Letter: Tory poll mystery

Sir: It is quite wrong that Conservative Party members are being asked to vote on the party's policy on EMU without knowing who has put up the money for the membership ballot.

The ballot is costing around pounds 300,000. This money could have been much better used in employing agents in marginal constituencies, but Conservative Central Office has said that the money has been specifically donated for this ballot.

When William Hague became leader he promised that donations of over pounds 5,000 to the party would be made public. What has happened to this promise?

Francis Maude confirmed on The Frost Programme this weekend that the anti-European businessman Paul Sykes had not given the money, but declined to say anything more.

In view of the significance being given to this ballot by Central Office and the amount it is costing, it is not satisfactory that the identity of the donor or donors is being kept secret. Party members are entitled to know who is giving the money before voting so they can form their own impressions of the motives involved.

The secrecy over the source of the funding is breeding rumours. It should be cleared up now to prevent further damage to the party.

Councillor ANDREW MARSHALL

(Conservative)

London Borough of Camden

Town Hall

London WC1

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