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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 14:46 GMT
West Midlands: Industrial dosh...
Nick Watson
Nick Watson
The Politics Show
West Midlands

Coleshill Manor
Coleshill has financially benifited from MIC donations

Our investigative reporter Nick Lawrence has put together a special report on how the MIC operates and how the introduction of American-style professional political campaigning appears to be at the root of how it likes to spend its money.

This is an analysis of the findings...

Out of the 28 different constituency associations which the Midlands Industrial Council (MIC) made donations to, the Conservatives won 12 of the contests in the 2005 General Election

Of these 12 victories, five were gains from Labour and one from the Liberal Democrats (Paul Marsden defected from Labour to the Liberal Democrats in Shrewsbury & Atcham).

So it could be argued that donations played a role in gaining six seats for the Conservatives...

The Wrekin, Rugby & Kenilworth, Shrewsbury & Atcham, Northampton South, Kettering and Wellingborough - all of which were key marginals.

The other six associations, which received money and returned Conservative MPs, were already in Tory hands anyway - so the money was used to sure up their position rather than advance it.

The Tories missed out in the other 16 as the incumbents hung on despite, in some cases, very close contests.

In purely cash terms, it can then be argued that the MIC spent 382,000 to gain six seats - or roughly 64,000 per seat gained.

The biggest expenditure was in Burton but this ultimately proved to be a waste as the Conservatives failed to take the seat from Labour's Janet Dean.

The next biggest spending failure was in Stafford where Labour's David Kidney beat David Chambers despite donations totalling 17,330.65 to the local Conservative association.

The biggest "value for money" win on the other hand, was in Shrewsbury & Atcham where the relatively modest sum of 4,500 was donated to the local association and the seat was taken from the Lib Dems by Daniel Kawcyzynski.

Mystery decisions...

Why so little for the Tory candidates in Hereford and Warwick & Leamington? A bit of an extra push here could have made all the difference.

The other glaring "devil in the detail", is the large amount donated to David Davis's constituency association at Haltemprice and Howden - which is in Yorkshire and not really anywhere near the Midlands.

When you compare it to the paltry 4,500 given to David Cameron's association in Witney, you could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow.

Was the MIC expressing a preference in cash terms for whom it wanted as the future leader of the party?

Not a bit of it, according to David Wall, who explains the extra money was needed by Mr Davis's association because of the strong campaign being mounted against him by the Liberal Democrats.

None of this takes into account the 1.1m donated by the MIC to Coleshill Campaigning Services, the call centre which bombards voters in key marginals with calls urging them to vote Conservative - how many seats this helped win? It is difficult to say.

One thing is certain though, all the donations are perfectly legal, openly declared and within the law, so unless things change, this sort of targeted campaigning funded by the MIC is here to stay.



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Join the Politics Show team... Sunday 12 November 2006 at 12:10 GMT on BBC One.

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