That is the conclusion of The Times this morning, which calculates that of the £52 million received into party coffers over the last three years, "a growing proportion" has come in the form of individual donations of £50,000.

According to the paper's analysis of Electoral Commission figures:

"In 2006 the party received £17.6 million and there were 26 donations of £50,000, generating £1.3 million. In 2008, by contrast, the last year for which full figures are available, the party received £15.8 million in donations, of which £3.1 million came in 62 donations of £50,000."

However, it would seem that there is still some way to go before it becomes viable to introduce a £50,000 cap on donations – which David Cameron aspires to introduce and about which I expressed my scepticism quite recently.

Whilst the number of people giving £50,000 donations has increased over the last three years, The Times also notes a recent pledge of £1 million from Stanley Fink and the fact that the amount of money channelled into the party through Lord Ashcroft's company, Bearwood, has also increased during the that time:

"In 2006 Bearwood donated just over half a million pounds in cash and polling. Last year that figure had climbed to £1.6 million."

How broad will that growing donor base remain as the recession continues to bite?

Jonathan Isaby