Thursday 9 September 2010

Following the trail

On Monday, the Western Mail caught up with the story about an oil tycoon who is also one of the former bosses of a mercenary army giving £5,000 to the Tories in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, on top of the £50,000 he had given to Conservative Central Office.

As quoted, I found the reaction of the local Tories both interesting and inadequate on three counts, and it perhaps deserved the asking of a few further questions.

Firstly, the response by the MP was to say that he didn't know the donor. Well, no, and I agree that he couldn't be expected to know everyone who contributes a few bob to his funds - although £5,000 is hardly a run-of-the-mill donation. The issue, however, isn't whether he knows the donor; it's how the money was made - an issue which both he and his party have simply ducked.

Secondly, they denied that the money was going on election campaigning, saying that "It will be used to meet the day-to-day running costs of the association". So that makes it OK, then, does it?

And thirdly, the money was apparently received through a personal friend of Mr Buckingham, a certain Stephen Crouch, who is a former chair of the constituency association. I sort of wondered what the connection is. According to the MP's website, "Stephen is currently working in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq as an advisor to governmental, non-governmental, and economic institutions". Iraq, of course, is another country where Mr Buckingham's company has major interests and where 'private security firms' are in regular action. It's probably just one of life's little coincidences though.

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