"Search the Money" is a great new website that scrutinises donations to the Conservative Party, hospitality to MPs and constituency parties. It also allows you to check if "your MP hasbeen doing some private work on the side".
While I think it is corrupt and corrupting that billionaires such as Lord Ashcroft are able to pour millions of pounds to support Tory candidates. At least it is his own money.
Public companies that donate shareholder money to the Tories are simply beyond the pale. What possible reason can there be for doing this apart from the desire to buy political influence and power?
I also hope that private companies that donate to the Tories are held to account. Companies such as Fund Mangers Fidelity, who are the biggest company donors to the Tories yet they fail to declare it to its clients and policy holders. Many local government pension funds employ Fidelity as a fund manager. UNISON members would be furious if they realised that profits from managing their pensions is being used to fund the Tories.
The site will also keep an eye on the private earnings of Tory MPs and possible conflicts of influence. I don't think it is necessarily always wrong that MPs have private earning but how on earth can Tory MP Simon Reevell justify topping up his obvious pittance as a MP of only £65k with a whooping £165k as a lawyer? How can he be a full time MP?
I completely refuse to accept any comparison with the funding of the Labour Party by trade unions. Trade unions donations are individual affiliations freely made by trade union members who can chose whether or not to pay the levy fee. If my pension fund employed Fidelity in most schemes I would have little or no choice on the matter.
Picture is by Hogarth "Humours of an Election".
Hat tip to Mlle Witherington