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We have former donors all over the press criticising the party, at the same time Lord Ashcroft is working diligently and quietly to improve our electoral chances with funding and more importantly a growing expertise in how to target marginal seats. In fact he might even be our desperately needed answer to Lord Rennard!
He has supported the party throughout the bad times and is still extremely passionate and motivated towards the goal of electing a Conservative government. His reward so far has been to be personally attacked and undermined by the Labour party and certain people in the media because he did support the party at its lowest ebb financially.
"but there must be anxiety that any one individual can enjoy such power in our party."
Does he, or is it just that he has found a very successful formula which will be desperately needed come the next GE?
It looks to me as if he is now becoming part of a more focused team effort within the party rather than an individual with too much power, surely that is a move in the right direction?

David Cameron though favours greater state funding for political parties, political parties have to raise money somehow - they can self regulate and requirements for publication of details of donors mean that the public can see if particular people are apparently having an inordinate influence on policy making and decide accordingly.

There is a balance in the fact that if a party implements policy favourable or desired by one person then if people who might vote for them don't like it then however much money they are given they will end up suffering as a result, as such it is in the interests of political parties if someone seems to be getting undue control to restrict their access to policy making even if it means lower donations.

There needs to be rules regarding the repayment of loans to political parties to ensure a minimum amount is paid back after a given period with it all being paid off after within a certain timeframe set by statute and there is a minimum interest rate applicable - this will stop the risk of open ended loans which effectively are an alternative form of donation that gets around the rules.

I have no evidence that Michael Ashcroft has been anything other than a positive force for the party but in principle I dislike the fact that one unelected person should have so much influence. If he disliked the direction of the party he could walk away and leave a massive hole in our party. For the party to have put itself in such a position is very unhealthy.

Lord Ashcroft is a hugely public spirited individual. Unlike Labour's "quid pro quo" donors, there is nothing more the Tory party can do for him. He is already a peer. And yet he ceaselessly puts his hand in his pockets in order to further the Tory cause, which he thinks best for the country.

Jennifer can be reassured, too. Cameron supports limited state funding (I am undecided). Ashcroft is against this. But he has not stopped supporting candidates in marginal seats.

As Political Betting points out in this am's identically-titled article, Ashcroft fjunding target seats is no more nor less than Labour's Unions funding their target seast, which has given them the advantage for decades, and of course due to the disastrous Boundary Review Labour starts with a 60 seat advantage on equal polling anyway, so it's the world's smallest violin when they bleat about Lord Ashcroft.

If he's reading this article as I suspect he will, thank you, Lord Ashcroft, for your enormous generosity and public spiritedness. This is the difference between Lords Ashcroft and Kalms. The one donor gives selflessly and does not demand that his money buys control over party policy, the other believes you give money and you get influence on policy direction. One is a true donation, the other a transaction.

Thank you, Michael Ashcroft, for all you do for the party and by extension the country.

Lord Ashcroft's contribution to the Party is crucial and I echo the previous comments. Thank you for your work which has an incredible impact.

If Labour attempt to stop this without also banning their unions doing the same thing then we can expose them as shameless hypocrites.

The job of working constituencies at grass roots level is a specialised area. Ashcroft has accumulated a lot of experience and has a track record of success.

The media tries to rubbish and blank our message, and prevent it from getting through to electors. Thank God we have another wing to the party which is specialised in communicating our message direct to the voters bypassing the media.

We stand on two legs, not one, and that is why we will win the next election.

I have long thought that Harriet Harman is a hypocrite. This confirms that thought.
Labour uses Union money to further their ends. Yet not all Union money is provided by Labour supporters. Goose and Gander spring to mind.

Good luck to Lord Ashcroft. We have him and Labour has the unions. I know how passionate he is about our target seats. Remember, under FPTP we need 40% to win a seat, Labour needs just 35% so we start at a disadvantage that boundary changes will not help.

