Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Save Our Swinson

The LibDems are putting a brave face on Alex Salmond's tilt at the Gordon seat in the general election. 
The former FM is a shoo-in and all concerned know it.
LibDem candidate Christine Jardine will undoubtedly put up a spirited fight, but the truth is the party is not about to divert cash and manpower to a long-shot like Gordon next May.
If you follow the money, it's clear the LibDems are focusing elsewhere.
As you might expect, Danny Alexander's Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey seat is attracting a lot of big donations (mostly from Ministry of Sound founder James Palumbo).
But the sleeper story is how much cash is being poured into Jo Swinson's East Dunbartonshire constituency by friends of Nick Clegg who've never shown much interest in Scotland until now.
Swinson's seat is the most marginal of the 11 held by the LibDems in Scotland.
Swinson is also the party's only female MP north of the border.
This week, the Scottish LibDems announced seven of their eight regional list rankings for Holyrood in 2016
In terms of gender balance, they're appalling.
Not only are men ranked first in six of the seven, but in the North East, the party's only female MSP, the admirable Alison McInnes, is ranked second behind deserving 2011 loser Mike Rumbles.
Saving Swinson now looks more important than ever to the party of fairness and equality. 

Tom Gordon

THOUSANDS of pounds from English donors and Nick Clegg’s inner circle are being used to rescue a Scottish LibDem MP at the general election, according to official records.

Electoral Commission files show that in recent months unprecedented sums of cash have been pumped into the LibDem branch in East Dunbartonshire, near Glasgow, the seat of employment and equalities minister Jo Swinson.

Swinson, 34, a Clegg ally and MP since 2005, narrowly held the constituency in 2010 with a majority of 2,184 over Labour.
Swinson: holds most marginal LibDem seat in Scotland

The seat is the most marginal of the 11 held by LibDems in Scotland, and would fall next May on a swing to Labour of just 2.3%.

The SNP, who came fourth in the seat in 2010, would need a swing of 14.1% to win it.

To help avert defeat, the party has hired a full-time campaign manager for the seat, which is now being flooded with out-of-town cash.

Over the last decade, cash donations to the East Dunbartonshire branch recorded by the Electoral Commission averaged around £2000 a year.

However between April and August, donations hit £46,365, with three-quarters of the money coming from donors based in England.

Local businessman and previous donor Jacob Aagard, a Danish-born Scottish chess grand master and chess publisher, gave £10,000.

But the rest came from two high-power fundraising dinners for Swinson’s re-election.

The first, which raised £24,500 in June, was arranged by London-based Brompton Capital Ltd.

The company, which has no other declared donations in Scotland, is the largest corporate donor to the LibDems, giving £1.4m since 2010.

Its boss, Rumi Verjee, the founder of Domino’s Pizza in the UK, was made a LibDem peer in 
2013. Brompton, which put £3,350 into arranging the dinner, also chipped in £5000 cash.

Giving £3,750 at the dinner was Neil Sherlock, a former KPMG partner married to a LibDem peer, who was made Clegg’s special adviser in 2011 after giving the LibDems £88,000.

His donation to Swinson’s branch is a sure sign the highest eschelons of the party are mobilising to save her career.

Sherlock had never previously given a recorded donation to a Scottish LibDem branch.
Neil Sherlock: gave £3,750 at fundraising dinner for Swinson

Another £3,750 came from Alistair Barr, chair of the Cities of London and Westminster LibDems Executive, whose previous £12,000 to the party went mostly to Westminster and Haringey.

He also gave £2000 to Swinson’s branch in April.

Long-term LibDem donor Duncan Greenland, who has given the party more than £200,000 since 2004, gave £5000 at the dinner.

A former French vineyeard owner and ex-LibDem councillor in Camden in London, Greenland appears never to have donated previously to a Scottish branch. 

Michelle Quest, a donor to the Yeovil branch, also gave £2000 at the shindig.

And another £2000 came from ex-LibDem councillor Jane MacTaggart, another rookie time Scottish donor, who usually donates to her local Oxford West and Abingdon branch.

A second dinner hosted by former party leader Paddy Ashdown at the LibDems’ UK conference in Glasgow in October raised a further £11,865.

The £45-a-head affair “in support of Jo Swinson’s re-election campaign” included a £2111 wedge from LibDem peer Baroness Brinton

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “No amount of money can help Jo Swinson escape from the fact that she is part of a government which has left families in her constituency £1600 a year worse off, seen energy prices soar and inequality widen. In May  the people of East Dunbartonshire face a a clear choice, a vote for Scottish Labour’s Amandjit Jhund or Jo Swinson and the coalition government.” 

A LibDem spokeswoman said: “If Labour are complaining that people are donating money to us to beat them then that’s Labour’s problem. Labour are obviously in a state of blind panic as they’re about to lose grip of their heartlands because they ruined the economy, destroyed jobs and slashed incomes.” 


  1. Good riddance. Bedroom tax apologist

  2. Good riddance. Bedroom tax apologist

  3. Here are the actual figures for spending in the Gordon constituency
    Long Period
    Lib Dems: £27,409
    SNP: £2,502
    Short Period:
    Lib Dems: £15,044
    SNP: £15,009

    In percentage terms of what was allowed

    Long Period:
    Lib Dems: 72%
    SNP: 7%
    Short Period
    Lib Dems: 94.4%
    SNP: 94.7%

    So in response to the assertion that the Lib Dems would not be throwing money at Gordon constituency, the actual figures tell a different story.

  4. Here are the figures for Dunbartonshire East

    Long Period
    Lib Dems: £28,554 (77.7%)
    SNP: £7,063 (19.2%)
    Short Period
    Lib Dems: £14,167 (96.2%)
    SNP: £14,595 (99.1%)

    I have to say that I find the SNP figure for the Short Period very surpassing. The Lib Dems put out leaflets (many in envelopes) as if paper was about to go out of fashion. In comparison the number of leaflets put out by the SNP (in my area at least) was paltry. Maybe the SNP were delivering huge numbers of leaflets in other parts of the constituency. Of course, there might be some other explanation altogether as to how the Lib Dem and SNP figures are almost identical.

  5. Ooops. That should be 'surprising', not 'surpassing.