Not a BBC Three spinoff from Doctor Who, but Bearwood Corporate Services, the medium of choice through which Lord Ashcroft funded various target seat campaigns for the Conservatives in the general election.
The Electoral Commission’s latest news release details donations and loans reported in the third quarter of 2006, but also include a list of donations that should have been declared earlier but weren’t. Sat on the naughty step with £207k of late donations are the Labour Party, followed by the Tories on £168k. (The LibDems were late with £23k, for which certain local parties deserve a metaphorical clip round the ear.)
Of particular interest are donations made before the 2005 general election. If that seems a long time ago, it’s because it was. The only LibDem donation to fall into this category was a transfer between councillors in Cannock Chase and their local party. The Tories, however, managed to fail to declare on time a number of Lord Ashcroft’s generous pre-election donations: £5,000 to the Harlow Association, donated in January 2005; £5,000 to Brighton Kemptown; £2,145 to the Hastings & Rye Association.
What may amuse LibDem and Labour bloggers is the constituency which received the largest previously-undeclared pre-election boost from Bearwood Corporate Services. Anyone want to hazard a guess? Yes, it’s the £7,993 donation to North Norfolk Conservative Association – and I think we all know who was the candidate there. Now I have no intention of casting aspersions on Iain, of course – PPERA reporting is not the parliamentary candidate’s responsibility – but I couldn’t help a wry smile at the coincidence. (And lest anyone forget, despite Ashcroft’s cash Norman Lamb romped home in North Norfolk, increasing his majority.)
That said, this donation nevertheless is trumped by larger previously unreported donations in Reading East, Wirral West and from the notorious Midlands Industrial Council to the Tory campaign in Shrewsbury & Atcham, among others.
All the main parties need to do better to ensure compliance with the PPERA, but some have further to go than others.
Tories open nine-point lead as Labour drops to 19-year low
Wow. The Tories went up a lot?
Actually, no. The Conservatives have gained 1%, Labour have dropped 4% and the LibDems have gone up 5%. How this squares with the article saying
The poll shows former Labour voters switching to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in almost equal numbers
is not quite clear to me. Anyway, here’s an alternative headline for you:
LibDem support increases 30%
The same poll, incidentally, found that 72% of people think that
government policies such as backing for action in Iraq and Afghanistan have made this country more of a target for terrorists
while only 20% believe the Government tells the truth on terror.
So say the Conservatives, apparently, who have delayed their London mayoral selection by six months. Their excuse, courtesy of Francis Maude, is that
We have also received expressions of interest from a number of very serious potential candidates for whom the timescale we originally set is too restrictive.
Everyone else well assume, not unreasonably, that the Tories aren’t happy with those who’ve put their names forward, none of whom will be familiar to most voters. If the party high command isn’t enthused about them, it’s hard to see how the electorate will be.
We’re told the most well known is Nicholas Boles, a Cameronista who failed to win Hove at the General Election. Londoners will be understandably suspicious of the commitment to the capital of any candidate who contested a parliamentary seat in a different city just last year.
As for those put off by the timescale – clearly these potential candidates would each make for a very decisive mayor…
That’s the question spreading its way through teh internets this afternoon.
Bob Neill, already employed in various jobs and seeking to become Tory MP for Bromley & Chislehurst, is a board member of the North East London Strategic Health Authority (and you’re right, Bromley isn’t in North East London – well spotted).
According the Part III of Schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, among the “Other Disqualifying Offices” which would prevent one taking a seat in the House of Commons are:
Chairman or any member, not being also an employee, of any [Strategic Health Authority,] Health Authority or Special Health Authority which is a relevant authority for the purposes of paragraph 9(1) of Schedule 5 to the National Health Service Act 1977.
So this is one job from which Bob would have to resign if elected by the good people of Bromley.
It does prompt a big question though, as raised by the Monkey. When Neill signed his nomination paper to stand in the by-election, did he have to certify that he was not covered by the provisions of the 1975 Act at the time of signing? Perhaps someone who knows about these administrative matters can get to the bottom of it.