MANDRAKE: David Cameron's bid to boost Tory coffers
PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 November 2018
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Lord Feldman calls on David Cameron to back Conservative Party Foundation, Alan Miller takes a stab at Arron Banks’ accountants BDO and Daily Mail boss Paul Dacre pins his hopes on the New Year’s honours.
When a film crew caught David Cameron walking past 10 Downing Street last week, the former PM explained it away as a research trip for his forthcoming memoirs.
Mandrake hears whispers that Cameron was actually involved in discussions about the Tory Party’s finances, which are down sharply as a result of dismay among both Leave and Remain donors about the government’s handling of Brexit.
Only days before, Cameron’s pal Lord Feldman, pictured, had rejoined the board of the Conservative Party Foundation – which describes itself as “a quasi-subsidiary” of the main party – and he sees it as his mission to build up the war chest ahead of a general election.
“Andrew [Feldman] is tapping up David for contacts,” says my informant. “It’s behind-the-scenes stuff as David accepts a public-facing role for him wouldn’t be helpful.”
Feldman’s return is timely as the party has had little joy rattling the collection tin. It raised £1.7million in donations last year from undisclosed sources. It is sitting on £3m, having made a £1.2m profit on its takings.
The CPF paid no tax by utilising an allowance reported in its accounts as “non-taxable income” to wipe out the £240,000 due on its profit. It has made a profit in all but two years, but paid tax in just four so far – amounting to £28,000 in total, thanks in large part to the tax break.
Over the same period it received £6.7m in donations and made £3m in profits. The CPF is not registered with the Electoral Commission, but its money is still welcome at Tory HQ – which was £3.3m in the red at the last count.
Feuds corner How much better it would have been if Alan Miller – the husband of Gina and a serious City player – had interviewed Arron Banks earlier this month rather than Andrew Marr?
Alan had a lot of fun last week blogging about Banks’ financial affairs on his wife’s www.endthechaos.co.uk website.
He was bemused the accountants BDO managed to mislay 12 pages of the original accounts of Banks’ company, Eldon Insurance Services. “It beggars belief that whoever filed this return did not spot that various pages were missing and that nobody from either the auditors – a supposedly reputable City name – or any of the directors – spotted this basic error,” wrote Alan.
The day after Alan posted his blog, the pro-Brexit London freesheet City AM announced the winner of its accountancy firm of the year award. It was – as you might have guessed – BDO.
Fashion victim Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary who is sometimes derided as Private Pike out of Dad’s Army, looked mature and dapper at the Cenotaph in London on Armistice Day. “He’s been taking fashion advice,” whispers my man in Whitehall. From Cronus, his pet tarantula? “James Wharton, actually.”
Wharton is a colourful character. A Brextremist before the word was invented, he was the Tory MP for Stockton South until the 2017 election. He is now the chairman of the PR and lobbying firm Hume Brophy. “He has been Gavin’s principal cheerleader for years,” I am told.
Arise, Sir Paul What with another cabinet walkout, the DUP on her back and a Brexit plan that’s alienated both Leavers and Remainers in her party, Theresa May has somehow managed to allow securing a knighthood for Paul Dacre in the New Year’s honours to slip down her list of priorities.
The ousted Daily Mail editor has, however, set his heart on picking up the honour in the next list as he knows that – thanks to the political turmoil his support of Brexit has helped to bring about – it may well be his last chance. With May distracted, I hear that Michael Gove – who owes Dacre a favour for giving his wife Sarah Vine her column in the Mail – has been frantically whispering in the appropriate ears. “Michael is generally credited with fixing a K for his friend, the late Christopher Lee,” says my man in Whitehall. “If he can fix it for Dracula, he can fix it for Dacre.”