Once again we find Cameron standing up for the wrong people and mixing with the wrong crowd

by Michael Dugher

Despite the fact that the city broker ICAP, which was founded and run by David Cameron’s former treasurer Michael Spencer, has been fined £55 million by regulators over the Libor scandal, it has been confirmed that Mr Spencer will be attending the Conservative party conference in Manchester.  This will give the Tory donor unrivalled access to both the prime minister and the chancellor.  No wonder people say Cameron can’t stand up for working people, just a privileged few.  Once again we find Cameron mixing with the wrong crowd.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the US has found that ICAP brokers, including one known as “Lord Libor”, helped rig the inter-bank lending rate for a period of at least four years.  And the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK has said that the culture at ICAP Europe Limited exacerbated the problem, which included a “heavy focus on revenue at the expense of regulatory requirements”.  Indeed, it was discovered that the desk at the centre of the misconduct was not audited for four years.

Cameron fought tooth and nail last year to avoid launching a proper investigation into the rigging of interest rates and now it has come out that the company of one his biggest donors was heavily involved in the fraud.  In the House of Commons in July 2012, Ed Miliband called for a two-part, judge-led inquiry into what happened as well as the wider culture and practices of the industry.  But Cameron repeatedly refused.  Why was it that he was so determined not to act?

Electoral Commission records show that Michael Spencer has donated a total of £4,804,681.46 to the Conservative Party.  This includes £279,389.59 in person and £4,525,291.87 through his holding company IPGL Ltd, which owns a chunk of ICAP.   He was also one of the “significant donors” who was given special access to the prime minister and the hancellor through private Downing Street dinners (the “dinners for donors” scandal) and as part of the Tories’ exclusive leader’s group.

Spencer was Cameron’s co-treasurer between 2006 and 2010 and he is still the chairman of the Conservative Foundation – an organisation set up to support the party’s financial future.  The minister for the cabinet office, Francis Maude, even described Michael Spencer as a “personal friend of the prime minister and the prime minister’s wife”.

It is also worth remembering that shortly after George Osborne became shadow chancellor, he wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph talking about how he had recently had lunch at Michael Spencer’s office as part of an effort to “understand the issues facing the City”.  Although he attacks Labour today for not regulating the financial services industry enough before the global crash, in the very same article Osborne complained that there was too much financial regulation on the City.

And of course the Tories still don’t get it today.  Whilst Ed Miliband has been showing how Labour would help hard-pressed families and pensioners deal with the cost of living crisis – like freezing energy bills for people being ripped off by the energy firms – George Osborne has been helping the bankers struggling with their cost of living.  And on the very same day that it was revealed Michael Spencer’s company would be fined over the Libor scandal, Osborne’s top priority was to argue against plans for a cap on bankers’ bonuses, taking a case to the European Court of Justice.  My friend and colleague Stewart Wood put it best on Twitter on Wednesday evening:

“Tory Wednesday: defending big energy companies, court action to protect bankers bonuses, and a donor fined £55 million for market fixing #onyourside”.

It is clear that the right thing would be for the Tories to return all the money from Michael Spencer.  But there are also many questions which remain around the extent of his access and influence on the Government.  In the same way that Cameron has refused to disclose details about the access to Downing Street given to the cigarette lobbyist Lynton Crosby, by blocking Parliamentary questions and FOIs, it seems they are now equally unwilling to say what meetings Michael Spencer has had in government.  That is why when the House of Commons returns in a week’s time, I will be tabling a series of questions to ministers about the nature and frequency of their meetings with Michael Spencer.

And, whilst we are at it, No 10 have yet to publish the ‘Chequers list’ of all those people David Cameron has met in Chequers.  This is normally published in July but we have yet to see it. What are the odds that Lynton Crosby and Michael Spencer will have been wined and dined by Cameron in his country retreat?

As the Tories get ready to meet for their party conference, we once again see that one of the defining characteristics of David Cameron’s leadership is he consistently knocks about with the wrong crowd.  Whether it’s dragging his feet over phone hacking or failing to take on the cigarette lobbyists or Libor fixers, Cameron has shown he can always be relied upon to stand up for the wrong people.

Michael Dugher is Member of Parliament for Barnsley East, vice-chair of the Labour party and shadow minister without portfolio

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3 Responses to “Once again we find Cameron standing up for the wrong people and mixing with the wrong crowd”

  1. Ex-Labour says:

    Have you heard the saying those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones ?

    I assume this is the same Michael Dugher who employs one Joanna Dugher at £35K per year from parliamentary allowances according to media sources. So £66K for you, plus the £35K and with allowances and gold plated pensions thrown in. Hey its grim up north, lets all struggle on together commrades !

    Lets look at Labour. According to Bernie Ecclestone’s biography after the £1 M donation to Labour he was again approached to “loan” the Labour party £800K per year for 3 years. However the “loan” would not be paid back ! A bit more pricey than a seat at Camerons table eh ?

    Who deregulated the city more than anyone….errm….yep got it….Gordon Brown. All these financial scandals were happening under a Labour government and really have only been exposed due to Labour’s mismanagment of the economy and subsequent investigations which have occured.

    Energy prices are rising because the Labour government introduced the Climate Change Act forcing energy companies into Renewables Obligations including building wind power which is hugely inefficient and can generate no where near our energy needs. They are also required to assit in the bills of those “cannot” afford to pay and they are also required to pay for insulating homes. Did you think this came “free” ? Nope its all subsidised by the taxpayer and about 15-20% of your bill accounts for all this. Oh and I forgot to say who was the minister in charge at DECC when this lunacy took place….errm…Ed Miliband no less.

    Absolutely monumental hypocrisy from Miliband and Labour. The “policy” is a non-starter for those who are aware of the implications – even within Labour the less leftie eco-loons recognise its pure spin.

    I guess if you want to discuss political transparity, why not publish the report into Falkirk? No….dont want to……so thats OK then, nothing to see here move along.

    I could go on but if this is where Labour think they will score points, then you need to think again.

  2. Leslie48 says:

    Just imagine what a field day all the Tory press would have if any of Ed’s friends were associated with such misdeeds ; yet again of course unless I missed it the BBC probably ignored the story more or less. I get the feeling these days more than in the past the BBC ‘news agenda’ evolves from the the dominant 5 Tory newspapers; One day we will find out if any one in BBC 1 news ever says “be careful guys we must not take our news agenda solely from England’s very right wing newspapers”. Pigs will fly.

  3. Ex-labour says:


    Is this a serious comment ? Almost all of the recent news appointments at the BBC are ex Guardianistas !! In fact the Beeb has become the TV version of the Guardian and vice versa. They both shadow each other every day.

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