Re yesterday's thread about fighting Brown and keeping up the pressure in the media. We should bombard the BBC with emails and tel calls every time we feel their reporting is biased. The Today programme in particular when interviewing Cameron recently and the same evening on the 10pm news when Guito (?) Harry summation was "that the Tories are in total disarry".
Yesterday morning on BBC breakfast, where was Peter Ainsworth? They had Labour and Chris Huhne. We should be protesting vociferously.

To help our PPCs and Lord Ashcroft's efforts we need regional press officers in place and activists need to hold eye-catching action days. In 3 Kent seats I am arranging EU Action Days, asking for our promised referendum on the new Constitution. This does not go against the party line but keeps on side our traditional people and tells voters that we are the party safeguarding our interests in Brussels, not UKIP.

Yes, thank you Lord Ashcroft.

For interest, what were the 24 that Lord Ashcroft helped us win last time out- there were some brilliant results that would not look out of place, even for the 1987 election- Forest of Dean and The Wrekin immediately come to mind.

I am Campaign Manager in a marginal seat that has been the recipient of Lord Ashcroft's support.

We submit a Campaign Plan outlining the projects we wish to undertake. This must be detailed: timeframes, suppliers, performance criteria and desired outcomes. These must also include suggestions to increase membership and improve our own funding base so the constituency can begin the process of becoming financially self-sufficient in the future.

After several weeks we receive a call to say which projects Lord Ashcroft will support.
Any that are not supported do not have to be abandoned - simply he will not finance them. If we wish to raise local money to pay for these then we are free to do so. The suggestion that he is dictating the issues on which a candidate / Association can campaign is nonsense.

We are immensely grateful to Lord Ashcroft for the financial support he provides. In my own constituency this does not, repeat not, give us a massive tactical advantage over the Labour Party. It simply provides a level playing field as we can match spending by the local Labour MP who is bankrolled by his own Trades Union and also has the advantage of his Parliamentary Information Allowance to produce a quarterly glossy newsletter.

Good on Ashcroft! Glad to see Labour are going 'bananas' over him!

Labour are being totally hypocritical on this one. Their MPs are funded by the trade unions and they voted in yet another increase in tax payer funded expenses for propaganda between elections. A number of MPs are already using vast sums of tax payers money on unsolicited mail - letters posted out en masse to streets and wards almost weekly, often with first class stamps. In theory these are not meant to be political but in reality they are twisted to achieve that aim. Any opposition candidate struggles to even get onto a level playing field. If Labour want to make this a fight they better look at themselves first or the mud is going to stick on them.


Very interesting article. I think a key seat in the next general election is going to be the battle between Ruth Kelly and Susan Willams in Bolton West. There has even been talk of Ruth Kelly cutting and running to a safer seat because Susan Williams is such a formidable opponent. Those of us who have seen what Susan has done for Trafford council will know that she would make an excellent MP. I'm wondering whether Michael Ashcroft is going to weave his magic to help Susan get elected at the expense of Ruth Kelly?

Lord Aschroft is a real true blue. However, would we be quite so comfortable if it was Rupert Murdoch or Al Fayed. Who was bankrolling marginals.

In the short term we need Lord Ashcroft in the longet term I am with DC on this one.(Can't quite believe I agree with the man!)

I am a great believer in the saying - "there is no such thing as a free lunch"

Whilst discussing party funding, you've got to hand it to George Galloway and his critique of Labour's funding from porn baron Thingymajig who owns the spurt..sorry, Daily Sport. This was priceless Parliamentary debate which had me in complete hysterics- especially when Galloway mentioned some of thingymajig's more 'risque' publications!

As a Conservative candidate, in the change of government swing seat of Dover & Deal, I know that if we do win the next election - and it will be a close run thing - much of the kudos will rightly go to Michael Ashcroft and his team.

You have to admire Michael Ashcroft. He's never sought election, yet he's had more dirt thrown at him than any elected politician. He cares passionately about the future of Britain and he made a great difference at the last election.

