Monday, October 16, 2006

Cash for access?

Fair Deal Phil has pulled together some of the stuff on the Midlands Industrial Council - that shadowy group that has funnelled money towards the Tory party in recent years, but has managed to hide behind a house in a quiet Lincolnshire village. The Birmingham Post also had a few choice quotes:
'Mr Silk said... the organisation was simply a group that existed to lobby for a better deal for Midland businesses.'

Peter Shirley - Midland Food Group, whose new chilled foods factory in Basingstoke, Hampshire was recently opened by David Cameron, told the ST:
'I’m a member of the MIC. I was absolutely amazed that it was David Cameron who came to the (factory) opening... We tell (Tory Ministers) that if they’re
going to have policies, we would like to know what the heck they are.'
So would we.... Coincidentally, of course, David Cameron also found time in a busy schedule of photo-opportunities to open a JCB factory in India. Sir Anthony Bamford is, of course, a senior member of the MIC.
Most shadow ministers have attended MIC meetings and George Bridges,
Cameron’s head of campaigns, is in regular contact with it...
Wall, the secretary of the MIC, who also works for Edmiston’s company, said: “I’ve met almost every member of the shadow cabinet you care to mention
With these people providing the money, just how long do you think the Tories can hold out on tax cuts?

Especially as Chris Kelly (MIC member) and Bamford are also listed as supporting the Taxpayers' Alliance (a Tory front group if ever there was one, despite claims to independence), alongside Constantine Folkes (MIC), Kim Jaberi (MIC), Michael Miller (MIC), James Leavesley (MIC), Brian Pettifer (MIC), Peter Shirley (MIC), Richard Smith (MIC). Spot the pattern? They've got almost a million reasons (and counting) for Cameron to cut the tax bill. Keltruck and the Taxpayers' Alliance sponsored a 1922 Committee dinner celebrating Baroness Thatcher's career.

Indeed, before the 2005 election, a number of the MIC members co-signed a letter to the FT promising that a Tory government
'would keep spending and borrowing under control and keep taxes down.'
Constantine Folkes has his own interest in taxation:
Folkes Forge - part of a Lye-based parent group which had been in operation for eight generations - closed in September 2000. Its closure followed the resignation of Folkes Group chairman and chief executive Constantine Folkes amid an Inland Revenue probe into the tax affairs of the group. Mr Folkes subsequently paid the group £3.5 million in advance of the outcome of the inquiry.
Needless to say, Mr Folkes blamed the government for the closure.

The MIC have paid up to ensure that they have the ear of the Tory leadership to push their agenda of low taxation and low regulation. I don't believe that this is anything like a complete list of active members, but it might stave off some of the journalistic enquiries.

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