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Monday, March 27, 2006 

The Tories: funded by wives of arms dealers.

Despite all Labour's wrong-doing and its selling of peerages for loans, you have to sympathise with their anger about the silence over the Tories loans and funding. Dear old Dave Cameron is still refusing to publish the details of those who lent them money before 2004, despite Labour doing so, as according to them seeing as all existing declarations have complied with existing rules there is no need to. That didn't wash with Labour's original refusals to do so, and it won't with them either.

Some revelations have come out over the weekend, including that at least two of the loans were from foreign businessmen, who are banned from donating to political parties under current rules.

Two foreign businessmen who lent the Conservatives a total of £3.5m before the last general election were revealed yesterday amid continuing pressure on the party by the Electoral Commission to disclose the full list of secret lenders.

Michael Hintze, a naturalised Australian businessman, outed himself on a Tory activist website run by Iain Dale, the defeated Tory parliamentary candidate for Norfolk North, revealing he had made a £2.5m loan to the party.

The second foreign lender was named by the Observer as Johan Eliasch, a Swedish sports equipment tycoon, who made a £1m loan. He was one of the principal backers of Michael Howard, supporting his bid to replace Iain Duncan Smith as leader. The loan is on commercial terms in the form of a mortgage on the party's old headquarters in Smith Square, Westminster. It has enabled the Tories to buy back the freehold of the building, which they had sold off to cut their debts, giving them an opportunity to develop the listed property to raise cash.

Mr Hintze, who is a generous donor to the arts, notably the Victoria and Albert museum, used his offshore Channel Islands company Morain Investments to provide the loan.

Ah yes, Labour might have David Mills and his offshore tax havens for his clients, but you can count on the Tories and their supporters to be even more devoted to keeping more of their money away from the nasty revenue. It gets better:

Two minor donors were also revealed at the weekend. The party confirmed its next declaration to the Electoral Commission would reveal that Rosemary Said, the wife of foreign arms dealer Wafic Said, a Syrian-born Saudi, bid £100,000 at David Cameron's first fundraising ball, for an eight-person dinner to be provided by celebrity chef Albert Roux. Nicholas Soames, former shadow defence minister, and Boris Johnson, former editor of the Spectator and the Tories' higher education spokesman, will be wine waiters. Mr Said was the middleman in Britain's biggest arms deal, the Al Yamamah deal with Saudi Arabia signed by Margaret Thatcher and renewed by Tony Blair.

Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish property billionaire, gave the party £15,000 through a UK property firm.

It's reminiscent of some businesses which have "slave" auctions for charity. You can imagine Boris and Fatty Soames waddling along with a gun held against the small of their back, just for emphasis. New Tories, funded by the same old indirect murderers and businessmen. Business as usual for the "party of business".

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