Two popular misconceptions have arisen about the Tory target seats operation,
the first of which is that I pay for it all myself. I have never made a secret
of the fact that I contribute to the target seats fund, and I am proud to do so,
but I am by no means the only donor – indeed most of the money is given by
The second is that I give money directly to Conservative candidates or constituency associations in target seats. This is also untrue. All contributions, including my own, are given to the party's central fund. Candidates are invited to submit campaign proposals to a committee at Conservative Campaign HQ which I chair in my capacity as the party's deputy chairman with responsibility for field campaigning. The committee – which also includes the party chairman, Caroline Spelman, professional party staff and senior volunteers – assesses each proposal and allocates funds to those we judge most likely to be successful. Candidates who receive funding provide regular updates to the team at CCHQ, which offers advice and expertise and ensures that the party receives the best possible return on its investment.
As well as being in a position to give financial help to the party I support – like Lord
Sainsbury, who has given Labour at least £8.5 million in recent years – I can bring a degree of expertise from my experience in business: raising capital, ensuring the best return, maximising the effectiveness of an organisation.
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