Michael has chosen, in his right hand person Stephen Gilbert, one of the most formidable campaign organisers the Conservative Party has ever had. He understands that, rather like a car without petrol, an election campaign without money just don't go.

So of course Labour do not like him. In his presence they see sown the seeds of their defeat.

Funding is always contentious and always will be .
Good on Ld. Ashcroft for all his efforts - much appreciated .

Rather than accepting any criticism in any way it would be far better to go on the attack over Labour Party funding -
- it stinks to high heaven and from a number of directions .

eg the Labour government gives money to the unions via " renewal " funding or some such rubbish
and the unions give it back to Labour . That is effectively taxpayers money used to fund the Labour party , thinly disguised as " investment ".

and then there is always cash for peerages -
Brown is vulnerable on this and yet he is not held to acount .

Remember, under FPTP we need 40% to win a seat, Labour needs just 35% so we start at a disadvantage that boundary changes will not help.
To win a seat a candidate just needs more votes than any other candidate - a candidate can lose on just short of 50% of the vote and can win on any percentage below this so long as they have more than anyone else.

So far as the national vote going with an overall majority, a party can lose a General Election with more than 50% of the Popular Vote nationally and could maybe even win with less than 30% of the vote in very exceptional circumstances. Distribution of the vote is a major factor - win a seat with a majority of 1 or on a tie through picking straws or tossing coins and that's a seat in parliament; win with a 40,000 majority and that's still only 1 seat in parliament. The Conservative Party have been piling up votes in safe seats, this does give them a very secure base ensuring a hard core of seats in parliament that even if they were to go into meltdown they would continue to hold, but does make it more difficult than for Labour to achieve a majority; Labour on the other hand have a lot of seats held on quite a low vote.

One possibility is to decide in advance how many seats the party with the largest number of votes gets for a given percentage vote and then distribute other seats based on percentage of the vote of other parties as a percentage of unallocated seats. This would ensure that the party with the most votes would win the most seats and it could be decided what percentage vote was considered desirable to get a majority and also help achieve one party government while also giving smaller parties some seats - such a system could also stop parties winning a majority on a third of the vote or less and if Labour got 35% of the vote and the Conservatives got even a single vote more could ensure a Conservative overall majority - in such a circumstance Labour would then get their share of other allocated seats, obviously there would have to be a national percentage threshold - maybe 1% of the vote.

Such a system could also stop absurd majorities on low votes such as 100+ majorities on less than 40% of the vote which is quite possible.

GroundhogDay is a Labour troll, so ignore him. Hopefully, Lord A can be persuaded to give some money to some non-target seats to tie Labour up and keep them out of the marginals?

There were many top marginals that were not captured by the Conservatives at the last election, especially those held by Lib Dems.

You only have too look at the results in North Norfolk, Cheadle, Solihull, Morecambe etc to see that local Lib Dems are brilliant at increasing majorities and targeting marginals.

Too much emphasis is placed on the role of Lord Ashcroft's funding. In practice, the candidate and the local campaign teams are the factors.

Contrast the results in Enfield North and Enfield Southgate. Southgate was won with a huge swing. North, much more marginal, was held by Labour. Reading is another example.

Having campaigned in over 20 marginal seats in 2004 and 2005, the variation in the quality of the candidates and their campaigns was very apparent.

The main problem is that too many candidates and officials believe that campaign activities such as leafleting and canvassing are enough. They are not. The design and content of literature would have shamed a marketing undergrduate.

Effective use of internet campaigning was rare, Grant Shapps showed how it can deliver huge results. Bespoke campaign sites are very effective.

Blogs are a waste of time as no one reads them, mainly due to poorly written and self-indulgent content. Yet many PPCs, mine included, persist with amateurish blogs.

