Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fair Deal Phil's Dossier on Tory cash club...and its members...UPDATED...

I've brought together all the Google searches, media coverage and other info which has come my way on the controversial club that bankrolls the Conservative Party and which is based in the Lincolnshire village of Bassingham, near Lincoln.

And I've updated it Tuesday, following further priceless quotes published in the Birmingham Post (see below).

My last post HERE carries the bones of this info, but I've now significantly updated it.

There's still a few gaps, and I'll update again as and when. All information will be gratefully received and credited as appropriate.

According to the Daily Telegraph HERE

* The Midlands Industrial Council was founded in 1946 as a pressure group to fight the Attlee government's nationalisation plans and to champion free enterprise.

* It has been giving money to the Tories for 60 years but only since the introduction of recent legislation on political donations that its existence become more widely known.

* Between April 16, 2003, and March 14, 2006, the Conservative Party received 52 donations from the MIC totalling £968,690.

According to the Sunday Times HERE

* Businessmen who join MIC become ‘members for life’.

* Most shadow ministers have attended MIC meetings and George Bridges, Cameron’s head of campaigns, is in regular contact with MIC.

* MIC meets up to five times a year in hotels or at the office of Edmiston. Members are charged a subscription and many choose to make far larger donations.

* Most of the money is then given to the Tories. Donations are also made to causes such as the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes. (see interesting MIC-Taxpayers Alliance close links below).

* MIC campaigns for lower taxes for business, less red tape and improved transport infrastructure. It is also considered to be Eurosceptic.

* MIC is an “unincorporated association” which means unlike companies or charities, it does not have to publish accounts or disclose its backers.

According to The Guardian HERE

* Days after Cameron became Tory leader, his constituency association in Witney received a £5,500 cheque from MIC.

* In the past three years the MIC has made 50 donations to MPs and Conservative Central Office totalling more than £950,000.

According to the Birmingham Post HERE

* MIC helps to fund the Conservative Party's national election nerve centre at Coleshill, Warwickshire, to the tune of about £1 million a year (which is owned by Bob Edmiston.

Political parties have been legally required since 2001 to reveal the identities of all backers who contribute more than £5,000. However, as an unincorporated association, the MIC does not have to publish accounts or disclose the names of its members.

Known life members are:

Sir Anthony Bamford – President of MIC who is reported to have given the Tories £1m before the last general election. Boss of digger company JCB, which he inherited in 1975 at the age of 29. Knighted by Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Recently accompanied David Cameron to India where the Tory Leader opened a £25m JCB factory. Donated to David Davis’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. According to The Guardian, JCB Group pays the shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, £50,000 a year as its parliamentary adviser. David Cameron and Francis Maude, the Tory chairman, have used its helicopters.

Keith Bradshaw - part-owner of the Listers of Coventry motor dealership. Number 25 on the Midlands Rich List with £110 million.

John Butcher – former Coventry MP and Tory Industry Minister.

George Campion - Senior tax partner at Deloitte’s Birmingham office. He works in real estate transactions, analysing corporation tax and commercial implications. His clients include large multinational groups.

Robert ‘Bob’ Edmiston – Chairman of MIC. Multi-millionaire boss of car importers IM Group. Mr Edmiston was nominated for a peerage by the Tories last year. His nomination was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Committee which vets potential peers. He was recently questioned by police investigating the cash for honours affair. He also owns Coleshill Manor in the West Midlands. The Guardian reported that before he was put forward for a peerage, Edmiston loaned the party £2m.

Contantine ‘Con’ Folkes – Boss of Folkes Holdings, one of the largest Midlands based private property companies with a mixed portfolio worth over £80 million.

According to PoliticalHackUK Mr Folkes has a special interest in taxation:

PoliticalHackUK writes: 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

Tony Gallagher – part of the Warwick-based Gallagher Estates UK, a commercial and residential property development and investment company. He is 13th on the Midlands Rich List with a fortune of £330 million. Responsible for building at least 51,900 British homes, says the Sunday Times. He has also donated to the Labour Party, according to the ST:
Gallagher attracted controversy in 2001 after it emerged that he and his wife had each donated £4,999 to the Scottish Labour Party. He was waiting for valuable planning permission on several projects in Scotland controlled by Labour councils and said at the time: ‘Frankly, whatever government of the day is in power, we always work with them, because that is the name of the game, isn’t it?’

Graham Hampson Silk - Hampson Holdings.

Steve Hollis – UK Head of Sales for KPMG, provider of financial services, such as audit, tax and risk advisory.

Kambiz ‘Kim’ Jaberi – Managing Director, Karins Catering of Bilston, West Midlands. The only known ethnic minority member of MIC. Karins Catering supplies airline meals: Clients include Gate Gourmet.

