Thursday, January 24, 2008

Malcolm wonders

Hello! What's this? It's the estimable, totally unbiased and absolutely devoted-to-the-actualité Nick Robinson, no less. Banging on about Peter Hain and political donations. Again.

And -- look here! -- a neat little hot-link to Who are the biggest political donors?

But that can't be correct, can it? There's a name missing, surely?

Where is the Lord Ashcroft?

Thow know'st: Michael Anthony Ashcroft. He of the KCMG and Belize nationality. 89th on the Sunday Times Rich List. He's not on the list.

And yet ...

On 12th October 2007 he was accused by Labour MP's for being allowed to heavily fund the local Conservative organisations in marginal seats of his choosing. The Electoral Commission is investigating and changes to the rules are predicted.
And, again quite mysteriously, at that point all contacts with the BBC blogs, including that of said estimable etc Robinson go down. Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

Bearwood is part of Lord Ashcroft´s coporate empire and they are on the list

Malcolm Redfellow said...

That you, anonymous, for that helpful hint.

Suddenly we see it all:

"We are not a company seeking publicity and we do not discuss our political donations," Bearwood's founder and managing director, Lyn Austen, says.

Bearwood is described on its website as a "merger and acquisitions broker", which provides a range of services to private and public companies.

According to records at Companies House, Bearwood Corporate Services is owned by Bearwood Holdings which is itself 99 per cent owned by Astraporta UK, an investment firm entirely controlled by Ashcroft. Meanwhile, Austen is also a director of Astraporta UK and of Michael Ashcroft Associates, another investment firm which is listed as a dormant company.

More intriguing is where Bearwood has paid the money. Over the past year it has not handed a penny to the Conservative Central Office. Instead, it has funnelled its donations to local Conservative party offices in Taunton, Gillingham, Medway, Romsey, Orpington, Ribble, Poole, Northampton, Harwich, Telford, Hornchurch, Wellingborough, Corby, North Norfolk and Hastings and Rye.

Why? The answer may lie in the fact that these are nearly all marginal seats.

Bearwood appears to be defending weak Tory incumbent MPs, such as Adrian Flook in Taunton, who has has a razor-thin majority of 235, and the Orpington MP John Horam, who won the seat in the 2001 election by a margin of just 269 votes.

Moreover, it is also targetting potentially winnable seats held by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. For instance, Bearwood has given £3,000 to the Conservative Party's north Norfolk office, where Norman Lamb, the Lib Dems' rising star, has a majority of only 483.

When The Telegraph asked the Conservatives to discuss Bearwood's apparently scattergun donations, the Party refused.

Now, isn't that all so-o-o transparent?

Just as are all those above-board contributions to Tory funds, such as those from Flowidea (a subsidiary of Arbuthnot Securities, which itself is owned by Secure Trust Banking Group).

And, of course, Meekland (owned by Brompton Investments, which is registered in the Cayman Islands) and which operates out of its accountant's office.

So all clear there, too.

Goodness me, says Malcolm, I feel a blog-entry coming on.

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