Much of the problem appears to lie with CCHQ staff, Area Campaign Directors and agents. Their campaign skills are out of date. Until the dead wood is cleared out rather than rehired (e.g. as consultants) we will continue to lose key target seats.

there is too much quibbling. It is a no brainer. Lord A is a force for good and many MPs owe their election to him. CCO/CCHQ would be unimaginable without him

I was not quibbling. My point is that a lot of Ashcroft's money was wasted by poor candidates and incompetent party officials.

Even worse, many of those poor candidates were put on the Priority List at the expense of very good candidates. Some of the worst agents that I have come across have been promoted to Area Campaign Directors.

I would agree with those who write that Lord Ashcroft is a force for good. He has given huge support for this party during some desperate days and unlike people like Stuart Wheeler or Stanley Kalms has never publicly tried to force his agenda on the party.
I am very suprised Tory T, that you are still undecided about State Funding. It is both tactically a bad idea because it will benefit our opponents to a far greater degree than us but far more importantly it is morally wrong.

Yes indeed, well done the noble Lord Ashcroft. I often wonder when I read the scurrilous attacks on our larger donors why they put up with it .It would be much easier just to give the cash to charity with none of the aggravation but of course many of them including his lordship do both.. In real terms however whilst the money is important, the real reason Labour fear Lord Ashcroft and his team is the degree of professionalism they bring with them to the campaigning in target seats. Having met with and presented to the Ashcroft team I was hugely impressed at how quickly they were able to grasp the issues, identify the strengths and weaknesses in our constituency organisation. All that target seat funding is doing is levelling the playing field. The unions pour millions into key Labour seats under the guise of sponsorship – we don’t hear Harriet Harman spouting about that, but then husband Jack Dromney might have something to say to her about that. Then there is the £10k pa that MP’s have just voted themselves for ‘communication’ with their constituents, nothing immoral about that?
I have yet to meet anyone who is in favour of more state funding of political parties, other than the odd ( very odd) Lib dem. We don’t need to cap donations either but capping the national spend on elections would introduce some business realism into campaigning, and save the £5or £6 million we blow on useless poster campaigns

These days political funding is more and more essential, and the fact is that without it there is little a party can hope to achieve. This isn't a great state of affairs, but given that its a fact, I'm mightily glad we have the support of Lord Ashcroft. The fact he is at odds with Saachi is also a good thing in my book, he's more of a realist about what we need to do to get elected.

Thanks Vera- but this thread is about a Conservative donor- not Labour donors! LOL :)

Incidentally, I also watched Galloway discussing porn chiefs supporting Labour finances. I found it unfortunate that he was not allowed to have his say and was named and thrown out before he finished his defence.

Ashcroft's team are top notch, solid and practical,


"Ashcroft's team are top notch, solid and practical".

That team worked on the Birmingham Hodge Hill, Leicester South and Brent East by-elections. In 2005, Labour held on to over half of the top 50 target seats.....

Agree that Ashcroft and his cash are invaluable but also back up Hmmmm's comments that a scandalous amount of cash was wasted.

One obvious local example to me was Wirral West. A decent and hard working (if inexperienced) candidate but a fractious, bickering Association resulted in this once safe Conservative seat being won for the third time by the Labour Party.

Literally THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of pounds were spent but clearly ineffectively. One look at local election results over the last 10 years or so tells the real story. The Association have presided over nothing other than electoral losses during a period of Labour rule and whilst we have increased our representation elsewhere massively.

Why has this been allowed to continue? What has CCHQ done about it? What has the Area Director done about it? When will something finally be done??

And sadly, Wirral West is not at all unique!

Lord Ashcroft should be applauded for the work he has and continues to do for the party and for his views on the state-funding of political parties.

That cannot be said for those who collude with a centralist authoritarian Government to grab funding from the public coffers. Any party that receives state funding would inevitably become just another part of the state machine, at some point, with its independence fatally compromised.

The concept of state funding for political parties is an abhorrent abuse of the taxpayer and must be resisted at all costs. Those who contemplate it have no comprehension of what Democracy means.

