Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Incredible Shrinking Tory party

The attendance figures for the Conservative party conference tell a tale of how David Cameron lost his core membership and let the bankers in

Naturally, it kicks off with a message from the PM. "Our conference is the perfect opportunity … for all delegates and participants to discuss the key issues of the day with a wide variety of politicians, charities, business leaders, international guests, and interest groups." This is the image the Tories want to push in their sales brochure for sponsors: that this week's get-together in Manchester is less about the clash of ideas, and more an exclusive networking event.

On it goes, touting "exciting opportunities" to highlight your firm's message. For a minimum of £20,000 plus VAT, you get to sponsor the VIP lounge (the Blue Room, natch) where "high-profile guests can relax, hold briefings". Illustrating the point is a photo of Iain Duncan Smith and Tory pollster Lord Ashcroft having a private moment by a tray of sundaes. Too expensive? Then £5,000-plus will get you access to an invite-only party, with the implicit promise of facetime with a minister. Another picture of Ashcroft, this time at dinner with George Osborne and Ken Clarke.

At the last general election, more than half of all Conservative funding came from the City, according to extensive research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. That's double the amount when Cameron won the leadership in 2005, and financiers made 25% of Tory donations. By financiers, I'm not referring to the high-street giants that you bank with. I mean Adrian Beecroft, Michael Farmer and Lord Stanley Fink: hedge fund speculators, private-equity barons and other members of what is sometimes called the shadow banking industry.

As investments go, it's paid a handsome dividend, because the Conservatives have fought fiercely for the interests of the City. Yesterday, George Osborne announced a plan to make life much tougher for those out of work for a long time, including a proposal to make them sign on at a jobcentre every day. Last week, the chancellor announced he would fight the EU in court for the right of bankers to be paid big bonuses. Life for the poorest in austerity Britain to get harder; life for the richest to be made easier: surely even the most tin-eared of politicians wouldn't get caught out like that, unless their war chest depended on it.

...the way that contracts to run academy schools and parts of the NHS keep going to Tory financiers. In 2011, the contract to run NHS Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire was awarded to Circle, a company part-owned by hedge funds run by three of Cameron's biggest donors: Paul Ruddock, Crispin Odey and Michael Platt.” The Guardian
Aditya Chakrabortty 30/9/13

Now when you hear the Tory party bang on - and on, and on, and on - about ‘hard working families’ think of it as them talking about the mafia. 

A commonly heard maxim is ‘you get what you pay for’ which is certainly true when applied to the banking fraternity. 

They have the Tory party on the payroll and, unlike the unions and Labour,  they do get what they paid for.

We don't.

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