Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And the biggest tossers of all are ...

So just days after suggesting that young people in debt are all 'tossers' the Tory Party turn out to be the biggest tossers of all.

According to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission the Tories owe a total of £35.3 million pounds.

Of this £3.6 million is owed to 'Lanners Services Limited', a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, £3.5 million to Lord Laidlaw and £2.5 million to 'Morain Investments UK Ltd'.

Around half is owed to the Allied Irish Bank.

The total includes large loans to local Conservative Associations including Harrogate & Knaresborough, Kingston & Surbiton and St Ives. I assume some of those are related to property, but clearly some local associations overstretched themselves printing all those leaflets claiming that the Lib Dems don't know how to manage money properly.

There is a serious issue here. The Conservatives spent money like there was no tomorrow with the aim of unseating Lib Dem and Labour MPs at the last election. It is now clear that they were spending money they didn't have. Would voters in those Tory target seats have been so keen to switch had they known that the Tory campaign was being paid for on the never never?

Labour are clearly deep in the s**t too.

Clearly they should have had Gordon in charge of the pennies rather than Tony.

Labour owe more than £10 million to the Co-operative Bank and more than £4 million to the Unity Trust Bank, a vehicle through which the Unions lend money to the Labour Party.

Much of the rest is owed to wealthy individuals, many of whom were coincidently put forward for peerages by Blair.

Labour's big problem appears be that their income from donations is drying up. This is due to their over-reliance on big donors, many of whom seem to have become somewhat shy of late. (And who can blame them)

This raises the same issue as it did with the Tories. Labour spent millions during the last week of the campaign last time in an attempt to squeeze down the Lib Dem votes. If they had spent within their means they wouldn't have been able to.

Would they have won seats like Islington South, Oxford East and Watford if they hadn't borrowed all that money?

While the Lib Dems do have some debts there are two key differences with the other main parties:

1 The Lib Dems have consistently reported their loans to the Electoral Commission in line with the advice they sought several years ago.

2 The overall level of indebtedness is much lower, compared to regular income, than the other parties.

That is why the Lib Dems are continuing to expand their professional campaign organisation and support on the ground.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the Tory position is anywhere near as bad as Labour's - and I'm not speaking out of partisanship. At least the Tories have Smith Square, from which they can expect to raise £30m when it's sold.

The amusing thing about all this in my mind is that the millions spent in the last week probably had no effect at all, despite what you say. Does anyone really take any notice of the leaflets or billboard ads? Most people are so fed up by the end of a campaign of the posturing and have probably made up their minds already anyway.

Personally while I'm glad that the loans saga has been exposed, I'm worried by the prospect of state funding up ahead. I cannot see any justification for the state to financially support certain political beliefs: parties should stand or fall on their support. I'd be willing to see tax breaks on donations, but that's about as far as I think we should go. On the other hand, putting a cap on donations would have one huge beneficial effect - it would force the parties to get out amongst the public and build support, rather than just dictating from on high.

Liberal Neil said...

Yes - clearly the Tories have the advantage in terms of having a large asset against their loans.

My experience was that Labour's last minute campaign to squeeze the Lib Dem vote did have some effect - we picked it up on doorsteps - which is why I only mentioned seats where the result was very marginal.

I certainly think the funding system should give parties an incentive to broaden the base of their funding. Maybe tax relief on donations up to a certain limit.

monoi said...

What makes you think that Gordon would have done a better job than Tony ?

He would probably have been better at hiding it, PFI style !