Your telephone messages...
Congratulations to the BBC for getting to the bottom of this scam. While just about legal, giving anonymous donations to political parties is clearly against the spirit of the law that the Labour government brought in in 2000. Lest we forget, the Conservatives presided over a secretive system that allowed foreigners, criminals and anyone else to make large donations to political parties without scrutiny. Whatever the sins of Lord Levy et al, Labour at least made an attempt to make the system less opaque and corrupt. The Midlands Industrial Council is just a clever ruse to find a loophole in the law.
I don't really see what the fuss is about over the MIC and Conservative MPs. The BBC has never made anything of the fact that a national conglomerate, the Co-Op, funds around 80 Labour MPs to put its point of view. There doesn't seem to be much difference morally.
Dr Richard Austen-Baker,
I am a chairman of Bartley Green Conservatives and it is true that we get donations from businessmen and people around the West Midlands but we also raise money at grassroots level. We have to raise money ourselves by raffles, fund raising events, barbeques, etc. Therefore I feel it is a bit unfair to say that money from businessmen influences votes. I think it does not. Every party, Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrats need funding and because we are not in the situation where there is a state funding for election it has to be done through private companies and donations. However it does not in any way influence the way people vote.
It is a lot of nonsense to me to think that the Labour MP lost the election because of a lack of funding. If he had done a good job he would be voted for. Financial aspect had nothing to do with the election results.
I think it is a massive hypocrisy but then it has always been like that on both local and central level. Back in the 70s the Labour party had been accused on similar basis. It is the same old story again.
I can't understand why you are so negative about the Midlands Industrial Council. They are doing great charity work across the Midlands and so long as they don't do it for peerages we shouldn't criticise it. I give money to the trade unions and I don't vote Labour. I vote Conservative but I support trade unions financially as I know they will use the money to protect the interests of workers.
I'm amazed that Peter Bradley thinks he lost election because of the financial aspect. It had more to do with his missed policies and ignorance of the needs of local people. He didn't address many problems important to the local community such as hospitals, farming and he didn't fight to save jobs in the Wrekin. He let people down totally and that's why he lost.
I think the honours should only be given for purely voluntary efforts. To obtain an honour on payment is inappropriate. The sooner the honour system is reformed in favour of recognising voluntary efforts the better.
Your e-mail messages...
Politicians have been bought and paid for by wealth since the days of Oliver Cromwell.
What is different now?
Have just seen your piece on the MIC - many thanks for bringing awareness to them. I own & run a small to mid sized business in the West Midlands and will be getting in touch with the MIC to join & offer financial support - I welcome a 60 year old organisation promoting wealth and therefore jobs creation in the area by supporting politicians who share the same interest.
For years Unions have supported Labour MP's and councillors both at election times and for financial support for their offices. Perhaps alittle fairness about party funding would be more appropriate than attacking one party. I welcome the MIC's quiet diplomacy and support for the region.
Paul Burke Sutton Coldfield
What's wrong with people supporting an organisation which tries to bring about political change to the Black Country. It is no different to anyone contributing to a party of whatever colour. Why do we do it? To support the party most aligned with our views. It beats loans for peerages. The real answer is to state fund elections and limit the amount anyone can spend to the same level.
So what if the MIC is lobbying the Conservatives with donations. Isn't that what the Unions do by making donations to the Labour Party - in particular by sponsoring particular MPs.
Isn't that what anyone who makes a donation to a political party is hoping to do? Just so long as the donations are all above board and legal, individuals and companies alike have the right to put their money towards any party they like, particularly in a system where the majority of the public aren't in favour of state funding for political parties.
The MIC have only one interest, and that is to line their own pockets with more cash. They only donate to the party who will benefit their buisness. Such organisations should not be allowed at they will end up making our elections in the uk totally pointless.
Gavin Corfield ,
Whether it has links to the Conservative party or not, what is the difference between them and a trade union. A few private businesses may or may not be funding the Tory party. The trade unions have been doing this for years to Labour and more often than not controlling what policies come out from it. That is a far bigger story for the public, how much control others have over the government, But the BBC wouldn't want to upset Labour now would it?
Surely every single individual who is a member of, or donates to, a political party should be named in the party's annual report. (There is a case for not including anyone who gives less than, say £100.) Everyone else should be listed. All loans, gifts in kind, time, any donation in any form should be declared.
Likewise, membership of any organisation should be declared by all MPs, prospective MPs, all in public life, all civil servants, councillors, prospective candidates etc. ALL gifts should be declared even if they only cost £10.
This is all very murky indeed. Recent race rows now this. Suddenly the shine is coming off the Cameron bandwagon. If this was Labour then there would be an outcry and they would be shouting for a full public inquiry in to this organisation. Well let's have one now.
This is quite a pathetic attempt by the BBC to try and bring in the Tories to what is ostensibly a Labour scandal, presumably on the grounds that if they can't shield Labour, they may as well try to get the Conservatives.
You've found nothing illegal, nothing untoward, nothing except a group giving money in support of a party whose policies they agree with.
Is this the re-birth of the Economic League?
I see no reason why someone should be pilloried for making a contribution to a political party.
It seems to me that there is a lot of misinformation being put around by people in government who want to cover up the gross inefficiencies and awfully bad decisions being made by government, certianly the present one.
P. Harris, UK
The Conservatives have enobled and knighted more of their supporters over the years than any other governing party, including Lloyd George's Liberals. The cash nexus of business and Conservatives is malign and undermines true democracy. The House of Lords before it was recently reformed reflected the inbuilt traditional connection between landed, old money and the Tories. Waken up, Britain, David Cameron is the front man for a lot of politically motivated right wingers who want Britain out of Europe. The right may well be hiding from the glare of the political spotlight but it still acts covertly within the Tory party.
Why do businessmen need the MIC to channel funds to the Conservative Party when they can do it so easily themselves?
So this group freely gave their cash. So what? At least they were not knighted for it. Could you do something useful and analyse all the peers during Tony's reign and detail which are just his chums or tutors and which have paid for them by donations to the party or funding government policy?
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