It is worth noting when Labour MPs in marginal seats start bleating about Ashcroft’s money being a threat to democracy that they never mention Lord Sainsbury. He has actually given the Labour party, one way or another, some £15 million. Far more than Ashcroft has given the Tories.
Sainsbury has in the past given under-the-counter
money to Blairite modernising groups as well. The odd £250,000 here and there to groups like the Progress faction. Guido thinks that he was overall a force for good in the Labour party, bringing them into the real-world. Lord Drayson bought his peerage off Blair, he too has become an effective minister – probably because of his business background. Similarly, probably because of his business background, Ashcroft forces Tory candidates to come up with a serious business plan. The sharpening up of their campaign objectives is probably worth more than the £10,000 to £30,000 he gave them in the past. Now the party has adopted what was his freelance system at CCHQ and brought him back inside.
Don’t forget incumbent MPs have voted themselves an extra £10,000 of taxpayers money for propaganda and already have well funded office teams of staff. They have all the incumbent advantages and they are up against candidates who invariably have jobs to do as well. To lever out an incumbent MP takes some doing…