A senior lobby journalist told me yesterday afternoon that the Conservatives would today announce the names of those who have lent the Party money in recent years. I contemplated posting this news but couldn't get it verified. Now I wish I had! The media have already identified the sources of loans worth £12 million, but the rest will be made public in a statement in a few hours time. Is this a good thing? Undoubtedly yes. I have said all along that transparency is the best form of defence and if the rest of the donor/lendors have been persuaded to go public, so much the better. Things have got so ridiculous on this that I had a call from Newsnight's Michael Crick yesterday asking if the David Davis campaign was lent any money. My first reaction was to roar with laughter. Just for the record, it didn't. The attempt by Labour to switch the spotlight onto the Conservatives was made even more obvious yesterday by the complaint by a hitherto unheard of Labour MP to the Metropolitan Police about Tory donations. It's just a shame that some journalists have fallen for it so easily. But perhaps with the announcement this afternoon, the media spotlight will return to where it ought to be aimed at - the Labour Party.
AFTERTHOUGHT: Several people in the Comments section (Labour/LibDem supporters, natch) have questioned why Tory loand are any different to Labour ones. For a start, the Labour Party Treasurer clearly thought something was awry as he didn't even know about them. They had been hidden from him and others. That was not the case with Tory loans, the existence of which was already public knowledge. Indeed, there had been newspaper articles about the Party having loans some time ago. Secondly, no one has established a link between Tory loans and honours. We must await for the full list this afternoon, but I will be astonished if they mirror the Labour situation, where four of their Peerage nominees had been lendors to the Labour Party. As Guido helpfully points out "No. 10 civil servants assisting in the procuring of honours for "loans" on behalf of Blair without going through the Labour party machine is very different from Tory treasurers raising money as per normal either by donation or loan."