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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Working peers

Today's Guardian says that two of the prominent businessmen who helped lead the charge against Labour's rise in national insurance have been nominated to become working peers by the Conservative party.

Simon Wolfson and Anthony Bamford were among the high-profile signatories to a letter supporting the Tory proposal to scrap the increase – a move that left Labour flatfooted and gave the Tories an early advantage at the start of the general election campaign.

The peerage nominations have been accepted by the appointments commission and will be announced imminently. But the disclosure is bound to raise questions over the party's continued interest in appointing prominent donors and supporters as working peers.

The paper provides more details of links between the two and the Tory party when it points out that Wolfson, who is the chief executive of Next, has donated £238,250 to Conservative central office since January 2006 in seven donations. They also say he has worked closely with the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, in developing the Conservatives' economic policy.

According to the Guardian Sir Anthony Bamford, who is chairman of construction equipment maker JCB, has given the Tories more than £1m over the past five years either in his own name or through the family-controlled firm. They say he has also given money to the shadow cabinet.

So David Cameron is elevating two key party donors to the Lords? The sooner this patronage is scrapped and we have an elected second chamber the better.
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