An article in this week’s Spectator (not yet online) suggests that the Tories will enjoy a major financial advantage at the next General Election. Spectator Political Editor Fraser Nelson expects Tory debts to be "an eminently manageable £5 million" once the old Smith Square premises have been sold – "against some £23 million for Labour." Here are some key quotes from Fraser’s piece:
- "In a normal non-election financial year some £15 million is routinely raised by the party. Yet last year the figure was no less than £21 million."
- "There is a new breed of millionaires who will pay astonishing sums to see, hear and touch the hem of the golden couple they believe will soon be in No. 10 Downing Street. With apparently effortless charm, and more or less overnight, the Dave and Sam double act has rescued the Tories’ financial fortunes."
- "Everyone involved in Tory fundraising offers the same explanation for the new bonanza. ‘It’s entirely down to David. No modern Tory leader has been so deft with the donors,’ said one fundraiser. ‘He remembers their names, their wives’ names, their business problems, everything.’"
- "‘If we let Steve [Hilton] commission all the focus groups and polling he wants, we’d be as broke as Labour,’ says one party official. ‘Luckily, David has realised what was happening and sorted things out.’ Here is a rare example of a harness being fitted to Mr Hilton, and a sign of the clout exercised by Ian McIsaac, the party’s little-known finance director, who vetoed his spending."
- "Opinion polls show that 59 per cent of voters want an election within six months of Mr Blair’s departure. The Chancellor may want to capitalise on a honeymoon period. But elections cost £20 million to fight, and only one party in Westminster can raise this type of money. There will be no snap election because Labour cannot afford one."
- "Unless Mr Brown manages to find new donors, he faces an electoral nightmare: going to the polls with a campaign that is explicitly dependent upon the munificence of the trade unions, who today account for £3 of every £4 Labour raises. This prospect makes Conservatives salivate. ‘Gordon Brown leading a union-financed election campaign,’ says one shadow Cabinet member. ‘Very Old Labour.’"