dressed up as stories which the man-in-the-street will skim over and interpret as all-in-it-together sleaze.


A year ago finding their books wouldn't balance Rover was closed down. Commercial organisations selling products no one wants are wound up.

Why is politics different - they can't sell their message they are unable to convince and now theyt want the public to fund them! If a political party can't run its own business without subsidy, loans and selling off assets why would ANYONE expect them to run our country better?

I suggest it might be time to increase the revolt in anger not apathy and not vote for any of these revolting people.

Looks to me as if under Vapid Cameroon the nasty party just got nastier for commercial gain!

Almost as corrupt as Labour - Vapid Cameroon would not have been voted leader without establishing EUroSceptic credentials, which he did by promising to leave the EPP. 4 months later little Tim Kirkhope fires his EUroRealist Press Staff, The Tories still have not reinstated Roger Helmer - even little Dan Hannan is muttering dishonestly about changing the EU and Vapid Cameroon has done NOTHING to honour his ONE promise.

Vapid Cameroon cheated to get elected - I presume this is his new policy - lie to be elected!

Greg L-W.

Thank you Geoff for reminding everyone of what is the key issue.

Problem is there is now a second story - who funds parties. We could have avoided this by more adroit politics but its here and we need to close it down as an escape route for Blair - and speeches on Housing & fluff pieces in the Mail don't address the central political issue this weekend for this party. CCHQ get moving and do something so we can let the media put the spotlight back on loans for peerages.

Whilst I'm railing against media innuendo, I liked:

"whose son Mark was said to have received payments for his involvement"

I would just like to declare for the record that I am currently 'receiving payments for my involvement' of being in the office. Writing it in a less slanted and pointed way, you could say that we both get money for doing something.

Ted, you have a cheefully sanitised view of WS - I think you're plain wrong.

"Can you quote me where they say appearances are ALL that matter" - in their actions. I concede they don't say it in black and white, but they are masters of gesture, and they spend little or no effort on coherent policy. The reason they can't lay a finger on Brown is because they don't actually have a counter-argument, as we saw in their laughable attempts in the TV studios!

"If most people had to name the least savoury possible category of donor I think 'arms dealer' would come near the top of the list."

Arms dealing may not be an occupation thought highly of by the Left but I expect most people in this country don't really care, especially as much of the revenue from it pays for our public services.

"If most people had to name the least savoury possible category of donor I think 'arms dealer' would come near the top of the list."

I seem to recall some Government 'investment' in shipyards just before the last election. Similarly some 'investment' in car-building areas; all of which just happened to be Labour constituencies.

It's a bit hypocritical for NuLab to use taxpayer money to pay for Labour voters to assemble expensive big pointy grey boats with guns on top, and then to adopt the moral high ground against someone who tries to sell one.

Why is being an 'arms dealer' such a bad occupation? I'd rather have that on my business card than 'lawyer', and the toys are more fun too.

Geoff, this isn't a normal world of trading. The arms trade is a world rife with corruption, and very often the arms are used to maintain illegitimate power elites. At the very least, the arms are used for swank, affordable only on the backs of the poor of those third-world nations. The arms deals in which Mr Said was involved were not, in the main, helping fledling democracies defend themselves!

That doesn't make companies like BAe illegitimate, but I don't think you'll find the vast wealth of middle-men like Mr Said based on honest toil. Is this really your idea of good business?


Samuel Brittan wrote a very good piece, Richard, some years back on the arms trade - questioning the economics of it. When you add up all of the subsidies and govt guarantees that the industry receives the case for it diminishes considerably.

...and that's all before you consider the costs of arming regimes that later come back to bite us. Iraq springs to mind!

Buxtehude, why isn't it a "normal world of trading"? I work in a corrupt industry (IT) where backhanders feature regularly. I've lost significant business because I won't play that game. I live with a horse and greyhound trader - now that is an interesting industry. Now that the Russians have taken an interest in the gambling world, people have woken up unexpectely dead.

All I'm saying that it is very easy to demonise someone with a hot-button phrase. 'Pharmacologist' is good, but 'Animal Tester' is bad...but they are the same thing.

If something is legal then it should be accepted as a legitimate form of employment unless the law changes accordingly. I made my point flippantly (which is my habit, and I apologise) but the world needs middle-men to organise the supply of computers and football players. Why not pointy things which kill people too?

Tim makes a good point about the repercussions of arming the 'wrong' people but I'm sure there were a few guys who had flogged a musket or two to the Americans just before 1775, and I seem to recall that German trenches in World War I were lined with British cement. Hindsight is marvellous, and my 20-20 vision is as good as anyone elses.

I'm still waiting for the story to come out that will make me think the party has been up to anything it should be so ashamed of it needs to keep it secret.

Interesting that there is a thread on this but the front page of the papers was on Labour and even BBC teletext reports on Labour and not us. I think we are cross but I can't see it resonating much in the country. T Bliar secretly organising funding outside the remit of his own party's officers using pseudo-civil servants to arrange funding, that does have resonance.

All I got from the Sunday Times was that somebody bought something at a silly price at an auction, that person's husband is involved in a trade that some people (myself included) feel is inherently dodgy. There is no evidence of anything corrupt in that.

I still wish we'd just come out and said where our money comes from. I don't think there's anything to hide. The arms trade is legal and the UK is a major player, so we could have batted that aside and internally decided 'no more arms dealer's wive's cash'.

So, clumsy, ill thought out and plain silly to accept such donations yes; shameful, maybe; criminal and corrupt, no.

And that's the difference between us and Blair et al (and I excuse the vast bulk of the Labour party from this - though I'm not so sure about Prescott and Brown - rather a lot of coincidences).