Kim Jaberi told the Sunday Times:
“I was invited to join about five years ago. We are self-made people who can tell politicians about transport, about climate change, about tax – about what real life is about.”

Chris Kelly – Chairman of road haulage firm Keltruck, West Bromwich. Described as "outspoken" by Birmingham Post. Donated to David Davis’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Chris Kelly formed Keltruck in 1983 and won the Scania franchise. In the 1990s later he helped form East Midland Commercials Limited, Scania Distributor for the East Midlands, which was acquired by Keltruck in November 2004. Keltruck employs some 500 people.

James and John Leavesley – The Leavesley Group. Staffordshire based property group which also has interests in agriculture, surplus equipment, machinery and vehicle sales, shipping containers, petrol retailing and farm quality assurance and inspection.

Lowe & Fletcher Ltd – Manufacturers of locking devices, corporate member of Midlands Industrial Council.

T. Miller and M. Miller - both of Harris & Sheldon Group of Companies based at Meriden near Coventry. From fishing tackle to suppliers to the automotive industry.

J. Brian Pettifer – Chairman and Chief Exec of Pettifer Group a Warwickshire based property development company with an office in Mayfair. Employs 300 people across the UK and develops edge of town retail parks.

Roy and Don Richardson - founders of Richardson Developments - whose projects included Ropewalk shopping centre in Nuneaton. In February they were rated 11th on the Midlands Rich List list with £380 million.
The Sunday Times reports: ‘(Roy) Richardson has also been linked to Labour. In 1997, the Richardson twins, worth £350m, met Lord Levy, Tony Blair’s chief fundraiser, at the House of Lords. The pair discussed donating £1m to Labour and are alleged to have asked for help with planning decisions, according to senior Labour sources. Levy is understood to have stopped the meeting immediately. The brothers deny raising the issue.’

R. Robinson (nothing yet known).

Graham Silk - who sold Wolverhampton and Blackpool airports earlier this year for £15 million. He told the Birmingham Post that MIC was simply a group that existed to lobby for a better deal for Midland businesses who were
"a good bunch of people who have worked hard to build their businesses up...I haven't really been involved for the past couple of years so I don't want to say too much.
"The council is obviously allied to the Conservative Party, my politics aren't a secret."

Peter Shirley - of Midland Chilled Foods whose new factory in Basingstoke, Hampshire was recently opened by David Cameron. Mr Shirley told the ST:
“I’m a member of the MIC. I was aboslutely amazed that it was David Cameron who came to the (factory) opening.”

“We’re not here just for donating money. We want to know that the Midlands economy is in good hands. We tell (Tory Ministers) that if they’re going to have policies, we would like to know what the heck they are.”
Richard Smith - Group Marketing Manager, Techtest of Leominster, Herefordshire. Donated to David Davis’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

David Wall – secretary of Midlands Industrial Council. Works for Bob Edmiston’s company IM Group. Wall told the Sunday Times:
“I’ve met almost every member of the shadow cabinet you care to mention. We are for the furtherance of free enterprise…We have a mutual interest on politics.”

The Sunday Times say there are also “non-active” members who claim not to be currently involved in the MIC. These include:

Sir David Lees – an advisor to David Cameron and Chairman of Tate & Lyle. Appointed a Knight Bachelor in the Queen's birthday honour list in July 1991.

Allen Lloyd – the Isle of Man based founder of the chain of Lloyds Chemists which he started with one shop in Tamworth, Staffordshire, in 1973. A workaholic and an avid collector of Jaguar cars, he made an estimated £32 million when he sold the group in 1997. He now owns property worth millions of pounds, including a Georgian coaching inn in his home town of Atherstone, Warwickshire.

David Samworth – owner of Samworth Brothers, makers of Ginster pasties and ready meals and operators of 13 companies split between Leicestershire and Cornwall. Turnover in excess of £450m, employs over 6,000 staff.

PoliticalHackUK reveals close connections between MIC and the Taxpayers Alliance. He writes:

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.'


UPDATED: Tuesday, 17 October with information from Birmingham Post and connections to Taxpayers Alliance made by PoliticalHackUK


Anonymous said...

I read the press reports online. The Sunday Telegraph omitted to report that it was a case of having to disclose names otherwise they would have been outed by the Sunday Times. Interesting slant and typical right wing biased reporting.

ps. I love your site as I tire of all the "wonderful stories" one gets from the County News. Local newspapers in the South of the County often fail to analyse decision making on our behalf. Perhaps you could use the County newspaper to advertise this site? Kind regards, Liz Holbeach

Anonymous said...

Phil - a bit more in the Birmingham Post, with a quote from Silk:

The MIC apparently exists to lobby for a better deal for Midlands businesses.