Wednesday News Review

Conservative party funding links to the City

Half of the Conservative Party’s funds last year came from the City of London, a Bureau for Investigative Journalism study has found. The proportion of the City’s contributions to the party has doubled to 50.7% from 25% when Mr Cameron became the party’s leader in 2005. The findings have led to claims that David Cameron’s party is excessively influenced by bankers. George Osborne’s announcement of an extra £800m bank levy this year would appear to combat the criticism, but critics claim the Chancellor’s decision was politically motivated with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls labelling it a “damp squib”. – PoliticsHome

The transformation of Tory funding under David Cameron has been highlighted by new research which shows the City of London dominated donations in the runup to last year’s general election. Michael Spencer, the city financier and chief executive of the internet stockbroker ICAP who was appointed by Cameron as Tory treasurer, masterminded an aggressive charm offensive which saw funding from the financial services sector soar. It rose from £2.7m in 2005 to £11.4m last year, according to new research from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organisation based at City University in London. While in part this can be attributed to Cameron’s greater popularity than his predecessor, Michael Howard, the amount coming from the City has more than doubled in percentage terms, and now accounts for more than half the Tories’ funding. It rose from 24.7% of donations in 2005 to 50.8% in 2010. – the Guardian

Osborne vs. Balls

Ed Balls and George Osborne went head-to-head across the despatch box at Treasury Questions for the first time today. The new shadow chancellor quizzed Mr Osborne over the poor growth figures and the government’s lack of a Plan B, with the chancellor hitting back by calling Mr Balls a “deficit denier”. Mr Balls questioned why the snow was to blame for the poor economic figures, while in the US, which had also been hit by the weather: “…the pace of US economic growth increased, consumer confidence was high, and unemployment fell to a two-year low. Could the chancellor tell the House, is there something different about snow in Britain, or is there a better explanation as to why the American economy grew and Britain’s economy did not?”Left Foot Forward

In parliament, Balls lambasted Osborne for making the announcement about the levy at breakfast time, rather than in next month’s budget, describing it as a “mini budget”. He also said that even without the increased bank levy, Osborne had cut tax for banks this year because he had not reintroduced Labour’s bank bonus tax and was also cutting corporation tax. Osborne, however, was adamant that banks would pay more tax under the coalition than they would have done under Labour and insisted that he would not sign an agreement with the banks until he thought he had a “good” deal. Meanwhile, the government and the banks are continuing talks over an agreement on bankers’ bonuses and lending. An agreement on the so-called Project Merlin is to be announced within the “next week”, Treasury officials said. – the Guardian

Eric Illsley resigns

Eric Illsley, the first MP to be convicted over the expenses scandal, has resigned. Labour is planning to trigger a by-election in his Barnsley Central seat on March 3. Illsley is due to be sentenced on Thursday after admitting dishonestly claiming £14,000 of expenses on January 11. He could theoretically have stayed on as a MP with a jail term of less than 12 months.  However, following heavy pressure, Illsley expressed “deep regret” over his actions and said he would resign before the court decided his fate. – the Telegraph

Last month, Illsley became the first sitting MP to be convicted of expenses fraud after pleading guilty to three charges of false accounting. At the time, Labour leader Ed Miliband said Illsley should “do the right thing” and resign as an MP. “I don’t think he can be a credible voice for his constituents having pleaded guilty to such a serious offence,” he added. Illsley had been suspended from the Labour Party following the allegations and sat as an independent after being re-elected in last May’s general election. – Sky

One Response to “Wednesday News Review”

  1. Tacitus says:

    No great surprise here. The Tories have always been at the beck and call of the City. I’d have been more surprised if the Trade Unions were making contributions but thankfully that isn’t likely to happen.

    It would be interesting to know how much Cameron persoanlly donates to the party.

    Is it me or DC becoming more sanctimonious with each PMQ?

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