There is a new ICM poll reported tonight for tomorrow’s Guardian:
Conservative 42% (up 2%)
Labour 30% (up 2%)
Lib Dem 18% (down 4%)
This poll reverses last month’s Lib Dem jump and will be a sore disappointment to Lib Dem MPs in the South of England particularly. Conservatives will be pleased to be in majority winning territory and there is a small consolation for Labour in them squeaking back up to 30%.
NB: The changes shown in the Guardian article are changes compared to last months Guardian ICM poll, whereas the changes I show are compared to the last ICM poll earlier this month.
Former Reading resident Oscar Wilde said:
“My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s business”
“Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do”.
There has been some recent controversy about party finances at national level. One Lib Dem website locally has tried to muck spread with claims that I mislead a Council meeting in 2008 when I said that Reading Conservatives’ local election campaign was not funded by Lord Ashcroft. I stand by that statement without reservation. In my experience, money from Lord Ashcroft is actually very hard to obtain. His team demands a business plan and will only fund specific, costed projects that cannot be funded by existing local means. I am not at all surprised that Reading East Conservatives received two sums from his company “Bearwood” in 2004 (when I was not in Reading) and nothing since then. These were properly reported to the Electoral Commission as the law requires. However, the Electoral Commission site shows that since 2004 there has been no further funding.
What is more interesting however, is the funding of the other two local parties. Reading Labour Party, as might be expected, has been funded consistently and continually by a variety of Trades Unions. The public service workers union “UNISON” has made regular donations since requirements for declaration began in 2001. Their funding totals £11,375. The Transport and General Workers union has donated £3,300 and the Communication Workers Union £2,150. The Graphic Paper and Media Union gave £1,500 and “AMICUS” £300. Union donations total £18,625.
The Liberal Democrats’ funding is rather more murky. They are massively bank-rolled by an organisation calling itself the “Reading Liberal Club Co Ltd”. Companies House records show that the company was incorporated in 1909 and is registered at 62 Northcourt Avenue, a residential address in south Reading. There is no club house at that address and no obvious trading or social activity. The electoral register shows two long-standing Lib Dem activists and candidates living at the address. Since 2001 this secretive “club” has donated more than £65,000 to the Reading Lib Dems. Some of the donations are very large, with the two biggest being £9,000 and £10,000. Local Lib Dems have also received very large donations from a company called Education Data Systems Ltd based in Oxford.
The Reading Liberal Democrats are the party that has received by far the largest cash funding since 2001. The Electoral Commission site lists the following declarable cash donations received since 2001:
Reading Labour Party £19,725.00
Reading Conservatives (East & West) £46,259.92
Reading Liberal Democrats £93,653.74
In that period the Labour Party on Reading Borough Council has shrunk from 36 Councillors to 19; the Liberal Democrats have grown from a Group of 6 to a Group of 8; and Reading Conservatives have increased from a Group of 3 to a Group of 18 now. Conservatives seem to have had the better value for money for the donations received.
I am grateful to the author of Muckspreading for raising the subject of local political party funding and I will be conducting further investigations into the secretive “Reading Liberal Club”.
I couldn’t resist this: