Friday, February 25, 2005

Sewerage & "Sleaze"

Just got back from Holt where I was giving a talk on Integrity in Public Life. Slightly ironic as I have been the subject of an article on today's EDP about the fact my campaign has received a donation from Lord Ashcroft. It was a typical article of the "well he's done nothing wrong but we'll make out as if he has" genre. Seeing as the donation has been properly declared to the electoral commission, I have defended it robustly. I know the media think that political parties can run their campaigns on thin air, but the reality is that there is nothing at all wrong with an act of political philanthropy. And that's just what it is.

The talk itself went very well despite the presence of a heckler, who was turned on my many in the audience. I rather enjoy hecklers I have to say.

Earlier I went to see the sewerage problems in Walcott for myself. It really is a terrible situation for which Anglian Water are entirely to blame.

I also had a visit from someone wanting to know how to become a Tory candidate. Also had two people write to me asking how they can join the Party, so things are looking up!

Got home to fina a letter from Michael Howard asking if I would like a postal vote or would like to donate to the Party. Thanks Mike!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The heckler wasn't Robb by any chance?

carlislecookiemonster

Lady Finchley said...

Carlise,

Robb claims he was in Cambridge at the time but I do believe he has the power to be in two places at once like St. Padre Pio!

John said...

Well i did warn you Iain. Your opponents will seize any chance to link the Conservatives with sleaze. The public is still angry about the greed, selfishness and arrogance shown in those years. A more experienced candidate might have realised that.

Lady Finchley said...

You know John, I find it difficult to believe that everyone is so mithered in the past. I will be the first to admit that the Conservatives were jaded and arrogant in the last couple of years of the administration but things change, people and Parties move on, realise their mistakes and seek to make things better. And if you want to look at sleaze, this Government has been inundated with it. People I know (and living in London I am friends with a lot of Guardian readers)are disgusted with the double standards of this Government (not to mention its vengeful class envy ridden obsession with hunting)and are voting Conservative this time as they see the changes and see good candidates such as Iain Dale, Rob Halfont and others who are thoughtful, compassionate and honourable. They are not obsessed with the past and see that we, as a Party, have gotten our act together. And please tell me what you see as the public's perception of the Conservatives has to do with what you say is Iain's lack of experience as a candidate? I really sometimes despair-if the Conservatives had fielded an old war horse as the candidate for North Norfolk people would say, ugh, old and tired, same old, same old. Instead they present you with a fresh, enthusiastic, talented candidate and you moan.

P.S. If everyone was so obsessed with the past then we wouldn't be buying German cars, eating Japanese food, going to Italy on holiday etc etc etc. Get over it!

Iain Dale said...

John, could you please explain to me how accepting a donation from an entirely legitimate source should be linked to greed and sleaze, especially as it was properly declared to the Electoral Commission? If so, then please explain why it is OK for the LibDems receive donations from the likes of Tesco or McDonald's but it isn't for us? Your argument leads to only one conclusion - the State funding of political parties. I don't think that would be very popular. And your comment about my supposed inexperience as a candidate did make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Iain
But you are inexperienced as a candidate - you lost the safest Conservative ward in the district!
Robb

Anonymous said...

Iain - But you are inexperienced - you have just lost the safest Conservative ward in the District!
Robb

John said...

It is an interesting idea - to predicate the recovery of a conservative party on the notion that people dont really care about the past.

But then, slash and burn economics never really had much to do with traditional conservative values, did it my dear Baroness?

Iain - I merely suggested that accepting the Ashcroft money would be used by your opponents and would be linked in the minds of the electorate with sleaze. You choose to believe otherwise which is entirely your right. I feel a candidate with a surer grip on the attitudes of voters would have made a different decision - but they will decide soon enough which of us is right.

Iain Dale said...

Robb, er, I wasn't aware I was either the candidate or campaign manager! If by some chance the LibDems had lost that by-election I doubt very much whether you would be saying that Norman Lamb had personally lost it, would you? Go on, be honest, admit it.

John, I note you didn't answer my point about LibDem funding. If you think no one should accept donations then that is one thing, but to discriminate is another.

Anonymous said...

Iain
I'm just closing our association in replying to any points that you have made to me. My spies tell me that without the charismatic effect of Norman Lamb, Barbara McGoun and her local team would have found winning much harder. It was either the onion sucking agent lady, your candidate, or you that lost it or it was Barbara McGoun, the Lib Dem agent or Norman Lamb MP that won it. I suspect that it was a combination of all of these things.
Bye
Robb

Lady Finchley said...

Petulant, petulant, Robb. Now the engagement is well and truly off! It could have been so good....
Oh well, your loss it Portillo's gain!

Lady Finchley said...

You know John, as the song says
sometimes 'you gotta move on'.

And, no mere Baroness, me!

Neil said...

Iain - I don't think anyone is accusing you of having done anything against the rules in regard to your acceptance of a donation and you declaration of it. You have clearly operated 100% within the rules in that respect.
The link with sleaze is because of the controversial history of Lord Ashcroft. As I understand it he was eventually given a peerage on the recommendation of Willian hague after having given the Tory Party millions of pounds. He is based in Belize and holds many of his assets in various tax havens. To many people who live, work and pay their tax in this country this seems 'sleazy'. Others will worry about one wealthy man, based overseas, potentially having such influence over a large numnber of MPs.
Your point about Tescos and McDonalds donating to the Lib Dems is slightly spurious as I believe these payments are actually for sponsoring receptions and the like at Party Conference rather than donations as such. I was surprised that there weren't similar donations documented in the Tory and Labour returns.

Lady Finchley said...

Neil,

I guess you never heard of Geoffrey Robinson.

I am sure you mean well but I have never read such a tenuous argument in my life.

No doubt most of the people in this country who work and pay tax don't have as microscopic knowledge of Lord Ashcroft's bank accounts as you.