DC is going to get grilled on this when he makes his housing statement so I hope he is prepared to go as far as necessary to show we are a decent party with nothing to hide; that's what the membership expect and nothing less will allow us to ensure the spotlight stays where it belongs, 10 Downing Street.

Geoff: "If something is legal then it should be accepted as a legitimate form of employment" - bribes in British business are not legal.

I guess if you think taking £100k from a Saudi/Syrian arms dealer is not out of harmony with our rebranding as the party of Fair Trade coffee and criticism of WHS and chocolate oranges, then there's really nothing more that I can say.

You might like to check out the very restrained Middle East Intelligence Bulletin:


Kingbongo, we don't need to take our cue from the BBC to decide whether or not something is worth commenting on. To me, this loan isn't very good. But if it means we can drop the gesture politics elsewhere in our party, if we don't have to be lectures on 'good business' anymore by the Tory style-gurus, then it will have served a good purpose after all.

Sorry to take you off topic but I'm truly intrigued regarding 'Fair Trade coffee and Tea' - is Nescafe and PG not fairly traded?

Buxtehude, we didn't take £100k from a Saudi arms dealer. His wife raised her hand and placed a bid at an auction. If I buy a set of spoons at the next Association bring-and-buy sale do I need to declare that I live with a doctor who performs abortions, a used car saleswoman, or someone who takes horseracing bets (choose the one you happen to find morally unacceptable)?

To be fair, if I lived with someone who sold crack cocaine then I'm also not likely to mention it, but the fact is I don't. Much like Mr Said's wife, I live with someone who has a legally acceptable job (in the gambling industry in my case) which some people might find against their principles, either from a moral or spiritual background. I don't care. It's legal.

Debate the ethics of gambling and addiction if you like, but the betting industry (to use my personal example - any one of a hundred comparisons would stand) is 100% within the law as it stands. There are shady characters out there, but there are in every industry. Maybe I wouldn't trust you to sell me a vacuum cleaner. Did you buy them from a dodgy looking Moroccan? Sorry, that means I can never go to a Tory fundraiser again.

You take my statement "If something is legal then it should be accepted as a legitimate form of employment" and add "bribes in British business are not legal" as if those two statements have any rational link.

What is wrong with the statement "If something is legal then it should be accepted as a legitimate form of employment"?

Sorry to take you off topic but I'm truly intrigued regarding 'Fair Trade coffee and Tea' - is Nescafe and PG not fairly traded?

Buxtehude will probably tell you that Gold Blend is "used for swank, affordable only on the backs of the poor of those third-world nations"

Geoff, don't you see that your argument is as specious as calling donations 'loans'? It's fine if we're saying "we'll take any money from anyone anyhow." There'd be honesty to that. Problem is, the public hates this. The reason that Labour are being lambasted and yet the disgusted public is not turning to us is, quite simply, because they think we're just the same. Remember how much Blair made of sleaze against us in 1995-7? How much political advantage they reaped? Don't you wonder why no-one looks at us and says, 'let's have the Tories come in and sort it out'?

If you just want to defend this stuff, fine. You'll find the words to get away with it. But the public won't be listening. And I thought we were trying to win them back? What do we want: the money? or public support? Please don't tell me the public don't care about this sort of thing.

And Geoff, regarding the 'fair trade' swipe, you've got it backwards. I'm NOT in favour of 'fair trade' gesture politics. I never drink fair trade coffee. I'm very happy to drink Nescafe. You've missed the point, which is that Cameron/Hilton are lecturing us about how we should be, and then behaving quite differently themselves.

Don't you wonder why no-one looks at us and says, 'let's have the Tories come in and sort it out'?

No - I understand, look on and weep. We have selling of peerages on one side and their best riposte is spinning of a bid at a fundraising auction - suddenly we have a 'debate' and everyone is in it together. I'm not arguing about how it is playing to the public, I am lamenting the how we got to this situation.

You are absolutely right about how it looks to the public gallery, and I have no issue with your point about how badly it comes across to a sleaze-weary electorate but we perpetuate the problem when referring to this as a loan or a donation which it wasn't.

Am I playing semantics and debating points? Yes! Guilty! But that is because they are accurate. A lie, as it has been said many times, will go around the world before the truth has put its boots on.

I have said elsewhere that this was a big chance to damage or even end this administration, and I'm really worried about how effectively it has been turned back on us.

The Fair Trade swipe was grumpiness on my part - possibly fuelled by still being in the office but that is no defence and please accept my apology for that comment.

I'd still be an arms trader if I could, though.

Yes, but you'd only sell arms to nice people who need to defend themselves against nasty people, I'm sure.

What would you like?

No nationalisation of politics through state funding please. This will just fossilise our structure of parties forever in a form that is unattractive - as it is at present. Hence the low turn out.
As far as other funding - hard to say other than it is depressing for Conservative voters like me to see Mr Wheeler and his like, for all that he is the most attractive of individuals, peddled out as if he owns the conservative party. But hidden funding compromises us, as does state funding. Why not no funding at all? Conservatives would win again if the spin on which it is spent was removed. But this of course removes power from command "agenda" types in central offices, so it will probably never happen. I can still remember and attended old fashioned political meeting like Wilson at Green's Playhouse in Glasgow, and the Woodside by- election in that fair city. Happy days! Real politics!

One of the strange things here is that some here are saying that the wifes involvement in the auction isnt important and that it basically isnt a concern. It is a huge concern. It doesnt matter what it actually is. Thats not the way it actually works. In reality, perception is everything and the media ignores the reality if it makes a story better for the media.

The fact is that the wife of a Saudi arms dealer has gotten involved with the Conservative Party and the media will eat that up. Perception in politics is more important than reality.

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