Political parties only have a right to exist whilst they are representative of a group of people. Their size and importance must remain relative to their popular support. Their existence must not be prolonged by enforced subscriptions.

I'm very concerned at this. I reckon it makes the Conservatives look very shady and prone to allegations of sleave and being in the pocket of Lord A.

Congratulations and gratitude to Michael Ashcroft for spending so much of his time and money helping the Conservative cause.

Ashcroft is also right in saying that state-funding - or taxpayer funding - of political parties is wrong in principle and is anti-democratic. Public opinion, Labour and Conservative, is overwhelmingly against it.

Cameron ought to be leading the opposition on this one - if only because the Labour party is in far more desperate financial straights than we are.

So, Gordon. You dont think Nulab is shady then, using Union Members money to fight elections?? I guess the answer would depend on whether one was a labour supporter onself!

Spot on, as ever Annabel!

Annabel it might come as a suprise to you but I am a Conservative supporter. Do you think if anyone takes a contrary opinion to your own that makes them a Labour supporter. I totally agree that funding by Unions should be outlawed and there is a valid case for state funding of political parties.

We must remember how sleaze haunted the last Conservative government.

"We must remember how sleaze haunted the last Conservative government. "

Nor should we forget how sleaze *continues* to haunt politicians on the European mainland who are funded by, er, state funding of political parties...

Given a choice of being me being forced to fund corrupt politicians or letting them get the money from rich donors, I'd take the latter option every day of the week.

Its a shame that in 2005 very little of that money seemed to come to LibDem marginals. We were contesting a 1000ish LD majority but had very little outside help.

There is a valid case for state funding- Gordon Hetherington. Really?I'd be delighted to hear it.
The only reason it's even being considered is that we had a deeply corrupt Prime Minister in Blair who got caught and his party is now wanting to fleece the tax payers instead of those they tried to sell peerages.

what a nonsense!! all political parties can choose where they feel their money is best suited. some may buy advertising some may put it into marginal seats. if labour feels the conservatives are spending wisely they should divert their resources to meet the challenge. simple

by the way "smell the coffee" can now be downloded for free on www.lordashcroft.com

At least he HAS his gong.

I'm a member of a Constituency hugely grateful for the money he gives us. Are we going to win next time? If it's in October chances are we won't, should we stip fighing? Of course not! But we couldn't fight this fight without the Lord Ashcroft funding. Thank you.

I'm with the majority on this: thank goodness for Lord A!

I only hope that his Lordship can persuade DC to see sense and OPPOSE state funding ABSOLUTELY. Not only would it seriously upset most taxpayers, it would also be morally indefensible.

There are a lot of complacent people in the Tory rank and file if this thread is to be believed. Lots of people are too ready to be grateful for Ashcroft's money without thinking through the long-term implications of the party becoming so dependent upon one man. He has more power at Central Office than 95% of our MPs. If he always did what the party leadership wanted that would be fine but he has an agenda and he has the party by the short and curlies.

CCHQ Spy ought maybe to get out more. We should not be anything other than grateful to Michael Ashcroft for his massive contributions. If we do not want to "be dependent on one man" we should find a few more generous philanthropists willing to give time and money to the Conservative cause.

Ashcroft's 'agenda' is to help the party win marginal seats. Thousands of others have contributed to this fund too because we also feel it is a good way to direct our resources.

It is Gordon Brown's dishonest, anti-democratic agenda that we need to worry about - not Michael Ashcroft's.

You miss CCHQ Spy's point Frank. So long as the party lazily depends upon Lord A's generosity it doesn't have to diversify its funding base and risks a very narrow form of dependency. Can you really not see this as unhealthy? Lord Ashcroft is not the villain here but the party leadership that is allowing him to buy this influence.

why should lord ashcroft determine who runs this country with the use of his money when he does'nt live here
lord help us if cameron and his faggs getin

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