Downing Street defends Major over cash donation charge
'I think it's self- evident. The Tory Party has been shattered beyond imagination' Donald Macintyre talks to Lord McAlpine of West Green, page 12
Tuesday 04 March 1997
The allegation was levelled by Lord McAlpine of West Green, the former Tory treasurer, who says in his latest book, Once a Jolly Bagman, that the donation was the highlight of his career as a fund-raiser and came a year after he had given up the job.
The delicacy of the issue was underlined by Labour's deputy leader, John Prescott, who wrote to Mr Major about his alleged involvement in raising party funds from foreigners. In an interview with The Independent, Lord McAlpine said Tony Blair had demonstrated leadership quality, but Mr Major had "shattered" his party.
While saying Mr Major was a good negotiator, he added: "I think in truth good negotiators don't make good prime ministers, because being prime minister isn't about negotiation, it's about leadership."
He also said he now favoured public disclosure of big donations. "If you ask me if I think that sums of pounds 10,000 or pounds 15,000 or pounds 20,000 should be private, then the answer's 'yes'. If you ask me whether a sum of pounds 5m should be private, then the answer's definitely 'no'."
In his book Lord McAlpine said that in 1991 he was asked to meet Mr Major at his Commons office, where he had been asked to "help them out" by approaching a generous donor, identified in yesterday's Scotsman extract from the book as John Latsis, a Greek shipping magnate, who gave Lord McAlpine a bearer's bond - a cash equivalent - for pounds 500,000.
Lord McAlpine did not look at the bond, put it in his pocket and went out to dinner. Next morning, as he walked across Hyde Park to get to party headquarters in Westminster, he took out the bond, saw the sum and caught a taxi. He said: "From this episode, there is no doubt John Major as Prime Minister has played a greater part in the acquiring of donations than is good for either him or the party itself."
Since then Mr Major has distanced himself from fund- raising, but Mr Prescott said in his letter: "The country needs to know if it is true that you asked Lord McAlpine to solicit a donation from John Latsis ... We need to know how many other foreign businessmen have been approached for donations to the Conservative Party at your insistence.
"And we must be assured that no hint has been given that policy might be affected by such donations."
Earlier, a Downing Street spokesman said he did not know if Lord McAlpine's allegations were true but insisted Mr Major had been "absolutely scrupulous". It is most unusual for the Prime Minister's office to get involved in party-political issues, and to talk about Mr Major's activities as leader of the Tory party, but the spokesman said: "It is the Prime Minister who has set down that there will be no question of any fund-raising taking place in Downing Street. [He] completely divorced himself from fund-raising activities ... The Prime Minister, since he became Prime Minister, has taken a very principled point of view about fund-raising."
As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
Striker ignored Brendan Rodger's request to applaud audience
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Jennifer Lawrence nude photos leak: More celebrities allegedly targeted as third wave of hacked images released
Cheryl Cole named 'the most dangerous celebrity' on the internet
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers re...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Room Leader PositionI am currently ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery NurseI am currently...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Breakfast and after school club wor...