Tories, Academies and Really, Really Big Money: Whose Hands on the Levers of Power

This has proved extremely popular on the Leeds NW CLP website. It would be a shame if our readers in Adel and Wharfedale missed out.

Leeds North West Constituency

Ordinary folk like us are sometimes taken aback by the sheer brass-necked cheek exhibited by Tory politicians and we don’t just mean Osborne’s ‘We are all in this together’ mantra!

Take the case of Robert Edmiston, for example.

In the Sunday Times Rich List 2013 Robert Edmiston was ranked 209th of the wealthiest people in the UK with an estimated fortune of £440million. He made his money in the motor trade and through property and vehicle finance. One of his ventures was the acquisition of the Subaru car dealerships in the UK – there is one on the Otley Road at the top of Pool Bank.Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 17.21.02

Mr Edmiston is an evangelical and explicitly anti-gay marriage Christian who makes large donations to charities, including Christian Vision. Through his charities he is the sponsor of three secondary schools, under the single umbrella of Grace Foundation. These schools lie within the English…

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Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill – What price a LibDem principle?

Leeds North West Constituency

Lobbying has been at the forefront of the political agenda recently – and especially since Lynton Crosby crossed the threshold of No 10. David Cameron has been under pressure to tackle it. His – and the Coalition’s – response was the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.944481_10151493954607411_537161168_n

You’ll note that ‘Lobbying’ is not all this Bill deals with: the Tories and LibDems thought it would be a clever plan to include the Trade Unions and their activities in this – no doubt with an eye to stymieing Labour, not to mention diverting attention from the major questions facing the Tories over lobbying.

Well, the plan succeeded – though not perhaps quite as they had intended.

The TUC has called the resulting bill “an outrageous attack on freedom of speech worthy of an authoritarian dictatorship”.

The TUC fear the bill contains clauses which would make organising its…

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The Liberal Democrats’ New Politics – or How to Trouser £99,423

Leeds North West Constituency

The backstory.
On Sunday, 16th May 2010 the Liberal Party released a press statement:
‘Liberal Democrat Special Conference in Birmingham today overwhelmingly approved the party’s Coalition Agreement with the Conservative Party.’
Nick Clegg was very pleased with himself. He thought that the failure of any party to achieve an overall majority at the 2010 general provided the Lib Dems with, ‘The chance to transform politics, the chance to hardwire fairness into our society, the chance to change Britain for good.’

To be fair, transforming politics had been a key part of the Lib Dems election manifesto.
It promised the electorate, ‘a fair deal by cleaning up politics.’ Specifically it promised to:

1. ‘Put trust back into politics by giving you the right to sack corrupt MPs.
2. ‘Restore and protect hard-won British civil liberties with a Freedom Bill.
3. ‘Overhaul Westminster completely: fair votes, an elected House of Lords, all…

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Eating your way to influence – party-funding Tory-style

Leeds North West Constituency

Party-funding has slipped out of the headlines. Must be those important economic moves by Mr Pickles to allow parking in driveways and force the building of wheelie-bin shelters which have driven it off the agenda. [Might think about building affordable and social houses first, Eric]. Well, this is after all the ‘silly season’ in politics.

But serious business shouldn’t be forgotten. And figures available on Tory party funding for the second quarter of this year are serious business which deserves more attention.1003992_544203725644163_2129169521_n

Analysis of Conservative Party donations from April to June, shows that they received £1,042,970.93 in this last quarter from donors who attended private dinners with David Cameron and other senior Ministers.

This includes £694,370 from donors in the financial sector.

The Tories’ own list of donors who attended Leader’s Group dinners in the second quarter of 2013 is published here.
And here’s a list of…

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The Tories, Lynton Crosby and the Tobacco Companies – demand Cameron clean up politics

Leeds North West Constituency

See if this story alarms you as much it does us:

– Last year the Government announced plans to make it illegal for cigarettes to be sold in branded packaging, after substantial evidence shows it will prevent cancer deaths;

– Months later the Prime Minister hires Lynton Crosby as his chief strategist, a man paid handsomely to lobby for firms including a major international tobacco company;

– Last week: The Government suddenly drops its standardised packaging plans – a move that Cancer charities say will cost lives.

The public has a right to know: why is David Cameron refusing to say whether Lynton Crosby was involved in discussions about cigarette packaging policy?1044884_10151488632817411_1088910777_n

Labour is tabling amendments to the Lobbying Bill after the Government published proposals that will only apply to a tiny proportion of the lobbying industry.

Earlier this afternoon, Ed Miliband wrote to the Cabinet Secretary over Lynton Crosby.

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The Tories, the City – and all of us.

Leeds North West Constituency

In the next of our series on Tory party funding, we turn the spotlight on the Tories and the financial sector.

Not that that’s easy – in fact it isn’t easy to discover the real picture of Tory financial donations at all.
You may think that all party funding is open and accessible. And in one sense it is. But the publicly available figures only tell part of the story.
Donations are often made by family members, company directors will donate alongside partners at the same business, groups of wealthy people have even banded together to make political contributions. The result is that the real concentrations of donations are obscured.

Revealing the truth is time-consuming and laborious – and as a result most figures are a couple of years out of date. But academics like Stuart Wilks-Heeg of the University of Liverpool, and journalists like those in the Bureau of…

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The Tories, Private Health Companies and the NHS

Leeds North West Constituency

Last September the Daily Mirror revealed some interesting facts about Tory party funding – specifically linked to Circle, ‘Europe’s largest [private] healthcare partnership’, which has taken over Hinchingbrooke hospital.images

As so often in these cases, the links were far from transparent.
According to the Mirror
‘Circle’s leading shareholders are Lansdowne Partners, Invesco Perpetual, BlueCrest and Odey Asset Management.
Lansdowne Partners holds a 29% stake, Invesco Perpetual 21.9%, Odey Asset Management 21.1% and BlueCrest Capital 7.1%.
The boss of Lansdowne Partners, Sir Paul Ruddock, donated £630,000 to the Tory party.
The Chief Executive Officer of Odey Asset Management Crispin Odey has given £242,000, Sir Martyn Arbib of Invesco Perpetual £413,000 and BlueCrest founder Michael Platt £125,000.
The companies said there was no link between the donations to the Tories – made privately by individuals and not by the firms – and each company’s business investments.’

Andy Burnham commented at the time…

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The Tories, the Developers and the Green Belt

Party funding is in the news at the moment. So it’s perhaps the time to turn the searchlight on the Tories’ sources of income. It's a beam which certainly reveals some interesting facts – and begs some serious questions. And some of them are very relevant to concerns in Leeds North West about housing development. … Continue reading The Tories, the Developers and the Green Belt